Claudia Capancioni (Bishop Grosseteste University), ‘At Poggio Gherardo with Janet Ross: Literary Legacy and Intellectual Communities’

On the 15th Arpil 2015, Dr. Claudia Capancioni spoke to us about Poggio Gherardo, a Tuscan villa and site of literary and scholarly tourism. Dr. Capancioni explored the legacy of Poggio Gherardo as a space for intellectual encounters and collaborations in the late nineteenth century.




Author of the acclaimed Letters from Egypt, 1863-65 (1865), Janet Ross settled with her husband in Tuscany in 1869. Contrary to many Anglo-American settlers, the pair preferred the countryside to the city of Florence. They bought Poggio Gherardo, a villa ‘nearly two miles due east of Florence, above the Settignano road, […] overlooking the valley of the Arno.’

Dr. Capancioni is studying Poggio Gherardo as the space of renowned Sunday receptions attended by John Addington Symonds and his daughter, Margaret Symonds, Henry James, Marie Corelli, Alfred Austin, Robert Browning, Mark Twain, Caroline Waterfield, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. In the late nineteenth century, Ross’s villa was the place to discover rural Tuscany, absorb the hostess’s knowledge of Tuscan costumes and folklore, and be inspired by the same landscape that inspired Boccaccio.

This was a suitably warm and sunny talk for our final research seminar of the year. We welcome proposals for papers and other activates for 2015-16.