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church. Over the outer, the sainted founders, Lorenzo and Tommaso, over the inner Benedict and Scholastica, kneel before the Virgin and Child, in two beautiful frescoes by an early Umbrian master. The church is cruciform, and almost covered with frescoes which, if not excellent as works of art, are at least picturesque. The papal benefactors of the monastery are represented between the arches, which are carried on ancient granite pillars. The timber roof is richly carved. At the crossing is an intricate pavement of opus-Cosmatescum. The whole of the western wall over the door is occupied by a fresco of the Last Judgment, which, when done, was considered 'so terrible to behold, that those who looked upon it thought of nothing but death for many days.'

The choir now stripped of its 'choir books plated with gold and silver and set with gems,' is no longer rich in gold and silver ornaments, or with vestments for the officiating priests, embroidered and studded with precious stones, but a beautiful carved paschal candlestick remains, a real work of art. Left of the altar is the Cappella di S. Lorenzo Siro, wherein he is buried, and where the brazen hoop of the scatola in which he carried a wondrous picture of the Virgin to Farfa is preserved. This picture hangs still over the high-altar: four heads, the Virgin, with the Bambino beneath, and two seraphim set in gold—black, and of course, attributed to S. Luke. On the right is the chapel of the second founder, Tommaso, with a picture of him receiving the commands of the Virgin; the hill of Farfa and the three cypresses of Lorenzo are represented in the background. Here also, and in other parts of the church, the original building is portrayed with two towers, only one of which remains.

The vast monastic buildings are now used as a farm. In one corner of the cloister is an ancient well-head, apparently a relic of some local pagan temple, to which the columns in the church also probably belonged. It is sculptured with the Battle of the Amazons in high relief. Outside, is the terrace, where the Chronicle says that the monks were sitting before supper, in the year 1125, when ' they beheld the tower of the castle of Farfa stricken and burnt by a flash of lightning.' Dining outside their Refectories was a luxury rare in the monasteries of the north.

It was a picture seldom seen now in Italy, when the carriage came to take us away from Farfa and the venerable abbot with his few remaining monks came out to take leave. He had invited us to stay, as the abbey is no longer dausura, and the ladies of our party could have been accommodated,' though,' he added,' as there were neither beds nor chairs, they might not be very comfortable.' As he stood in the gateway, under the old fresco, the whole popution of the village gathered around him, with friendly confidence in him, and farewell speeches for us—and it gave one an idea of what the paternal relation must often have been between the abbots and their people in these secluded places, and of what might have been their influence.

CHAPTER XXI

CIVITA CASTELLANA

Albersro, Aquila Nera: Croce Bianca, station on the Rome-Florence Line: 5 miles from the town. Omnibus, 1 lira.

THIS is one of the most interesting spots in Italy, and is far too little visited. Scarcely one traveller in a thousand ever visits Civita Castellana, though it stands amid the noblest scenery, possesses the most delightful air, commands lovely views over the mountains and Campagna, and is only two hours distant from Rome. The inns are humble, but bearable. To the archaeologist the Civita opens a wonderful mine of interest, while to the botanist and geologist it proves scarcely less attractive. An artist may pass months here fully employed, though there is no such variety of costume to be found here, as in the mountain-villages south of Rome.

On the last day of April, a fresh sunny morning, we took our tickets at Rome for the Civita station on the Florence line. We follow the Tiber-Valley throughout the entire journey, along the river's eastern bank, passing close under the hill of Fidenae (Castel Giubbileo), and seeing, beyond it, Monte Rotondo on the right, and the town of Correse (close to the site of ancient Cures, of King Tatius, which Dionysius calls greatest of Sabine cities) and Poggio Mirteto, in fact, we may imagine ourselves following the ancient Via Flaminia. Several carriages were waiting at the station, and we travelled pleasantly into the delicious clover-scented upland, stopping by the way to admire the grand old castle (Castel delle Formiche, or Castellaccio), with its tall tower and ruined church, standing on a rock above us. Beyond, in the deep hollow, flows the lonely Tiber, which here makes several bends amongst the low-lying pasture lands, such that one would have pitied the passengers in the steamers, which till a few years ago formed the chief means of communication between Rome and Civita. As we were carried merrily on over the luxuriant hay-fields, between hedges of wild-rose and cistus, we looked across the valley to Magliano Sabina gleaming white against the dark mountain steeps. Suddenly, without any previous sign, the pastures opened, and we found ourselves on the edge of a gulf in the tufa, a deep abyss of rock where the evergreen shrubs and honeysuckle fell in perfect cascades over the red and yellow cliffs, stained here and there with dashes of black and brown, and perforated with Etruscan tombs of various sizes, evidently reached by narrow pathways along the face of the precipice. In the misty depths the little river Treja wanders amid huge stones and under the arches of a bridge (1712) (which spans the ravine at a height of 120 feet), to find the Tiber. The opposite bank is crested by the old houses and churches of Civita, while in the hollow are some rustic water-mills. This river here proves to be formed by two other streams, Vicano and Maggiore, which bathe the sides of the isolated rock upon which Civita stands. From the terrace there is a grand view over the ravine to the mountains.

