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Following in the Adventurous Footsteps of Ernest Hemingway: A Travel Itinerary





Ernest Hemingway crafted his vivid literary works like A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea-based extensively on his own daring international escapades. From running with the bulls in Pamplona to fishing local waters in Havana, Hemingway drew inspiration from the people and places he encountered during his adrenaline-filled life.


For Hemingway fans, traveling to the varied global sites he lived, drank, hunted, and wrote offers unprecedented insights into the legendary author's passions and pastimes. By exploring his birthplace in suburban Oak Park, journeying to Northern Michigan woods that kindled his nature writing, and witnessing Spanish bullfighting rings, devotees can trace how Hemingway’s thirst for adventure fueled his raw, muscular prose.


This literary expedition crosses multiple continents, from Italy, where he convalesced after war wounds, to the Cuban farm, where he penned The Old Man and the Sea. Follow in Hemingway’s rugged footsteps into cafes, newsrooms, war zones, and fishing villages that made indelible imprints on his storytelling and quintessentially American machismo.


A Historical and Literary Travel Itinerary of Ernest Hemingway's Life


Oak Park, Illinois: Hemingway's Early Years


Nobel Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway was born and spent his formative years in the quiet Chicago suburb of Oak Park before embarking on a life of adventure. Seeing where he grew up provides great insight into his origins:


• Tour the Hemingway Birthplace Home and Museum, which still contains original furniture from when the family lived there.


• Walk the picturesque paths of Forest Park a few blocks away, where young Ernie explored nature and read classics al fresco.


• Pass by Oak Park and River Forest High School, where Hemingway first honed his writing craft by penning stories for the student newspaper.


• Have dinner at popular Berghoff Cafe, which opened in 1898, where teen Hemingway likely stopped for a malt after school.


Strolling the tree-lined streets of vintage Oak Park captures a bygone era of Hemingway’s wholesome Midwestern upbringing before he ventured beyond into worlds unknown.




Northern Michigan: Early Nature Inspiration


Ernest Hemingway's family had deep ties to Northern Michigan, where they spent idyllic childhood summers camping, fishing, and exploring the woods near Walloon Lake that later featured prominently in Hemingway's writing like the Nick Adams stories.


Must-see Northern Michigan spots include:


• Horton Bay General Store - where young Hemingway was paid 5 cents for each fish he caught that the store owner then sold


• Michigan Hemingway Society guided tours covering Petoskey ocean harbors and more locations referenced in his works


• Hiking and camping around forests and streams of the Huron-Manistee National Forest, where the Hemingways vacationed


• Good Hart General Store original site - featured in Hemingway short stories, rebuilt after burglary arson


Absorbing the same tranquil lakes, verdant forests, and quaint small towns of upstate Michigan brings Hemingway's wilderness adventure stories alive in vivid color.



Kansas City: Launching His Journalism Career


After graduating high school, Ernest Hemingway jumpstarted his writing career in Kansas City, working as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star newspaper from 1917-1918. Relive his humble beginnings:


• The Kansas City Public Library's Hemingway Collection contains digitized Star clippings of the earliest stories with Hemingway's byline.


• Union Station Kansas City - Home of the Star offices in Hemingway's day, explore exhibits on his time in KC.


• Have drinks at Brewery Emperial or The Rieger Hotel Grill, where Hemingway debriefed with journalistic colleagues after press time.


• Visit the National WWI Museum and Memorial to reflect on how reporting on the Great War shaped Hemingway's perspective.


Hemingway's learnings about using terse language from the Star's style guide informed his famously compact prose. Roaming KC offers insight into his development before global fame.



Italy: Wounded During WWI


Ernest Hemingway volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War I and was severely wounded in Italy, an experience that inspired his novel A Farewell to Arms. Sites tied to this pivotal time include:


• Fossalta, Italy - Where Hemingway was injured by mortar fire while delivering supplies to soldiers. See the museum exhibit about the event.


• St. Mark's Square, Venice - Featured in Across the River and Into the Trees, have a drink where Hemingway did after convalescing.



