Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

this, yet, so mutilated are these relics, that the effect is almost destroyed. The central figure is headless; several of the arms are wanting, and there are several patches. Some beauty, and grace, there certainly is; but, with all due deference to antiquity, I very much prefer some similar groups of modern execution.

On the ensuing night we slept at Buonconvento; and about eleven o'clock the following morning, breakfasted at La Scala. Here three of the party, including myself, hired horses to visit the Baths of St. Peter, at a distance of about seven miles, and were not a little gratified in our exploration of volcanic wonders. The streams that flow around smoke perceptibly, and are too hot for the hand to bear long; the odour, and taste, strongly sulphurDr. Vegni was the first who produced a work of art simply by the operation of the water, which being scattered in spray, the calcareous particles settle on moulds properly placed, and thus gradually produce a cameo, or intaglio, according to the impression. I bought an oval, cameo, head of Julius Cæsar; the time it had taken to form was six weeks.

eous.

We then proceeded to the Sulphur Caves. All around exhibited the appearance of volcanic devastation; the ground was split into yawning fissures, and caverns, down which we heard some distant roar, but whether from the operation of fire, or

Approach to Rome.

279

water, we knew not; we saw beds of sulphur clouded by the mists arising from their own heat, and were struck with observing at one and the same place, as it were, the decomposition effected by the rising fumes of the sulphuric heat, and the petrifactions continually forming by the passage the streams over the surrounding ground.

of

The same night we slept at La Novella, passing Radicofani, the frontier of Tuscany, on whose summit, picturesquely situated, is a now ruined fortress, partially, and beautifully, illumined, as we passed it, by the golden rays of a setting sun whose glories, like its own, were sinking fast away. This height is nearly 2500 feet above the level of the Mediterranean, and is supposed to be the crater of an extinct volcano.

On Saturday, we entered the Papal States at Ponte Centino, and breakfasted at Bolsena, conjectured to be built upon the site of the ancient Volsinium.

Such scenes, and such situations, when first explored, and on the very road to Rome herself, excite those deep feelings so strictly in unison with a pilgrimage to the decayed, but Eternal, City.

In addition to the remains of the ancient Roman walls, and viæ, are the relics of an amphitheatre, a sculptured sarcophagus, and antique columns preserved in the church, which is further memorable from the asserted occurrence in 1263 of that miracle whence originates the Fête Dieu.

280

Approach to Rome.

On the borders of the Lake of Bolsena, anciently Lacus Vulsinus, are a most striking series of prismatic, basalt, columns, all standing obliquely, and, as it were, shaken, and thus displaced, by some convulsion of nature.

Montefiascone, and Viterbo, at the foot of Monte Cimino, anciently Mons Ciminus, lead to Ronciligione, and thence to Monterosi, where we slept on Sunday night. Proceeding through Baccano, along the Via Flaminia, and through the Porta del Popolo, originally erected by Aurelian, on Monday the 12th, we entered the Eternal City!

With respect to this journey from Florence to Rome, I had heard so very much of the insuperable disgusts, and disagreeables, attending it, that I am bound to say. I think them exaggerated, and that the inns are not altogether so very, very filthy.

The ladies may well be allowed to complain, but, I think, that the men may manage to bear these temporary incommodities. We certainly had but meagre fare, though it was rather amusing in some instances to try, and contrive, how to procure our little comforts. Tea we took with us; but this being a luxury unknown in these parts, the deuce of a tea pot could be had. In this case, could get any

when sitting over a wood fire, we

sort of vessel, stewing pan, or fish pot, with, or without, a cover, we boiled the tea in it, and drank it out of tumblers, for want of cups, leaves and all, using a bit of bread instead of a spoon.

The Journey to Rome.

281

Sometimes the utmost we could achieve was to put the tea, each man in his own glass, and to pour the boiling water upon it. On one occasion, we thought ourselves famously well off in getting hold of a soup tureen, cover and ladle, in lieu of tea pot, tea cups, basin, and other appendages. Such trifles excite laughter, and fun, rather than long, or wry faces, and serve as a specimen of some part of this country.

At La Novella, where the poor peasantry, or wretched inn, possess neither butter, sugar, milk, meat, or cow, &c. being five in company we were obliged to sleep three in a miserable rafter room; two bed-rooms, one of which was the dining-room, being all they had: and it was at this place that, finding but one basin, and one towel, furnished for three people, I asked for two more towels. The good woman seemed quite amazed, exclaiming in bad Italian, "What! Three towels! How could you expect such a magazine!"

Our carriage was very comfortable, and our Vetturino did more than fulfil his promise, since, occasionally, without increasing his charge, he found, instead of four mules, five, or six, to draw it. These animals, however, being as slow as they are sure, and never deviating from their own pace, were the cause of our being regularly called at three o'clock in the morning, and once at two o'clock, starting in one hour after, one only day excepted,

282

The Journey to Rome.

when our Vetturino allowed us to sleep till seven o'clock, and thus we dragged on till about eight in the evening. However, even this inconvenience has its concomitant advantages, since it allows one to read, or sleep in the carriage, to observe, to walk, or to ride, at will.

The expense, every matter included, was not 200 paoli a-head. (About four pounds.)

« PreviousContinue »