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Memoria e Ricerca

The Social Life of Foreign Artists and Writers in Nineteenth Century Rome.Structures, Practices and Depictions

di Pierre Musitelli
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 46 (2014), p. 29

«Whoever has no other ties in life should come and live in Rome. There they will find, for society, a land that nurtures reflection», writes Chateaubriand in his letter to Fontanes in 1804. Beyond the Romantic topos of Rome as a place of seclusion, as an intimate setting for poetic meditations, beyond the deep-rooted liberal tradition of anti-Roman feelings and the indifference of Italian historiographers to Roman sociability, more recent studies, from the 1990ies on, have underlined the necessity not to restrict the cultural life of such a cosmopolitan city to writers and foreign artists, bringing to light the constant exchanges between the ruling classes, the patriarchate and international elites. Through the study of individual cases, this article examines the intellectual and aesthetic vitality which characterized cultural institutions (such as academies and universities) as well as more informal meeting places (such as salons and cafés), and focuses on the slow transition from an aristocratic social life to a bourgeois sociability, in the European context of the extension of travels and tourism to a wider public. Keywords: Visions of Rome, French Academy, Grand Tour, Chateaubriand, Berlioz, Social Life