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ted half way to their summits, where white country seats and farm-houses are seen peeping from plantations of olives.
But the most striking and picturesque object is an insulated, precipitous rock, rearing its barren crags several hundred feet above the tops of the houses, by which it is encircled on all sides, except towards the sea, where a terraced road has been extended round its base, to connect the two sections of the town. This curious mount covers several acres, sloping towards the north, aud terminating to the south in impending cliffs. Its top is naked, and forms a natural observatory, whence the eye takes in a wide horizon. It is too elevated for purposes of defence, and its parched surface too arid for cultivation.
On the eastern side of this rock, and between its base and Montalbano, is the harbour of Nice, which like that of Antibes, appears to be in a great measure artificial. It is so completely out of sight, that we looked some time before it was discovered. A substantial mole defends it from the violence of the waves, leaving but a narrow entrance. The basin, though not very capacious, is of sufficient depth to admit ships of any burden. It is surrounded by handsome quays, bordered by blocks of warehouses. There were between one and two hundred vessels in port, most of them small. An American deck was looked for in vain among the number; and from all I could learn, our trade with the place is very limited, though the United States have here a Consul.
The handsomest part of Nice is perhaps the stately range of buildings, with arcades in their basements, encircling the spacious open area, denominated the Piazza Vittoria from Victor Amadeus III. to whom it owes its embellishments, and in honour of whom a triumphal arch has been erected at its entrance, near the eastern barrier of the town. From this square on which the Hotel de Ville, Custom-House, and other public edifices are situated, n terraced road extends on the north of the singular bluff above described, and along the bank of the Paillon, to the southern division of the town. The river itself, so called by courtesy, is at this season a mere thread of water, not half sufficient to cover the broad stony channel over which it trickles, and scarcely enough to supply the troops of washer-women, who line its shores. Two long, lofty, and substantial bridges thrown across its bed indicate, what is the fact, that at times tremendous torrents, fed by heavy rains and the snows of the Alps, sweep down this opening from the mountains to the sea.
A visit to the Governor's house and to the public Promenade in its vicinity concluded our rambles over Nice. The former is a new and neat building, remarkable only for the pretty Ionic columns, which adorn its stair-way. The latter is the place of rendezvous for all the fashionables in town. It consists of a long terrace, of the width of an ordinary street, guarded by railings, and erected along the roofs of a range of buildings fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. Handsome flights of white marble steps lead to the walk. One side of it below is bordered by the Place Royale, planted with long vistas of, trees, and on the other, the waves come in and break upon the beach in unceasing murmurs. At the fashionable season it is thronged with ladies and gentlemen from all countries, who resort hither to enjoy a pure air and a splendid prospect reaching in clear weather to the mountains of Corsica.
Finding few inducements to remain longer at Nice, and many to urge us forward towards the southern limits of our tour, we concluded to take our departure on the same evening for Genoa, in the Courier, which carries the mail, and travels night and day. But the weight of our baggage would cause such an impediment to the necessary speed of a conveyance, which is for a considerable part of the way on mules, that the superintendent refused us seats after our passages had been engaged. Other arrangements were therefore made to commence climbing, on the following morning, the Maritime Alps, which, like the walls of Milton's Eden, interposed their icy ramparts between our hopes and the promised paradise beyond.
ROUTE FROM NICE TO GENOA MONACO MENTONE VENTIMI
MU SAN REMO—ALBENOA—FINALE SAVONE ARRIVAL
March, 1826.—On the 21st we left Nice for Genoa, a distance of something more than two hundred English miles.
The commencement of so arduous a journey over the Maritime Alps, which from the disheartening accounts of some of our friends at Marseilles, had long been dreaded, was rendered still more appalling by the gloomy state of the weather, and the wretched vehicle which afforded no shelter from its inclemencies. Disappointed of a seat in the Courier, we were compelled to engage an accommodation coach, at an hour in the evening too late to enable us to examine the establishment; and the traveller who bespeaks conveyances on the representations of their owners is sure to be cheated. What was our surprise on going to the door of the hotel, to find a small, shattered, crazy gig, without a top, with only one skeleton horse, and a boy for a driver! This was the "buona carrozza" and the " buoni cavalli," which had been chartered to take us and all our baggage over hills that seemed almost impassable with the best of teams! But the bargain was sealed, and there was no retreating without loss of time and money; so seating ourselves in the tub of a vehicle, with the urchin sitting " squat like a toad" upon the shafts, to guide the horse, we commenced our travels in Italy, for health, information and pleasure, under circumstanC£S, apparently" not very well calculated to secure either of , these objects. Sed finis opus coronat!
