Sunshine, sensuality, and a dash of danger… the Mediterranean has fascinated writers and artists for hundreds of years. But why are the Brits so obsessed?

Some readers may be lucky enough this holiday season to experience one day, or just a moment, however fleeting, of balmy fulfilment, when everything is perfect. When you just want to freeze everything, capture the sense of satiated pleasure and take it home with you.

The Anglo-American artist John Singer Sargent had one such day when he was painting friends on the terrace of a villa in the Alban hills close to Rome during the summer of 1907. Taking a break for refreshment, he joked that they should all take strychnine: such was the depth of his contentment that he wanted to lie down and die. The hit ITV series about the escapades of the Durrell family in 1930s Corfu evokes more simply the Mediterranean’s symbolic power to resolve and soothe harassed minds.

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Read More From EM Forster to Mamma Mia! Why we can’t resist the Mediterranean

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