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'The walls, in accordance with the architecture, are divided into compartments, varying in form and size. In the first large compartment, he has represented the visit of Otho III. to S. Nilus; a most dramatic composition, consisting of a vast number of figures. The Emperor has just alighted from his charger, and advances in a humble attitude to claim the benediction of the saint. The accessories in this grand picture are wonderful for splendour and variety, and painted with consummate skill. The whole strikes us like a well-got-up scene. The action of a spirited horse, and the two trumpeters behind, are among the most admired parts of the picture. It has always been asserted that these two trumpeters express, in the muscles of the face and throat, the quality of the sounds they give forth. This, when I read the description, appeared to me a piece of fanciful exaggeration; but it is literally true. If painting cannot imitate the power of sound, it has here suggested both its power and kind, so that we seem to hear. Among the figures is that of a young page, who holds the Emperor's horse, and wears over his light flowing hair a blue cap with a plume of white feathers; according to tradition, this is a portrait of a beautiful girl, with whom Domenichino fell violently in love while he was employed on the frescoes. Bollori tells us that, not only was the young painter rejected by the parents of the damsel, but that when the picture was uncovered and exhibited, and the face recognised as that of the young girl he had loved, he was obliged to fly from the vengeance of her relatives.

'The great composition on the opposite wall represents the building of the monastery after the death of S. Nilus, by his disciple and coadjutor S. Bartolommeo. The master builder, or architect, presents the plan, which S. Bartolommeo examines through his spectacles. A number of masons and workmen are busied in various operations, and an antique sarcophagus, which was discovered in the foundation, and is now built into the wall of the church, is seen in one corner; in the background is represented one of the legends of the locality. It is related that when the masons were raising a column, the ropes gave way, and the column would have fallen on the heads of the assistants, had not one of the monks, full of faith, sustained the column with his single strength.

'One of the lesser compartments represents another legend. The Madonna appears in a glorious vision to S. Nilus and S. Bartolommeo in this very Grotta Ferrata, and presents to them a golden apple, in testimony of her desire that a chapel should rise on this spot. The golden apple was reverently buried in the foundation of the belfry, as we now bury coins and medals when laying the foundation of a public edifice.

'Opposite is the fresco which ranks as one of the finest and most expressive of all Domenichino's compositions. A poor epileptic boy is brought to S. Nilus to be healed; the saint, after beseeching the Divine favour, dips his finger into the oil of a lamp burning before the altar, and with it anoints the mouth of the boy, who is instantly relieved from his malady. The incident is simply and admirably told, and the action of the boy, so painfully true, yet without distortion or exaggeration, has been, and I think with reason, preferred to the epileptic boy in Raffaelle's Transfiguration,

'In a high, narrow compartment, Domenichino has represented S. Nilus before a crucifix; the figure of our Saviour extends his arm in benediction over the kneeling saint, who seems to feel, rather than perceive, the miracle. This also is beautiful.

'S. Nilus having been a Greek monk, and the convent connected with the Greek order, we have the Greek fathers in their proper habits—venerable figures portrayed in niches round the cornice. The Greek saints, S. Adrian and S. Natalia; and the Roman saints, S. Agnes, S. Cecilia,and S. Francesca, are painted in medallions.

'A glance back at the history of S. Nilus and the origin of the chapel will show how significant, how appropriate, and how harmonious is this scheme of decoration in all its parts. I know not if the credit of the selection belongs to Domenichino; biit, in point of vivacity of conception and brilliant execution, he never exceeded these frescoes in any of his subsequent works; and every visitor to Rome should make this famous chapel a part of his pilgrimage.'—Jameson, * Monastic Orders,' p. 39.

Grotta Ferrata formerly possessed the finest Greek library in Italy, but its treasures were removed, partly to the Vatican by Sixtus V., and partly to the Barberini collection by Urban VIII. Its precious MS. «Esop was taken by Napoleon I. A Museum of local Antiquities has now become established, and is well worth a visit.

In the Palace of the Abbots, in Jan. 1824, died Cardinal Consalvi, the famous minister and friend of Pius VII., having survived his master only five months. His body, being opened after death, in consequence of unfounded suspicions, proved that he died from natural causes. The Fair, held on March 25 and September 8, is renowned for its display of costume.

About 3J miles from Grotta Ferrata, on the way to Albano, is the picturesque mediaeval town of Marino (Albergo d'ltalia), which has been identified, from inscriptions which have been found there, as occupying the site of Castrimoenium, a town fortified by Sulla, and which continued to be a ' municipium' until the time of Antoninus Pius. Pliny declares that there was a Latin colony here. It is not heard of after the second, until the tenth century. As, in the Middle Ages, Colonna was a principal fortress of the family of that name, so Marino was the stronghold of the rival family of the Orsini, from whom, however, it was wrested in the fourteenth century by the Colonna, who built the walls which still remain. Hither retired to collect his forces, Giordano Orsini, whom Bienzi (1347) outlawed, and caused to be portrayed headdownward on the tower of the Capitol. Rienzi presently came up against him into the glen; but was compelled to beat a very unsatisfactory retreat. The beautiful Vittoria Colonna was born here in 1490, being the daughter of Fabrizio, Grand Constable of the kingdom of Naples, and of Agnese de Montefeltro, daughter of Federigo, Duke of Urbino.

