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. In Volume 2 she gives detailed descriptions of her travels in Italy, where she stayed in cities such as Lucca, Siena, Florence, Rome and Naples, but also in smaller seaside towns such as Terracina. She draws attention to 'the odour of the cuisine' and the beautiful surroundings and weather, inspiring encounters with artists and locals, and daily visits to art galleries.
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