Journalist and historian Amos Elon died yesterday in Italy at the age of 84.

Elon's family emigrated from Vienna to British Mandatory Palestine in 1933, when he was eight years old. He was discovered by Haaretz's editor Gershom Schocken, and worked as a reporter for the newspaper from the mid 1950s until 1986, covering some of the most important episodes of Israeli history including Jewish immigration from north Africa and the schism in the Kibbutz movement.

Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Elon increasingly believed that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be disastrous to its society. In the 1970s and 80s he penned a number of important articles, including arguably the best biography ever written of the founding father of Zionism, Theodore Herzl. During those years he spent many years abroad as a foreign correspondent for Haaretz, and in the 90s eventually left the country permanently, settling in a village in Tuscany.

"Nothing has changed here [in Israel] for the past 40 years," he told Ari Shavit in an interview five years ago, expressing his frustration with the country. "The solutions were known already back then. I realized I was saying the same things again and again. I began to bore myself."

Yet he said he always remained attached to his friends, and to the country he had chosen to leave behind. Israel, he told Shavit, was where he first kissed a girl. "And what is your homeland if not the place where you first kissed a girl?" he asked.