In ten or fifteen minutes after leaving the gates of Nice, we began to climb what Madam Starke, the mother of all tourists, would denominate an Alp! for she, good lady, seems to view the giant sentinels, planted along the northern frontier of Italy, in an individual rather than a collective capacity, and familiarly speaks of encountering this or that one of the group in her endless adventures. But thanks to the levelling system of Napoleon, whose power was exerted with equal success in humbling monarchs and mountains, the craggy and precipitous acclivities of Montalbano were found to be less difficult of ascent than had been anticipated. Bonaparte here commenced a great road similar to that over the Semplon and Mont Cenis. The first part of it was finished in a style of magnificence which nothing can surpass, consisting of long terraces, often hewn from the solid rock, and hanging upon the crags thousands of feet above the sea. Had he remained upon the throne a few years longer, the whole route from Nice to Genoa, and thence over the Apennines to Pisa, would have been completed in the same style of grandeur. But by the influence of the Holy Alliance, and owing to the pusillanimous jealousies of his Sardinian Majesty, (familiarly denominated "king of the marmots and anchovies,") who trusts more to the inaccessible fastnesses of his mountains than to the hearts of his subjects for the protection of his dominion, this great work has been discontinued, while the funds which might have been appropriated to its completion, are devoted to the embellishment of palaces, or the endowments of chapels and convents. Such are some of the fruits, which the glorious pacification of Europe, and the restoration of legitimate sovereigns have produced!
For the first thirty-five or forty miles from Nice, comprising the highest and most rugged part of the Maritime Alps bordering upon the sea, the road is wide and perfectly smooth, being safe for carriages of any description. Even our apology for a horse, with an occasional alleviation of a part of his burden, wound his way up the spiral terraces without much difficulty, and at a pace more rapid than was deemed possible. In the ascent, we at first left behind the the orange groves and gardens of Nice ; then the plantations of olives, which straggle far up the sides of Montalbano; till at length we arrived at a region of perfect desolation, consisting of bleak and naked ridges of rock. The solitude and wildness of the scenery here strike the mind with terror. For many miles, only three persons of any kind were seen— two of them were shepherds or rather goatherds, who were sheltering themselves under a cliff far above our heads. Their tattered garments, long beards, and red caps gave them rather an unprepossessing appearance, in such a locality, especially to those who chanced to think of banditti. But they were doubtless honest men, gleaning a scanty subsistence from desert hills. The ouly permanent resident in these solitudes is an old lady, who keeps a little tavern by the way-side. Our juvenile driver was on this occasion her only customer, and drank off his full glass of gin, without sugar or water, at a swallow. To add to the dreariness of this waste of rocks, a snow storm here enveloped us for a time; the first that had been met since leaving Lyons.
In the course of a few hours we escaped from this inhospitable region; the sun burst through the clouds; and the picturesque shores of the Mediterranean, composed of bold promontories, crowned occasionally with a white village, and bathed by the blue waves, came into full view, stretching along far beneath us. The most considerable of these little towns are Villafranca and Monaco—the former, with its fortress and small port, sheltered under the cliffs of Montalbano; and the latter, the ancient Templum Herculis JVIonmci,* seated in the most romantic manner, upon a high rocky headland. Such an exquisite picture, the features of which can hardly be surpassed in grandeur and beauty, made us forget the inconveniences of our vehicle, and the other vexations of the morning.
From the summit of this point of the Alps, we descended rapidly into a sunny, fertile vale, opening to the south, and . like the environs of Nice, blooming with gardens, and groves of the orange and citron, laden with golden fruit. What a change was here within a single hour, from snow-storms, to a climate too warm for comfort in the sun! At the outlet of this beautiful vale, and upon the shore of the Mediterranean, stands the little town of Mentone, handsomely built, containing a pretty church, and a small but neat hotel, at which, refreshments of a good quality were obtained. The landlady speaks both the French and Italian languages, as do most of the innkeepers along this road, though the peasantry have a jargon of their own, which nobody but themselves can understand. Mentone, like most of the villages on the borders of the Mediterranean, has its little port, but no wharves, the small vessels being drawn upon the sandy beach to receive or discharge their cargoes.
* This little village, hidden from the world at the foot of the Alps, is of great antiquity, and was one of the principal towns and ports of the old Liguria. It claims the honour of having been the empire of Hercules; and its name is derived from two Greek words (tucyes and Mxot,) indicating that the demigod alone there reigned, or that he was the sole divinity of the place. It had a citadel as early as the Augustan age, from which and from the Alpine heights in the vicinity, Virgil represents Cassar descending to meet Pompey from the east:
Aggeribus socer Alpinis, atque arce Monceci
The castle remains to this day, and it is singular that il should have been visited by two such travellers, as Addison and Sir James Edward Smith, without any allusion, I believe, to its classical associations. The latter tourist was confined here two days by stress of weather, and gives an amusing account of his adventures. At the time of his visit, Monaco was a principality, having a sprig of royalty for its sovereign, who boasted of dominions some three or four miles in extent, where he divided empire with the wild beasts of the mountains. The Duke of York, brother of George III. died in the Palace of the Prince.