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From Sorrento, I climbed, by a wild and romantic path, over a spur of the mountains, and, descending to the bay of Salerno, hired a large fishing-boat, with four stout rowers, to take me to Amalfi, a distance of six or eight miles. This portion of the coast of Calabria presents by far the boldest, most magnificent, and richly varied mountain and water scenery
I have ever beheld. Surely no picture of poetry or romance has ever placed before my mind any thing to be compared with this sublime and gorgeous array of the beauties of nature. Here the towering mountains overhang the sea, and, reflected from the depths below, other mountains seem suspended from their base. Here the hut of a fisherman, and there a mountain village, with its humble church, are perched among the cliffs, where one would think the eagle could scarcely hang her nest. Now, we gazed with delight on these mountain homes, their walls of purest white presenting a striking contrast to the dark green foliage of the shrubs and plants around them, and then, entering a deep ravine, we found ourselves in a cool and quiet basin, with the mountain walls on either side, rising till they seemed to reach the heavens, while before us, far up as we could see, a foaming torrent, with its silvery spray, was rushing down its wild and rocky channel. Here and there, upon a lofty beetling crag, were the ruins of a feudal tower, or the walls and turrets of some rude and time-worn convent or abbey.
Amalfi was one of the most powerful republics of the middle ages, and celebrated as the place where the mariner's compass was so improved as first to make it truly useful, as also for preserving the only copy of the Pandects of Justinian which survived the fall of the Roman empire. During the ninth century, Amalfi, with her numerous galleys, fitted alike for war and commerce, monopolized most of the trade of the East. The city had fifty thousand inhabitants, who styled themselves “Monarchs of the Ocean,” and for four centuries the commercial code of Amalfi was the maritime law of Europe. The republic was conquered by Roger, Duke of Calabria, and afterwards twice pillaged by the Pisans, who, in 1137, ruined the city.
It has been truly said, that “the situation of Amalfi is picturesque beyond the power of words to describe.” It is built in the form of an amphitheatre, the upper part of the town hanging on the side of a lofty mountain, on one of whose
towering cliffs is a Roman fort, and higher still, are the ruins of an ancient church. In the midst of the town is a deep winding ravine, penetrating into the bosom of the overhanging mountain, from which two beautiful cascades descend. In this ravine are fourteen paper mills, and an iron foundery, in which metal brought from the island of Elba is worked.
The Cathedral at Amalfi is large and handsome, occupying the site of an ancient heathen temple, and, connected with it, are vases, columns, and other relics of antiquity, of more than ordinary interest.
At the hotel where I dined, there were an English and three German artists, who had come thousands of miles, with no other object than to take sketches of the richly varied and romantic scenery in the regions of Amalfi, with a view to placing them on canvass, or engraving them. The English
real John Bull, who had nothing but abuse for any thing out of England. He strongly maintained, that the rich and mellow fruits of southern Italy, and even those tender and delicious grapes which almost melt in one's mouth, were not to be compared with the forced hot-house growth of sunless and foggy old England. But what amused me most was, that he claimed that the sublime and beautiful scenery around us was far from equalling what inight be met with on the seacoast of England and Wales; and this, too, though he had come all the way to Italy, merely to take sketches of this indifferent scenery.
I honor a devoted and enlightened attachment to one's native land; still, when one seriously urges that the proud and noble war-horse has less grace and beauty than the mean and shrivelled donkey, though I may not dispute the point with him, yet may the thought rise in the mind, that such an one is more akin to the latter animal than the former. It is not strange, that such striking specimens of dogmatism and prejudice incarnate, as that just referred to, should have led the more gifted English writers severely to satirize the travelled cockneys of their own land, and earnestly to desire to reach some point in their foreign wanderings, where nothing English might meet the eye, or harshly grate upon the ear.
My course, on leaving Amalfi, was by a steep winding path up the side of the mountain, rising five thousand feet, in a distance of five or six miles, and then an equal descent to Castellamar, on the bay of Naples. The weather was excessively hot, and much of the way the ascent was by steps cut in the solid rock. My only relief under copious perspiration, was most liberal draughts of ice, or rather snow water, furnished me by parties of peasants whom I met, as they were carrying the snow from the pits in which it is preserved, at the top of the mountains, down to the towns below. These pits are about fifty feet deep, and twenty-five broad at the top, in the form of a sugar-loaf. About three feet from the bottom is a wooden grate, which serves for a drain for any of the snow which melts. In the winter, before the pits are filled, they are lined with straw and small branches of trees, and the snow, when thrown in, is beaten down, so as to form a solid mass. The pits are then covered with a low conical roof of straw and boughs of trees, and thus is snow preserved for the daily use of all in the cities of southern Italy, beggars not excepted.
