This tradition stills lives today to a certain extent, but it had a name and was a tradition among the younger generation of a certain lifestyle during a particular time in history. From 1660 up until the major scale use of railways as a common means of transport, men of certain means and wealth would explore the continent of Europe to learn, and be exposed to, classic Renaissance antiquities, music, art, political and fashionably polite society. These young men would amass knowledge and cultural experience during these rounds that could only be gained with exposure to such a place as the European continent. These tours could last from several months to several years. It was primarily done by British nobility and gentry, but also the American elite. It was a pilgrimage of sorts on the way to becoming a well studied, carefully cultivated human being who was now bestowed a rite of passage into adulthood.
These tours still happen today for young men and women who make a pilgrimage to the European continent to expand their cultural horizons and to be exposed to some of the finest architecture, design, art, and civilization that the world has to offer. Although today these tours are not limited to those with financial means. People come from all walks of life to study and be exposed to a world which will open their horizons and make them a more well rounded individual.
Courtesy of De Parma, Wikipedia, 1st Dibs