Italian Timelessness

My gorgeous husband bought me a very old book about Italy from the opportunity shop. I have had a bit of fun comparing pictures of some sites I visited against how they looked over 90 years ago.

My beautiful book: ‘Wonders of Italy’. (Italy for the Tourist Series): The Monuments of Antiquity, the Churches, the Palaces, the Treasures of Art; a Handbook for Students and Travellers. 2nd ed. 1925.

Taormina’s Graeco-Roman Theatre has had tiers and seating recreated but the view remains spectacular.

Naples’ Galleria Umberto I would have been fairly modern when my book was made, dating from 1887. The shopping center would have been just over 30 years old.

Capri was clearly less developed with none of the marina and a lot less housing and buildings. I would imagine none of the designer shopping was there yet either!



The view from the roof of St Peters shows some big changes under Mussolini s leadership.

“Demolition of the spina of Borgo began with Mussolini’s symbolic strike of the first building with a pickaxe on 29 October 1936 and continued for twelve months”.

The other really notable difference is the clarity of the air. Even at 8am as my picture was taken, the city has a smoggy haze sitting over it which made it hard to see the distant city features let alone the mountains beyond.   



And Monte Cassino has been completely destroyed by bombing during WW2 and rebuilt. See my post about the role New Zealand played in this destruction.


I imagine there is much that has changed due to the wartime bombings and earthquakes in the past 90 years. The timelessness we think of in association with Italy as a tourist looking at the Forum and Trevi fountain doesn’t really pay homage to all that Italians have been through.

Here is the scene on the corner of the road I stayed in, in Palermo which I can only assume is WW2 bombing never fixed.


5 thoughts on “Italian Timelessness

  1. Oh, what a treasure, that book. Great to be able to compare the photos to yours, Andrea. And yes, we forget how Italians have suffered, and indeed how valiantly they fought, considering the partisans were also fighting against their country’s leader. Many many touching stories still told by the old people. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it was such a find! Just sitting unloved in the op shop in mint condition for 25 NZ dollars, that’s maybe 12 US dollars. I looked at it for ages feeling unable to part with it, then finally put it back. Then he went and got it and put it in with our other goodies without question. He is such a lovely man, as for him, Italy represents a passion i have that doesn’t include him and still he supports me with it. I’m so blessed.

      Liked by 2 people

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