The Idler in Italy
Marguerite Gardiner, countess of Blessington (1789-1849), was famous for her charm, wit and beauty, the latter reflected in Sir Thomas Lawrence's famous portrait of her in 1822. Blessington had an unhappy childhood, and was forced into her first marriage at the age of fourteen, but had developed a love of reading and story-telling. With her second husband Charles John Gardiner, first Earl of Blessington, she lived for several years in France and Italy. This three-volume work, first published 1839-40, contains Blessington's humorous account of living abroad. She gives detailed descriptions of her time in Italian cities such as Florence, Rome and Naples, drawing attention to 'the odour of the cuisine', the beautiful surroundings and weather, inspiring encounters with artists, and daily visits to art galleries. Volume 1 describes travelling around Switzerland and France, and ends with the author's encounter with Lord Byron in Genoa in 1823.