The Duomo of Civita is fascinating, and very unlike anything else. The wide portico (now a national monument) at the west end supported by a range of pillars is incrusted with a frieze of mosaic work of 1210, by Lorenzo Cosmati and his sons.

'A fine flight of steps leads up to a a porch of fair proportions, flanked by porticoes. The porch opens on to the chief portal by a broad arch resting on pilasters and crowned with an entablature and balcony. The portal Is a scries of pilasters and columns, above the architrave of which is a recess with a fan window. The arched border of this recess, as well as the pilasters, friezes, and wall, are worked in mosaic. In the key of the border is the lamb; on the pilasters, the symbols of the Evangelists. The following inscription on the architrave reveals the name of the author:

Two lateral doors flank the chief portal, and in the lunette of that to the right is a bust figure in mosaic of the Saviour, with a cruciform jewelled nimbus, holding a book and stretching out his right hand in the act of benediction. A natural movement and fair contours mark the figure, which has none of the usual grimness or vehemence. The oval head, inclosed by hair falling in a triple wave behind the shoulders, has at least an expression of repose. The chin, broad and bare, is fringed with a short beard, the nose is straight, the mouth small, and the eyes without stare. A red tunic with gold borders and jewelled blue cuffs, and a gold mantle, complete the dress, which is shadowless and flat, but fairly lined. The yellowish flesh tints tend to red on the cheeks, and are outlined with red in the lights and black in the shadows. On the architrave below this gay and not unpleasant mosaic are the words:

Excepting the mosaic pavement and the crypt, the interior of the church has been modernised, but the arrangement is remarkable, as the nave ends in a broad semi-circular staircase leading to the tribune, like a picture of Paul Veronese. The transepts are occupied by the local saints Gracilianus and Felicissima: the latter is shown in a glass case and wreath of pink roses.

Beyond the cathedral rises the pentagonal citadel, built by Antonio San Gallo for Alexander VI. and Julius II. Gsell-fels calls its tower with the triangular outworks 'the political Bastille of Rome.' Many years ago we went thither to visit the famous brigand chief Gasperoni, imprisoned for forty years under the papacy. Several of his band were with him, and there was certainly an unpleasant sensation when the door of the large room they inhabited

Lamentins cum Jacobo, filio suo, magistri
doctissimi Romani, hoc opus feccrunt.

[graphic][merged small]

was closed, and from the numerous little beds where they were lying, gaunt and with matted hair, the many figures rose up of men who had been for so long the terror of the Campagna, and whose murders under circumstances of the most atrocious barbarity still are told by Castelli grandmothers to terrify the village circles. When About went to visit Gasperoni in his prison, the old brigand offered him a printed list of the hundred murders he had committed, as a souvenir on taking leave, and was greatly surprised that his visitor did not wish to accept it. Gasperoni died in 1878.

Civita Castellana occupies the site of the Falerium Vetus, mentioned so often by Plutarch, Livy, and Ovid, and said to have been founded by Halesus, son of Agamemnon, soon after the Trojan war. Falerii at any rate became one of the twelve confederate Etruscan cities, and was captured by Camillus in B.C. 394. Its inhabitants called themselves Faliscans; and their white cows were much favoured at Rome for sacrifices, such as the Fordicidia and those to Juno.

'Vencrat Atridae iatis agitatus Halesus;
A quo se dictam terra Falisca putat.'

—'Fast. ' iv. 73.
'Cum mini pomiferis conjux foret orta Faliscis,

Moenia contigimus victa, Camille, tibi.
Casta sacerdotes Junoni festa parabant

Et celebres ludos? indigenamque bovem.
Grande morae pretium, ritus cognoscere ; quamvis

Difficilis clivis hue via praebet iter.
Stat vetus et densa praenubilus arbore lucus;

Aspice, concedes numinis esse locum.
Accipit ara preces, votivaque thura piorum;

Ara per antiquas facta sine arte manus.
Hie ubi praesonuit sollenni tibia cantu,
* It per velatas annua pompa vias.

Ducuntur niveae, populo plaudente, juvencae,
Quas aluit campis herba Falisca suis.'

