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ter, as I have already described. It is the most popular theatre in the city, and is open twice a day ; once at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and again in the evening.

Not far from the theatre is the Goldoni Garden, which is open on the evenings of all festivals, for promenades and fetes champetres. It is a cool and delightful retreat. The grounds are spacious, laid out with walks, and shaded with trees, amidst the foliage of which are suspended coloured lamps. In the centre rises an orchestra, occupied by a numerous band of musicians, and about it is an extensive floor, a step from the ground, which is the arena for dancing. At intervals of five or ten minutes, the music strikes up, and whoever chooses to enter the lists, selects his partner, and waltzes half a dozen times round the circle, while the multitude seated upon the benches about the garden look on and applaud. The walks open into numerous saloons, where refreshments of all kinds are to be had. People of the first rank attend ; though the dancers are commonly of the lower orders, and sometimes evince rudeness instead of grace.

Such are some of the resources for public amusement in the Tuscan capital. But there are others of a graver, more elevated, and rational character. The extensive and rich collections of the arts are always open to the gratification of the traveller. We repeated our visits frequently to the gallery, to renew an acquaintance with old favourites, and to discover new subjects for admiration. Having said so much on the pictures and statues of Rome, as well as on the more prominent articles in this collection, I forbear to retrace the cabinets and corridors a second time, for the purpose of supplying the deficiencies of a former sketch. With all the additions and amendments it would be in my power to make, a notice of such a collection must necessarily be left very imperfect.

We paid an interesting visit to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which is a noble institution, worthy of the days of the Medici, though the great men who gave splendour to that age are now wanting, to elicit genius and talent by their patronage. This Academy was founded by Leopold I., who by way of distinction in modern times, may be called the Great. Its various departments comprise schools for design, architecture, statuary, and painting. In the rooms appropriated to the two former, are beautiful models for buildings, exhibiting the most finished proportions of the Grecian orders; for the Italians themselves are now convinced, that after putting ingenuity to the rack for centuries, to invent new combinations, the remains of antiquity after all form the only standards of a correct taste. To a new country, this fact is worthy of attention. An attempt to improve upon the models of Greece, is just as absurd, as are experiments to discover perpetual motion. The apartments for painting and sculpture contain casts and copies of all the great works in Italy. This institution, as well as the gallery, is furnished with all the appurtenances and conveniences for young artists, who may prosecute their studies free of expense. The productions of such as excel in their profession line the walls.

Soon after our return to Florence, the American Consul introduced us to a large reading-room near the Ponte Santa Trinita. Opposite the door stands a stately granitic colamn, reared by Cosimo I. in honour of the conquest of Siena. It is surmounted by a statue of Justice, which is emblematic neither of the ruin of the Sienese, nor of the district over which the goddess presides; for according to the jests of the Florentines, she looks down upon some of the greatest knaves in the city. The proprietor of the reading-room, however, is not of the number, but an intelligent clever man. His apartments contain a large circulating library, and are furnished with the Journals of Italy, France, England, and the north of Europe. Italian newspapers are the most barren, dull, and insipid productions that can be imagined. They are precisely what the French government is now labouring to make the journals of that country, by the restoration of the censorship. Their dimensions are upon the scale of seven by nine, and their contents comprise little else, than notices of ecclesiastical movements, feasts, celebrations, and the multifarious functions of the Pope. One paper only is published in each of the great cities, and that in most instances issues but once or twice a week. In a word, the press is entirely prostrate in Italy, and has been degraded into the most servile instrument of church and state. Some attempts have been made to revive its freedom ; but they have soon been crushed by the despotism of the governments.

I could not perceive, that the climate of Florence in summer differs materially from that of New-York. The thermometer, on the warmest days, stands at about 90 degrees of Farenheit in the shade. It appeared to me that the rarefaction of the air is greater, and the heat more oppressive, than it is in our country. Severe thunder-storms occurred almost daily, rebellowing among the hills with tremendous peals. The Arno would sometimes in the course of a few hours swell from a rill to a torrent. In one instance, a furious tornado swept up the Valdarno in fearful violence, unroofing and prostrating many houses in the vicinity of Leghorn and Pisa. In a word, the skies of Tuscany are far from being forever bright and cloudless, though the proportion of fine weather throughout the year is doubtless greater, than in almost any other country.

LETTER LXXXI.

EXCURSION TO THE BATHS OF LUCCA- PISTOIA-PESCIA- VALE OP THE

SERCHIO-ARRIVAL AT THE BATHS-SCORPIONSSKETCH OF SCENERY

-HOT SPRINGS--BUONVISI-COUNT DEMIDOFF-THEATRE-BALLS

CASINO-CORSO-PONTE SERRAGLIO.

