Home » Fiction & Literature » Etta Austin Blaisdell McDonald » Rafael in Italy: A Geographical Reader

October 18 , 2009

Rafael in Italy: A Geographical Reader


The very best way to understand the life and customs of a foreign country is to visit it. If that is impossible one may still learn much by reading a story of the people who live there. As this is true of grown people, so is it true of children. They can become acquainted with the children of other lands by reading stories of their simple, daily life, and by living it for a little while within the pages of the story-book. It is no longer the fashion for our school children to learn by rote the facts written down in their geography about all the corners of the earth; they must know rather the children in these foreign lands,—the sights they see, their work and play, their festivals and holidays, their homes, their ambitions. Such a tale is told in this little book about Italy. Rafael Valla, a lad of fourteen, is seen first in Venice; he rows his boat on the canals, hears the music of the band in the Square of St. Mark, goes to the Rialto bridge for the serenade, and suddenly, through a chance meeting with an American girl and her mother, the way is opened for him to see Italy. He joins them in Florence, and they ride over the Tuscan roads in an automobile, stopping to see the peasants gathering grapes, and to visit an olive-farm. In Rome they see the ruins of the ancient city under the direction of a guide, and they go to Naples, and visit Pompeii and Vesuvius. The book is full of pictures of Italian life. One sees the children feeding the pigeons in Venice, the Easter festival in Florence, the vintage with its merry-making in Tuscany, the Roman ruins, the picturesque street-life in Naples with its noise and gayety, and the silent streets of Pompeii. There are many such pen pictures of Italian life, and the story should appeal to the imagination of the child and awaken his interest in Italy and its people
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