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Sapphire135
03-05-2014, 07:27 PM
I am currently stuck on my WIP contemporary, so am going back to work on my historical. I am trying to figure out normal travel routes and times from England to Italy and back during the early 1800's (approx. 1810).

I've looked at a lot of books that mention travel to Italy (usually in the context of gentlemen going on the Grand Tour), but haven't been able to find specifics in books or online. I saw something that said it was by boat and took 2 -4 weeks, but not sure if this is accurate.

Does anyone have any idea about this or of any books that might help me figure this out??

I've even been re-reading parts of books where the characters travel to Italy from England (i.e. Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens), but haven't seen yet if there are specifics in how they got there.

Thanks in advance for any help!

King Neptune
03-05-2014, 08:37 PM
1810 was not a good year to travel from England to Italy, because there was a war going on. People could travel, but it was not a matter of booking a ship and going. I would suggest that you have the people wait until 1815 or later for their trip to Italy.

In more peaceful times it was easy to take a ship or to travel overland (either in provate coach or common carrier). By sea it would take a couple of weeks. By land it would have taken longer.

Sapphire135
03-05-2014, 08:46 PM
1810 was not a good year to travel from England to Italy, because there was a war going on. People could travel, but it was not a matter of booking a ship and going. I would suggest that you have the people wait until 1815 or later for their trip to Italy.

In more peaceful times it was easy to take a ship or to travel overland (either in provate coach or common carrier). By sea it would take a couple of weeks. By land it would have taken longer.

Thanks King Neptune! In my first draft, the time period was the 1780's, but in this draft I was trying to move it into the Regency period (to get away from the hair powder and wigs a bit). I didn't even think of about the war. I wonder how 1800 would be? Or even 1795? Back to the drawing board!

:)

King Neptune
03-05-2014, 09:42 PM
Thanks King Neptune! In my first draft, the time period was the 1780's, but in this draft I was trying to move it into the Regency period (to get away from the hair powder and wigs a bit). I didn't even think of about the war. I wonder how 1800 would be? Or even 1795? Back to the drawing board!

:)

There were brief periods during the Napoleonic era when Britain was not at war with France.France was at war with Great Britain continuously from 1793 to 1802, and the Napoleonic Wars started in 1803. I think that you would be safer moving the trip to late 1815 to celebrate the victory at Waterloo.

ULTRAGOTHA
03-05-2014, 10:44 PM
My WIP is also set in 1810 in London.

I agree with King Neptune that 1810 is a very bad time for a Briton to go on a Grand Tour of Europe (a fact that is a cri de cour of my MC). Although 1810 is in a lull between the War of the Fifth Coalition and the War of the Six Coalition, the Continental System (blockade of British merchandise) was in full swing and so was the Peninsular War. Which meant that both commercial and naval British vessels were forbidden Italian and other European ports.

There was a short peace after the Treaty of Amiens between March of 1802 and May of 1803 when Britons flocked to the Continent after years of war had kept them away. When the treaty fell apart with Britain declaring war in May of 1803, thousands of civilian British men, women and children in France were captured and held until Bonaparte’s exile to Elba in April of 1814. That’s ~11 years of captivity.

In 1814, the Bourbons were restored to the French throne. Britons again flocked to the Continent which by now was war ravaged, though not so much in Italy. Then Bonaparte escaped from Elba in February 1815 and everyone panicked. But only for about 100 days, which ended not necessarily with the Battle of Waterloo but with Bonaparte’s surrender to Captain Maitland of the HMS Bellerophon on 15 July, 2015. By February of 1815 lots of Britons were enjoying the continent—The Duchess of Richmond held a ball in Brussels the evening before the Battle of Waterloo.

Now it’s possible that your protagonists could get themselves to Gibralter and then find a neutral vessel to get to Italy. It would be very difficult (and so would money) and given what is happening with British prisoners held in France from 1803, and the fact that Bonaparte currently holds the Pope prisoner, too, it would be very foolish.

ETA: The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermere has their protagonists going, well, on a Grand Tour. The go overland to Italy. Not necessarily well researched but the methods and timing didn't grate on me. OTOH, this is a Fantasy of Manners with Magic, which smoothed the way a bit.

Sapphire135
03-05-2014, 11:16 PM
Thanks King Neptune and ULTRAGOTHA! You guys are amazing :)

In my WIP the trip to Italy is a side thing that happens when a character has to leave England for a short time. The purpose is just to get that character far away from the other characters for about a year. I think that rather than reset the time period, I might make the character go to Scotland or the far North of England or something just to make it easier as far as the wars, etc that were going on. Travel from the south of England up to Scotland was still pretty lengthy, so that might be good enough.

