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A diligence passes daily between Aosta and Turin, going three times a week, and returning the alternate days; and chars may be had in all the intermediate lowps.
The difficulties about distances in Piedmont, alluded to in the introduction to this section, is no where more strongly felt than in this route to the Val d'Aosta from Turin. With maps, post-books, descriptions of the valley, and the latest authority-lhe “Dizionario geografico, storico, statisticocommerciale degli stati di S. M. il rè di Sardegna,” and the last “Carta Corografica delle Divisioni di Torino e di Aosta,” published by authority of the government, before us, neither distances nor measures can be reconciled. Whether the iniles are geographical, 60 to a degree, or of Piedmont, 40 to a degree, is not mentioned; and no measure from the scales of three of the best maps will agree with either of the quantities described in the three best works, which ought to be of authority since they are sanctioned by the government, so that distances named can only be approximations.
The valley of Aosta, more perhaps than any other in Piedmont, is afllicted in a horrid degree with crétinism and goitre; from Châtillon to Villeneuve this blight seems to have fallen most heavily. Brockedon says, “ Nowhere are goitres and crétinisms more prevalent than in this beautiful valley. The peasantry appear squalid and filthy, a race of beings generally stunted and diseased. Of the whole population in the neighbourhood of Aosta, one in fifty is a crétin; and above half are more or less goitred. Some of these are horrid objects. Tumours as large as their heads are appended to their throats, varying in number, size, and colour. The dirt, deformity, and imbecility of the inhabitants of this part of the valley, presented a scene so wretched, that it harrowed our feelings. Not a well-dressed or decent-looking person is to be met with: all bear marks of poverty, disease, and wretchedness; and this too amidst scenes for which nature has done so much. Surrounded by mountains, and high in their own locality, we saw nothing of the lightness, activity, and high spirits of the mountaineer. Something weighs upon the people like a curse. Many conjectures have been offered upon the cause of goîtres and crétinism. Labour, food, water, air, have all been offered in explanation; but none of these account for it satisfactorily. The opinion of our guide was, that it was chiefly owing to the villainously dirty habits of the people most afflicted with it. He said that among the mountaineers this was the general opinion; and though it sometimes descended in families, and often was observed in infancy, yet it might be traced to the filthy habits of preceding generations."
On leaving the city to ascend the valley, the drive for about
'n four miles lies through the open plain of the Val d'Aosta,
and through scenes of its greatest richness in vegetation. At this distance from Aosta the road passes beneath the château Sarra, an unpicturesque structure; nearly opposite to it, on
the other side of the valley, is a queer building in villainous I taste, the château of Aimaville, situated on a knoll in a com
manding position, and thrusting its impudent pretensions no into notice as if it were a work of high refinement. aminti Sarra is about halfway from Aosta to Villeneuve. Between
these places the road passes, near to the latter place, through St. Pierre, where there is one of the most picturesque châ
teaux in the valley. Soon after leaving St. Pierre a fine scene B is presented in the approach to Villeneuve, where the vast rock
above the town is seen surmounted by the Châtel d'Argent, a and beyond, the snowy alps at the head of the Val Savaranche.
About a mile from St. Pierre the road turns towards the river, which it crosses by a stone bridge to reach the little town of
Villeneuve, where there is nothing of interest, and where the inn offers poor accommodation; it is too near to Aosta to induce the owners to make it more agreeable in the hope of detaining travellers. Near to Villeueuve, the valleys of the Savaranche, and the Rhèmes, open almost together from the south, into the valley of the Doire. Above Villeneuve the valley narrows and becomes much more wooded, the walnut trees sorming in some places almost a forest, especially near
Arvier, about 4 miles above Villeneuve. Here the vineyards are celebrated, every slope being terraced, and vines i planted. A little beyond Arvier is the dirty narrow village
Ivrogne. Until within two or three years this village was almost a barrier to the passage of carriages up the valley, from the steepness and narrowness of its principal street. Now, however, this is altogether avoided; a new bridge is made over the torrent of the Grisanche, and a good road is carried behind the town and falls into the old road above it, where this enters on the road cut out of Fort Roc, which has also been widened, and a good road is now carried through the defile which separates what is considered a distinction in the yalley—the Val d'Aosta, from the valley of La Salle. · Here the road rises hundreds of feet above the bed of the Doire, which is seen foaming below through its restrained course; and from the summit of this pass, Mont Blanc at the head of the valley closes the scene with its masses as a magnificent barrier. The view is strikingly beautiful. The road, thus carried over the precipices, crosses in some places deep rists in the mountain side; over these chasms, platforms are placed, which, being removed, would cut off all communica
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tion by this road, and oblige an army to make a considerable détour to descend by other points intu the Val d'Aosta. A peep over the parapet wall, or through the platforins into the depth below, excites a shudder.
From Fort Roc the road descends rapidly to the Doire, which it crosses on a wooden bridge, and thence continues on the left bank to
La Salle. Before arriving at this village there is a fine view of Mont Blanc and the valley, presented, as the road passes into a deep ravine to cross a torrent near its head, ihence winding round on the other side of this ravine, it rapidly descends upon La Salle, a dirty narrow village, where, however, the name is preserved of the ancient people of this valley, the Salassi. On a hill near La Salle are the ruins of an old feudal castle, there are many traces of its high antiquity found in and about the village. From Ivrogne to La Salle is about nine English miles; thence to
Morgex, by a steep and rather narrow road, is about three miles Nearly opposite to Morgex, it is in contemplation by the Sardinian government to form a good approach by the camp of Prince Thomas to La Tuille, and the pass of the Lit. tle St. Bernard. One of the most important benefits which the government could conser upon its subjects in the Val d'Aosta, and the Tarentaise. At Morgex two or three little inns bave been lately built.
