Touring in Italy
The first Tours of Italy were carried out by members of European and American high-society in the 17th-19th Century period. The so called Grand Tour was often considered an educational "rite of passage" for those who undertook it. The New York Times has described the Grand Tour in the words:
The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. [...] It was commonly undertaken in the company of a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The Grand Tour had more than superficial cultural importance; as E.P. Thompson opined, "ruling-class control in the 18th century was located primarily in a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic or physical (military) power".
As this commentary suggests, the Grand Tour had a very deep significance for those who traveled through the European continent. This kind of travel would bring them knowledge and status.
Even though contemporary tourism has little in common with 18th Century touring, perhaps some of the values of the Grand Tour have carried over to those who plan to visit Italy today. Perhaps, being immersed in a land full of history and art can elevate the spirit of today's traveler.
And yet while Italy is home to a large portion of the world's historic and artistic heritage, modernity has advanced in many aspects of Italian lifestyle and landscape often mixing in with what was already in place. This makes for a a unique cultural landscape that is often a surprise to the first time visitor.