The Beautiful Country: Tourism and the Impossible State of Destination Italy
Published: February 2015© 2015
320 Pages, 6.34 x 9.27 x 1.07 in, 37 b&w illustrations
Every year, Italy swells with millions of tourists who infuse the economy with billions of dollars and almost outnumber Italians themselves. In fact, Italy has been a model tourist destination for longer than it has been a modern state. The Beautiful Country explores the enduring popularity of “destination Italy,” and its role in the development of the global mass tourism industry. Stephanie Malia Hom tracks the evolution of this particular touristic imaginary through texts, practices, and spaces, beginning with the guidebooks that frame Italy as an idealized land of leisure and finishing with destination Italy’s replication around the world. Today, more tourists encounter Italy through places like Las Vegas’s The Venetian Hotel and Casino or Dubai’s Mercato shopping mall than experience the country in Italy itself.
Using an interdisciplinary methodology that includes archival research, ethnographic fieldwork, literary criticism, and spatial analysis, The Beautiful Country reveals destination Italy’s paramount role in the creation of modern mass tourism.
1. Codes of Travel: Italy’s Guidebook Tradition
2. Italian Montage: On Rhetoric & Representations
3. Destination Nation: The Grand Tour, Thomas Cook, & the Arrival of Mass Tourism
4. Tours of Duty: Touring Clubs, Fascist Agencies, & the Domestic Tourism Industry
5. Masses in Transit: The New Economy of Tourism in the 20th Century
6. Italy Without Borders: Simulacra, Simulation, & the Postmodern Grand Tour
7. Postmodern Passages: Souvenirs, Theme Parks, Outlet Malls, & the Body of the Simulated Nation
‘The book is a fresh and fascinating case study… Hom provides a rich history of travel to and within Italy. And she makes readers aware of the many artificial environments around the world designed to draw on Italy’s allure.’Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Business History Review vol 90:01:2016
“The Beautiful Country provides a detailed, informative, and often surprising account of the development of Italy as a destination, as well as a fascinating series of instances of how ‘Italy’ travels. Hom draws on a wide range of primary and secondary material in what is truly an interdisciplinary project.” Derek Duncan, School of Modern Languages, University of St. Andrews
“A sophisticated and exhaustively researched study of Italy within the context of modern tourism and representational practices.” Nathalie Hester, Department of Romance Languages, University of Oregon
“The Beautiful Country tackles a fascinating topic. There is nothing more deserving of sustained scholarly attention than tourism, and Italy is a vital location for such a discussion.” D. Medina Lasansky, Department of Architecture, Cornell University