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Six miles north of Civita Castellana is Corchiano (Locanda di Giov. Campana: 1300 inhabitants), on the ancient Via Amerina, a picturesque village occupying an ovoidal Etruscan site, and surrounded, like almost all the towns of Etruria, with mysterious ravines full of now-mutilated sepulchres. One of these, half a mile distant, on the way to Falleri, is inscribed Larth. Vel. Arnies, in Etruscan characters. The private museum of Feliciano Crescenzi is worth a visit. Three miles further is Gallese (Locanda Rinaldi: Station miles), beautifully situated on a rock at the junction of two ravines. Canon Nardoni has written a work to prove that this is the Aequum Faliscum, mentioned by Strabo, Virgil, and Silius. It contains some obscure Roman remains, and there are many Etruscan tombs in the neighbouring valleys. The Palace belongs to the Duca d'Attemps, and the church contains some pictures. In the former Violante Caraffa was murdered by her husband, the Duke of Paliano.
Six miles north-west of Corchiano lies Vignanello (Albergo di Luigi Picconi), and four miles beyond it Soriano (Surianum), both Etruscan sites.1 The castle at the latter built by Niccolo III. 1278 is a grand edifice, but now used as a Provincial Gaol.
Dennis believed that he has identified the fragments of a city, half covered with wood, but marked by the ruined church of S. Silvestro (' a mile and a half west of Ponte Felice, on the way to Corchiano'), with the lost town of Fescennium, mentioned by Dionysius and Virgil, and celebrated in the history of Latin poetry for the nuptial songs called Carmina Fescennina, to which, according to Festus, it gave its name.
1 Tor all these places see Dennia' Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, vol. ii.
MONTI CIMINI—NEPI, SUTRI, AND CAPRAROLA.
(These most interesting places may be visited from Rome by means of the Roma-Viterbo Railway, or by motor-car, or else by sleeping at Caprauica (Albergo Bedini), a healthy spot set on a hill. The old-fashioned route may, however, be still found attractive.)
IT is a delightful drive of about an hour and a half through the forest from Civita Castellana to Nepi. The road passes near the picturesque castle and Benedictine church of Castel S. Elia, the latter a curious early Christian building, situated on a rock and occupying the site of a temple of Diana, and covered internally with frescoes by the brothers Johannes and Stephanus and their nephew Nicolaus, of Rome.
'The exact period in which these artists executed the decorations of S. Ella cannot be ascertained ; hut they were men who combined the imitation of forms and compositions characteristic of various ages of Roman art, with a technical execution which can only be traced as far back as the tenth century. Their work though it has suffered from the ravages of time, and restorers, illustrates a phase hitherto comparatively unknown. They seem to have been men accustomed to mosaics, for they mapped out their colours Bo as to resemble that species of work. They used, not the thin water-colour of the early catacomb painters at Rome or Naples, but the body-colour of the later artists, who painted in the chapel of S. Cecilia in S. Calisto and the figures of Curtius and Desiderius in the catacomb of S. Januarius. On a rough surface of plaster they laid in the flesh tones of a uniform yellowish colour, above which coarse dark outlines marked the forms, red tones the half-tints, and blue the shadows. The lights and darks were stippled on with white or black streaks, and a ruddy touch on the cheeks seemed intended to mark the robust health of the personage depicted. The hair and draperies were treated in the same manner. They were painted of an even general tone streaked with black or white lines to indicate curls, folds, light, and shadow. The result was a series of flat unrelieved figures, which were, in addition, without the charm of good drawing or expression.
