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ble at least to keep in sight of land. Our expectations were so agreeably disappointed, that I would to-morrow be happy to retrace the same path merely for the sake of the succession of fine views it affords. For the greater part of the way, the road is excellent. It was surveyed and commenced under Napoleon; and the present government has had the good sense in one instance, to follow up his splendid plans, and at an immense expense execute a work, which reflects credit upon the country. In extent and magnitude, the undertaking will bear a comparison with the passages over Mont Cenis and the Simplon, as terraces, bridges, and galleries were necessary almost every mile. It is constructed in a substantial manner, and when completed will endure for ages.
At the close of my last letter, I gave a brief sketch of a little village, which claims the honour of giving birth to Columbus. .One of the first objects, that attracted our attention after leaving Genoa, was the rival village of Quinto, which puts in its claim to the same distinction, as sharply contested and left,almost in as much doubt as the cradle of old Maeonides. What a picture of the fate of genius is here exhibited!—towns disputing for the hirth-place of a man, who in life was loaded with ignominy and chains! So has it been with Dante and Gallileo, Petrarch and Tasso—so will it be with Byron and Napoleon.
The pretensions of Quinto appear to be even more equivocal than those of Cocoletto. We rambled about the village and inquired of half a dozen persons, before the house could be found. It is a less modest as well as a less antique mansion, than its rival at the head of the Gulf. At present it is owned and occupied by an English family, who seem to have gone there partly on the strength of the association, and partly for the sake of the beautiful view which the village affords of the Mediterranean and the surrounding country. The house stands back of the principal street, at the foot of the Apennines, and perhaps fifty yards from the sea. In front is a small garden, filled with parterres of various plaits and flowers, among which the rose was in full bloom. The gardener permitted us to pluck a bouquet, and showed us every thing to be seen about the premises.
On the opposite side of the road is the village church, seated upon a beautiful green cape, within a few paces of the water, which breaks and murmurs under its very windows. Just at the moment of passing, a funeral procession issued Prom the doors, and moved in solemn pomp to the place of interment. It was a kind of masquerade, which from its associations perhaps, had more the appearance of mockery than of real sorrow. In Italy, societies are formed for the purpose of burying the dead. All the members are clad in douiinos and masks, with their eyes and mouths peeping out, in more of a comic than serious manner. The object of this disguise was originally good, it being intended to prevent ostentation, and the world from recognizing persons engaged in a public act of humanity.
Passing the palaces and velvet manufactories of Nervi, to which point the southern faubourg of Genoa may almost be said to extend, we reached Rapallo and the little harbour of Porto Fino about noon, when the vetturino left us to ramble about the hills and gaze at the sea spreading beneath our feet, for two hours. This place presents a splendid view of the city, which had just been left behind, and of the Alps beyond. Between Rapallo and Chiavari, the road traverses one of the boldest spurs of the Apennines, terminating in tremendous cliffs overhanging the sea, and apparently presenting an insuperable barrier. But art has scaled the rampart of rocks, and opened a path, at one time through galleries piercing the mountain, and at others, along terraces suspended from the cliffs hundreds of feet above the water. In one place the loose fragments of the hill, appearing ready to slide, have actually been propped up by artificial means. It would not be matter of surprise, if at some future day, the whole side of the mountain, road and all, should be precipi-' tated into the sea.
Chiavari is a large town, both sides of the main street being lined with handsome arcades, beneath which fancy goods are displayed at the shops in the Parisian style. Coffeehouses and promenades exhibit no ordinary share of village splendour; and well dressed people, exhibiting an air of gaiety and fashion, seemed to be enjoying a little world of their own. The town occupies the outlet of a broad and deep vale, winding up among the hills—green, flowery, and exuberant in its productions. From a small port in the vicinity, the few wants of a frugal population are supplied, in exchange for the fruits of their industry:
Crossing an alluvial plain bordering upon the sea, and several miles in breadth, we reached Sestri just before dark, and took lodgings at the London Hotel*—a high sounding
VOL. II. 7
name, for the depth of the Apennines! The house has once been a palace, with all its showy appurtenances of chapels, galleribs and gardens. In its gates and turrets, it still exhibits some wrecks of its former splendour. An old fortress crowns an eminence in the rear, and a pretty brook babbles by in front. 1 could gather nothing of its history from the jargon of its present tenants, who have converted one end of the stately ecfitice into a stable, and the other into lodging rooms, claiming but a slight superiority in point of neatness.
The next morning we resumed our journey at 4 o'clock, and saw the day dawn and the sun rise upon the mountains and waters about us. In climbing long ridges of the Apennines from this point, our progress was slow aiid toilsome. At every step the scenery assumed a sterner, wilder, and more savage aspect, tilt on all sides we were surrounded by unbroken solitudes. For many miles there is not a house, nor a vestige of cultivation to be seen. The rocks here become granitic, and show themselves in enormous crags along the road. In many respects the hills bear a striking resemblance to the Highlands of Scotland. The formation is the same, and a scanty covering of heath and prickly gorse adds to the similarity. There is a sort of loneliness about these wastes, which at times becomes almost terrific, and the traveller is not sorry, when he finds himself rapidly descending again into deep and sunny vales, enlivened by bounding brooks, shaded by groves of chestnut or olives, and rendered cheerful by human habitations however humble.
