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Albano owes its existence to the Emperor Domitian, who, to make his Villa, united those of Clodius and Pompey.
Immediately before entering the town, we pass, on the left, a lofty brick ruin, known as the Tomb of Pompey. Plutarch mentions his sepulchre as being near his villa at Albanum, though according to the epigram of Varro Atacinus, quoted by the scholiast on Persius (Sat. ii. 36), Pompey had no tomb:—
* Marmoreo Licinns tufnulo jacet; at Cato parvo;
To those who have received their impressions of Albano from water-colour drawings and from engravings, the sight of the place will be disappointing. The town consists, for the most part, of an ill-paved street a mile in length, of shabby whitewashed houses, without feature, while the inhabitants have little beauty and wear no distinctive costume. All the interest of the place is to be found in the lovely scenery which surrounds it (and most lovely this is), and the rich associations. For costumes and primitive habits of the peasantry we must penetrate further, to the Volscian and Hernican hills, or attend the fair of Grotta-Ferrata. Albano has made small progress in late years, and is ill-provided with the comforts of civilised life: the few there are being supplied to strangers at prices which are for Italy excessive.
'Albano—a place of more than 6000 souls, the episcopal see of a Cardinal who represented his sovereign in the spiritual government of Rome—has not a bookseller's shop, no sort of library for public use, no journal except sterile official papers, though a large Cathedral Chapter, seminary, and public schools, the residence of a Gonfaloniere and a governor, attest the importance—numerous hotels and rather gay caffes, announce the fashionable reputation—of this town. Under the' old government, twelve convents, in Albano and its vicinity, dispensed charities, usually in the form of soup and bread, to all applicants, either daily or on stated days. Yet the town itself has always been swarming with beggars, who usually appeal to compassion with promises of so many Aves in return! The native youth of the place, seeming for the most part artisans or labourers in tolerably good condition, spend their evenings generally, as the visitor may perceive, at the caffes playing cards.'—Hemans,' Catholic Italy.'i
But the beauty of the villas (Doria, Barberini, and Altieri), and the variety of excursions in the neighbourhood, make Albano the most enchanting of summer residences for those who can bear the heat of Italian villeggiature. Large apartments may be obtained in many of the old palaces, where, in the great heat, the shortness of furniture is no disadvantage. But those who sojourn here, will do well to conform to Italian habits—to dine early and then take a siesta, followed by the Italian refection of lemonade, fruits, or tea, which is known as Merenda,—and sallying forth in the beauty of the evening, walk or drive in the 'galleries' overhanging the lake, or as far as the woods overlooking Nemi.
'When the sun draws down to the horizon the people flock forth from their houses. All the chairs and benches in front of the caffe are filled—the streets are thronged with companies of promenaders—every doorstep has its little group—the dead town has become alive. Marching through the long green corridors of the 'gallerie- that lead for miles from Albano or Castcl Gandolfo to Genzano, whole families may be seen loitering together, and pausing now and then to look through the trunks of the great trees at the purple flush that deepens every moment over the Campagna. The cicale now renew their song as the sun sets, and croak dryly in the trees their good-night. The contadini come in from the vineyards and olive-orchards, bearing osier baskets heaped with grapes, or great bundles of brushwood on their heads. There is a crowd around the fountain, where women are filling their great copper vases with water, and pausing to chat before they march evenly home under its weight like stout caryatides. Broad-horned white oxen drag home their creaking wains. In the distance you hear the long monotonous wail of the peasant's song as he returns from his work, interrupted now and then with a shrill scream to his cattle. White-haired goats come up the lanes in flocks, cropping as they go the overhanging bushes—and mounting up the bank to pluck at the flowers and leaves, they stare at you with yellow glassy eyes, and wag their beards. The sheep are huddled into their netted folds. Down the slopes of the pavement jar along ringing files of wine-carts going towards Rome, while the little Pomeranian dog who lives under the triangular hood in front is running about on the piled wine-casks, and uttering volleys of little sharp yelps and barks as the cars rattle through the streets. If you watch the wine-carriers down into the valley you will see them pull up at the wayside fountains, draw a good flask of red wine from one of the casks, and then replace it with good fresh water.