* In the semidome of the apsis, the Saviour was represented standing with his right arm extended, and in his left hand holding a scroll. On his right S. Paul in a similar attitude was separated from S. Elias by a palm on which the phoenix symbolised Eternity. S. Elias, in a warrior's dress, pointed with his left hand to S. Paul. To the Saviour's left S. Peter, whose form is now but dimly visible, and probably another saint were depicted. A background of deep blue, spotted with red clouds of angular edges, relieved the figures. This was in fact an apsis picture similar to those in the numerous churches of Rome, and in arrangement not unlike that of SS. Cosmo e Damiano. The form of theRedeemer indeed, his head, of regular features, with a nose a little depressed and the flesh curiously wrinkled, his high forehead, and long black hair falling in locks, his double-pointed beard, tunic, mantle and sandals, had a general likeness with those of SS. Cosmo e Damlano. . The saints, on the other hand, in their slender forms, S. Elias with his small head and long body, were reminiscent of later mosaics, whilst their attitude and movement, their draperies, depicted with lines, their defective feet and hands, were not unlike those of SS. Nereo ed Achilleo. The Neo-Greek influence might be traced in other parts of the paintings of 8. Elia. Beneath the green foreground, where the four rivers gushed from under the feet of the Saviour, and the Lamb stood pouring its blood into a chalice, an ornament separated the paintings of the semidome from those in the lower courses of the apsis. In the uppermost of these, Jerusalem, and in the intervals of three windows, twelve sheep in triple groups, between palms, were depicted. Bethlehem, no doubt, closed the arrangement on the right, but is now gone.. In the next lower course, the Saviour sat enthroned between two angels and six female saints, amongst which S. Catherine in a rich costume and diadem and S. Lucy may still be recognised. The rich ornaments, the round eyes and oval faces, of these female saints, were not without admixture of the foreign element which had left its impress on Rome in the seventh and eighth centuries. Still, the angels with their hair bound in tufts and their flying bands were of regular features. The painters covered the sides of the tribune with three courses of pictures, fragments of which remain. On the upper to the right, the prophets with scrolls, on the second, martyrs with the chalice, on the third, scenes from the Old Testament. On the left the lowest course was likewise filled up with biblical subjects taken from the Revelation. The aisles and nave were also doubtless painted, but the pictures have unfortunately disappeared. The painters inscribed their names as follows beneath the feet of the Saviour in the apsis—Joh. FF. Stefanu frts picto . . e . . Romani et Nicholaus Nepr Johs.
* The paintings of S. Elia are far more instructive and interesting than those of a later date, and even than the mosaics of the eleventh century at Rome.'—Crowe and Cavalcaselle.
The pavement is of the 13th century. The castle is of the 12th, and its restorations of the lGth century. It is now become a national monument.
Nepi, on the consular Via Amerina, is the ancient Nepete. (Alberghi di Giovanni Faggioli and Francesco Crivellari. Carriages from and to Civita Castellana for the railway, 10 lire.) Its position is no higher than that of the surrounding plain, but like other Etruscan sites it is cut off by deep ravines, so as to gain severe insulation. At the entrance of the town the gorge is crossed by a bridge and by a double aqueduct built by Paul III. (1534-50) in the sixteenth century. Below this a rivulet tumbles over the cliffs into the ravine. The walls display remains of the distinct periods: Etruscan, Roman, and sixteenth century. The best portion of the Etruscan stands near the Porta Romana and is built of the local tufo. The piazza at the highest point of the town within has a handsome municipio, with a fountain and a wide portico decorated with Roman altars, inscriptions, and fragments of sculpture found in the neighbourhood. The Duomo (1831) has a fine saracinesque campanile; its first bishop was S. Romanus (A.D. 46), and tradition ascribes the foundation of the see to S. Peter. At the Roman entrance to the town stands the picturesque castle, with a double gateway. Outside this there is a charming spot; the great machicolated towers built by San Gallo for Paul III., hang over the edge of the cliffs, against which rises an old mill, and, below, a waterfall sparkles and loses itself in a mass of luxuriant evergreens. Turning to the right are some grand remains of Etruscan fortifications, probably the same which were scaled by Camillus (B.C. 382), when he came to avenge the desertion of the city from the Roman alliance to that of Etruria. In B.C. 241 it revolted but was recaptured by the Consul Valerius. In 1798 the French set fire to the town owing to resistance offered them.
Again a drive of two hours, through woods of oaks and deep lanes overhung with golden broom, and then along the plain which is bounded by the Ciminian Hills, upon which Ronciglione and Caprarola gleam afar off in the sunlight, and—crossing the high road from Rome to Siena—we reach Sutri (Sutrium) on the Via Cassia. The little town is visible at a great distance, and occupies an isolated crest of tufa (rising in a deep ravine), covering every rocky projection with old walls and houses; for its extent seems to have been limited by the cliffs which formed its natural protection, and once gave it such strength as made it deserve the name of 'the key of Etruria.' The Etruscans were prone to build on the edges of ravines.