Beyond the town is the beautiful wild rocky glen called Parco Colonna, once 'Lucus Ferentinae,' which was the meeting-place of the Latin League after the destruction of Alba. A pleasant walk (usually closed) leads up the valley, through the wood fresh with rushing streams and carpeted with flowers, to a pool formed by several springs, with an old statue and remains of seventeenth-century grottos. One of the small springs on the right is pointed out as the ' Caput Aquae Ferentinae,' where Turnus Herdonius of Aricia, (who had inveighed against the pride of Tarquinius Superbus, and warned his countrymen against placing trust in him), having been accused of plotting the death of the King and condemned for it by the great council of the Latins, was drowned in the shallow water, being held down by a hurdle, upon which stones were piled. Here was held the Confederate Council, which decided to try and replace the Tarquins on the throne. The beautiful' Sacro-bosco,' abounding in wild-flowers, still adorns the locality; and Marino folk declare that if it were cut down, Health would leave Marino. The people bear the character of being exceptionally rough and quarrelsome. The road through the wood leads to Castel Gandolfo and the Lake of Albano.

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CHAPTER VI

VEII

(An excursion should be made to Veii (12 miles from Rorne) before the weather becomes too hot for enjoyment in walking about its steep ravines. A sunny day late in February is the best time to choose.)

4- which was once occupied by the most powerful of the cities of Etruria. At first we really follow the Via Clodia, and then at the sixth mile the Cassia, one of the three roads which led to Cisalpine Gaul, and which passed through the centre of Etruria: Cicero says—' Etruriam discriminat Cassia.' It is now (except in a Tramontane wind) one of the pleasantest drives near the city, with its high upland views over the green plains of the Campagna to the towns which sparkle in the sun under the rifted purple crags of Sabina, or down bosky glades studded with old cork-trees, whose rich dark green forms a charming contrast to the burnt grass and silvery thistles. Three miles from Rome, on a bank above the left of the road, is the fine sarcophagus adorned with griffins in low relief, which is popularly known as Nero's tomb, though really that of Publius Vibius Marianus and his wife Reginia Maxima. An ancient road direct to Veii left the Clodia near this. Beyond this, on the right, is the castellated farm-house of Buon-Ricovero, picturesquely situated with pine trees upon a grassy knoll.

About ten miles from Rome we reach the dismal posthonse of La Storta, where, in vetturino days, horses were changed for the last time before reaching the city. Madame de Genlis and the Duchesse de Chartres were upset here as they were leaving Rome, and took refuge in the inn. Before reaching La Storta the Via Clodia leaves the road, on the left; or more properly the Via Cassia turns off, starting to the right. Just beyond this the by-road to Veii turns off on the right. As we wind along the hill-sides, we see below us the picturesque little mediaeval village of Isola Farnese.

'From La Storta it is a mile and a half to Isola by the carriage road; but the visitor, on horse or foot, may save half a mile by taking a pathway across the downs. When Isola Farnese comes into sight, let him halt awhile to admire the scene. A wide sweep of Campagna lies before him, in this part broken into ravines or narrow glens, which, by varying the lines of the landscape, redeem it from the monotony of a plain, and by patches of wood relieve it of its usual nakedness and sterility. On a steep cliff, about a mile distant, stands the village of Isola—a village in fact, but in appearance a, large chateau, with a few outhouses around it. Behind it rises the long, swelling ground, which once bore the walls, temples, and palaces of Veii, but

[graphic]

Rome to Veii, the site of is now a bare down, partly fringed with wood, and without a single habitation on its surface. At a few miles' distance rises the conical tufted hill of Musino, the supposed scene of ancient rites, the Eleusis, the Delphi, it may be, of Etruria. The eye is then caught by a tree-crested mound or tumulus, standing in the plain beyond the site of the city ; then it stretches away to the triple paps of the Monticelli, and to Tivoli, gleaming from the dark slopes behind ; and then it rises and scans the majestic chain of Apennines, bounding the horizon with their dark-grey masses, and rests with delight on La Leonessa and other well-known giants of the Sabine range, all capt with snow. Oh, the beauty of that range! From whatever part of the Campagna you view it, it presents those long, sweeping outlines, those grand, towering crests—not of Alpine abruptness, but consistently with the character of the land, preserving, even when soaring highest, the true Italian dignity and repose—the otium cum dignitate of Nature.'—Dennis, 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria*

The fortress, which clings more than half-dismantled to the crumbling tufo rock, was built by the barons of the Middle Ages, was constantly taken and retaken in the Orsini and Colonna feuds, and was eventually ruined by Caesar Borgia when he took it after a twelve days' siege. The Emperor Henry VII. (1312) encamped here before reaching Rome for his stormy coronation.

