網頁圖片
PDF

an addition) found here. The palace is now inhabited by Prince Ginnetti, who allows it to be shown, and it is well worth visiting. Beneath lie beautiful gardens extending to the open country and the Monte Lepini.

Opposite the palace rises the beautiful detached campanile of S. Maria in Trivio (now Cairoli), resembling Roman ones, but built of basalt instead of brick. It was raised to commemorate a deliverance from the plague in 1348, whilst it was being besieged by Nicolo Caetani, Lord of Fondi. Other old palaces of impoverished nobles abound in the smaller streets, the most remarkable being the Palazzo Filippi, which is magnificent, in spite of its desertion and decay.

The old palace of the popes, now called Palazzo Municipale, built by Giacomo della Porta from designs of Vignola, occupies the highest part of the town, the citadel of old Velitrae, and beside it stands the palace of the Cardinal-Archbishop, with a bas-relief on its front commemorating the opening of the Via Appia Nuova by Pius IX., and an inscription rather inconsistent with present ideas —' Papalis et imperialis est mihi libertas.' Close to these palaces are two little churches, S. Michele and II Santissimo Sangue. Over the door of the latter is an ancient sun-dial—' Horologium Berosianum'—found in the neighbouring ruins. In the interior is an inscription recording a miraculous appearance of the Virgin, and an altar to an early Christian who has been canonised in the belief that she was a martyr—' Temporalem mortem S. Tertura Victorina contemnens coronam vitae aeternae possidet in pace.' By the side is the catacomb inscription:—

TCRTURA VICTORINA
QVAE VIXIT ANNOS XLII
MENSES III MATKl FECERUNT
BENEMERENTI IN PACE.

In the lower part of the town is the Cathedral, dedicated to S. Clemente, and partly ancient, though altered in 1660. It contains a chapel of the Borgia (who are still one of the great families of the place), with their monuments. On the left of the altar is a beautiful fresco of the Virgin and Child, with S. John, S. Sebastian, S. Jerome, and S. Roch, by Antoniazzo Romano. In the sacristy is the lavamano which Julius II. presented to the church while he was Cardinal-Archbishop of Velletri. Latino Orsini, to whom the hymn 'Dies Irae' is wrongly attributed, but who was one of the most distinguished prelates of the thirteenth century, was also bishop here. We were present on Easter Sunday, when the existing archbishop performed high-mass in the presence of thousands of countrywomen, kneeling in their white and brown panni, and the sight was very imposing and impressive.

The beauty of the women of Velletri is proverbial. It was here that Raffaelle, seeing a lovely mother with her child in her arms, bade them linger, whilst, as he had neither paper nor canvas, he drew on the top of a barrel a sketch, which was used as the Madonna della Seggiola.

Nothing canlbe more charming than the environs of Velletri in early spring. It is almost the only place near Rome where the trees are allowed to grow at their own will, and are not cut into squares, and the lanes around are delightfully shady and attractive. Gulfs of verdure with little streams running in their deep hollows may be discovered in all directions, and there are also pleasant walks to many convents and some remains on neighbouring heights, especially M. Algido. Near the Roman gate is the ascent to the Cappuccini, whence the view is especially fine, the long lines of the Pontine marshes and the beautiful Circean promontory being seen behind the old houses and churches of the town. In this direction is the battlefield where Charles III. of Naples gained the victory (1744) over the Austrians which gave the kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the Spanish Bourbons. On the Naples road is the Jesuit Convent containing a famous Madonna attributed to S. Luke, of which About tells :—

* Un hôte du Campo-Morto appelé Vendetta conçut le projet d'une spéculation hardie. Depuis longtemps, il rançonnait les gens de Velletri et des environs. Il demandait à celui-ci deux écus, à celui-là dix ou douze. Quiconque avait une récolte sur pied, des arbres chargés de fruits, un frère en voyage, payait sans marchander ce singulier impôt. Cependant Vendetta finit par prendre en dégoût un métier si lucratif. Il rêva de rentrer dans la vie normale avec un revenu modeste et un honnête emploi. Pour atteindre ce but, il ne trouva rien de plus iugénieux que de voler la madone de Velletri et de la déposer en lieu sûr.

