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Literature-Inspired Holiday Destinations

Lauren Curd

There have been countless books, plays, novels, poems and biographies that have encouraged people to travel, usually in pursuit of their favourite characters or to experience the magical places they have read about, perfectly described by the authors. We’ve found 10 of the best locations to explore, inspired by some fantastic works of literature.

I love Capri, by Belinda Jones – The Italian island of Capri

A romantic ‘chick lit’ about Kim Rees, a translator who becomes stuck in a rut with a dead-end job, a basement flat and a horrid social life. Her mother has the perfect plan to escape the dreary existence – a trip to the magical island of Capri. Adventures, cocktails and love are quick on the menu. Capri is a tiny island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 20 miles off of the coast of Naples. A picturesque isle, it’s been a resort hotspot since the time of the Roman Republic and features two main hubs: the main towns of Capri and Anacapri. Check out the Marina Piccola (the little harbour), Marina Grande (the big harbour and main port), the Belvedere of Tragara, the Faraglioni, and the Imperial Roman ruins. Head to Grotta Azzurra with your loved one, a beautifully blue sea cave that extends some 50 metres into a cliff.

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare – Verona, Italy

We’re on to the mainland now, more specifically Verona, where Shakespeare based a few of his plays. Romeo and Juliet is a romantic tragedy about two lovers from rival families, who fight against the prejudice and come up with a plan to be together. If you haven’t heard of it (very unlikely), expect a lot of love, death, smiles and tears. The city of Verona is a beautiful urban metropolitan area, recently awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO for its structure and architecture. It is one of the main holiday destinations in Northern Italy, owing in part to its history of art, annual fairs, shows and operas; the latter often held in the ancient Roman amphitheatre. Juliet’s balcony on the Casa di Giulietta receives thousands of love letters a year. Other novels set in Italy: The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith; Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown; Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker – Transylvania, Romania

Hailed as the forefather of modern vampire literature and a great advocate for the gothic novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the macabre story of the titular character’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England and his battle with Professor Abraham Van Helsing. The vampire myth has spawned many a trip to Romania, and of course Transylvania, which has been long associated with the blood-sucking beings. The region has a long and turbulent history, with a rich heritage that encompasses the Roman Empire, Hungarians, and Ottoman Empire as well as many others. Sites to visit are Bran Castle, a beautifully intricate fortress; plenty of medieval cities, including the purported birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, long thought of as the origin for Dracula; and the city and ski resort of Brasov. Architecture and attractions are scattered throughout the region, consisting of churches, castles, forts, and museums. Other mythical novels: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – Germany and Geneva; The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice – New Orleans; The Mummy! by Jane C. Loudon – Egypt.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, By Mark Twain – America’s Southern States

Written as separate books, they detail the lives of two young boys growing up along the Mississippi River. Clever but mischievous Tom Sawyer and his happy-go-lucky friend Huck Finn share many moments of joy, danger, surprise and intrigue, in which they run away from home, witness a murder, save the town and find buried treasure. The American South is a fantastically diverse group of states with distinct identities and character, all under an umbrella of their legendary southern hospitality. There is unique cuisine, endless musical history and some amazing scenery to find, especially along the Mississippi River, the fourth longest river in the world. Mark Twain based his books in Missouri, a place he was rather fond of. Whatever type of holiday you seek, you will find it in the Southern States. Other literature works set in the Southern States: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden – Kyoto, Japan

A first person fictional story of a Japanese girl before and after World War II, Memoirs of a Geisha focuses on Chiya Sakamoto’s journey from her poverty-stricken fishing village to a geisha boarding house in Gion. It’s a real coming of age drama with rivalry, tradition and love in abundance. Gion started as accommodation to fulfil the needs of travellers and visitors to the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto and eventually evolved to become an exclusive and well-known Geisha district in Japan. Traditionally Geishas are female entertainers who act as hostesses, enveloping Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games. They were seen to be unobtainable and flirtatious with the men who visited. Kyoto is a fabulous city in the central part of the island and was formerly the imperial capital of the country for more than a thousand years. Its nickname is the City of a Thousand Shrines. Also check out: The Tale of Genji, by Shikibu Marasaki; Some Prefer Nettles, by Junichiro Tanizaki; Dreaming Pachinko, by Isaac Adamson.

Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown – Paris, France

Dan Brown’s breakthrough novel starts with a naked dead body in the Louvre surrounded by a cryptic message. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and police officer Sophie Neveu are thrown into a chase around the religious and culturally significant parts of Paris, and later in the novel, London, to find the Holy Grail. Brown goes into very descriptive detail about each location. Paris is one of the most romantic city in the world, epitomised by fantastic pieces of architecture and structural design. Take a city break here and you will definitely not be disappointed as you witness the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre gallery, Arc de Triomphe, Musee d’Orsay, Champs-Élysées and a boat cruise down the River Seine. Paris is also the centre stage for a lot of French history, namely the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. France-based novels include: Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo; The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas; Chocolat, by Joanne Harris.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith – Gaborone, Botswana

This series of novels set in the Botswana capital Gaborone follows Mma Precious Ramotswe in her adventures and efforts to establish a female detective agency. As of 2013, there are 14 novels in the series, each one based around Precious’s skills at solving crime of many difficulties while combatting some rather dark but truthful issues. Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, 70% of which is the semi-arid Kalahari Desert. Despite its size, it is only inhabited by just over two million people, making Botswana one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. The biggest beauty of the country is undoubtedly the wildlife; safaris are a popular excursion for travellers and there are opportunities to see a variety of animals in their natural habitat, especially around the Okavango Delta. Check out the many national parks, game reserves and Tsodilo, a Word Heritage Site with several rock drawings in the mountains. Novels set in Africa: Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen; A Bend in the River, by V. S. Naipaul; Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Berniéres – Kefalonia, Greece

This epic Word War II novel focuses on a doctor’s daughter, Pelagia, and her romantic involvement with a local fisherman and then the eponymous Captain Corelli, an Italian army captain serving in the Italian and German occupation of the island of Kefalonia. Corelli’s consummate skills as a mandolin player eventually win Pelagio over. Kefalonia is part of the Ionian islands chain in Western Greece, which also comprises of the arguably more famous Corfu and Zante. Sought after for its capes, bays and picturesque villages, Kefalonia also boasts many natural and historical attractions, drawing in crowds from all over the world to see Drogorati Caves, Melissani Lake and a fantastic array of colourful wild flowers. The capital Argostoli is an archaeologist’s dream while the beaches that surround the island are windless and golden. Mrytos Bay sits in the north west of the island, a marvellous white chalk beach at the bottom of a steep, windy road. Other novels set in Greece: Apartment in Athens, by Glenway Wescott; When the Tree Sings, by Stratis Haviaras; Pascali’s Island, by Barry Unsworth.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe – the Caribbean

Strictly set on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, the title character is a castaway who spends years encountering cannibals, captives and mutineers in the Caribbean. The novel follows Crusoe on his adventures before his castaway status, as well as the many intrigues, dangers and wonders that he faces on the islands. The Caribbean is considered as the ultimate beach holiday destination, providing gorgeous beaches, beautiful weather, crystal-clear water and lively entertainment galore. Consisting of over 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays, you have endless choice for a relaxing break, a historic and cultural holiday or party festivities. Hit multicultural Cuba, exotic Jamaica, picturesque Bahamas, honeymoon haven Barbados, or mountainous St. Lucia, plus so much more – you are spoilt for choice. Other Caribbean literature: The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway; Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini; a vast number of James Bond novels, by Ian Fleming.

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville – New England, USA

Captain Ahab’s voyage in vengeful pursuit of a white whale is expertly told in this 1851 novel that actually rose in reputation long after the author’s death. Set off the New England coast on America’s west side, sailor Ishmael narrates the voyage from aboard the whaleship Pequod in which its captain is tragically consumed by revenge on Moby Dick, an enigmatic white whale that destroyed his previous ship. It’s a novel that delves into life aboard a ship, giving a mix of crew, exploration, and social ideals. New England encompasses the six most northeastern states of America, and where the pilgrims landed after leaving England in their search for the New World. Due in part to its multitude of trees and foliage, Fall in New England is considered one of the most amazing natural spectacles in the world; a kaleidoscope of oranges, yellows and reds that offer a romantic holiday as well as one filled with adventure. Check out the wonders of Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut in a beautiful self-drive tour. New England novels: Cider House Rules, by John Irving; Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton; The Good Thief, by Hannah Tinti.

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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