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of a martyred Christian, or a vase with the Etrurian red that now is lost. or an intaglio that perhaps has sealed a love-letter a thousand years ago."—Story's Roba di Roma, i. 313.
From the unenclosed nature of the Campagna and the paucity of inhabitants, all the ancient land-marks are more easily traced here than in other parts of Italy.
'' The hills of Rome are such as we rarely see in England, low in height but with steep and rocky sides. In early times the natural wood still remained in patches amidst the buildings, as at this day it still grows here and there on the green sides of the Monte Testaccio. Across the Tiber the ground rises to a greater height than that of the Roman hills, but its summit is a level unbroken line, while the heights, which opposite to Rome itself rise immediately from the river, under the names of Janiculus and Vaticanus, then sweep away to some distance from it, and return in their highest and boldest form at the Monte Mario, just above the Milvian bridge and the Flaminian road. Thus to the west the view is immediately bounded; but to the north and north-east the eye ranges over the low ground of the Campagna to the nearest line of Apennines, which closes up, as with a gigantic wall, all the Sabine, Latin, and Volscian lowlands, while over it are still distinctly to be seen the high summits of the central Apennines, covered with snow, even at this day, for more than six months in the year. South and south-west lies the wide plain of the Campagna; its level line succeeded by the equally level line of the sea, which can only be distinguished from it by the brighter light reflected from its waters. Eastward, after ten miles of plain, the view is bounded by the Alban Hills, a cluster of high bold points rising out of the Campagna, like Arran from the sea, on the highest of which, at nearly the same height with the summit of Helvellyn, stood the Temple of Jupiter Latiaris, the scene of the common worship of all the people of the Latin name. Immediately under this highest point lies the crater-like basin of the Alban lake; and on its nearer rim might be seen the trees of the grove of Ferentia, where the Latins held the great civil assemblies of their nation. Further to the north, on the edge of the Alban Hills looking towards Rome, was the town and citadel of Tusculum; and beyond this, a lower summit crowned with the walls and towers of Labicum seems to connect the Alban hills with the line of the Apennines just at the spot where the citadel of Praeneste, high up on the mountain side, marks the opening into the country of the Hernicans, and into the valleys of the streams that feed the Liris.
"Returning nearer to Rome, the lowland country of the Campagna is broken by long green swelling ridges, the ground rising and falling, as in the heath country of Surrey and Berkshire. The streams are dull and sluggish, but the hill-sides above them constantly break away into little rocky cliffs, where on every ledge the wild fig now strikes out its branches, and tufts of broom are clustering, but which in old times formed the natural strength of the citadels of the numerous cities of Latium. Except in these narrow dells, the present aspect of the country is all bare and desolate, with no trees nor any human habitation. But anciently, in the time of the early kings of Rome, it was full of independent cities, and in its population and the careful cultivation of its little garden-like farms, must have resembled the most nourishing parts of Normandy or the Netherlands."—Arnold's Hist. of Rome, vol. i., ch. iii.
Excursions from Rome have hitherto been usually limited
to the Alban Hills and Tivoli, or at most Subiaco. Thus
foreigners have lost not only enjoyment of much that is
worth seeing, but the benefit of occasional draughts of pure
mountain air, which would do much to keep off the fevers
to which too many, who strictly confine themselves to the
city-sights, are apt to fall victims.
You enter the Campagna and "the ancient dust and mouldiness of Rome, the dead atmosphere in which so many months are wasted, the hard pavements, the smell of ruin and decaying generations, the chill palaces, the convent bells, the heavy incense of altars, the life led in the dark narrow streets, among priests, soldiers, nobles, artists, and women; all the sense of these things rises from the consciousness like a cloud which has imperceptibly darkened over it."—Hawthorne.
In the Campagna, taken in its narrower sense, the Malaria is always sufficiently alarming to make it desirable to avoid lingering on its damp grass, and especially to hesitate about sketching in the sunset. Its growth is most mysterious, but it is certainly in no way due, as is often stated, to the misgovernment of the Popes.
"' Latifundia perdidere Italiam ' (large farms were the ruin of Italy) is the expression of the elder Pliny ; and in reference to this later period INTRODUCTORY. 27
does Strabo particularize the sites on the Campagna notoriously dangerous to inhabit :—Ardea, Saetia (now Sezza), Terracina, &c. In reference to this does Cicero complain of the fevers prevailing in its low districts; and Livy laments the fate of the retired soldiers doomed to reside on this soil—' Se militando fessos in pestilent! atque arido, circa urbem, solo luctari.' Horace also observes of the month of August in the city 'Adducit febres et testamenta resignat.' "—Hemans' Story of Monuments in Rome.
