Tuscany through Greer's eyes

Italy, Italian people and history and the Italian language have been central to Germaine Greer’s personal and professional life.

Proof sheet - Tuscany through Greer's eyes,
Germaine Greer Photographs Series,
University of Melbourne Archives, 2014.0054.00440  

View Large Image

Every archivist who has catalogued records in the Greer Archive has encountered evidence of Greer’s passion for Italy, a love Greer expressed through the photographs she took, the interviews she recorded in Italian (a language she speaks fluently), the food she grew and cooked, the lectures she delivered and the books, manuscripts and paintings she studied, read and wrote about.

Greer first visited Italy in 1965 when she was a postgraduate student at the University of Cambridge and from 1973 until 1994 she owned Pianelli, a stone house in Montannare di Cortona, a place between the mediaeval town of Cortona, Tuscany and the border of Umbria.

Pianelli was a place of beauty, pleasure and refuge. The colour contact print, originally housed in a folder Greer had labelled “Pianelli, Italy”, lets viewers see this exquisite part of Tuscany through her eyes. She took hundreds of photographs of plants and flowers at Pianelli and these images are all held in the photographic series (2014.0054).

‘The Unaccompanied Guest at Pianelli’ is a marvellous is a 32-page typewritten booklet containing an alphabetical guide written by Germaine Greer. The booklet begins "Address" and ends: "Wine". There is a map of the area on front cover and hand drawn plan of house on verso. The booklet is housed in the major works series (2014.0045) in a folder labelled Pianelli 1990, alongside correspondence about Greer's loan of Pianelli, to colleagues at Newnham College, in summer 1990.

The December issue of University of Melbourne’s Collections magazine will feature two essays on Greer’s Italy by Greer Archive curator, Dr Rachel Buchanan, and archivist Dr Sebastian Gurciullo. Buchanan’s essay is a sketch of Greer’s Italy in the archive while Gurciullo writes about time-coding Greer’s Italian-language interviews with Primo Levi, Federico Fellini and Luciano Pavarotti. These interviews are in the audio series (2014.0040).

More feature images