The Ferrante Phenomenon: On Location in Naples and Ischia

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 Photochrome

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.

My Brilliant FriendAll 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.

For more information, see our detailed itinerary for the first departure and the second departure. We hope you will join us on this Neapolitan adventure … a presto!


“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

Villa Rosebery, Naples
Villa Rosebery in the Posillipo neighbourhood

Image credits: Villa Rosebery in Posillipo, Armando Mancini on Flickr


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Naples and Ischia, Italy

May 8–17, 2017 (first departure)
May 18–27, 2017 (second departure)

Elena Ferrante's four Neapolitan novels

Hotel Santa Lucia, Naples, and Hotel La Floridiana, Ischia

Nella Cotrupi is an Italian-born Canadian literary scholar, lawyer and educator who is passionate about the Italian south, its history, culture, people and way of life. She has led learning vacations in Sicily and Trieste and has taught courses on the works of Elena Ferrante, Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and other Italian writers.

US$3995 per person based on double occupancy (approximately)
US$4990 per person based on guaranteed single accommodation
US$250 taxes and gratuities per person

Fee includes guides, readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.

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