In the 1920s and 1930s Escher made several long trips to Italy in search of inspiration for his work. Together with artists he befriended, he visited untouched parts of the country in spring and in summer and made drawings there. In the following winter he developed a selection of these into prints.
In February 1931 he produced this lithograph of Santa Severina. The previous spring he did drawings and took photos of this village on a mountain in Calabria, in southern Italy. His diaries not only contain his itinerary but also the relevant photos he took and their locations. Subtle scratch marks in his diary indicate that he incorporated them into a photo album. Santa Severina is a prime example of this. On 19 May 1930, together with his friends Giuseppe Haas-Triverio, Roberto Schiess and Jean Roussett, he travelled from the coastal town of Crotone to Santa Severina, which was situated in the hills. They spent a whole day there and returned to Crotone on 21 February.