One of my favourite travel books is Goethe's Italian Journey . . .
Some journeys — Goethe's was one — really are quests. Italian Journey is not only a description of places, persons and things, but also a psychological document of the first importance.
Some quotes from the book itself . . .
My purpose in making this wonderful journey is not to delude myself, but to discover myself in the objects I see.
Wherever I walk, I come upon familiar objects in an unfamiliar world; everything is just as I imagined it, yet everything is new. It is the same with my observations and ideas. I have not had a single idea which was entirely new or surprising, but my old ideas have become so much more firm, vital, coherent that they could be called new.
Naples is a paradise; everyone lives in a state of intoxicated self-forgetfulness, myself included. I seem to be a completely different person whom I hardly recognise. Yesterday I thought to myself: either you were mad before, or you are mad now.
When I indulge in self-reflection, as I like to do occasionally, I discover in myself a feeling which gives me great joy. Let me put it like this. In this place, whoever looks seriously about him and has eyes to see is bound to become a stronger character . . . At least I can say that I have never been so sensitive to the things of this world as I am here. The blessed consequences will, I believe, affect my whole future life.
Nothing, above all, is comparable to the new life that a reflective person experiences when he observes a new country. Though I am still always myself, I believe I have been changed to the very marrow of my bones.