Sutrium was made a Roman colony soon after the fall of Veii, and was celebrated for its devotion to Rome. This indicates its importance and the intention of the Romans to protect the inhabitants from the fierce Ciminian peoples. In B.C. 389 it was recaptured by the Etruscans, and the whole of its inhabitants were expelled, with nothing but the clothes they wore. Camillus met them with his army as they were escaping toward Rome, and moved by their anguish, bade them be of good cheer, for he would soon transfer their troubles to their conquerors; and this he did, for that very day he reached the town, found it undefended, entered it (so it is said) by the Porta Furia, and the Etruscans were seen to be occupied in collecting the spoil. Before night the rightful inhabitants were restored, and their tyrants driven out. From the rapidity with which his march was effected, ' ire Sutrium' became henceforth a proverb for doing anything in a hurry. Soon after the town was again taken by the Etruscans, and again restored by Camillus. In B.C. 310 the old enemy once more besieged it, when the consul Fabius came to the rescue. Three of its ancient gates remain.
As we approach Sutri on the Roman side, the rocks on the left of the road are seen to be honeycombed with tombs. They are cut in the tufa, but many seem to have been fronted with more durable stone-work. The cliffs are crested by grand old oaks and cypresses with luxuriant masses of foliage, unspoilt by the axe. There is no appearance of anything more than this, and it is startling, when one turns aside from the road and crossing a strip of green meadow passes through a gap in the rocks, to find oneself suddenly in an elliptical Roman Amphitheatre, perfect in all its forms, almost in all its details, with four ambulacra, staircases, vomitories, and twelve ranges of seats one above the other, not built, but hewn out of the solid rock, all one with the cliffs which outwardly make no sign. It was made by Statilius Taurus, the younger, in the reign of Augustus. The Coliseum is grander, but scarcely so impressive as this vast rain in its absolute desertion, where Nature from which it was taken by Art, has once more asserted her rights, and where the flowers and the maiden-hair fern, clambering everywhere up the grey steps and fringing the rock galleries, and the green lizards darting to and fro, are the only spectators which look down upon the turfy arena. All around the great ilexes of the Villa of Marchese Savorelli, girdle it in, with here and there the tall spire of a cypress shooting up into the clear air. The silence is impressive, and there is a witchery in the solitude of this place, which nothing leads up to, and yet which bears such tokens of the greatness of those who conceived, and made it, and the crowd that once thronged the ranges of its rock-hewn benches, now so unspeakably desolate. Dennis considers that the amphitheatre of Sutri was ' perhaps the type of all those celebrated structures raised by Imperial Rome, even of the Coliseum itself. For we have evidence that Rome derived her theatrical exhibitions from Etruria. Livy tells us that ludi scenici, a new thing for a warlike agricultural people, who had hitherto only known the games of the circus, were introduced into Rome in the year A.d. 390, in order to appease the wrath of the gods for a pestilence then devastating the city, and that ludiones were sent for from Etruria, who acted to the sound of the pipe, in the Etruscan fashion.'
Turning to the left, beyond the amphitheatre, a path leads under the south side of the old city. The tufo, glowing from the red and golden colour with which time has stained it, is half rock and half masonry, the natural cliffs being surmounted by ranges of Etruscan walling, and the whole crested by stately mediaeval houses which follow every crevice of the natural formation, and occasionally, where more space is required, are bracketed out from it upon arches.
On the other side of the ravine, the rocky barrier is still fringed with ilex and honey-combed with tombs. A little path attracted us to the entrance of one of these, just beneath the villa Savorelli itself. Over the door is inscribed in Italian:—' Here stay thy step; the place is sacred to God, to the Virgin, and to the repose of the departed. Pray or pass on.' It admitted us to one of the most interesting places we ever entered. Several tombs had apparently been thrown together at an early period of Christianity, and formed a long narrow church, of which the pavement, roof, pillars, and seats were all one, and all carved out of the living rock. From the antechapel or entrance tomb, still surrounded with couches for the dead after the manner of Etruria, one looks down an avenue of low pillars green with damp, and separated from the aisles by rock-hewn seats, to the altar, beyond which, from an inner sanctuary, a single light streams in upon the gloom. On the rock walls are mouldering frescoes—the Annunciation, the Salutation, the last Supper; several saints, and an angel with a face raised in low relief. It is a touching and most unearthly sanctuary, and carries one back to the earliest times of Christian life and Christian suffering more forcibly than the most celebrated Roman catacomb. The church is now