A Caltech Library Service

Visiting Vesuvius: Guides, Local Knowledge, Sublime Tourism, and Science, 1760–1890

Brewer, John (2021) Visiting Vesuvius: Guides, Local Knowledge, Sublime Tourism, and Science, 1760–1890. Journal of Modern History, 93 (1). pp. 1-33. ISSN 0022-2801. doi:10.1086/712588.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This article examines the activities of guides on the volcano Mount Vesuvius in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They worked in a double capacity—as aids to savants seeking to unlock the scientific secrets of the volcano and as the creators of a tourist infrastructure that helped visitors enjoy the sublime experience of a steadily erupting volcano. The essay examines their contribution to scientific knowledge of the volcano and their role in developing sublime tourism, a phenomenon that, despite an earlier existence, burgeoned in the late eighteenth century. It argues that guides were vital to both, but that a long-standing attempt to circumscribe their role as knowledge makers grew more and more effective in the nineteenth century, as mineralogists’ concern with specimens (shared by so many visitors and amateurs) gave way to geologists’ concern for the interrelations of rocks and strata, and as the Neapolitan state developed scientific institutions, notably the volcanic observatory with its instruments on the slopes of the volcano, that took over functions previously served by the guides. Though the guides—or some of them—were able to profit from the flow of visitors, not least because of their special knowledge and skills, their activities were also transformed as the growth of a state infrastructure of roads and railways pushed them to the margins, and as transnational organizations, like the Thomas Cook travel agency, absorbed their labor.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 2021 by The University of Chicago.
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210325-071256394
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Visiting Vesuvius: Guides, Local Knowledge, Sublime Tourism, and Science, 1760–1890. John Brewer. The Journal of Modern History 2021 93:1, 1-33; DOI: 10.1086/712588
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108547
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Mar 2021 23:24
Last Modified:30 Mar 2021 23:24

Repository Staff Only: item control page