'The grilli now begin to trill in the grass, and the hedges are alive with fire-flies. From the ilex groves and the gardens nightingales sing until the middle of July; and all summer long glow-worms show their green emerald splendour on the grey walls, and from under the roadside vines. In the distance you hear the laugh of girls, the song of wandering promenaders, and the burr of distant tambourines, where they are dancing the saltarello. The civetta hoots from the old tombs, the barbigiano answers from the crumbling ruins, and the plaintive, monotonous ciou owls call to each other across the vales. The moonlight lies in great still sheets of splendour in the piazza, and the shadows of the houses are cut sharply out in it, like blocks of black marble. The polished leaves of the laurel twinkle in its beams and rustle as the wind sifts through them. Above, the sky is soft and tender; great, near, palpitant stars flash on you their changeful splendour of emerald, topaz, and ruby. The Milky Way streams like a torn veil over the heavens. The villa fronts whiten in the moonlight among the grey smoke-like olives that crowd the slopes. Vines wave from the old towers and walls, and from their shadow comes a song to the accompaniment of a guitar—it is a tenor voice, singing "Non ti scordar, non ti scordar di me."
* Nothing can be more exquisite than these summer nights in Italy. The sky itself, so vast, tender, and delicate, is like no other sky. As you stand on one of the old balconies or walls along the terraces of the Frascati villas, looking down over the mysterious Campagna, and listening to the continuous splash of fountains and the song of nightingales, you feel Italy—the Italy of Romeo and Juliet. Everything seems enchanted in the tender splendour The stars themselves burn with a softer, more throbbing and impulsive light. The waves of the cool, delicate air, passing over orange and myrtle groves, and breathing delicately against the brow and cheeks, seem to blow open the inmost leaves of the book on which youth painted his visionary pictures with the colours of dreams. In a word, we say this is Italy—the Italy we dreamed of—not the Italy of fleas, couriers, mendicants, and postilions, but of romance, poetry, and passion.'—Story, 'Roba di Roma,' i. 298.
The origin of Albano may be traced to the choice of the spot by the Emperor Domitian for his favourite country residence. Having erected his palace and an amphitheatre, he proceeded to form a drive half encircling the lake below; the pavement of which can still be traced close to the present edge of its waters, where it has been washed in and sunken by the rains of 1800 years. A hundred years later than this Septimius Severus having a liking for the place took with him thither his Parthian Legion (Leg. II.), for whom he caused spacious barracks, temples, kc, to be erected. The tombs of some of the officers of the legion were, a few of them, till 1900, lying among the waste boskage near the Cappuccini. The name of Albanum was no doubt given the place owing to its then known proximity to the site of Alba Longa, not covered, as now, by another town (Castel Gandolfo). Here it was Domitian held his games in honour of his Sabine tutelary goddess, Minerva, and Statius was laureated. 'Celebrabat et in Albano quotannis Quinquatria Minervae cui collegium instituerat' (Suet., c. iv. Vita Domit.), while Juvenal tells us that the tyrant caused Acilius Glabrio, consul in A.d. 91, to fight Numidian bears unarmed in the amphitheatre (Sat. V. v. 99). Here also he held the iniquitous mock-trial of Cornelia Maxima, the vestal abbess, in A.d. 91, whom he condemned to the gods of the under-world. In the Villa Barberini may be examined splendid remains of his villa and its superb terraces. The site of the Amphitheatre is found behind the Church of S. Paolo towards the Convent of the Cappuccini above. While not far from the station, on the left as the tourist arrives, stand important remains of the Baths. In the Church of S. Maria della Rotonda are seen niches pertaining to the Temple of Minerva, and at six feet depth below the present pavement is found the original mosaic floor of that shrine. There are Christian catacombs near Madonna della Stella, and an earlier monument.
As soon as the visitor is settled in his hotel he will probably wander up to the end of the street and beyond it, where he will at once find himself amid the greatest attractions of the place. Just below the road, upon the right, is the republican tomb which Nibby conjectured to be that of Aruns, son of Porsenna; though upon very slender grounds. It consists of a square base with four truncated cones rising from its angles, and a central chamber, in which an urn with ashes was discovered. Aruns was killed by Aristodemus of Cumae before Aricia, which his father had sent him to besiege. It was long supposed to be the monument of the Horatii and Curiatii, and is so-called still by the contadini and drivers.
Below the tomb, the old Appia to Aricia winds through the hollow, amid rocks and pollard trees. The glen always full of beauty, is a common resort of landscape-painters.
'From Albano we had to go on foot for the short and beautiful remainder of the way through Aricia. Reseda and golden cistus grew wild by the roadside; the thick, juicy olive-trees cast a delicious shade. I caught a glimpse of the distant sea; and upon the mountain-slopes by the wayside, where a cross stood, merry girls skipped dancing past us, yet never forgetting piously to kiss the holy cross. The lofty dome of the church of Aricia I imagined to be that of S. Peter, which the angels had hung up in the blue air among the dark olive-trees.'—' Improvisatore,' H. C. Andersen.
