'We laugh at Italian 'palaces', at their peeling paint, their nudity, their dreariness; but they have the great palatial quality - elevation and extent. They make of smaller things the apparent abode of pigmies; they round their great arches and interspace their huge windows with a proud indifference to the cost of materials... If the Italians at bottom despise the rest of mankind and regard them as barbarians, disinherited of the tradition of form, the idea proceeds largely, no doubt, from our living in comparative mole-hills. They alone were really to build their civilisation.'
from Italy Revisited - Henry James