Here we must leave our carriage and find the custode who opens the painted tomb. A deep lane between banks of tufo overhung by bay and ilex, leads into the ravine, where a brook called Fosso de' due Fossi (from the two little torrents, Storta and Pino, of which it is formed) tumbles over a steep rock into the chasm near an old mill, and rushes away down the glen to join the Oremera. The craggy hill-side is covered with luxuriant foliage, and snow-drifted with laurustinus-bloom in spring; the ground is carpeted with blue and white anemones. Beyond the mill, where we cross the brook upon stepping-stones, a small mediaeval gateway, opening upon a green lawn overhanging the chasm, with the castle of Isola crowning the opposite cliff, forms a subject dear to artists, and many are the picnics which meet on the turfy slope under the old cork-trees.

From hence we may begin our exploration of the ancient city. The ruins are widely scattered, and the labyrinthine ravines formed by the windings of the Cremera and the Fosso de' due Fossi, which almost surround the city and meet beneath it, are so bewildering that a guide is necessary. At first it seems quite impossible that these woody valleys, which only echo now to the songs of nightingales, can really have been Veii, the city which Dionysius underrates when he describes it as being as large as Athens,1 which Eutropius (i. 20) writes of as 'civitas antiquissima Italiae atque ditissima,' which was a flourishing State at the time of the foundation of Rome, and which once possessed so many attractions that it became a question whether Rome itself should not be abandoned for its sake.

* The city of Veii was not inferior to Rome itself in buildings, and possessed a large and fruitful territory, partly mountainous, and partly in the plain. The air was pure and healthy, the country being free from the vicinity of

1 The circuit of Veii was 43 stadia, that of Athens only 35.

marshes, which produce a heavy atmosphere, and without any river which might render the morning air too rigid. Nevertheless there was abundance of water, not artificially conducted, but rising from natural springs, and good to drink.'— Dion. sM.frag. 21.

Gradually, as we push through the brushwood, traces of the old walls may be discovered here and there, and of the nine gates of Roman Veii, to which from local circumstances topographers have assigned the imaginary names of Porta de' Sette Pagi, Porta dell' Arce, Porta Campana, Porta Fidenate, Porta di Pietra Pertusa, Porta dell' Are Muzie, Porta Capenate, Porta del Columbario, and Porta Sutrina.

A long walk through the woods leads to the Porta Capenate, which might easily pass unobserved, so slight are its remains. But beneath it is the most interesting spot in the whole circuit of the city, the Ponte Sodo, where the Cremera or Fosso di Formello, as it is called here, forces its way for 240 yards through a tunnel overgrown with luxuriant bay and ilex. It is necessary to climb down to the level of the stream to enjoy the view through the dark recesses to the light beyond.

* It would be easy to pass the Ponte Sodo without observing it. It is called a bridge; but is a mere mass of rock bored for the passage of the stream. Whether wholly or but partly artificial may admit of dispute. It is, however, in all probability, an Etruscan excavation—a tunnel in the rock, two hundred and forty feet long, twelve or fifteen wide, and nearly twenty high. From above it is scarcely visible. You mnst view it from the banks of the stream. You at first suspect it to be of natural formation, yet there is a squareness and regularity about it which prove it artificial. The steep cliffs of tufo, yellow, grey, or white, overhung by ilex, ivy, and brushwood—the deep, dark-mouthed tunnel with a ray of sunshine, it may be, gleaming beyond—the masses of lichen-clad rock, which choke the stream, give it a charm apart from its antiquity.'—Dennis, 'Cities of Etruria.'

Near the Ponte Sodo are remains of an aqueduct of imperial times, confirming the opinion that Veii had a temporary revival during the reign of Tiberius, whose statue, together with several inscriptions of his date, has been found here.

About a mile up the stream from this, passing the Roman bridge called Ponte Formello, we reach the Ponte deW Isola, which crosses the river with an arch twenty-two feet wide. About the same distance in the opposite direction, descending the river, the remains of a ruined Columbarium are seen in the grey rock on the opposite bank, and a little further, on the hill-side called Poggio Reale, is the Painted Tomb.

Before the entrance of the tomb, which is sometimes known as the Grotta Campana, are the almost shapeless remains of the stone lions which once guarded it, as similar ones did the tomb of Romulus in the Forum. The custode opens a door in the rock and admits one with lights to the interior of two low vaulted chambers hewn out of the tufo, and they are well worth seeing. On either side of the outer room are stone benches, on which when the tomb was first opened, skeletons were found lying. With one of these, who had been a warrior, lay his breastplate, helmet and spear's head, which still remain, and all around were the votive jars and vases which yet

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