'Ou approchait d'une fête carillonnée où la madone devait paraître aux yeux du peuple avec tous ses diamants. Le sacristain ouvrait la niche et constata avec des cris de douleur que la madone n'y était plus. Grande rumeur dans Velletri. On cherche de tous côtés et l'on ne trouve rien. Le peuple s'émeut; une certaine effervescence se manifeste dans les villages voisins. Le clergé du pays accuse les jésuites de s'être volés eux-mêmes; les jésuites récriminent contre les prêtres de Velletri. Le couvent est envahi, fouillé, bouleversé par un public idolâtre. Enfin le dimanche, à la graud'messe, Vendetta, armé d'un poignard, monte en chaire et se dénonce lui-même. Il prie le peuple d'agréer ses excuses et promet de rendre la madone dès qu'il aura réglé ses comptes avec l'autorité. L'autorité traite avec lui de puissance à puissance. Vendetta demaude sa grâce et celle de son frère, une rente de tant d'écus et un emploi du gouvernement. On promet tout, mais Rome désavoue ses agents et ne veut rien ratifier. Cependant la population des montagnes se met en marche, et un flot de paysans menace d'inonder Velletri. Le brigand cède au nombre, révèle la cachette où il a célé la madone, et se rend lui-même à discrétion. Il aura la tète coupée; personne n'en doute à Velletri.'—'Rome Contemporaine.'

The inhabitants of Velletri were formerly famous for their brigand tendencies; now they are most inoffensive. But a Roman proverb says:—

'Velletrani sette volte villani.'

Gasperone, 'Rex Nemorensis,' once dwelt like an eagle above them in the mediaeval ruins on Monte Lariano (Algidus), whence he swooped down at his appointed time on Cardinals, Princes, and well-to-do people of all classes. The following portrait of this miscreant is from a drawing made of him while living. A very pleasant picnic may be taken in his abode now; and there will be found a little abandoned chapel where he may have sent his monks to pray for his soul until their ransom was securely delivered to him.

From its woody height just beyond a most splendid panorama is in prospect, the great Abruzzi are seen, like a snowy caravan travelling away remotely into the misty South along a pale turquoise sky. Nearer, Palestrina is spilled down its mighty slope of rock, and Capranica is seen crowning a lofty ridge behind it. Between the green bases of the Sabines and ourselves rests a soft plum-like haze of shadow. Turning a little the Volscian group of mountains wilders boldly, beyond another valley. Immediately below us in the great hollow of the Albans, to which forests descend, lies a little lake, beyond which is Doganella, to which we may presently descend, and make by the Via Latina for the station of Labico, on the line—a ten-mile walk. But we may remain a little while longer in the enchanting stillness, while the gossamers glisten around us from tree to tree, and the oak-leaves of last year are yet able to whisper oracles, and the bells of Velletri softly steal into our ears.

CHAPTER XV THE VOLSCIAN HILLS—CORI, NORBA, NINFA, AND SEGNI

Cori (Looanda dell' Unione) two and a half miles from its station, on the Roma-Terracina railway, two and a half hours from Rome.

FOR the excursion to Norba from Velletri (or from Rome, by rail) it is necessary to make an early start, nor can anything be more charming than six o'clock on a cloudless morning in April, if, with jingling bells, we drive out of the old town of Velletri and descend into the hollow lanes shaded by fresh green trees and gay with peasants going out in bands to the work of the day. The road winds through dips in the low hills. We only pass one unwholesome village, S. Giulianello. A little beyond this, Rocca Massima is seen on the bare rim of a precipice (Monte Lanterio), but visitors may reach it by a good mountain path, if they are anxious to explore the site of the ancient Arx Carventana; or they may reach it from Segni (q.v.). An excellent road ascends from the station to Cori, which soon becomes visible, though its temples cannot be seen from hence, owing to the undulations of the hill. Through the olives there is a beautiful view over Cisterna and the Pontine marshes to the sea, with the insulated Circean promontory and the neighbouring islands, including Ponza (Pontia), whither Tiberius banished his nephew Nero, the son of Germanicus, and where many Christians lived in exile, or suffered martyrdom. It is still a penal settlement. Lastly we see Pandataria (Ventotenne), to which Julia, daughter of Augustus, and wife of Tiberius, was banished by her father. Hither, too, her beautiful daughter, Agrippina, wife of Germanicus, was banished by Tiberius, and here she starved herself to death. Here also Octavia, the divorced wife of Nero, daughter of Claudius and Messalina, was banished by the Empress Poppaea, who forced her to commit suicide by opening her veins.

Thinking of these associations, and stopping to gather honeysuckle—;fiori della Madonna (because it generally flowers in May)— we reach the gates (Porta Veliterna) of Cori (4 m. from station), a town resembling in form a pyramid, the sides of which measure 4 kil. We must leave our carriage here, for the streets, chiefly staircases, are too steep for anything but mules and foot passengers. It is best to make our way first to the quaint old inn in the Piazza, to order dinner from the fat, good-tempered landlady with the silver spadello in her hair, and to get the landlord to provide a guide, which is

[graphic]
« 上一頁繼續 »