—'Amor.' iii. Eleg. 13.

'Camillus was the military tribune under whom Falerii was added to the territory of Rome. According to the legend "a schoolmaster, who had the care of the sons of the principal citizens, took an opportunity when walking with his boys without the walls, to lead them to the Roman camp, and throw them into the power of the enemy. But Camillus, indignant at this treason, bade the boys drive their master back into the town again, flogging him all the way thither, for the Romans, he said, made no war with children. Upon this the Faliscans, won by his magnaminity, surrendered to him at discretion, themselves, their city, and their country."'—Arnold, 'Hist, of Rome.'

The most remarkable remains of the ancient Falerii will be found near the Ponte Terrano about a mile beyond the castle of Sangallo. The bridge crosses the ravine of the Rio Maggiore by a double arch; one pier is of rock, the other of Etruscan masonry.

'The cliffs above and below the bridge are perforated in every direction with holes—doorways innumerable, leading into spacious tombs—sepulchral niches of various forms and sizes—here, rows of squares, side by side, like the port-holes of a ship of war—there, long and shallow recesses, one over the other, like an open cupboard, or a book-case, where the dead were literally laid upon the shelf—now again, upright -like pigeon-holes—or still taller and narrower, like the crtneaux in a fortification. This seems to have been the principal necropolis of the Etruscan city. If you enter any of the tombs which are in all the faces of the low cliffs into which the ground breaks, you will find one general plan prevailing, characteristic of the site. Unlike those of Sutri, where the door opens at once into the tomb, it here leads into a small antechamber, seldom as much as five feet square, which has an oblong hole in the ceiling, running up like a chimney to the level of the ground above. The tomb itself is generally spacious—from twelve to twenty feet square, or of an oblong form—never circular—mostly with a massive square pillar in the centre, hewn out of the rock, or, in many cases, with a thick partition-wall of rock instead, dividing the tomb into two equal parts. The front of this, whether it be pillar or projecting wall, is generally hollowed out, sometimes in recesses, long and shallow, and one over the other, to contain bodies, sometimes in upright niches, for cinerary urns or votive offerings. Around the walls are long recesses for bodies, in double or triple tiers, just as the catacombs and tombs of the early Christians, forcibly reminding you, by their size, form, and arrangement, of the berths in a steamer's cabin. The doorposts are frequently grooved to hold the stone slabs with which the tombs were closed. The chimney in the ceiling of the antechamber probably served several purposes—as a spiramen, or vent-hole, to let off the effluvium of the decaying bodies or burnt ashes—as a means of pouring in libations to the graves of the dead—and as a means of entrance on emergency after the doors were closed. That they were used for the latter purpose is evident, for in the sides of these chimneys may^be seen small niches, about a foot or eighteen inches one above the other, manifestly cnt for the hands and feet. These chimneys were probably left open for some time, till the effluvium had passed off, and then were covered in, generally with large hewn blocks. Similar trap-doors to tombs are found occasionally at Corneto, Ferento, Cervetri, and elsewhere in Etruria, but nowhere in such numbers as at Civita Castellana and Falleri, where they form a leading characteristic of the sepulchres.'— Dennis, 'Cities of Etruria.'

One of the tombs near the bridge is decorated with a row of niches, five on each side of the doorway; on the next tomb to this is inscribed—' Tncthnu' in Etruscan letters, once filled in with red. Another tomb hard by has an Etruscan inscription of two lines, but much obliterated. Fragments of Etruscan masonry remain here and there along the edge of the cliffs, serving as the foundation of mediaeval walls. Wherever you turn around Civita Castellana, the weird ravine seems to pursue you, as if the earth were opening under your feet; so does it twist around the town. But each turn brings a picture more beautiful than the last, and ever and again beyond the rocky avenues, Soracte, steeped in violet shadows appears rising out of the tender, but brilliant, green of the plain. The gorge has been compared to the famous Tajo of Ronda; it has no waterfalls and the cliffs are not as high, but it is quite as full of colour and beauty. The traveller who merely spends a few hours in Civita knows nothing of it. In the early morning the hollows are silver-veins of mist, while the sun lights up here and there a dark crag crested with ilex. Near the bridge a huge block of grey rock divides the valley and stands level at its summit with the surrounding country, from which it must once have been riven,—like an inaccessible eyrie in the midst of the ravine. Up into the town winds the ancient way, a steep zigzag following the curves of the rock, and here are fountains where the dresses of the women who come down to draw water, or to wash at the great basins on the ledge, add bright patches of colour; while upon the face of the rocks and along the edge of paths in the precipices, so narrow now that only goats can follow them, yawn everywhere the open mouths

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