Why did Nietzche Turin like Italy

On the path of passion

Nietzsche went to Italy several times, met women and even fell in love. A search for clues.

Italy, the place of longing for the rational northerners: relaxed lightness, emotionality, friendly and happy people. Coffee. Nietzsche also answered the call of the south several times, going to Genoa, Sorrento, Turin and Nice. As a rule, it was a spa stay for the thinker plagued by headaches and other ailments, but presumably it was also about more, namely finding the true self, a second, more truthful nature, which Nietzsche longed for many Germans in an exemplary manner.

Guy de Pourtalès already described Nietzsche's trip to Italy in detail in “Amor fati - Nietzsche in Italy”. The philosopher was looking for transformation, wanted to shed his skin like a snake in the south and finally shed his head, dare to take the step from Apollo to Dionysus. He never really succeeded, but Nietzsche failed with delight and gratitude. In relation to women too.

The young scholar made his first trip to Italy at the age of 32, after a failed secret love for Cosima Wagner. Disappointed love was like fertilizer for Nietzsche's intellectual activity, he embraced and praised pain, as he would later succeed in with so many illnesses. With each setback, it seems, it became stronger, more superhuman, and the will to power more relentless. The way there was paved with alternating approaches to the opposite sex. Nietzsche had moved away from Wagner and turned first to Chopin and then to Bizet's Carmen, with often expressed enthusiasm. Inwardly he had traded the north for the south, emotion for sheer rationality, dull heaviness for light dryness. “His heart had entered his head,” wrote de Pourtalès.

Nietzsche's appetite awoke, he praised the ice cream specialties of Turin and only let the waiters bring him the best bites, which he devoured with appetite while he noted: "In the very best condition of soul and entrails". The attempts at contact with women remained more civilized. The heart was now his head, it did not wander into his loins. It is difficult for a genius to love, de Pourtalès judges. "The experience of sin remained alien to Nietzsche."The ladies he met admired him for his ingenuity and finesse, he was not loved very much.

In Genoa he lived relatively monastic ("No newspapers, no alcohol, no women") and at most took two baronesses through the city, who praised him for his architectural expertise and gave him a brooch as a goodbye for his sister. He was a house friend and onlooker at Malwida von Meysenburg's in Sorrento, wrote and even approached a Lou von Salomé with a proposal of marriage, but at the end there was always a relative disappointment, another bend in the snail shell of loneliness. For Nietzsche, love probably remained an eternal riddle, Italy or not. He fell in love anyway: "I never found the woman I liked children of, unless this woman I love: because I love you, oh eternity!"

Reading recommendation: Guy de Pourtalès: “Amor fati - Nietzsche in Italy”, Urban-Verlag, Freiburg i. Br., 1930