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Under the hills between Norba and Sermoneta stands the beautifully situated abbey of Valvisciola, at the end of Val Carella (xiii. c.).
There is an Osteria at Foro Appio, of Pauline memories. It is also the place where Horace took the canal-boat:—
'Inde Forum Appi, Differtuui nautis, cauponibus atque malignis.'
—'Sat. ' 1. v. 3.
The great canale della Bolte runs parallel with the Appia Nuova here.
The next Osteria, Mesa, is supposed to mark the station Ad Medias1 on the Via Appia. Near it are a tomb and an ancient mile-stone of Trajan's date. Beyond the next post-house, of Ponte Maggiore, we cross a river formed by the union of the Uffente and Amateno.
'Many people imagine that the Pontine Marshes are only marshy ground, a dreary extent of stagnant, slimy water, a melancholy road to travel over: on the contrary, the marshes have more resemblance to the rich plains of Lombardy; yes, they are like them, rich to abundance; grass and herbage grow here with a succulence and luxuriance which the north of Italy cannot exhibit.
'Neither can any road be more excellent than that which leads through the marshes, upon which, as on a bowling-green, the carriages roll along between unending alleys of trees, whose thick branches afford a shade from the scorching beams of the sun. On each side the immense plain stretches itself out with its tall grass, and its fresh, green marsh-plants. Canals cross one another, and drain off the water which stands in ponds and lakes covered with reeds and broad-leaved water-lilies.
'On the left hand, in coming from Rome, the lofty hills of Abruzzi extend themselves, with here and there small towns, which, like mountain castles, shine with their white walls from the grey rocks. On the right the green plain stretches down to the sea where Cape Circello lifts itself, now a promontory, but formerly Circe's Island, where tradition lands Ulysses.
'As I went along, the mists, which began to dissipate, floated over the green extent, where the canals shone like linen on a bleaching-gronnd. The sun glowed with the warmth of summer, although it was but the middle of March. Herds of buffaloes went through the tall grass. A troop of horses galloped wildly about, and struck out with their hind feet, so that the water was dashed around to a great height; their bold attitudes, their unconstrained leaping and gambolling, might have been a study for an animal painter. To the left I saw a dark monstrous column of smoke, which ascended from the great tire which the shepherds had kindled to purify the air around their huts. [ met a peasant, whose pale, yellow, sickly exterior contradicted the vigorous fertility which the marshes presented. Like a dead man arisen from the grave, he rode upon his black horse, and held a sort of lance in his hand with which he drove together the buffaloes which went into the swampy mire, where some of them laid themselves down, and stretched forth only their dark ugly heads with their malicious eyes.
'The solitary post-houses, of three or four stories high, which were erected close by the road-side, showed also, at the first glance, the poisonous effluvia which steamed up from the marshes. The lime-washed walls were entirely covered with an unctuous grey-green mould. Buildings, like human-beings, bore here the stamp of corruption, which showed itself in strange contrast with the luxuriance around, with the fresh verdure, and the warm sunshine.' —Hans Christian Andersen^ ' The Improvisatore?
Three miles before reaching Terracina, we pass the site of that fountain of Feronia, which Horace describes as the place where
'Midway between Foro Appio and Terracina.
weary travellers quitted the canal'through the marshes, and began the tiresome ascent to Anxur.
'Quarta vix dcmum exponimur hora;
—Sat. I. v. 24.
The sacred grove of Feronia (a Sabine goddess), much visited by slaves who hoped for freedom, is mentioned by Virgil:—
'Viridi gaudens Feronia luco.'
—Aen. vii. 800.
The situation of Terracina (Albergo della Posta, della Marina, and Nazionale Caffe Centrale) is most picturesque and beautiful, one portion of it occupying the rocky hill, and the Borgo, the sea front.
'Close before me stood Terracina in the fertile, Hesperian landscape. Three lofty palm-trees, with their fruit, grew not far from the road. The vast orchards, which stretched up the mountain-sides, seemed like a great green carpet with millions of golden points. Lemons and oranges bowed the branches down to the ground. Before a peasant's hut lay a quantity of lemons, piled together into a heap, as if they had been chestnuts which had been shaken down. Rosemary and wild dark-red gillyflowers grew abundantly in the crevices of the rock, high up among the peaks of the cliffs, where stood the magnificent remains of the castle of Ostrogothic king Theodoric (Temple of Jupiter Anxur), and which overlook the city and the whole surrounding country.
