My 'Grand Tour on a Grand' was a 50-day, 3000km, solo cycle to Rome on £1,000. Catch up with my Grand Tour blog here. To learn about ye olde fashioned Grand Tour, read on...
What is The Grand Tour?
From the 1600s onwards, England's great and good (well, rich) travelled through Europe to seek cultural - and often sexual - enlightenment. It became a finishing school for young aristocrats; the Victorian equivalent of the gap year.
There were as many routes as there were travellers, but most followed a similar circuit. They visited Paris and Geneva, crossing the Alps at Mont Cenis (alas the Mont Blanc Tunnel was closed for maintenance). Thence it was on to Venice via Vicenza, and Rome via Florence. Many even reached Naples or voyaged to Athens and beyond.
The Grand Tour was the domain of the young, rich male. A handful of women set off too, documenting their trips through diaries, letters and travel writing. They all went to appreciate local beauty, from architecture, religious monuments and sculpture, to local cultures, customs and people. And to show off on their return. My tour revisited the Grand Tour's key destinations over 6-8 weeks, on a budget of 1,000 GBP.
I visited all of the above, and did large amounts of showing off (of my tan) afterwards.
Grand Designs does The Grand Tour
Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour series is absolutely brilliant. Watch it now. This was on a loop in the background whilst preparing for my trip. Judging by many of his anecdotes - we both read the same books to prepare for our respective tours, too.