Even in the villas at Tivoli, as in those nearer Rome, malaria is greatly to be feared towards sunset.
"What the flaming sword was to the first Eden, such is the malaria to these sweet gardens and groves. We may wander through them of an afternoon, it is true, but they cannot be made a home and a reality, and to sleep among them is death. They are but illusions, therefore, like the show of gleaming waters and shadowy foliage in the desert."— Transformation.
But malaria does not penetrate into the hills, and nothing
can be more healthy and invigorating than the air in the
more distant mountain towns.
The middle of winter should be devoted to the city, and
to the nearer Campagna drives, so as to leave many spring
days for the hill-excursions, which will then have a charm
none who have not felt them can realize.
"About your feet the myrtles will be set,
Grey rosemary, and thyme, and tender blue
Of love-pale labyrinthine violet;
Flame-born anemones will glitter through
The golden jonquil and starred asphodel
And hyacinth their speechless tales will tell.
The nightingales for you their tremulous song
Of wild acacia bowers, and all night long
Through starlight-flooded spheres of purple gloom
Soothing your sense with odours sweet as sleep,
While wind-stirred cypresses low music keep."—J. A. S.
"The spring came; the languid, fragrant, joyous Italian spring, all sunshine and perfume, and singing of birds and blossoming of flowers. The Easter festivals were past, and the strangers dispersed and gone. The snow had faded from the summit of Soracte. The Coliseum hung out its banners of fresh green. The Campagna glowed under the midday sun, like a Persian carpet—one wilderness of poppies and harebells, buttercups, daisies, wild convolvuli, and purple hyacinths. Every crumbling rain burst into blossom, like a garden. Every cultivated patch within the city walls ran over, as it were, spontaneously, with the delicious products of the spring. Every stall at the shady corner of every quiet piazza was piled high with early fruits: and the flower-girls sat all day long on the steps of the Trinita de' Monti, liven the sullen pulses of the Tiber seemed stirred by a more genial current, as they eddied round the broken piers of the Ponte Rotto. Even the solemn sepulchres of the Appian Way put forth long feathery grasses from each mouldering cranny, and the wild eglantine struck root among the shattered urns of the roadside columbarium. Now, too, the transparent nights, all spangled with fire-flies, were even more balmy than the days. And now the moon shone down on troops of field-labourers encamped under the open sky against the city walls; and the nightingales sang as if inspired, among the shadowy cypresses of the Protestant burial-ground."—Barbara's History.
The spring in Italy is the time for active, the summer for passive enjoyment.
"You know not yet the enchantment of an Italian summer amid Italian hills! 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 there, far from the sultry city and the unhealthy plains, we have such sunrises and sunsets as you, artists though you be, have never dreamt of—there, where the cool airs linger longest, and the very moon and stars look more golden than elsewhere."—Barbara's History.
In the mountain towns, living is exceedingly economical. Even at the hotels there are few places where the charges lot pension including everything would be more than 4J, or at most 5 francs a day, while in lodgings one may live quite handsomely for 25 francs a week. All prices are proportionINTRODUCTORY. 29
ately small. For instance, in the Abruzzi a whole day's journey by diligence seldom costs more than 6 or 8 francs. Of course this tariff does not apply to Albano, where the price of everything has been raised by foreign interference, but rather to places which are not much frequented, or which are resorted to by Italians of the lower-upper or mezzo-ceto classes, who would simply laugh down any overcharge. In some of these places there are charming, happy summer colonies, which migrate to the fresher air like the swallows, as regularly as the hot months come round. To L'Ariccia especially the artists flock forth, and there and at Olevano they make their summer societies, leading an innocent, merry life enough, and, while rivals in their art, filled with simple kindnesses for one another; the companionship and good-fellowship of the Via Margutta being carried on in these country villages.
"The life of the student in Rome should be one of unblended enjoyment. If he loves his work, or, what is the same, if he throws himself conscientiously into it, it is sweetened to him as it can be nowhere else. His very relaxations become at once subsidiary to it, yet most delightfully recreative. His daily walks may be through the field of art, his resting-place in some seat of the muses, his wanderings along the stream of time bordered by precious monuments. He can never be alone; a thousand memories, a thousand associations accompany him, rise up at every step, bear him alonj. There is no real loneliness in Rome now any more than of old, when a thoughtful man could say that 'he was never less alone than when alone.' "—Cardinal Wiseman.
He who lives long in one of these country places will have an experience of Italian character which no town residence will give; and will be astonished at the amount of quaint folk lore and historical tradition which is handed down orally in a population which can seldom read, and is utterly ignorant of the most notorious principles of modern