Portals to Literary Masters and Masterpieces
Collected by Dwiveck Custodio, AFAR Local Expert
I love books enough to plunge headfirst into a Master's in Italian and Spanish Literature. This list will be a collection of a limited (or at least, hidden) literary world out there: one in which writers ate, conversed, explored, learned, thought, wrote. Literature is a window into culture and history, so we should seek to understand them with their many contexts and connotations. How better to appreciate masterpieces than by experiencing the places of their inspiration and creation?
Piazza della Repubblica, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The Piazza Della Repubblica was the place to be in Florence in the evenings. Tourists and locals alike dined at the restaurants lining the square, student groups gathered, families enjoyed the Carousel, and gypsies and other migrants tried to sell...
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France
Go for the scene, not the food, and enjoy the Art Deco décor and great people-watching at this buzzy Left Bank landmark. Despite a limited menu and steep prices, the place is packed day and night. Order a chocolat chaud and sit on the...
Via Santa Margherita, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
"Loda di Dio vera," Dante called Beatrice in the Divine Comedy: "True glory of God." Dante Alighieri wrote about Beatrice Portinari as his divine inspiration; if you have ever felt inspired to write to Beatrice, the Chiesa di Dante is for you. One...
59 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Great place to stay and tell stories with friends in the old-time historic parlor. It was less than ten years ago that the Algonquin Hotel was officially designated a literary landmark. For more than 100 years, though, this historic New York...
Piazza S. Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Franciscan Basilica di Santa Croce, with its striped green-and-white marble facade, dates from about 1294. Inside are the tombs of many celebrated early Florentines, including Dante, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Among the many art treasures...
17 Gough Square, London EC4A 3DE, UK
No trip to London is complete without a trip to Dr. Samuel Johnson's House in Gough Square. It's impossible to leave without a strong sense for the man and for his life in London, and the house is a beautiful sight to behold in its own right (and...
120 N Main St, Hannibal, MO 63401, USA
They say great wine in a result of it's terroir, so might the same be true of the boyhood town of a great writer? Being a fan of Mark Twain, I ventured to Hannibal, MO for the Fourth of July to see if my theory would hold up. Does a great town a...
40 Gay St, Bath BA1 2NT, UK
Jane Austen fans are sure to delight over the great exhibits and tea shop at the Jane Austen Centre, but more adventurous fans should take the walking tour of Bath held by the Centre on weekends. A jovial guide will take you through the streets of...
Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 9, 1073 Hungary
A glass-roofed atrium welcomes guests to a majestic hotel in the heart of the city. The common areas are decked out in marble and brocade, and chandeliers and bronze sculptures grace the 185 rooms. The historic New York Cafe, opened in 1894 and...
21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN, UK
Heading off the Royal Mile to find Greyfriar's Bobby, we passed this cafe that, by its name, I assumed was an Indian restaurant. But a closer look at the bottom of the main window stated that this was where the hero of Hogwarts was created. The...
Via San Giovanni Vecchio, 89, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
I'm not one to skip breakfast, especially in Italy, where thoughts of cappuccino, pastries, and local ham tend to rouse me early from slumber. But on my first morning at the Hotel Sant’Angelo, in the old quarter of Matera, I was having a hard time...
39 Rue Descartes, 75005 Paris, France
Walking through Paris is joy but, on the last trip I did my best to walk the steps of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and others of the "Lost Generation". La Maison de Verlaine is now an upscale eatery in the Latin Quarter but just above is Paul Verlaine's...
Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto, Portugal
The Rua Santa Caterina is the most important shopping street in Oporto. It is a pedestrian street which is closed to traffic. Along the Rua Caterina you will find the Mercado Bolhao which is a lively market with many shops to delight the market...
Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre 62, 4050-259 Porto, Portugal
Book Restaurant (which is next door to Infante Sagres hotel) is designed as a library as well and reflects the connection between literature and gastronomy in a very contemporary way. The architect is Pedro Trindade and the chef is John Mendes...