St. Mark's Square today


• Ristorante Aquila Nigra, Bassano - Dine at this Vicenza trattoria opened in Hemingway's day that he likely frequented to sample local Venetian cuisine.


• Tour the battlefields and memorials around the Isonzo River, where Hemingway drove ambulances on the front lines before his injury.


Walking where Hemingway did during the war provides deeper connections with the pain and courage he conveyed through writings like A Farewell to Arms.



Spain: Tales of Bullfighting & Fishing


Ernest Hemingway was enamored with Spanish culture, especially bullfighting and fishing, which featured prominently in works like The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea, inspired by his travels in Spain.


Must-see sites include:


• Running of the Bulls in Pamplona during July's San Fermin Festival is described so vividly in The Sun Also Rises after Hemingway's visits.


• The fishing village of L’Escala on the Costa Brava, the inspiration and setting for The Old Man and the Sea, about an aging fisherman. Have fresh seafood with views of the Mediterranean.



What the village of L’Escala looks like today


• Touring the bullfighting rings like Las Ventas in Madrid that Hemingway revered as temples of an ancient bloody sport depicted often in his writings.


• Sipping rioja wine at late-night tapas bars Hemingway frequented in Madrid.


Walking the streets of Pamplona and coastal Spanish villages provides Technicolor glimpses into the sensory experiences that fed Hemingway’s imagination.




Havana, Cuba: A Literary Escape


Ernest Hemingway lived outside Havana, Cuba, at his home, Finca Vigía, for over two decades from 1939-1960, where he wrote The Old Man and the Sea and other late-career works. Sites in Havana and nearby related to his time include:


• Finca Vigía, his preserved hilltop villa where Hemingway wrote daily, entertained fellow literati like Dos Passos and kept his well-stocked fishing boat, Pilar.



Hemingway's Finca Vigía


• El Floridita bar, which boasts a bronze Hemingway statue, where he was said to frequently enjoy daiquiris.



Hemingway's statue in the El Floridita bar


• The ambiance of Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Hemingway often lodged in a room to write stories like the first pages of For Whom the Bell Tolls.


• Cojimar fishing village that was the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea, just 8km from Havana.


Walking in Hemingway's footsteps through the streets of lively Havana and along the coast where he spent his leisure reveals the passions that shaped his latter years.



Ketchum, Idaho: The Final Chapter


After his time in Cuba, Ernest Hemingway and his wife purchased a home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1959, hoping the mountain town would be reinvigorating. But he struggled with illness and depression there. Sites include:


• The Nature Conservancy's Hemingway-Boulders Preserve surrounding his former Ketchum residence with its wilderness trails and Wood River views that provided inspiration.


• The small Ketchum Cemetery where Hemingway is buried just a mile from his home after his tragic suicide in 1961 alongside his family members.


• Ketchum's Community Library - See early editions of Hemingway autographed for the library and other commemorative displays.


• Have a drink at The Casino Club, a Ketchum bar opened in 1947 that Hemingway frequented as a local patron relishing stories.


The remote, peaceful Ketchum area ultimately could not restore Hemingway to contentment and productivity, but tracing his Idaho years provides poignant insights into his tormented end.



Understanding Hemingway Through His Adventurous Life


By following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway across continents, devotees can gain profound perspectives into the famously adventurous life that shaped his literary output.


Walking the leafy suburban streets of his childhood fills in early blanks, seeing the landscapes and waters that molded him as a nature writer adds texture, and drinking in the sights and sounds of the Spanish festivals he adored brings technicolor vividness. The international influences become palpable.


Ultimately, traveling Hemingway’s path brings home how fully he wrung life for every last drop of experience which then got transmuted into his sparse yet intensely sensory writing. Standing where nimble prose took form out of rugged lands, you better understand the author behind the words.


While Hemingway’s depression cut his jam-packed life short, fans can still channel his curiosity and vigor while walking where he walked. Let his pursuit of life’s pleasures, pains, and truth inspire your own quest for adventures and stories.


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