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It is about eight miles inland from Orbetello to Magliano, a miserable village with an old castle, lying between the Osa and the Albegna. Near this place, Dennis was led by the descriptions of Tommaso Pasquinelli, an engineer, to make researches, which have resulted in the identification of an undoubted Etruscan site (round which the circuit of walls, miles in circumference, may with difficulty be traced), with the long-lost and much-sought city of Vetulonia, a place of first-rate magnitude, one of the five cities which vainly undertook to assist the Latins against Tarquinius Priscus, and one of the twelve great towns of Etruria. Moreover, the place whence Rome derived its lictors and fasces and the use of brazen trumpets in war.
'Maeoniaequc decus quondam Vetulonia gentis.
—Sil. Ital. viii. 485.
Several painted tombs have been opened near this, though they have been reclosed; and many small Etruscan ornaments have been found.
'To those who know Italy, it will be no matter of surprise that the existence of this city should have been so long forgotten. Had there even been ruins of walls or temples on the site, such things are too abundant in that land to excite particular attention; and generation after generation of peasants might fold their flocks or stall their cattle amid the crumbling ruins, and the world at large remain in ignorance of their existence. Thus it was with Paestum: though its ruins are so stupendous and prominent, it was unknown to the antiquary till the last century. Can we wonder, then, that in the Tuscan Maremma, not better populated or more frequented, because not more healthy, than the Campanian shore, a city should have been lost sight of, which had no walls or ruins above-ground, and no vestige but broken pottery, which tells no tale to the simple peasant ?'— Dennis.
After leaving Orbetello, the railway crosses the river Albegna, and four miles further, the Osa, where there are remains of the ancient bridge by which the Via Aurelia crossed the river. At the point of the headland beyond this is another Etruscan site, in a village with a castle still bearing the old name, Telamone, which tradition says was derived from Telamon, the Argonaut. This is supposed to have been the port of Vetulonia. Here Regulus and many brave Romans fell in a magnificent victory over the united Gauls, B.C. 225. It was here that Marius landed on his return from Africa in B.C. 87. The few ruins remaining are all of Roman times. The Torre della Bella Marsilia records, in its name, the legend that a beautiful girl of the Marsilj family was carried off thence by pirates and taken to Constantinople, where she was raised by her charms to the dignity of Sultana.
This story is the subject of one of the most popular of the refrains, with whose melancholy cadences the Maremma peasants still make the shores resound. It begins :—
'I Turcbi son vennti nella Maremma,
Eighteen miles north of Telamone is (on the railway) the fortified Cathedral town of Grosseto (Stella d'ltalia), five miles from which are the ruins of RuseUae. A guide should be taken from the hot springs called I Bagni di Roselle. Nothing remains except the walls, which enclose a space two miles in circumference, and which are for the most part ' composed of enormous masses piled up without regard to form, and differing only from the rudest style of Cyclopean in having the outer surfaces smoothed.' The ruins are almost inaccessible from the growth of the thorny shrub 'marruca' (holy thorn), with which they are surrounded.
Rusellae is believed to have been one of the twelve great cities of Etruria, and was one of those which united against Tarquinius Prisons. Livy mentions that in B.C. 300 the consul, M. Valerius Maximus, led an army into the territory of Rusellae, and there broke the might of the Etruscans: and in B.C. 293 Rusellae was again attacked, by Postumius Metellus, the consul, who took 2000 prisoners, and slew almost as many round the walls of the city. Rusellae continued to exist after the fall of the empire, and had a cathedral till 1138, when, owing to the number of brigands who infested the country, the bishopric was transferred to Grosseto.
West of Grosseto, the river Ombrone enters the sea. Pliny represents it as navigable.
'Tangimus Umbroncm! non est ignobile flam en,
Quod toto trepidas excipit ore rates;
—Rutitius, * Itin.' i. 337.
North of Grosseto, the high road runs inland, passing the feverbringing fens of the Lago di Castiglione, the Lacus Prilis of Pliny. On the left, it passes under the wooded hill of Colonna, supposed to have been the ancient Colonia, near which the before-mentioned 'battle of Telamon' took place, when the Cisalpine Gauls were defeated by an unexpected conjunction of two Roman armies under the Consuls «Emilius Paulus and C. Attilius, and the latter consul was slain.
On the coast beyond this is Porto di Troja, the ancient Portus Trajanus, and, near it, the little Lake of Caldano and Porto Palese, the Portus Faleriae.
'Laxatum cobibet vicina Faleria cursum,
Quanqnam vix medium Phoebus baberet iter.
Et tum forte bilares per compita rustica pagis
IUo quippe die tandem renovatns Osiris
Egressi villam petimus, lucoque vagamur;
Stagua placent septo deliciosa vado.
Gurgitis inclnsi laxior unda sinit.'
—RtUiliut, i. 371.
On the right of the road is Massa, occcupying a knoll, with a small 13th-century cathedral dedicated to S. Cerbone. The place has so bad a reputation for malaria as to give rise to the proverb,
The high road rejoins the coast at La Fallonica, where there are extensive ironworks, founded by a Grand Duke of Tuscany. Fallonica occupies the centre of the bay of Piombino, in front of which lies Elba, and, nearer, the islets of Palmajola and Cerboli The bay is closed by the peninsula of Piombino, the noTrXiiytop kpn of Ptolemy, which gives the title of Prince to the Buoncompagni family. The small town of Piombino is quite without interest, but, five miles distant, on the other side of the peninsula, is Populonia, with a picturesque mediaeval castle.
'The ancient family of the Desiderj have been the hereditary lords of Populonia for centuries; and they still dwell within the castle walls, in the midst of their dependents, retaining all the patriarchal dignity and simplicity of the olden time, and with hospitality in no age surpassed, welcomta? the traveller with open doors.'—Dennis.
The walls of the Etruscan town Pupluna remain, and are about a mile and a half in circumference. They consist of rude masses of stone in horizontal layers. This is supposed to have been the most important maritime city of Etruria, and was the only Etruscan town which had a silver coinage of its own. The coins were stamped with the Gorgoneion, resembling the coins of Solon struck at Athens. It probably derived its importance from its nearness to the island of Elba (Ilva), the iron found there being taken to Populonia to be smelted, and exported to other places; but it must have also been an emporium for Campanian Greek trade of all kinds. Virgil speaks of it as a city of smiths. In B.C. 205, when Scipio was preparing his fleet for Africa, and the Etruscan cities brought him contributions, Populonia supplied the iron.1 The town never recovered a siege from Sulla, and in the time of Strabo only the temples and a few houses remained in the old city on the height, though the port was still used, and a new town had grown up around it. In the time of Rutilius the place was nothing but ruins, though he mentions a beacon tower for ships on the highest point of the hill.
'Proxima securum reserat Populonia litus
Qua naturalem ducit in arva siuum.
1 Livy, xxviii. 45.
Sed specalam validae rupis sortita vetustas,
Qua fluctus domitos arduus urget apex.
Praesidium terris, indiciumque fretis,
Grandia consumpsit moenia tempus edax.
Ruderibus latis tecta, sepulta jacent.
Cernimus exemplis, oppida posse mori.'
—Hut. i. 401.
Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, describes the complete decay of the place, though it continued to be an episcopal see. The view is beautiful from the hill of
The hot springs, which were known as Aquae Populoniae, are those now called Le Caldane, at the foot of the hill of Campiglia, which is capped by mediaeval ruins. The Italian poet, Giosue Carducci (Enotrio Romano), is a native of Serra near Populonia, and describes the desolate scenery of this district in his poems.