Above: View of Tropea seen from Villa Paola in Calabria, Italy

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, southern Italy, the Mezzogiorno, was a remote and exotic place for northern Europeans. Generations of affluent travelers had taken the Grand Tour to acquaint themselves with the continent’s classical heritage, but the lands south of Naples remained terra incognita. Isolated and undeveloped, this was a region of ancient traditions and extreme physical beauty, but it was also poverty-stricken and plagued by bandits. Three books by intrepid British travelers opened a window onto this relatively unknown world.

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