19-24 July 2017


The programme is subject to change. Last updated 5th July 2017 


Delegates arrive in Carrara

From 3:00 pm Hotel pick-up

Chamber of Commerce, Conference Hall, Carrara
From 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Conference Registration and Welcome Cocktail
5:30 pm
Official Conference Opening
Tony Williams, President of the Dickens Fellowship
Marzia Dati, President of the Carrara branch of the Dickens Fellowship
Biancamaria Rizzardi, University of Pisa

Mulino Forti
7:30 pm Dinner

Sant’Andrea Cathedral
9:00 pm Opera Concert
Aprile Millo’s tribute to Charles Dickens
Organized by Circolo Carrarese Amici della Lirica “A. Mercuriali”

Aprile Millo, soprano
Mary-Lou Vetere, soprano
Piero Giuliacci, tenore
Sergio Bologna, baritono
Bruno Praticò, baritono
Giorgio Giuseppini, basso
M° Inseon Lee, pianoforte

The Circolo Carrarese Amici della Lirica was founded in Carrara in 1973 and is named after Angelo Mercuriali, one of the most popular Italian tenors (1909-1999) of the 20th century. It is a cultural association which promotes opera through conferences, seminars with popular opera singers and musicologists; it also organizes trips to the most famous Italian and international opera houses. It has nearly 200 members which share a passion for opera and classical music. The Circolo Carrarese has been a member of the ‘Italian Federation of Associations of Opera and Classic Music’ since 2005.

11:30 pm Shuttle service to hotels


From 8:15 am Hotel pick-up

Chamber of Commerce, Conference Hall, Carrara
9:15 am Lecture
Dickens and the art of landscape
Malcom Andrews, Emeritus Professor of Victorian &Visual Arts, University of Kent

10:00 am Lecture
Dickens in Carrara: Blood on the Tracks
Francesca Orestano, Full Professor of English Literature, University of Milan

10:45 am Coffee break

11:15 am Lecture
The English Traveller’s Luggage: What Dickens Took to Italy – and the Pictures He Brought Back 
Tony Williams, President of the Dickens Fellowship

12:00 pm Lecture
Dickens and Jasper: Where Art Ends and Landscape Dissolves
Marisa Sestito, Full Professor of English Literature, University of Udine

Mulino Forti
1:00 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Free time

Marble Quarries
4:00 pm Departure to the marble quarries by coach

5:00 pm Option 1 Guided tour to the marble quarries
The visit offers an exciting offroad 4×4 trip in the stunning scenery of the Carrara marble quarries, where some scenes of the James Bond Quantum of Solace film were shot in 2008. With professional drivers and tour guides, delegates will experience the thrill of travelling along the steep, winding, roads described by Charles Dickens in Pictures from Italy.

5:00 pm Option 2 Guided tour to the most famous marble quarry tunnel in the world
The quarry is situated in the very heart of the mountain, where the Romans first discovered the precious white marble. In 1963 Carlo Dell’Amico,using the tunnel built for the Marmifera (the train used to transport blocks of marble from the quarries to the Carrara railway station), started the excavation of marble inside the mountains. The view is breathtaking: 24000 cubic metres of huge white marble chambers. The quarry is still active. You will walk along a floor made entirely of marble. The temperature inside ranges from 15/17 degrees Celsius all year round.

Mulino Forti
7:30 pm Dinner

Cinema Garibaldi
9:00 pm Performance
Pictures from Italy – In prospettiva
Primessa Productions
In 1844, Charles Dickens began his own personal “Grand Tour” of Italy. In his forthright and irascible, but ultimately admiring prose, he described his impressions of what he saw from Naples to Venice. This dramatisation presents a gentleman traveller reliving Dickens’ most colourful Italian experiences – adding an intriguing Italian contessa to the mix! Will his perspective on the “bel paese” incite her approval or her?

11:00 pm Shuttle service to hotels

FRIDAY 21nd July

From 7.30 am Hotel pick-up and departure to La Spezia by coach then to Portovenere by ferryboat

11:00 am Free visit in Portovenere. (Packed lunch)
Portovenere, located on the Ligurian coast of Italy in the province of La Spezia, was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997. Among the historical and natural places in Portovenere, you can see the famous Byron’s cave, where George Gordon Byron drew inspiration for his poems. It is located at the spur of rock below the old church of St. Peter’s, consecrated in 1198 and built on the site of a pre-existing 5th-century Palaeo-Christian church.

2:45 pm Departure from Portovenere to the hotel

From 6:45 pm Hotel pick-up

Mulino Forti
8:00 pm Dinner

Carrara old centre
9:30 pm Night sightseeing tour
Walking in Dickens’s footsteps
By Marzia Dati

11:00 pm Shuttle service to hotels


From 8:15 Hotel pick-up

Chamber of Commerce, Conference Hall, Carrara
9:00 am AGM agenda
Appointment of New DF President

10:30 am Lecture
Dickens and the Geranium
Jenny Hartley, Past President of Dickens Fellowship, Professor Emerita, University of Roehampton

11:15 am Coffee break

11:30 am Lecture
Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelites: from Criticism to Friendship
Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, B.A. (Hons), M.A.

