In 1786 Germany’s greatest poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, heads for the Italy he has been yearning to see since childhood. He leaves behind his growing frustration with administrative work, a difficult love affair with Charlotte von Stein, and his lack of time for writing. At the age of 37 he has become frustrated and divided against himself, overworked yet underachieving, disillusioned and depressed. The gloom of northern skies further intensifies his personal darkness.
At five o’clock in the morning on September 3rd, he leaves Carlsbad by stage coach. He will travel to Eger, Regensburg, Munich, Bolzano, Malcesine, Verona, Padua, Venice, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, Perugia, Lojano, the Appenines, Assisi and Rome. Perugia, Lojano, the Appenines, Assisi and Rome.
I have made precisely the same trip, visiting the same stations on exactly the same day as did the poet—only 223 years later. Many of my photographs relate to Goethe’s text, while some do not. Putting myself in the poet’s state of mind, I found other motifs he would have loved, but either didn’t have the time to see or failed to mention. My work on Italian Journey is a very personal portfolio. It has not at all been my intention to produce a comprehensive account of Goethe’s book.BACK TO PHOTO