37 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1E9, Canada
The King Edward Hotel has been home to many famed figures from Mark Twain, Louis Armstrong. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton caused a small riot when they stayed in the same room together despite not being married. This was also the hotel that...
3721, 48 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
312 Rue du Square Saint Louis, Montréal, QC H2X 1A5, Canada
The Carré Saint-Louis (also known as St. Louis Square) is one of Montréal's most important literary streetscapes. Famed Québecois poets Émile Nelligan and Gaston Miron called this home. Brightly painted Victorian/Second Empire graystone rowhouses...
Ricardo de Ferrari 692, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
The poet Pablo Neruda redefined the city with hisOde to Valparaíso, calling it “the patched bow of a small courageous ship.” Today, visitors can tour his home, known as La Sebastiana. The building is now a museum with one of the city’s finest gift...
Molina 76, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Valparaíso, Chile’s main port city, rises from the water into steep hills laced with staircases and winding streets. Generations of poets, mariners, and adventurers have passed through. While the city has some of Chile’s best dining, the streets...
Herrengasse 14, 1010 Wien, Austria
The identity of a Viennese intellectual was ultimately defined by the coffeehouse they would frequent. Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hoffmannsthal would all brood over their work and agitatedly exchange ideas with fellow thinkers...
Piazza San Felice, 8, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Ultra-romantic poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (famous for "How do I love thee, let me count the ways") and her husband Robert spent happy years in this Oltrarno apartment, that is now open to visitors. Thanks to a painting done when they lived...
Av. de Mayo 825, C1084 CABA, Argentina
Before arriving to Buenos Aires, my aunt told me about this beautiful, vintage café located just steps away from la Casa Rosada. This coffeehouse has been a cultural icon since its door opening in 1858. Great artists and intellectuals like Carlos...
Via Madonna Laura, 52100 Arezzo AR, Italy
In our adopted Tuscan hometown Arezzo, stands a monument to the 14th century poet and Father of Humanism, Petrarch - Petrarca in Italian. That statue is in Parco Prato a couple of hundred steps from here - the home where he was born. Inside is a...
Via Chiaia, 1/2, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy
The most famous café in town, this historic spot oozes period charm and maintains much of its original Belle Epoque decor. The main bar is for stand-up coffees and aperitivi, but there are several cozy salons for a sit-down treat. The terrace is a...
40 High St, Oxford OX1 4AP, UK
I absolutely had to eat here. I discovered its existence long before we sojourned in England and told my husband that I absolutely had to eat here! After all, it's the longest established coffeehouse in Europe! And I'm American. Makes sense,...
10 Air St, Soho, London W1B 4DY, UK
Opened in 1865 as a restaurant, event space, and wine store, Café Royal quickly became a gathering spot for London’s intelligentsia and glitterati. Over the following 150 years, everyone from Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde to...
Ar-Lyn/Vicarage La, Saint Ives TR26 3JZ, UK
Anyone trying to drive to St Ives in Cornwall during the summer months is in for a bit of a shock. The narrow streets are barely big enough for cars, there is nowhere to park and as for meeting traffic coming the other way...... There is a...
2210 Middle St, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482, USA
Who knew that Edgar Allan Poe spent time in the army base on Sullivan's Island outside of Charleston? The folks behind Poe's Tavern have capitalized on this fact, creating one of the island's most beloved local haunts. Located a few blocks from...
17 Rue de Beaujolais, 75001 Paris, France
Located in the Palais Royale since 1784, the Michelin-starred Le Grand Véfour offers an exceptional culinary experience in a historic atmosphere. It has seen many decades of famous guests, from Napoleon Bonaparte to George Sand. Ask to be...
6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France
One part tourist trap, one part beloved café, Les Deux Magots is a legendary spot that everyone should visit at least once when in Paris. Most famous as the place where the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ernest Hemingway...
43 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France
Cafe La Palette is one of the iconic cafes in the Latin Quarter in Paris, located in the gallery and art district of Saint Germain. The cafe is known for its large terrace overlooking rue Jacques-Callot and is popular among Fine Arts students and...
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