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"Albano—a place of more than 6000 souls, the episcopal see of a Cardinal who represented his sovereign in the spiritual government ot 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—numero.is 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 ha^ always been swarming with betgjars, who usually appeal to compassion with promises of so many Aves in return! The native youth of the place, seeming for the most part artizans or labourers in tolerably good condition, spend their evenings generally, as the visitor may perceive, at the caffes playing cards."—Hemani Catholic Italy.
But the beauty of the villas, 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 airy apartments may be obtained in many of the old palaces, where, in the great heat, the scarcity of furniture is scarcely a 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 delicious Italian refection of lemonade, fruits, &c, which is known as Merenda, and sallying out in the gorgeous beauty of the evening to walk or drive in the "galleries" which overhang the lake, or in the woods towards Nemi.
"Ah, dearest, you know not yet the enchantment of a summer amid Italian hills, and you know not what it is to breathe the perfume of the orange gardens—to lie at noon in the deep shadow of an ilex grove, listening to the ripple of a legendary spring, older than history—to stroll among ruins in the purple twilight! Then up here at Albano, far from the sultry city and the unhealthy plain, we have such sunrises and sunsets as you, artist though you be, have never dreamt of—here, where the cool airs linger longest, and the very moon and stars look more golden than elsewhere.''—Barbara's History.
"When the Suh 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 door-step 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 Castel 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 ozier-baskets heaped with grapes, or great bundles of brush-wood 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. Whitehaired 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.
"Thenow 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 road-side 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 Frescati 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 its 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."—Storys Roba di Roma, i. 298.
As soon as the visitor is settled in his hotel he will probably wander up to the end of the street, where he will at once find himself amid the greatest attractions of the place. Just below the road, upon the right, is the tomb of Aruns, son of Porsenna. It is a huge square base with four cones rising from it, and a central chamber, in which an urn with ashes was discovered some years ago. Aruns was killed by Aristodemus of Cumae before Anccia, which his father had sent him to besiege: his tomb is identified by the description which Pliny gives of that of Porsenna, but it was long supposed to be the monument of the Horatii and Curiatii.
Below the tomb of Aruns, the old road to Ariccia winds through the hollow, amid rocks and trees, which, alas, have lately been pollarded. Still the glen must always be full of beauty, and is the constant summer resort of landscapepainters.
"From Albano we had to go on foot for the short and beautiful remainder of the way through Ariccia. Reseda and golden cistus grew wild by the road-side ; 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 Ariccia 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. Near the road are some small remains supposed to be those of a temple of Diana.
"The ceremonies of the temple of Aricia were, according to Strabo, barbaric and Scythian, like those of the Tauric Diana. The priest (Rex 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-relievo was found in the neighbourhood some years ago, * 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-relievo and the passage of Strabo seem to explain each other."—Sir W. Gell.
Hippolytus or Urbius, the legendary founder of Ariccia, was joined with Diana in the worship of the inhabitants, and is commemorated with her by many of the Latin poets.
"Jamque dies aderat; profugis cum regibus altum
Stat. Silv. iii. I.
Ovid. Art. Am. i. 259.
Est lacus, antiqua religione sacer.
Ovid. Fast. iii. 261.
Ovid. Fast. vi. 755.
VaUis Aricinfe densis latet abdita sylvis:
Ovid. Metam. xv. 487.
Virgil. AZn. vii. 761.
Virgil. Ain. vii. 774.