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FROM ALATRI TO FERENTINO.
with their flowing veils, their rich costume, and their gleaming brass conche poised upon their stately heads, they are wonderfully in keeping with the scene.
The drive back from Alatri to Ferentino in the gloaming of one of the most beautiful days in the beginning of April, gave us a perfect succession of charming pictures, not only of landscape—though that was beautiful exceedingly in the still late light—but of herdsmen in their closely-fitting blue dress, with their guiding-poles over their shoulders, following great grey oxen down the hollow ways between the red earth and bright young grass, and singing as they went; and of women
in white dresses, with snow-white panni folded over their dark hair, large gold earrings, and embroidered aprons, sometimes coming up from wayside fountains with the great brazen vessels of water, which one sees here everywhere, poised upon their heads, like beautiful Greek Caryatides. And our evening was a perfectly Italian one—seated in the brick-floored, wall-painted room, lighted by Italian lamps with three burners and hanging chains, and waited on by a gaily-jewelled hostess, who had nothing to offer but eggs and salad.
Another beautiful morning found us quite rested, and up at six to enjoy the early light glinting through the old olivetrees under our window, and the distant views of rosy peaks fading fainter into a misty plain. Then we set off to explore the town, the ancient Ferentinum, up the steep dark street, all balconies, and loggias, and Gothic windows, with plenty of dirt beneath, and only a strip of opal sky lighting it up at the end. On the steepest part of the hill is the Church of St Valentine, with a very curious porch, whose canopy is formed by a projecting apse. A little further is S. Francesco, with strange bas-reliefs in its little fore-court. Hence the Via dell' Antico Acropole, a street full of long steep staircases, beloved by artists, leads up to a terrace under Cyclopean walls of huge stones, something like those of Alatri. The dark passage caverned under these walls emerges close to the Duemo (SS. Giovanni e Paolo), which, externally, has much of its Lombard architecture remaining; and, within, a splendid opus-alexandrinum pavement, mended with fragments of sculptured marble-work, and a glorious twisted mosaic pillar nearly the whole height of the church, secured against the wall by iron clamps. Behind the church is the bishop's palace, with a stately old staircase guarded by marble lions.
A crowded street, where old women, like the Fates of Michael Angelo, sit spinning in their doorways, surrounded
by their domestic circles of goats, cats, dogs, and pigs, all joining vociferously in the conversation, leads to the lower
town. The stone used as the font in the little church of St Giovanni Evangelista has an inscription from the inhabitants of Ferentinum to Cornelia Salonina, wife of the " unconquered Gallienus." From the piazza, where a number of Roman altars are collected, we have a magnificent view over mountain and plain. Hence, also, one may learn, by looking down, to find one's way through the intricate maze of filthy alleys, many of which have such stately names as Via dell' Atreo, Vicolo dei Bagni de Flavio, Vicolo del Calidario, &c, to the finest of the churches, Sta. Maria Maggiore, which, in its beautiful west front, has a door with detached red marble columns banded together, and above it the
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emblems of the Evangelists on either side of the Lamb of God, and a grand rose window.
S. Maria Maggiore, Ferentino.
Old Italian histories assert that S. Maria Salome, the reputed mother of S. John the Evangelist, was buried at Ferentino, "as is attested by the archives in the cathedral of Veroli."
Near the gate close to this church an inscription hewn in the solid rock records the erection of a statue by the grateful people of Ferentinum to Quinctilius Priscus, who, amongst other largesses, gave them crustula and mulsum (cakes and mead) upon his birth-day, with sportula (presents of money) for the decurions, and tmeum sparsiones (scrambles of nuts) for the boys.
"The pride of Ferentino, amongst its antiquities, is the so-called 'Testament.' With difficulty I climbed over rocks and through the brambles in a vineyard to reach this curiosity, and at last I saw before me a great table hewn in the living rock. A long inscription in wellcut characters tells here that Aulus Quinctilius, Quatuorvir and /Edile, was the benefactor of his native town, bequeathing to it all his property by will, for which the town gratefully honoured him by placing his statue publicly on the Forum."—Gregorovius.
Another public carriage met us at the station for Anagni, ANAGNI. 259
the ancient Anagnia, the capital of the Hernicans, and one of the five Satumian cities whose names begin with the first letters of the alphabet—Anagni, Alatri, Arpino, Area, and Atino. The town clings to terraces on the bare side of the Hernican hills, with the most splendid views in every direction. Its streets perfectly abound in quaint architectural fragments, griffins, lions, open loggias, outside staircases, trefoiled windows, and great arched doorways, and still remind one of the expression "municipium ornatissimum," which Cicero, in his defence of Milo, applies to this town. Virgil also speaks of its riches :—
"Quos, dives Anagnia, pascis." The centre of life here, as in all the mountain towns, is the piazza, where groups of brilliantly-dressed peasants, the women all wearing paimi again, stand gossipping round the fountain, poising their brazen conche meanwhile upon its marble ledges. The men lie basking in the sunshine along the stone ledges of the terrace, for here only three sides of the piazza are surrounded with houses, the fourth is open towards the valley and the mountains.
'' From this piazza the view is so beautiful, that it enchants even those who have seen all Italy from the Alps to the African and Ionian sea. Immediately opposite rise the Volscian hills, whose sunny heights are so distinctly seen that the windows in the houses can be distinguished. Everywhere Volscian towns catch the eye, as they follow one another along the hills. Monte Fortino, the celebrated Segni, Gavignano, Rocca Gorga, Scurgola; then Morolo, Supino, Patrica, behind which the tall pyramid of Monte Cacume rises blue and beautiful. Further still are peak after peak; then more towns; here Ferentino on a hill; there Frosinone, whose citadel even is visible, and Arnara, Posi, Ceccano, and many other places which the eye can discover. Towards Rome extends a large plain bounded by the mountains of Palestrina, which is itself visible in the far distance. The Latin hills also appear, and thus the view embraces a large part of Latium."—Gregorovius.