From Morgex, the road up the valley is better than that between La Salle and Morgex, and at the distance of a league a branch of the road descends to cross the Doire, and leads to The village and baths of St Didier. Through the former the road to the Little St. Bernard passes, and about a league from the branch road to St. Didier, the traveller enters .
Cormayeur, where he will find in the Albergo del Angelo a capital inn and a good table d'hôte, and where, during the summer, he may enjoy, en pension, this beautiful retreat in the finest part of the Alps.
Cormayeur, though considered as the head of the Val d'Aosta, is in reality in the Val d'Entrèves; it is a large village with many good houses, situated near the contluence of the two branches of the Doire which descend from the Col de Ferret and the Col de la Seigne. At the foot of the southern side of Mont Blanc to which it approximates so nearly, that the glaciers and snowy crests of the great chain appear to hang over the valley. From the village, the summit of Mont Blanc is concealed by the Mont Dolina, þut half an hour's walk discloses the chain, from the" Monarch," to the grand Jorasse. That part of the chain seen from the village to close the valley includes the remarkable peak of the Géant, and the whole course of the path, by which the passage may be
made by the Col de Géant to Chamouny, is, on the side of Piedmont, to be traced from Cormayeur. This excursion, fatiguing and difficult, is seldom made. Mrs. Campbell, however, and her daughter, English ladies, crossed from Chajiiouny to Cormayeur, in company with a dozen guides, in the summer of 1823; an adventure not yet forgotten in the neighbourhood.
Cormayeur is a place much resorted to in the summer by invalids, for the sake of its mineral waters. There are different springs near it; that of La Victoire is half a league to The S.W.; its waters are impregnated with carbonic acid gas, sulphate of magnesia, and a little iron, and has a temperature of about 34. The spring of La Marguerite varies a little in the proportions of its components, but its temperature is 12 degrees higher. The Piedmontese have great reliance on the salutary effects of their mineral springs, and in their resort to them bring together many agrémens. To them, the traveller to the head of the Val d'Aosta, and the tourist around Mont Blanc are indebted for an establishment which offers to them rest, and refreshment, and, generally, agreeable society, after their journeys.
The establishment of chars at Cormayeur is excellent. A láriff fixes the price; for 2 persons, at 12 francs ; for 3, at 15 francs; and for 4, at 20 francs, for their conveyance to Aosta,
ROUTE 108. MARTIGNY TO AOSTA. - PASS OF THE GUEAT ST BERNARD.
At Martigny (Route 59.) chars are generally hired for this excursion, to take the traveller as far as Liddes, whence the ascent to the hospice is made on mules, the road beyond being impracticable, at present, for any sort of carriage; but the spirit of the Valaisans will, if possible, overcome this difliculty. The same energy which has so much improved the roads in their canton, has already made the difficulties of the forest of St. Pierre to subside; and if they be encouraged by the Sardinian government, or, perhaps, in defiance of its blind policy, we may yet see a good practicable char p'oad on the side of Switzerland, carried to the hospice of the Great St. Bernard.
The length of route from Martigny, or rather the village La Bâtie, which lies in the route of the Simplon, near Martigny, to the hospice, is nine leagues. It passes through the Buurg of Martigny, and shortly after crosses the Drance. The bed of this riyer still exhibits in the rocks and stones with which it is strewn, evidence of the devastation occasioned in 1818, by the bursting of a lake in the valley of Bagnes.
After crossing to the left bank of the Drance, ihe road Icaves the path lo ihe Forclaz, which leads to Chamouny, on the right, and continues up the course of the Drance to the miserable villages of Valette and Bouvernier. Soon after the river is crossed, and the road continues on its right bank in the deep valley of the Drance. In one part the defile is so narrow that it was found necessary to cut a gallery through the rock : beyond it, the road soon after recrosses the river, and ascends on the left bank to
St. Branchier, another dirty village situated at the confluence of the two branches of the Drance, one of which descends from the Val d'Entremont, and the Great St. Bernard, the other from the Val de Bagnes and the glaciers of Charmontane.
Above St. Branchier there are some fine scenes in the Val d'Entremont, but none strikingly grand; it has the general character of an alpine valley, and nothing that deserves to be particularly remembered. At Orsieres the path which leads to Issert and the Val de Ferret turns off on the right.
Beyond Orsieres the scenery improves a little in wildness. The torrent can seldom be seen in the deep gorge which it has made its course, and there is nothing striking in the scenery until the traveller arrives in the forest of St. Pierre.
Liddes and St. Pierre are the only villages on the road between Orsieres and the hospice; the former has a lolerable inn, (l Union), where travellers can rest and refresh.
It is usually a journey of 10 hours to the hospice, from Martigny. The charge for a char to or from Liddes and Martigny is generally 12 francs, and for each mule from Liddes to the hospice 6 francs, and a douceur to the boy who returns with the mule. Between Liddes and St. Pierre chars are sele dom taken, not that the road is impracticable, but it is, at present, very liable to disruption.
St. Pierre is a dirty wretched village, but it has fragments and inscriptions enough to support some claims to antiquity. A military column, dedicated to the younger Constantine, is placed here. De Riyaz says that it was originally on The summit of the pass of the Great St. Bernard, and replaced there the statue of Jupiter Penninus, which Constantine destroyed about the year 339,
On leaving St. Pierre the road crosses a deep abyss, through which the Drance forces its way into the valley below. The road to the hospice leaves on the left a torrent which descends from the Val Orsey, in which there is, not far from St. Pierre, a magnificent cascade.
The road formerly led through the forest of St. Pierre, by a path among the rocks and roots of pines, so steep and tortuous, that Napoleon's difficulties in transporting his artillery