New Library acquisition: Journal of a tour to Italy

Author: Tracy Bergstrom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired the following item:

Charles-Marie de la Condamine.  Journal of a tour to Italy.  London, T. Lewis & G. Kearsly, 1763.  First edition. 


The subtitle of this volume gives a sense of the broad contents found within:

An account of the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius; Of the curiosities discovered at Herculaneum; Of the leaning towers of Pisa and Bologna; Detection of the impositions used in the pretended liquefying of the blood of St. Januarius; Parallel between the horseraces at Rome and Newmarket; Description of Port Specia and the neighbouring coast; Of the famous emerald, or Holy Vessel, at Genoa; Remarks on the mountains and ice valleys of Switzerland, &c. &c


Charles-Marie de la Condamine was a French naturalist, mathematician, and geographer.  In 1735, he was selected to direct an expedition to the equatorial regions of South America to measure the length of a degree of meridian at the equator in order to calculate the diameter of the earth.  La Condamine engaged in similar measurement projects in Italy as documented in this rare travel volume, including careful analysis of ancient buildings and monuments in determination of the length of the Roman foot.