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CERVARA, LUNGHEZZA, AND COLLATIA.
(It is a short and pleasant afternoon's drive to Cervara, but a day must be given to Lunghezza and Collatia, though, if visited on horseback, they may be combined with the ruins of Gabii.)
AFTER passing the Torre degli Schiavi, the road to Lunghezza turns off to the left. On the right is the Tor Tre Teste, on the left we pass close to a fountain of the Acqua Vergine. On the left is now seen the great castellated farm of the Borgheses called Cervaretto, rising above the low marshy ground. The field-road which passes in front of the further side of this castle, leads on a mile further t« another Campagna castle, Cervara, a most picturesque red-brick tower with some farm buildings attached to it .
Close to this, are the famous Caves of Cervara, which are said to have been formed when excavating the materials for the Coliseum. It is a strange place. You are quite unconscious of any break in the wide grassy Campagna, till you suddenly find yourself on the edge of a precipice, with deep, narrow, miniature ravines yawning beneath you and winding in all directions till they emerge on a meadow near the Anio. And when you descend into these, openings in the rocks CERVARA AND RUSTIC A.
beneath lead into vast chambers opening one upon another, their roof supported by huge pillars of natural rock, while the floor is deep in sand, and long tresses of ivy, and branches of flowering laurestinus, wave in upon the gloom, whenever the light streams in through a rift overhead. One point is especially charming, where the Anio and the hills beyond it are seen through a great arch of natural rock.
In May these solitudes are enlivened by the revels of the Festa degli Artisti, which is well worth seeing. Some historical scene, such as the triumph of Vitellius (as in 1870), is taken as the groundwork of a costumed procession,—tournaments are held in the meadow near the Anio, wonderful cavalcades of Arabs in rich dresses ride waving their long spears through the Petra-like ravines, and a bellowing Dragon vomiting forth fire and smoke emerges from the caves, and is slain by an imaginary S. George in the rockgirt hollow.
About two miles beyond Cervara, the tall tower of Rustica rises above the swellings of the Campagna. It stands on the very edge of the Anio in a beautiful situation, and is well worth visiting. It was once the property of Elius, father of the Emperor Lucius Verus, who was adopted by Hadrian as his successor. Rustica is most easily seen from the opposite side of the river, reached by the road to Tivoli, turning off to the right beyond Ponte Mammolo. Returning to the Via Collatina, a tolerable road leads us over an uninhabited part of the Campagna for about five miles further. Then it descends into the valley of the Anio, which is here bordered with willows. The great castle or rather fortified farm of Lunghezza is seen on the opposite slope, backed by the purple peaks of the Sabina. This was an ancient possession of the Strozzi family, but has lately been sold to the Duke of Grazioli, one of the richest of the modern Roman nobles.
"C'est le bon plaisir des souverains pontifes qui a fait entrer quelques riches parvenus dans l'aristocratie romaine.
"Un boulanger du nom de Grazioli fait une grande fortune, et le pape ordonne qu'il soit inscrit sur la liste du patriciat romain. II achete une baronnie et le pape le fait baron. II achete un duché et le voila due Grazioli. Son fils epouse une Lante de la Rovere."—About,
- There is little remarkable about Lunghezza, except its situation, but some hours may be pleasantly spent in sketching on the river-bank lower down the valley.
A pleasant walk of about two miles up the stream of the Osa (turning to the left in descending from the Castle) leads along fields and through a wood, filled in spring with the snow-drops which are sold in Rome in such abundance, to the ruined castle railed Castellaccio or Castello dell' Osa, which occupies a declivity of lava on the left of the stream.
It is disputed whether Castel dell' Osa or Lunghezza is the site of the famous Collatia. Beneath the ruined castle near the Osa some fragments of ancient wall, in regular blocks, may be observed, but this is the only fact in favour of its being the site of the home of Lucretia, while Sir W. Geli, COLLA TIA.
in favour of Lunghezza, draws attention to the existence of the Via Collatina (apparently leading direct to Lunghezza),
which would have been unnecessary had Collatia occupied a site such as Castel dell' Osa, which is only two miles from Gabii, as a slight turning from the Via Gabina would have led to it. Lunghezza accords much better than Castel dell' Osa with the description of Virgil:—
"Collatinas imponent montibus arces."
SEn. vi. 774.
Virgil and Dionysius notice Collatia as a colony of AlbaLonga. It was reduced into subjection to Rome in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, who established a garrison there, and appointed his nephew Egerius as its governor, who forthwith took, and transmitted to his descendants, the name of Collatinus. His daughter-in-law, Lucretia, was residing here during the siege of Ardea, and thus Collatia became the scene of the events which led to the overthrow of the Roman monarchy.
"As the king's sons and their cousin L. Tarquinius were sitting over their cups at Ardea, a dispute arose about the virtue of their wives. This cousin, sumamed Collatinus, from Collatia, where he dwelt as an independent prince, was the grandson of Aruns, the elder brother of the first Tarquinius, after whose death Lucumo removed to Rome. Nothing was doing in the field: so they straightway mounted their horses to visit their homes by surprise. At Rome, the princesses were revelling at a banquet, surrounded by flowers and wine. From thence the youths hastened to Collatia, where at the late hour of the night Lucretia the wife of Collatinus was spinning amid the gircle of her handmaids.
"... The next day Sextus, the eldest of the king's sons, returned to Collatia, and, according to the rights of gentle hospitality, was lodged in his kinsman's house. At the dead of night he entered sword-in-hand into the matron's chamber, and by threatening that he would lay a slave with his throat cut beside her body, would pretend to have avenged her husband's honour, and would make her memory for ever loathsome to the object of her love, wrung from her what the fear of death could not obtain.
"Who, after Livy, can tell of Lucretia's despair? She besought her father and her husband to come to her, for that horrible things had taken place. Lucretius came, accompanied by P. Valerius, who afterwards gained the name of Publicola; Collatinus with the outcast Brutus. They found the disconsolate wife in the garb of mourning, sitting in a trance of sorrow. They heard the tale of the crime, and swore to avenge her. (Saying, 'I am not guilty, yet must I too share the punishment, lest any should think that they may be false to their husbands and live,' Lucretia drew a knife from her bosom, and stabbed herself to the heart.) Over the body of Lucretia, as over a victim, the vows of vengeance were renewed. Her avengers carried the corpse into the market-place of Collatia. The citizens renounced Tarquinius, and promised obedience to the deliverers. Their young men attended the funeral procession to Rome. Here with one voice the decree of the citizens deposed the last king from his throne, and pronounced sentence of banishment against him and his family."—Niebuhr's Hist, of Rome.
Silius Italicus notices Collatia as the birth-place of the
elder Brutus :—
"... altrix casti Collatia Bruti."
In the time of Strabo (v. 229) Collatia was little more than a village. It is only two miles from the ruins to Gabii, up the valley of the Osa.