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leaving Alatri, the bridle-road into the mountains enters the wildest country imaginable: no vegetation, save here and there a tuft of wild lavender, and some of the small yellow marigolds which Italians call " primo fiore," grows upon the scorched rocks. The path skirts a ravine, winding high amongst its precipices, where a false step would be fatal. Steeper and steeper becomes the stony way, and wilder and wilder the valley, till at length Collepardo comes in sight, a large village, perched on a cliff, at a tremendous height above the Cosa, with black broken walls (proving that even this poverty-stricken place was not safe from robbers), a ruined gate earthquake-rent, and here and there some tiny gardens and a few sad-looking olive-trees, planted where the scanty soil will allow.
About a mile from the village (by a path which turns to the left before entering it) is the strange hole called the Pozzo di Santulla. It is a pit in the rock, about 400 yards round and zoo feet deep, hung with vast stalactites and fringed at the top with ilex. Once (as may be seen in a published engraving by Don Baldassare Buoncompagni) it was filled with trees, though there could only have been room for very few: now all these are gone, and the bottom is covered with grass. It is quite inaccessible except by ropes, but goats are occasionally let down, and drawn up when they have eaten all there is. If a tiger, as is said, once existed here, it must soon have died of hunger. The Pozzo, says tradition, was once a vast threshing-floor, on which the people impiously threshed corn upon the festa of the Assumption, when the outraged Madonna caused it to sink into the earth with all who were upon it, and it remains to this day a memorial of her wrath. Alas! there is little doubt that the pit was really caused by some strange volcanic action. The account of this place in Murray's Handbook, describing it as nearly half a mile in circuit, &c. (it is here called " Pozzo d' Antullo "—but of course the description is intended for La Santulla), is strangely exaggerated, and will mislead many travellers. Still it is a spot worth visiting, and very weird and amazing. The graphic description of Gregorovius applies to its former condition.
"Nature has brought together many wonders near Collepardo, for only a short distance from the stalactite cave is that celebrated well of Italy the Pozzo di Santulla, close by the road to the Carthusian monastery. After a half-hour's ride (from the village) between gardens and over an elevated rocky plain, I found myself suddenly on the edge of a steep circular pit, which vividly recalled the great Latomia of Syracuse. About fifteen hundred paces in circumference, this strange well sinks to a depth of over a hundred and fifty feet, and presents at the bottom a dark green forest of tree-tops and creepers, which when a breeze is wafted down, ripple like the waves of the sea.
"The sun shed streaks of light from the clearest sky into its depths, and I saw white butterflies merrily playing about over this sunken forest. Blooming creepers hung from the branches of these trees, which are said to rise more than thirty feet from the bottom, and yet from above only look like bushes. The inaccessible flowers, the wild labyrinthine paths through the dark thicket, the fluttering of the birds which inhabit it, entice the fancy, which represents this underground magic grove as a fairy paradise or a garden for Oberon and Titania. There abundant springs take their mysterious course, and keep the plants continually green, while the basin draws down and collects the night dews. With admiration the eye follows the walls down to the giddy depth; they take strange and fantastic forms like stalactites, and are overgrown with dwarf oaks, golden-flowered broom, and mastick bushes. They are adorned with all colours of the rainbow, for the rock is now soft silver grey, now burning red, again dark blue, yellow, and deep black. This well, together with the wild mountain scenery which surrounds the horizon, forms a scene which words would fail to express ; here, the brown district of Collepardo looking melancholy behind green trees; there, long vistas of rocky valleys; furtherofl", gigantic and quiet mountains majestic in form, with solitary golden eagles soaring round the untrodden peaks, or fantastic mists spreading their white veils around.
"Wild-looking herds, sandal-men of the mountains, with lance-like staves, had encamped with their mountain goats on the edge of the well, and gave life to the magnificent scene, while sturdy boys amused themselves with rolling down stones. They fell with a hollow crash into the forest, and frightened from their nests the grey doves, which flew from the trees with the speed of lightning, and dashed to and fro in despair. Although these goatherds told me that a tiger lived in the mysterious well, yet at the same time they confessed that they sometimes let down goats by ropes. These animals find there water and herbs in abundance, and remain in the forest for months, until they are brought up well fed, for the men go down by ropes to bring them up again."—Laieinische Sommer.
