Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys: Midsummer Ramble in the Dolomites (Virago travellers)

by Amelia B. Edwards

Paperback, 2000




Virago Press Ltd (2000), Edition: New edition, 416 pages


Even in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Dolomites in the Italian Alps were little known beyond the geological community, and largely unexplored by non-natives. In 1872, the English author Amelia Edwards (1831-92) and her friend travelled through these mountains, riding side-saddle on donkeys. Edwards' account of their journey is presented in this charming work, originally published in 1873. In it, she describes in great detail the people and mishaps met with along the way, including also digressions on the history of the region, the local flora, and geological theories on the origin and development of the mountains. The lively text is accompanied by wood engravings of the settlements and landscapes encountered by the travellers on their route. The result is a highly readable record of a bold journey which helped open up this area to tourism.… (more)


(4 ratings; 3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member LizzieD
This is a book for people who love the Dolomites already, who love Amelia Edwards for her work in Egypt and want to know more, or for compulsive completers like me. On page 22 I read, "Where the houses end, the precipices so close in that there is but just space for the road and the torrent. Then
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the gorge gradually widens through wooded slopes and hanging chestnut groves; farmhouses and châlets perched high on grassy plateaus begin to look more Swiss than Italian;...." Quite descriptive and well-written but with little personality or human interest. Surely she can't go on like this for 356 pages, can she? She can. I read on and on hoping for some travel anecdotes and hoping especially to meet some of the natives of the place in 1872. There were a few, but mostly the book is straightforward, accurate description.
If this were not enough, I have to say that I bring a 21st century perception to the matter of other human beings. I was, therefore, somewhat put off by Edwards's dismissal of peasants as not worthy of her regard. "It is curious how soon one learns to be content with these humble Tyrolean albergos, and to regard as friends and almost as equals, the kindly folks that keep them." She does warn other travelers that, "To treat them with hauteur, or with suspicion, or to give unnecessary trouble, is both unjust and impolite," so I forgive her for being a woman of her time, but I don't forget.
There is one passage where their guide yells at the mules that satisfies my appetite for local color for a moment. ("Holy Mother! what do they mean by drinking cold water when they are as hot as two hot cakes in the oven?...") That's about all, and that is my reason for giving this good enough piece of 19th century travel writing only 2½ stars.
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LibraryThing member RavenswoodPublishing

This novel takes you on a journey to places you have never been. The author writes with such conviction it makes you feel as though you are there with her.

The illustrations are drawn in sketch detail and add depth and even more realism.
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A truly deep-rooted adventure.

-Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Clu
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0860687295 / 9780860687290
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