“See Murray’s guide-book!!”

But be aware that sometimes “Nothing can be farther from correct than Murray’s account of it.”

Caroline Crane Marsh (CCM) and her husband George loved to travel, and to my surprise they used a series of guidebooks that were popular at the time: Murray’s. It turns out they were around for almost a hundred years in one form or another. I’ve looked at a couple, and they are something like Fodor’s or Frommer’s. Like other guidebooks, they vary in quality, as the two above quotes from CCM indicate.

I was curious to see what Murray has to say about some of the places we know in Italy, around the time CCM was there. At the Internet Archive, I found the 1863 guide to northern Italy, which includes Verona (and Turin where CCM was), and the 1858 guide to Southern Germany and other places, including Bolzano (=Botzen in the German spelling of the time, now Bozen), which was then part of Austrian. There are other years and places on the Internet Archive as well.

Of course, in the 150+ years since those guides were written a lot has changed (and they weren’t necessarily up to date when they were published — like contemporary guidebooks they reused text from one edition to the next), but the general nature of the advice is very recognizable. For example, there is information about travel documents when visiting the Austrian part (including parts of Verona and all of Bolzano) of what is now Italy.

A Foreign Office passport is essential for entering the Austrian territories, and is admitted without visa throughout the kingdom of Italy. … It should be borne in mind that the signature of an Austrian minister or diplomatic agent on the passport is essential before entering the Austrian Dominions. It will also be advisable to have inserted in the passport the number of persons composing a family, with the names of the servants, stating whether British subjects or foreigners… The Government of North Italy has abolished the necessity of all visas to passports issued by the British Secretary of State.

Murray’s 1863 guide to Northern Italy

Including young children on your passport is still the practice, I think, but I doubt that servants would be, not that I know anyone with servants.

Other travel practicalities included transportation: there was no train service north of Bolzano, so you had to take a horse-drawn coach of some sort. The “express” took 16 hours from Innsbruck to Bolzano and longer in the opposite direction since it is more uphill (for comparison, the direct train these days is 3.5 hours). And then, if you weren’t doing coaches, heading south from Bolzano towards Trent:

The pedestrian intending to descend the valley of the Adige to Trent should not follow the post-road, but take in preference the cross-road running under the base of Sigmundskrone, through the valley of Kaltern, which runs S. parallel with that of the Adige, but separated from it by an isolated mountain.

Murray’s 1958 guide to Southern Germany etc.

There still are long-distance hikers these days, so maybe that advice would still be relevant, but I wouldn’t know.

Continuing with the transportation theme, when you get to the Verona train station at Porta Nuova (it’s still there),

Omnibuses are in attendance to convey passengers to the different hotels on the arrival of each train, and good broughams, the fare in which to any part of the city is only a lira.

Murray’s 1963 guide to Northern Italy

That’s pretty much the way it works today, except the buses aren’t timed to the trains, and the cabs (the broughams in that quote) are not drawn by horses. Not mentioned in the advice is how to pay for the bus. In Verona you have to get your bus tickets in the tobacconist shop, or at least you did the last time we were there a couple years ago.

And what hotel should you go to? As any good guide does, Murray’s has some recommendations. For Verona:

Albergo delle Due Torre; comfortable and the best; a good table-d’hôte at 3 and 5 o’clock
3 ½ francs. — La Torre di Londra ; also very good, people very attentive (May 1863)

Murray’s 1963 guide to Northern Italy

And for Bolzano:

Kaiserkrone, Couronne Imperiale, best, and very good; table-d’hôte at l2; — Mezza Luna (Mondschein), fair ; — Cerva.

Murray’s 1958 guide to Southern Germany etc.

Note that the first two hotels have names in two languages, though not the same two. Kaiserkrone and Mondschein are German; Couronne Imperiale is French, and Mezza Luna is Italian (as is Cerva). The German and Italian reflect the multilingual nature of the area (even mentioned in Murray’s), and the French, well French indicated prestige back then, too, I guess. I had to look up table-d’hôte — it’s a set menu.

Of those places, in Verona there is now a restaurant roughly where the Due Torre was and a hotel roughly where the Torre di Londra was (I think, based on a map from the 1897 Murray’s). In Bolzano we ate at the Kaiserkrone once (very fancy, it was a farewell gift from our friends), and at we stayed at Mondschein once while visiting later (not as fancy, and we got some kind of on-line deal). Well, at least they had the same names; I can’t be 100% at this point if they were the same as the ones back in 1858.

There’s lots more fun to be had perusing those guide books (currency! weights! how to deal with customs officers!, museum guides!), but I’ll leave that to your own explorations. Buon viaggio and Gute Reise!