Beyond Santulla the scenery became even more savage. The path wound through a chaos of great rocks and descended into a deep gorge, whence it mounted again to the final isolated plateau of Trisulti, close under the snows, where the approach to a great religious house was as usual indicated by a cross perched in the most advantageous position. Here nothing could exceed the wildness of the scene, as we looked backwards while resting on the platform of the cross upon the rugged billows of arid rock, melting into blue distances, but all without life. Beyond, however, it was different. We entered a wood of old oaks carpeted with lilies, and their boughs, which had never known the axe, green with the ferns which had taken root upon them. A wide path, beautifully kept, led through the wood to Alpine pastures, sheeted with mountain flowers, gentians, ranunculus, squills, and auriculas. Only the booming of its bell through the solemn solitudes, told that we were near the monastery, till we came close upon it, and then a vast mass of buildings, overtopped by a church, revealed itself on the last edge of the rocky plateau.
Ladies are not allowed to enter Trisulti without a special permission from the Pope. It has hitherto been one of the few great monasteries which have not been entirely plundered by the Sardinian government, and forty monks remain here, leading a most useful and beneficent life, honoured by
all the country round, the friends and helpers of the poor of the mountain villages in sickness or in sorrow.
We had scarcely reached the monastery when sounds of Litanies resounded through the woods, and between the distant oak-stems appeared the head of a procession of pilgrims which was just arriving from Naples. All were in holiday costume, and carried baskets. The priest who led them knelt, when he came in sight of Trisulti, at an outside chapel, and, two and two, all the multitude knelt behind him, and as he recited the Litany of the saints, their "Ora pro nobis" echoed through the mountains. Afterwards food was sent out from the convent, which they ate seated in groups upon the grass, and then continued their way to the shrine at Genazzano, singing in cadences as they moved.
A noble-looking monk in white robes, with a long white beard, Padre Gabrielli, acted as guide through the convent, which is exceedingly clean and well kept. Fountains sparkle in every court, and the roads within the walls, for it is like a little city, are covered with fine white sand. We were received at the head of a staircase by the Superior, who looked like a saint in a niche, with the face sculptured in wax, so perfectly white was it, and so absorbed and serene. He desired that we should have dinner provided and every comfort. While it was preparing we saw the rest of the convent.
"There are few curiosities in the monastery, for unfortunately every thing ancient has disappeared under later restorations, so I did not find much to gratify my curiosity. However the situation in the mountains, the life of the monks in their lonely republic, and the history of this strange order, gave abundant matter for observation. One of those characters produced by the epoch of the crusades among which Francis and Dominic were soon after so remarkable, was St. Bruno, who, shocked at the excesses of Abp. Manasses of Rheims, founded the Carthusian rule towards the end of the nth century. This order, which unites social monachism with the anchorite life, and exacts abstinence with the utmost rigour, received its name from the place where it took its rise, la Chartreuse near Grenoble. Its statutes (Consuetudines Cartusianae) date from the year 1134, its confirmation by the Pope was obtained in 1170. In a time when the minds of men were brought into a mystic ecstasy by the struggle with the Mahometan East, the war of the church with the heresy of the Albigenses, and finally with the state, a new reformed order would have a rapid success. The Carthusians soon spread, and the extreme peculiarities of their rule contributed thereto not a little. As early as 1208 these fathers settled in Trisulti, which place was given to them by Innocent III. Here they found a ruined monastery, which had formerly belonged to the Benedictines, and here they erected upon the ruins the original Carthusian monastery in 1211. They say a castle, Trisalto, gave the name to that spot, which is generally explained a tribus sallibus, of three wood-covered hills."—Gregorovius.
The little houses of the monks surround a cloister which