Thank you for pointing out the problems with travel during that era. It helps a lot!

Telergic
03-06-2014, 12:07 AM
Yeah, there were respites from war during this period, but not around 1810, so clearly plus or minus ten years would be a better idea if it's possible.

Until the era of steam, you could never tell for sure how long any kind of ocean travel would take, because if there was bad weather you could get stuck in port or embayed for lengthy periods. I don't think lengthy calms are a problem on this route, however.

Crossing the channel was very quick and reliable, of course and if the weather was bad in one English port you could post to another, but then once across you'd have to get past the Alps, one way or another. For reasonably comfortable land travel in a coach, perhaps 20 miles a day is plausible on decent roads? Plot that out avoiding any mountainous regions and you can see it's going to take quite a long time overland. Obviously you can travel more than 20 miles in a day on good roads, especially with frequent changes of horses, but it wouldn't be very pleasant, and even then you'd probably also hit stretches of bad roads and bad weather.

So back to the sea route. If all went well, perhaps a period sailing vessel could make 10 MPH over an entire journey if they were very lucky, but probably averaging that down to 5 would give a better estimate. Just eyeballing the route, I'm guessing something over 2,500 miles. Divide that by 5 and by 24 and you get 21 days for a non-stop trip*. So budgeting a month for the trip in good weather seems sensible if you were planning the trip for yourself at the time. You might get lucky and do it in two weeks, or it might take longer, too.

*Odds are the trip wouldn't be non-stop, however, so if the vessel stops at half a dozen ports along the way, that's probably another week right there, not to mention more opportunities to get stuck in harbor.

mirandashell
03-06-2014, 12:19 AM
There is an author called Jeremy Black who has written about the Grand Tour and includes contemporary experiences in his books.

mirandashell
03-06-2014, 12:21 AM
There's also Rosemary Sweet

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/european-history-after-1450/cities-and-grand-tour-british-italy-c16901820

ULTRAGOTHA
03-06-2014, 12:33 AM
Note, you could also send your character to Ireland. Many English had property in Ireland and many Irish Protestant Peers and other landowners lived in England much of the time and then went home when necessary.

If your character has run through a bunch of money, rusticating on a country estate for a year until Lady Day would be unremarkable.

Anyway, if you’re sending your character to Scotland, the journey will probably take not more than a few weeks, depending on where the start and end points are and weather conditions. Roads were pretty good, compared to earlier times, and there was an extensive network of coaching inns where horses could be changed. There are travel books detailing how to get from X to Y from that time period. Check out archive.org for many wonderful on-line out-of-copyright books and magazines.

Or, if he is a man, you can stick him in the army for a time and send him off to Spain.

Sapphire135
03-06-2014, 01:33 AM
Thanks everyone! You have all been really helpful. I think that I have to send them to Scotland. It is far enough away but still doable and since the rest of the story takes place in the south of England it should be enough distance. I am so impressed by the wealth of information you all have! Thanks again for the advice and for the links, etc. :)

ULTRAGOTHA
03-06-2014, 06:51 AM
Thanks King Neptune! In my first draft, the time period was the 1780's, but in this draft I was trying to move it into the Regency period (to get away from the hair powder and wigs a bit).

I don't know how literally you mean that you wanted to move your story to the Regency period; but just in case you meant that literally, the Regency didn't start until 1811.

No Regents Park, no Regents Street, no Regents Canal....

L.C. Blackwell
03-06-2014, 07:49 AM
Two links to online sources: I haven't looked at them closely, but I believe they may both be primary accounts.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/40746

http://www.questia.com/read/55404383/the-grand-tour-in-the-eighteenth-century

arcan
03-06-2014, 11:39 AM
If you want your character to travel by land, you can read some parts of Jules Verne's "around the world in 80 days" or "Stendhal "Red and Black" (not sure about the title translation, but should be close enough). By land, one of hte only points you had to go through was the "col du Mont-Cenis" in Savoie, to go from France to Italy.

Sapphire135
03-10-2014, 12:34 PM
Thanks again everyone. When I mentioned the Regency Era I was talking more about the extended period that started as early as 1795, not the actual term of Regency. My mind is always viewing things in terms of the fashion of the period and the empire style gown started at the turn of that century. Anyway, just a window into my mind!

I moved the travel destination in the story and it sorted out all my problems. :)