After experiencing Paris, Tove was tempted by the idea of Italy, Rome and the Renaissance masters – and, of course, the beach. A new grant financed her trip to Italy, and the threat of war speeded up her departure. In April 1939, Tove travelled by boat to Tallinn, Estonia and then through Berlin and Munich to Verona. She diligently visited all the museums, monasteries and churches to deepen her knowledge of Renaissance art. She was already a seasoned traveller and knew how travel independently and lightly.
‘I always do very nicely for myself and I know what I’m doing,’ she wrote to her parents.
The most dramatic moments of her trip came as she climbed up to the edge of the Mount Vesuvius crater.
‘A newborn little crater, about four days old, constantly oozing red lava at our feet, and as a backdrop, the sun setting behind the brown gases. We got to light our cigarettes on some lava that the driver dug out with an iron bar, and we sat there admiring this magical view until it got dark – it was a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno.’
The outbreak of the Second World War in the autumn of 1939 put an end to Tove’s travels and left her pining for the Italian art world.