The views from various points on the sides and the summit of the mountain, were most romantic and exciting. Here was a shepherd, with his faithful dog, tending a herd of goats, far up among the rocks, and there a single cottage, or a mountain hamlet, perched, like an eagle's nest, among the airy cliffs. Now the path overhung a deep and dark ravine, lighted only by the sparkling foam of a wild cascade, and then, high up in the mountains, a fertile valley opened to the view, with its lovely village, and its waving fields, where once, perchance, had been the red volcano's flaming mouth. The summit of the mountain, too, instead of a stinted growth of firs, was crowned with losty beech and other forest trees, while far below, on either hand, were wide-spread scenes, of glowing and romantic beauty, and of the highest classic and historic interest.
On reaching the foot of the mountain, though it was past sunset, and I was sixteen miles from Naples, I still walked on, undecided whether to seek lodgings for the night, and make a second visit to Pompeii the next day, or to press on to Naples. After reaching the great road which leads from Naples to Salerno, I resolved, if possible, to secure a ride in the first carriage which should pass in the direction of Naples. Soon I heard one, and though the night was dark, and the driving by no means slow, still, after a short run, I seized hold of it, and climbed up behind. It was a Calesa, a kind of two-wheeled carriage, common in the south of Italy, with a seat like that of a chaise, but without a top, and having a cross-board behind, on which the driver, and sometimes others with him, stand. In this case, however, the gentle man himself was driving, and his servant, beside whom I took my station, was perched up behind. Soon the horses were checked, and the gentleman, on turning round, from seeing my spectacles, or from some other cause, thinking, perhaps, that I might be respectable, instead of shooting me as a robber, or upbraiding me for my impudence, very politely invited me to take a seat beside him. The road was excellent, the horses extremely fleet, and we flew, Jehu-like, over the ground. We were soon on excellent terms, and, stopping at the first village we came to, he sent in his servant and ordered two tumblers of iced coffee, which was truly refreshing. On reaching Naples he reined up at the door of his palace, called his porter, exchanged cards with me, invited me to call and see him, ordered his servant to drive me to the lower part of the city, where I was going, and thus we parted. Such was the result of my impudence, and such the acquaintance I formed with the Marquis of C., a young Neapolitan nobleman,
CAPUA AND ROME.
A Sleeping City. - Leave Naples. — Carriages. - Conductor. - Aversa.
Hospital. - Capua.- Amphitheatre.— The Liris.- Mola. - Cicero. - Robbers. - Countess of Fondi. — Terracina. – Promontory of Circe. — Pontine Marshes. — Appii Forum. - The Three Taverns. – Velletri.— Lake Nemi.
Mount Albano. – View of Rome. - Reflections. - Lake Albano.American Coffee-house. Campagna Romana. - Malaria. - Aqueducts.
Walls of Rome. - Feelings on entering the City. - Gibbon. – Hotel. Appearance of Rome. - The Seven Hills. – Villas. - Fountains. – Obelisks. – Triumphal Columns.- Bridges. Public Squares. - Palaces. St. Peter's Church ; Vestibule, Interior, High Altar. -— St. Peter's Chair.
The Dome. - Reflections. Brazen Bail. - The Ancient Church.Public Devotions. Vatican Palace. Specimens of the Fine Arts. Classic Interest. — Statuary. - Sculpture. – Vatican Library. – Popes of Rome; their History, Claims, and Power; their Humiliation. — Etiquette of the Papal Court. – Interview with the Pope ; his Dress, and Personal Appearance.
With smiles the rising morn had come,
We left Naples for Rome early in the morning, just as the first signs of life and motion began to appear. The people in these warm climes sleep two or three hours after mid-day, during the heat of summer, and make it up by crowding the coffee-houses, and other places of public resort, from early in the evening until after midnight. Hence they sleep late in the morning; and it were well worth one's while who has never done it, to wander through the streets of such a city as Naples, between daylight and sunrise. The shops and houses are closed, and all around is silent as the grave. You hear no more the busy hum of the myriads of her population, nor the wild and confused murmuring of a thousand conflicting streams of feeling, interest, and passion. The contrast of the surrounding stillness with the giddy whirl of business and of