The ravine is now called Vallericcia, and was once a sheet of water called Lacus Aricinus. Beside the old road below the town are remains supposed to be those of a temple of Diana, which Sulla restored.
The ceremonies of the temple of Aricia were, according to Strabo, barbaric and cythian, like those of the Tauric Diana. The priest (Ilex Nemorensis) was always a fugitive who had slain his predecessor, and always had in his hand a drawn sword, to defend himself from a similar fate. There was a tree near the temple, whence if a fugitive could approach and carry off a bough, he was entitled to the duel, or monomachia, with the Rex Nemorensis.
* A most curious basso-rilievo was found iu the neighbourhood some years ago,1 representing several personages, among whom is the priest, lately in possession, lying prostrate, with his entrails issuing from a wound, inflicted by his successor, who stands over him with his sword; there are also several females in long robes, in the Etruscan style, who seem to invoke the gods. This basso-rilievo and the passage of Strabo seem to explain each other.' —Sir W. Gell
The great temple of Diana, however, was situated on the eastern side of the secluded Lake of Nemi: hence, Diana Nemorensis. The whole of this region seems to have been dominated by the worship of this divinity. Hence the grandest of its ridges is called Monte Artemisio. 'She was for the Latins second only to Jupiter Latiaris in the power she exercised of uniting communities together and so working in the cause of civilisation. This was the case with the cult on the Aventine, as it was also with that at Aricia.'—The Roman Festivals: Warde Fowler, pp. 198-9. 'Diana, like Silvanus, was no doubt originally a spirit of holy trees and woods; i.e. of wild life generally, who became gradually reclaimed and brought into friendly and useful relations with the Italian farmer, his wife, and his cattle.'—Ibid., 200-1.
Virbius (favoured of charioteers), the legendary founder of Aricia, was strangely conjoined with Diana in the worship of the inhabitants, and is commemorated with her by many of the Latin poets. By syncretism he became identified with Hippolytus of Troezen, perhaps a masculine counterpart of Artemis.
'Jamque dies aderat; profugis cum regibus aptum
—Stat. 'Silv. ' iii. 1, 55.
* Ecce suburbanae templum nemorale Dianae,
—Ovid, 'Art. Am.' i. 259.
'Nympha, mone, nemori stagnoque operata Dianae;
Nympha, Numae conjux, ad tua festa veni.
Est lacus, autiqua religione sacer.
—Ovid, 'Fast. ' iii. 261.
'Lucus eum, nemorisque tui, Dictynua, recessus
—Ovid, 'Fast.' vi. 755.
. . . nam conjux urbe relicta
1 Now at Talma in Majorca.
* Ibat et Hippolyti proles pulcherrimn. bello,
—Virgil, 'Aen. ' vii. 761.
'At Trivia Hippolytum secretis alma recondit
— Virgil, 'Aen' vii. 774.
'Jam ncmus Egeriae, jam te ciet altus ab Alba
— Val. Flac. 'Arg. ' ii. 304.
'. . . . quos miserat altis
—Sil. Ital. iv. 368.
A specially steep ascent from Vallericcia is also commemorated by the poets.
. '. . . . acccdo Bovillas Clivumque ad Virbi: praesto est mihi Manius haeres.'
—Persius, 'Sat.' vi. 56.
'Irus tuorum temporum sequebaris.
—Martial, tSp.t xii. 32.
The steepness of the hill or hills from the earliest times afforded great advantages to the beggars.
'Dignus Aricinos qui mendicaret ad axes,
—Juvenal, 'Sat. ' iv. 117.
The rich country upon which we look down was as famous in ancient as in modern times for the produce of its vineyards.
'Est mihi nonum superantis annum
—Horace, 'OdStv. 11.
'Hie herus; Albanum, Maecenas, sive Falernum
—'Sat' ii. 8,16.'Hoc de Caesareis mitis vindemia cellis
—Martial, xiii. 109.
Aricia was also celebrated for its leeks :—
'Bruttia quae tellus, et mater Aricia porri.'
—Columella, 139, 'R. Rust. ' x. 139.
'Mittit praecipuos nemoralis Aricia porros.'
—Martial, xiii. 19.
Some fragments of the ancient wall may be seen before entering the gate of Ariccia with its forked battlements. The city itself is of very ancient origin, being first mentioned in the story of