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Rome when they have been staying here; and many sketches of the family by famous hands, which would fetch enormous prices in Paris or London, hang upon the walls, where they have been left as thank-offerings with the mother. For the entertainment of guests too we have a collection of albums, which any sovereign might envy, and than which few possess any more valuable, for every artist who has staid here has left his portrait, by his own hand or that of a friend, and the collection is really wonderful, of the natives of every country in Europe, from the delicate hand of our English Leighton to that of the least known student of the Via Margutta. But still the greatest charm of Casa Baldi is its view. One looks along the whole of the Hernican range, tossed above into every variety of peak, and clothed on its lower slopes with corn and fruit-trees, olives and cypresses, from which Anagni and Eerentino and Frosinone look across the valley to the more distant Volscians, also sprinkled with rock-throned villages. In the middle distance Paliano watches the valley from a steep elevated ridge. Deep below rises the town of Olevano, OLEVANO. 291
flowers, and leading up to the jagged walls and tower of a ruined castle. Behind the town are the wild mountains of the Sabina, with Civitella, Capranica, San Vito, and Rocca di Cavi perched upon different heights, and on the furthest of all the curious sanctuary and the Polish convent of Mentorella, and round the corner of this range we catch a glimpse of the Alban hills projecting over the purple Campagna.
"There are many places on the sunny heights, or in the dark recesses of the mountains ; castles, monasteries, and towns, rising in the clear air—all seems to rest in a romantic quietude. The outlines of the mountains are cut with enchanting clearness and sharpness upon the pure blue of the sky; one longs to cross over, to wander amongst the shining crags and soft plains in the freshness of that high and heavenly region. Above the hollows of the Serra, rises, here and there, a snow-capped mountain, violet-tinted, out of the wilds of the Abruzzi, suggesting still another distance; in the background mountain-peaks rise further and further out of the silvery mists, shadowy, many-formed, obelisk-like, dome-like, beckoning the spirit onwards into the unknown regions of the sandal-land, or to the shore of the lovely Liris."—Gngorovius.
The name of Olevano carries us back pleasantly into the mediaeval times, when it was compelled to pay a tax called Olibanum, for purchasing incense for the churches of the province. Then the noble family of Frangipani, who derived their glorious name of " Bread-breakers " from their vast charities during a famine, resided in its fortress. From them it passed by exchange to the Benedictine monks of Subiaco, by whom it was sold in the 13th century to the Colonnas, who built the present castle and guarded it through weal and woe for four hundred years, when it was purchased by the Borgheses, who hold it still.
The most remarkable excursion which can be made from Olevano is that to Guadagnolo, a rock 4000 feet high, with a village curiously wedged in between high rocks, which surround and conceal it on every side, as with a natural wall. A mile and a half below the town, are the hermitage and church of La Mcntorella, on the edge of the precipice, jutting out over the valley of the Girano. Here, before he went to Subiaco, S. Benedict lived in the sixth century, in a cave at the foot of the rock. A tradition of far earlier date (during the reign of the Emperor Trajan) represents the crag of La Mentorella as that where the vision of a white deer, with a crucifix between his horns, led to the conversion of S. Eustace.
"S. Eustace was a Roman soldier, and captain of the guard to the Emperor Trajan. His name before his conversion was Placidus, and he had a beautiful wife and two sons, and lived with great magnificence, practising all the heathen virtues, particularly those of loyalty to his sovereign and charity to the poor. He was also a great lover of the chase, spending much of his time in that noble diversion.
"One day while hunting in the forest, he saw before him a white stag, of marvellous beauty, and he pursued it eagerly, and the stag fled before him, and ascended a high rock. Then Placidus, looking up, beheld, between the horns of the stag, a cross of radiant light, and on it the image of the crucified Redeemer; and being astonished and dazzled by this vision, he fell on his knees, and a voice which seemed to come from the crucifix cried to him, and said, ' Placidus ! why dost thou pursue me? I am Christ, whom thou hast hitherto served without knowing me. Dost thou now believe?' and Placidus fell with his face to the earth, and said, 'Lord, I believe!' and the voice answered, saying, 'Thou shalt suffer many tribulations for my sake, and shalt be tried by many temptations; but be strong and of good courage, and I will not forsake thee.' To which Placidus replied, 'Lord, I am content. Do thou give me patience to suffer!' And when he looked up again the wondrous vision had departed. Then he arose and returned to his house, and the next day he and his wife and his two sons were baptized, and he took the name of Eustace."—Jameson's Legendary Art.
A flight of stairs, which troops of pilgrims devoutly ascend upon their knees on the festa of the twenty-ninth of SeptemLA MENTORELLA. 293
ber, leads to the campanile, which is surmounted by a pair of antlers, like those of the portico of the church of S. Eustachio at Rome, commemorating his conversion. The festa of La Mentorella is one of the most romantic in Italy. The peasants come by the steep mountain-paths chaunting litanies, and each carrying a stone which they add to a great commemorative pile. They spend the night in groups, sleeping round fires lighted on these wild crags, and those who have been present describe the scene as quite unrivalled in its weird picturesqueness—the brilliant costumes illuminated by the fire-light and backed by the savage precipices which overhang the Girano and Siciliano, and the rude chaunts echoing amid the rocks under the starlit sky. The name of Mentorella comes from Wultvilla or Wulturela, the ancient name of the mountain. The gothic chapel which now exists, is of the tenth century, but a church certainly existed here as early as A.d. 594, when it was bestowed upon the abbot of Subiaco by Gregory I. In A.d. 958, the mountain of Wulturela with its church, dedicated to Sta. Maria, belonged to S. Gregorio in Eome, but the building appears to have been deserted in the fourteenth century, though it was restored by the Emperor Leopold in 1660.
(Subiaco is 26 miles from Tivoli. A diligence runs daily. There is a very tolerable inn, La Pernice,—pension, 5 francs a day—but passing travellers must arrange their prices beforehand.)
THE road from Olevano to Subiaco passes through a dismal bare rocky district, but is a fine specimen of engineering, being one of the many excellent mountain-roads, constructed under Pius IX. A few miles before reaching Subiaco, we skirt a lake, which is probably one of the Simbriviae Aquae.
"Quique Anienis habent ripas, gelidoque rigantur
Sil. Ital. viii. 370.
The three pools called Simbrivii Lacus were made by
Nero by the damming up of the Anio. Here he fished for
trout with a golden net, and here he built the mountain-villa
to which he gave the name of Sublacum—under the lake
—which still exists in Subiaco.
"Avoir une villa dans les montagnes du pays des ^Eques, c'etait pour Neron ce que serait pour un moderne la fantaisie d'un chalet en Suisse." —Ampire, Emp. Rom. ii. 62.
While Nero was residing here the conspiracies were forming which led to his overthrow, and here he was warned of