This study explores the use of adjectives in Dickens’s Pictures from Italy and Murray’s Handbook to Northern Italy. It is based on a 17,645-word corpus made up of sections chosen from the Handbook to Northern Italy and a 17,600-word corpus comprising chapters 5 to 9 of Pictures from Italy. The paper first looks at the frequency and use of adjective tokens in the two corpora and breaks them down into syntactic categories (e.g. predicative, attributive, postposed). It goes on to investigate the distribution of adjective types in the two corpora and illustrates how Dickens uses more adjectives, including some that were infrequently used in late modern English. It then explores adjective compounding in some detail, showing that Dickens makes use of a larger number of hyphenated compound adjectives than Murray. The findings suggest that Pictures from Italy is overall a more inventive and sophisticated piece of writing than the Handbook to Northern Italy, although the latter appears to have inspired the former to some extent. They also indicate that Dickens’s work mainly addresses independent travellers rather than conventional tourists.