'My eyes were dazzled with the beautiful picture, and, quietly dreaming, I entered Terracina. Before me lay the sea—the wonderfully beautiful Mediterranean. It was heaven itself in the purest ultramarine, which like an immense plain was spread out before me. Far out at sea I saw islands, like floating clouds of the most beautiful lilac colour, and perceived Vesuvius where the dark column of smoke became blue in the far horizon. The surface of the sea seemed perfectly still, yet the lofty billows, as blue and clear as the ether itself, broke against the shore on which X stood, and sounded like thunder among the mountains.'—Hans Christian Andersen.
The Volscian name for their capital Terracina was Anxur ('the Proud'), but it was always known as Tarracina to the Romans. The ancient name is used by the Latin poets, because ' Tarracina' could not be introduced in verse, but Livy and Cicero speak of Tarracina.
The town is first mentioned in history B.C. 509. It was taken from the Volscians, B.C. 406, but was temporarily reconquered by them. In B.C. 329, it was secured by a Roman colony. Horace says that the ancient Anxur stood upon the rock at the foot of which the present town is situated. Ovid calls it Trachas:—
'Trachasque obsessa palude.'
—Metam. xv. 717.
but the Greek derivation of Strabo from TUpaxirJ) (from its precipitous situation) is a mere etymological fancy. Porphyrion says the old town was standing ruined in his day.
It was colonised by Rome, to which it became of importance as a naval port. The Latin poets constantly extol its beauty and position, and the abundant remains of villas attest Roman appreciation.
'Jamque et praecipites superaverat Anxuris arces.'
—Lucan, iii. 84.
'. . . scopulosi verticis Anxur.'
—SU. Hal. viii. 392.
* . . . arcesque superbae AnxuriB.'
—Slat. 'Silv. ' i. 3.
'Sen placet Aeneae nutrix, sea fllia Solis,
—Mart. 'Ep.' v. 1. 5.
'O nemus, o fontes, solidumque madentis arenae
—Id. ' Ep.' x. 61. 7.
'Scarcely had we congratulated ourselves at the sight of the rock-built Terracina, than we came in view of the sea beyond it. Then, on the opposite side of the mountain city, a new vegetation was presented to us. The Indian figs were pushing their large fleshy leaves amidst the grey-green of dwarf myrtles, the yellow-green of the pomegranates, and the silvery-green of the olives. Many new flowers and shrubs grew by the wayside. In the meadows the narcissus and the adonis were in flower. For a long time the sea was on our right, while close to us on the left ran an unbroken range of limestone rocks.'—Goethe.
The whole circuit of the ancient port can still be traced, and also that of the town walls of ' opus incertum' and polygonal.
The Duomo, with square companile (S. Pietro e Cesareo) is thought to stand on the site of an area dedicated to Roma and Augustus adjoining the Forum. The latter preserves its original pavement. The Porch displays ten fluted columns, and other fragments are enclosed within its buildings. The columns rest upon crouching lions. A Roman basin is shown as the bath of boiling oil in which some Christian martyrs suffered. The pulpit is inlaid with mosaics and supported by pillars also resting on lions. In the sacristy is shown a mediaeval 'cassone,' of wood. The first bishop is said to have been S. Epaphroditus, a disciple of S. Peter, A.d. 46. Two other churches are interesting. We know from a letter of Gregory the Great to Agnellus, Bishop of Terracina, that paganism lingered long in this locality.
'Now as to those who worship idols and trees: we have heard that certain persons there (it is a shame even to speak of it) pay worship to trees, and perform many other rites blasphemous to the Christian faith, and we wonder why you, my brother, have delayed to visit them with condign punishment. Wherefore by this letter I exhort you to make diligent search concerning them, and when you know the truth to visit them with such a vengeance that their punishment may appease the divine wrath, and be an example to others. We have written also to Maurus, our lieutenant, to bid him give your Reverence every assistance in the matter, if so be that you can find no sufficient excuse for clemency.'—Greg. Mag. Ep. viii. 20.
The great rocks overhang Terracina most picturesquely. On the summit (750 ft.) of the cliff juts out an immense pile of opus incer