12:15 am Lecture
The Art and Landscape of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities: Beginnings and Endings
Gail Turley Houston, Distinguished Feminist Research Lecturer 2016, Feminist Research Institute, Professor of English Literature, University of New Mexico

Mulino Forti
1:00 am Lunch

Carrara old centre
3:00 pm Sightseeing tour
Walking in Carrara
By “Accademia Albericiana”, Davide Lambruschi

5:00 pm Transfer to the hotel and free time

From 7:30 pm Hotel pick up

Studi d’arte Cave Michelangelo Carrara
8:30 pm Gala Dinner and musical entertainment by students from Liceo Musicale Palma (State Music School)

12:00 am Shuttle service to hotels


8:30 am Hotel pick-up

Cathedral of Sant’Andrea
9:15 am Church Service

Baptistery of Sant’Andrea Cathedral
10:30 am Visit to the exhibition
Dickens in the Eye of the Beholder: Photographic Portraiture and the Cultivation of Celebrity
Photo by Leon Litvack

Palazzo Binelli
11:30 pm Visit to the photographic exhibition
Travelling with Charles Dickens
By Paolo Maggiani and Massimo Susini

1.00 pm Lunch

Chamber of Commerce, Conference Hall, Carrara
3.00 pm Lecture
Dickens and Company: All the Year Round in Italy
Jeremy Parrott, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Buckingham

3:45 pm Lecture
Dickens and Twain in Genoa
Massimo Bacigalupo, Professor of American Literature, University of Genoa

4:30 pm Coffee break

5:00 pm Lecture
Dickens Posing for Posterity: The Photographic Portraits by Herbert Watkins
Leon Litvack,  Reader in Victorian Studies, Queen’s University.Principal Editor, The Charles Dickens Letters Project

Mulino Forti
7:30 pm Dinner

Teatro Garibaldi 
9:00 pm Farewell speech and students’ awards
A special thank to the Aberdeen Branch of the Dickens Fellowship which allowed us to organize the student competition.

9:30 pm Performance
Dickens in Italy
Gerald Dickens
Gerald Dickens’s perfromance is based on the Italian chapters of Pictures from Italy, along with Dickens’ letters and a few passages from The Chimes and Dombey, which he was working on during his journey and on the play To Begin With. The play is a show based on Dickens’s writing of The Life of Our Lord, which he also wrote during his journey in Italy.

11:30 pm Shuttle service to hotels


From 7:45 am Hotel pick-up
8:30 am Departure from Carrara to Pisa

The Leaning Tower has made Pisa famous all over the world. However, in addition to the Tower, the city has many other sites of interest: the Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli), the Cathedral and the Baptistery, the Camposanto, the Cathedral Museum and the Sinopie Museum. The historical centre offers the visitors many beautiful building, old narrow streets and the beautiful Piazza dei Cavalieri, once the heart of the city and later the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen. The Palazzo della Carovana, overlooking the square, houses the prestigious Scuola Normale of Pisa. Byron and Shelley lived in Pisa; Dickens and Ruskin walked in the street of the city centre some years later.

10.30 am Guided tour to the Cathedral and the Camposanto

12.15 pm Visit to the Leaning Tower (for those who booked)

1.15 pm Lunch

3:00 pm Walking in the footstep of English poets and writers

6:00 pm Return to hotels

“Dickens, art and landscape”

English writers and poets have always been attracted by Italy as a country marked by a unique artistic and natural wealth, shrouded in a dusty veil of past grandeur. Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio and many other Italian poets and writers have been a recurrent stimulus to English poetic achievement.

Tuscany, in particular, hosted the most outstanding literary personalities in English Literature straddling the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and the Victorian Age.

Charles Dickens first visited Carrara in January 1845, where he was astonished by the breathtaking view of the white marble quarries, which he describes in Pictures from Italy and in the many letters to his friend John Forster. The magnificent white marble quarries in the very heart of the Apuan Alps are unique and reveal themselves as a gleaming vision before the visitor’s eyes. Entering the mountain’s heart, one can touch the precious material so highly favoured by artists like Michelangelo and Canova.  Dickens’s sharp eye was able to grasp the hardship of the quarrymen and the precariousness of their lives, something which is still true today.

The Dickens Fellowship conference offers the opportunity to follow Dickens’s footsteps along old Roman routes and visit ancient buildings and monuments in an incomparable part of Italy, a perfect blend of art and nature.

The Conference coincides with the reopening of the Teatro degli Animosi in Carrara, a nineteenth-century work of art, a theatre completely restored and brought back again to its original beauty, as described by Dickens in Pictures from Italy.

Carrara will host many Dickens specialists: scholars and academicians, Dickensians from the English-speaking world and from Italian universities, who will investigate the way Dickens and his contemporaries perceived Italy, its culture, history and people. It will be an event aimed at encouraging and enhancing the dialogue of cultures, strongly supported by Tuscany Region, Carrara Local Government, The Regional Education Department, University of Pisa, University of Milan, AIA, ANDA and many other Italian and British institutions, not to mention private companies, benefactors and, of course, The International Dickens Fellowship.


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