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mure de ruisseaux nombreux qui, roulant sur des pentes rapides, y forment des cascades et se précipitent ensuite dans l'Anio, dont les chutes retentissantes dominent ça et là tous les autres bruits. C'est toujours le même cours d'eau impétueux, aux ondes froides et transparentes—' Frigidas atque perspicuas emanat aquas '—comme le peint Saint Grégoire le grand, en décrivant la contrée montagneuse où le jeune Benoît trouva une solitude si bien appropriée à ses desirs. Aujourd'hui encore la nature vivante n'y décèle sa présence qu'à de rares intervalles. Parfois seulement un troupeau de chèvres à demi sauvages apparaît suspendu sur la crête d'un mamelon recouvert de broussailles. Au vêtement grossier, à la figure étrange du pâtre qui les conduit, il semble qu'on retrouve quelque berger arcadien, descendant des compagnons du bon roi Évandre. Assis sur la pointe du roc d'où il paraît écouter la bruyante harmonie produite par les chutes de l'Anio, ce berger rappelle assez fidèlement celui que Virgile dépeint, dans une attitude semblable;
'stupet inscius alto
Accipiens sonitum saxi de vertice pastor.'
j£n. ii. 307.
prêtant l'oreille aux bruits sinistres qui s'élèvent d'une campagne dévastée par l'inondation d'un torrent."—Alphonse Dantier.
A continuous avenue of mountain villages lines the way. First we have, on the right Cerbara, and on the left Rocca di Cantcrano, its long lines of old houses cresting the declivity. Then, on the right we have Agosta, and on the left Mara.no. A road on the right now turns off to the Lago Fucino, and, only two miles distant, we see Arsoli, the ancient Arsula, containing the handsome, still inhabited castle of Prince Massimo. Here the apartment once occupied by S. Filippo Neri, founder of the Oratorians, is preserved with religious care. Though he frequently staid with the Massimo family, he lived here almost as a hermit, eating only bread, with a few olives, herbs, or an apple, drinking only water, and lying on the bare floor. There is a small Picture Gallery at Arsoli, but it is almost always locked up.
5. COSIMATO. 321
Passing under Hoviano, which has a castle of the Sciarras, we reach a more fertile country, where the men train the vines, with bunches of great blue iris fastened in their hats, and on the right we see Cantelupo, where the Marchese del Gallo, who married a daughter of Prince Lucien Buonaparte, has a chateau, in which he spends the summer. Here a number of shrines, surrounding a little green with some old ilex-trees, announce the approach to San Cosimato, the village of hermitages, mentioned in a bull of Gregory VII. as "Monasterium Sancti Cosimatis situm in valle Tiburtina." No one would imagine, from merely passing along the road, that this is one of the most curious places in the country, well deserving of attention and study. But in the earliest ages of Latin Christianity the caverns in the cliffs which here abruptly overhang the river, had been taken possession of by a troop of hermits, who turned this country, for they had many caverns at Vicovaro also, into a perfect Thebaid. Passing through the convent, and its pretty garden full of pillared pergolas (ladies are not admitted), a winding path, the merest ledge, often a narrow stair against the face of the precipice, often caverned over or tunnelled through the rock, leads to this extraordinary settlement, and opens upon one tiny hermitage after another, provided with its little window and its rock-hewn couch and seat. A campanile remains on a projecting crag, which summoned the recluses to prayer. The last cave, larger than any of the others, was their chapel, formed of living rock. Mass is still occasionally said here, and the scene is most striking, as, to admit the light, large doors just opposite the altar, and only a few feet distant, are thrown open, and one looks down the perpendicular cliff overhung with ilexes centuries old, into the Anio immediately beneath, and the roar of its waters mingles with the chaunting of the Psalms. In the fifth century a
At S. Cosimato.
collection of monks had united on the heights above the river, and, before he had founded his own convent, attracted by the fame of his sanctity, they chose S. Benedict as their superior. He declined at first, warning them that they -vould not like the severity of his rule, but they insisted and he joined them here. In a short time his austerity roused their hatred, and they attempted to poison him in the Sacrament cup, but when, before drinking, he made the sign of the cross over it, it fell to pieces in his hands. "God forgive you, my brethren," he said, "you see that I spoke the truth when I told you that your rule and mine would not agree," and he returned to Subiaco. The scene of this story S. COSIMATC. 323
is a caverned chapel in the cliff on the other side of the convent, adorned with rude frescoes. Here women are permitted to enter.
Two miles beyond San Cosimato is Vicovaro. The rest of the road to Tivoli is described in chapter xiii.
End or Vol. 1.
Acque Sal vie, ii. 290
Acuto, i. 267
Ad Medias, Roman station of, ii.
summit of, i. 85
at Frascati, i. 104
Oriolo, i. 152
Albai Fucensis, ii. 184
Anio, river, i. 185 ; falls of, at Tivoli,