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. Volume 3 includes her lively narrative of her travels in Northern Italy: she spends time in Padua, Venice, Bologna, Milan and the Italian lakes. The volume concludes with a return to Genoa, where Blessington remembers her good friend Lord Byron, who had died in 1824, and her departure for England.