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Motion Pictures

Travel Ideals in Film


Edited By Gemma Blackwood and Andrew McGregor

This volume examines representations and explorations of travel ideals in contemporary international cinema. It assembles work from a diverse range of academic fields including anthropology, sociology, ethnography, cinema, culture, tourism, communication and language studies, with contributions from international experts such as Mary Louise Pratt of New York University, whose work on ‘contact zones’ continues to provide the framework for scholarship on travel writing around the world. The volume explores the link between filmed spaces and real locations, with one of the fundamental dynamics being the investigation of filmmaking itself, and in particular the notion that cultural authenticity may be sought and found by filming ‘on location’. Also examined are the notions of fantasy and exoticism that arise through an idealisation of the locations themselves and their transformational impact on the protagonists who travel there. Such is the impact of motion pictures on contemporary culture that these travel ideals in film will inevitably influence our understanding of cities, regions, nations and cultures; indeed, the world around us and our role in it.
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Chapter Nine: Travel Ideals in Food: Cooking up an Ideal(ised) Italy in Contemporary American ‘Middlebrow’ Films




Travel Ideals in Food: Cooking up an Ideal(ised) Italy in Contemporary American ‘Middlebrow’ Films

For centuries Italy has been the destination of a lifetime for an endless stream of travellers. In the nineteenth century, affluent travellers from the “New Worlds”, first from the United States and later from Australia, added to the flow of visitors that for centuries had journeyed to Italy to quench their thirst for history, art and beauty. In contemporary times, the fascination Italy still exerts on travellers from the United States and Australia has also been expressed and exploited through a sensuous representation of Italian food in print and in cinema. Today, more Americans and Australians than ever travel to Italy,1 and more of them linger for longer periods; indeed many come to learn about food and wine as integral parts of the country’s culture, to participate in cookery classes, ← 167 | 168 → to experience some form of rural life in Tuscan or Umbrian villages, alongside other culturally esteemed fields such as art, music and architecture that the nation is renowned for.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, a spate of best-selling English-language books have been published – mainly by Australian and American journalists or “instant writers”2 who have spent time in Italy – which focus on the pleasure of living in the country, whether they describe life in a small village or in one of the main cities. Favourite topics rotate around sensual...

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