So you’ve always been a lover of literature and like to pass the evening with a good book. But now the time has come for you to get out of the armchair and actually see the world for yourself. Well, you’re in a good position for getting plenty out of an overseas holiday – and I don’t just mean that you’ll be able to pass the time in a transit lounge in between flights quite happily thanks to that book you’ve popped into your hand luggage.
If you’ve got a bit of a literary background, you can probably get a lot more out of visiting certain places than others would. If you’ve never heard of Homer (meaning the writer of the Illiad and the Odyssey, not Mr Simpson), then you won’t find poking around the ruins of Troy in Turkey as fascinating as someone who has. And a literary traveller can probably find more sites of interest than a less well-read person… and a lot of the other tourists you find at the literary destinations are likely to share your interests.
So where are some good spots to visit if you are a bit of a literary buff? Of course, this will depend on what you enjoy reading, really. But here are a few of the most popular places around the world to consider:
Greece: “The Isles of Greece, the isles of Greece, where burning Sappho loved and sung,” to quote Byron. Yes, Greece is a popular tourist destination thanks to glorious sunshine, good wine, great food and lovely beaches, but it’s the cradle of Western civilisation. Take your pick – from the hot springs of Thermopylae to hiking up Mt Olympus to relaxing on a beach at Ithaca.
Italy: Not only do you have Rome, the other key city in the history of Western civilisation, you’ve also got all those places that were important in the Renaissance. Verona is a bit of a must-see for the literary buff, what with it being the birthplace of Dante and the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (with one house boasting what is claimed to be Juliet’s famous balcony).
The UK: Pick your favourite author and visit all the key locations. You could go on a tour of the lake district and find all the places described by the Romantic poet Wordsworth. You can go on a Beatrix Potter tour, including Hill Top Farm near Sawrey. Or head north to Scotland and find all the locations mentioned in Macbeth or in Sir Walter Scott. Or head to Wales to find all the sites mentioned in the Arthurian cycle.
Romania: In the Carpathian mountains, you’ll find Transylvania, complete with the Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle. There’s also plenty of medieval architecture to keep anyone with Gothic tastes happy, plus some great cave systems.
Germany: Here, the must-see town for the bookworm would have to be Wittenberg, site of a famous medieval university and home to the fictional Dr Faustus. It’s also the place where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door and started the Reformation. Also look out for Weimar and other areas in the Rhine valley beloved by the poet Goethe.
Switzerland: Whether you’re into William Tell, Celtic history, Rousseau or Heidi, there’s plenty on offer for the literary traveller.
The list could, of course, go on and on, depending on who your favourite authors are!