Our first departure is sold out! We have a second departure May 18 to 27, 2017
Elena Ferrante, a mysterious and anonymous author, has taken the reading world by storm with her brilliant quartet of novels set in Naples, Italy.
Naples is one of the most beautiful and infamous of the great Italian cities—and one of Italy’s most ancient urban centres. With its breathtaking bay and islands, unmistakable volcano, classical roots, and rich cultural and culinary patrimony, Naples has earned a special place in our imagination. It was a must on the Grand Tour, and writers as diverse as Goethe, Stendhal, Leopardi and Pablo Neruda have known its allure. Against this bounty we have the squalor, danger and sadness of a society and a people long suppressed by nepotism, corruption, violence, poverty and dependency.
All of these facets of the city and more are captured in Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. How has Naples managed the transition to the modern world? What is lost and what gained in this process? How have human and family ties and the lives of women, in particular, been impacted by this transition? These are among the big questions Ferrante explores, and in reading her novels, we will gain insights into the Naples of today and her people. We will read and discuss the four critically acclaimed novels of Ferrante, but we will also walk in the footsteps of Elena and Lila, her protagonists, and, we are guessing, the author’s alter egos.
To appreciate the many layers of culture, people and history that are the sediment of today’s complex Neapolitan world, we will spend time getting to know the city and the beauties of the bay and islands that surround it and are also mirrored in Ferrante’s imaginative universe. Among the sights and neighborhoods we will explore are the Posillipo and Chiaia districts with their coastal beauty, historic Castel dell’Ovo, baroque churches, galleries and atmospheric squares. The centro storico with its Graeco-Roman ruins, traditional crafts shops and classic food centres, and the posh neighborhoods Ferrante describes such as the Vomero will also be on our itinerary. And yes, we will spend time getting to know the famous island of Ischia where crucial episodes of the novels take place.
“The Italian proverb says ‘See Naples and die’ but I say, see Naples and live; for there seems a great deal worth living for.”
– Arthur John Strutt
Image credits: Villa Rosebery in Posillipo, Armando Mancini on Flickr