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What did they think of us? Quotes about Italy

Italy is famous for its wonderful food and wine, its luxurious sports cars (Lamborghini, Ferrari), its innovative artists (Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Marinetti), its sophisticated fashion (Armani, Gucci), its poetry and music and, let’s not forget, beautiful cities like Florence, Venice, Pisa, Rome, and Milan, no wonder there are millions of quotes about Italy, then!

The country exerted a tremendous influence over European and world culture ever since the Roman Empire became the centre of the known world more than 2000 years ago, and reiterated such a position during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The beauty and mystique of Italy has been known for centuries and has captivated and charmed writers and artists. Here are some of the most thoughtful quotes about Italy left by them about our amazing country.

  • “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” –Samuel Johnson
  • “The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo.” –Mark Twain
  • “Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” –Fanny Burney
  • “Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” –Bertrand Russell
  • “What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago.” –Erica Jong
  • “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” –Giuseppe Verdi

Verdi on 1000 Lire 1977 banknote from Italy. He did  have some good quotes about Italy, too!
  • “Even now I miss Italy dearly, I dream about it every night.” –Eila Hiltunen
  • “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” –Truman Capote
  • “For us to go to Italy and to penetrate into Italy is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery,  back, back down the old ways of time. Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness.” –D.H. Lawrence
  • “Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” –Anna Akhmatova
  • “It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.” –Erica Jong
  • “Methinks I will not die quite happy without having seen something of that Rome of which I have read so much.” –Sir Walter Scott
  • “White swan of cities slumbering in thy nest . . . White phantom city, whose untrodden streets Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting Shadows of the palaces and strips of sky.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Venice”
  • “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” –Orson Welles

Orson Welles’ own quotes about Italy may seem non PC nowadays! (wikimedia)
  • “Italy, my Italy! Queen Mary’s saying serves for me– (When fortune’s malice Lost her Calais)– Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it, Italy.'” –Robert Browning
  • “This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” –Thomas Mann
  • “But come back in November or December, in February or March, when the fog, la nebbia, settles upon the city like a marvelous monster, and you will have little trouble believing that things can appear and disappear in this labyrinthine city, or that time here could easily slip in its sprockets and take you, willingly or unwillingly, back.” –Erica Jong, “A City of Love and Death: Venice”
  • “And that is … how they are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other’s face.” –D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence. (wikimedia)
  • “I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; A palace and a prison on each hand; I saw from out the wave of her structure’s rise As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O’er the far times, when many a subject land Look’d to the winged Lion’s marble pines, Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles.” –Lord Byron, Childe Harold (canto IV, st. 1)
  • “Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!” –Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • “I love the language, that soft bastard Latin, Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, And sounds as if it should be writ on satin With syllables which breathe of the sweet South.” –George Gordon Noel Byron

Read more inspiring Quotes about Italy!

By Jason Earls,  edited by Francesca Bezzone

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