We reached the little village of Borghetto at 10 o'clock, and passed an hour not unpleasantly in rambling upon the banks of the crystal stream which hurries down from the mountains, and in admiring the rural quiet of this retired vale. Spring breathed around us in all its freshness and beauty. The villagers seemed to be enjoying their narrow resources, happy in their solitudes. Their toils were suspended; for it was a fesla, and groups of the peasantry, arrayed in their best attire, exhibited an air of rustic contentment. A singular costume was here for the first time observed. The females wear on the head a white napkin, folded square, and projecting in front, to shade the face. Here also the ancient mode of wrapping children in swaddling clothes arrested our attention. It gives them the appearance of mumwies, and must be extremely injurious to health, producing a stagnation of blood, and preventing a natural developement of their limbs. The practice prevails among all the lower classes in this part of Italy, and may be one cause of a dwarfish population.
These warm and rich valleys, extending far into the bosom of the Apennines, are chiefly appropriated to the culture of corn, the olive, and vine. The mode of cultivating the latter is peculiar, forming a striking feature in the landscape. It is trained upon a tree, (the elm or mulberry,) the top of which is shorn into the form of an inverted hollow cone, four or five feet in diameter, and ten or fifteen from the ground. The wine is far inferior to that of France, and the French mode of cultivating the grape is preferable to all others, by exposing it fully to the sun, and giving it a chance to ripen.
In descending into Spezia, the road passes through extensive plantations of olives, the largest and finest I have ever seen, being of the size of full grown apple trees. This plant is supposed to be a native of Palestine, and its abundance on the whole coast of the Mediterranean, from Gibralter to Naples, forming a beautiful border of verdure, has led to a belief that the first colonists of those shores were from Judea. But such a conjecture carries us back to as high an antiquity, as the Genoese Bishop claims for his countrymen. The olive was as prominent a product of Italy, at the period when Virgil wrote his Georgics, as it is at present.
The town of Spezia is delightfully situated on the Gulf of the same name, spreading southward to the mouth of the Arno, and bounded on the northwest by a lofty promontory, or more properly, one range of the Apennines, extending for many miles along an uninhabited coast. At the extremity of this mountain, the brow of which is crowned with a strong fortress, erected by the British in 1814, is Porto Venere, a spacious haven sheltered from the winds by the surrounding hills and celebrated for its security even in the time of the Romans. Farther to the east is the harbour of Spezia, in the 1 ancient bay of Luna. Moles and other improvements were projected by Napoleon, who intended to make of it another Toulon. The town is large and populous. Its streets are finely paved, and were thronged with genteel people, walking on a bright afternoon in their holyday attire. Here another new eostume was observed. The women wear crimson headdresses, ornamented with a profusion of ribbons of the same colour, the reflection of which deepens the roseate hues of
their cheeks. An extensive promenade, embellished with trees, and commanding a charming view of the shores of the Mediterranean, for the distance of fifty or sixty miles towards Leghorn, has been opened between the gates of the town and the margin of the bay.
Nothing can exceed the deliciousness of the climate—the serenity and softness of the skies, the brightness of the waters, and the picturesque beauty of the hills, in all this elysian region. At every step our senses were regaled with the charms of the landscape, and the breathing odours of spring. In leaving Spezia and riding along the margin of the bay, a scene disclosed itself to the east, which baffles description, and was absolutely enchanting. The conical tops of the Apennines, covered with snow, and gilded with the setting sun, shot up into the blue firmament above a cloud, which draped the central portions. It seemed almost like a studied spectacle in the great theatre of Nature, designed purposely for the admiration of mortals, with the elements for its scenery. The vapour curled for some minutes in white, fantastic wreaths round the peaks, leaving at times only specks of the glaciers visible, till at length the whole cloud rose gradually and concealed the mountains.
At evening we reached the Magra. a broad torrent, sweeping down furiously from the Apennines over a bed formed of the ruins of the hills. It was the boundary between ancient Etruria, and Liguria, the latter extending from this stream to the Var in the vicinity of Nice, mentioned in a former letter. Its channel is so wide, its shores so flat, and its current at certain seasons so impetuous, that no attemps to bridge it have hitherto been made. After traversing its right bank for some miles, we reached the point where it is forded. A group of guides were collected upon the strand, ready to conduct us across, gripping off their shoes, stockings, and pantaloons, they plunged in, one to each horse, pursuing a zig-zag course to keep upon the shoals. Another carriage led the way, and ours followed. The water was up to the horses' sides, and so rapid as sensibly to bear the coach down stream. In the obscurity of twilight, in a desolate region, and under the protection of guides wholly unknown to us, the adventure was not without some slight apprehension, although it might be without danger. In high floods, the torrent is crossed lower down in a ferryboat.