August, 1826.

Ar 6 o'clock on the evening of the 4th, we set out on an excursion to the Baths of Lucca, in company with the American Consul. My fellow-boarder from New-York was of the party. Passing down the right bank of the Arno, through the Cascine, we were soon in the midst of one of the most fertile and luxuriant regions I ever beheld. The vale is literally and emphatically buried in verdure, forming a mass so thick and tangled, as to appear wholly impervious. Mulberries and other trees, matted with vines, formed the principal growth ; and to these were added a thousand accessories, consisting of every species of vegetation. The late copious showers and warm suns had given vigour and a vivid tinge to the foliage. Nothing can surpass the richness of this district; and the beauty, neatness, and industry of the peasantry are in harmony with the charms of the country.

We saw numerous groups of them, sitting before the doors of their houses, in the villages along the road, or in some cases, in the open fields, busy at their work of braiding straw. They lead a most laborious life, subsisting on light fare, and toiling hard. The traveller cannot but feel a degree of indignation, that so large a portion of their little earnings should be absorbed by the extravagance of the government, or go to support those harpies of Italy, a voracious priesthood.

A bright sunset spread its glow over the chain of hills upon our right, and the softness of twilight was delicious. At dusk we passed one of the seven or eight country residences, belonging to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The exterior is stately. It is said to contain some good pictures In its halls, one of the Medici was poisoned at the instigation of a Cardinal. Several canals cross the vale of the Arno in this vicinity. At 10 o'clock we reached Pistoia, and walked about to look at the ancient city. It is famous for the defeat of Cataline's army, by the forces of the Republic. Its walls and gates are lofty and substantial. One of the streets is spacious. The greatest show I saw was a profusion of fine water-melons, with red paper lanterns so contrived, as to give their core a ruddier huc. A scorpion was killed in my presence, upon the pavement--the first I

had ever seen, though by no means the last, as the sequel will show. It is a black odious looking animal, several inches in length, with feelers like a lobster. Its sting is often fatal, in August and September. Men were sleeping upon their backs, within a few feet of the reptile.

After resting two hours, and refreshing ourselves with an omelet and a glass of red wine, we proceeded slowly upon our journey, and reached Pescia at dawn of day. Early as it was, the peasantry were pouring into the village, carrying their vegetables and fruits to market. The females have beautiful faces, lighted up with apparent cheerfulness. They bear their baskets upon their heads; and no sculptor ever fashioned from the marble, caryatides half so graceful, as might be found in this group of market-girls. We paused a few minutes and booked into a little church. A priest was at the altar, and the villagers were kneeling at their matins. Their devotions were not disturbed.

The neutral ground, on the borders of Tuscany and Lucca, is the arena for duels--a kind of sport of which the Italians are not fond. They prefer to use the dirk. We rode for some miles along the borders of a canal, which hurries down from the mountains with a copious, strong current, and soon found ourselves upon the banks of the Serchio, an old acquaintance. It is here a large and beautiful stream. The road winds along its brink, and enters a mountainous region, forming a miniature picture of the Alps. First descending upon the rocks and washing in the pure waters of the river, we obtained another omelet at a small inn, containing more Madonnas and crucifixes than comforts.

The path onward is excellent. It was begun by the French, and finished by the Princess Maria Louisa. We were soon lost among the lofty and green ridges of the Apennines, pursuing the capricious windings of the Serchio for ten miles. The hills are clothed with chestnut, and often crowned with convents and cottages, in situations the most wild and romantic imaginable. Small white villages are sprinkled along the bottom of the glen, which is not more than half a mile in width. Occasionally a spire rises from its quiet bosom. Several ancient and ruinous bridges extend across the river. One of them is said to be the work of the devil.

The Austrian, Prussian, and Swedish ministers passed us in splendid style, on their way to the Baths, the modern Baiæ, or the Saratoga of Italy. Crossing the Ponte Serraglio, the Rialto of Lucca, we entered the busy, bustling, and gay little village about noon. A meridian sun pouring down its blaze upon a southern exposure, so hemmed in by the surrounding hills, as to exclude every breath of air, induced me

51

VOL. II.

to believe, that this watering-place is not the most eligible summer retreat. I am not yet fully satisfied, that my first impression was erroneous, though the village certainly improves wonderfully on acquaintance.

As crowds of visitants had already arrived, we deemed ourselves extremely fortunate in obtaining, through the negotiations of Teresa, a suite of chambers, in a large house, standing in a retired situation, at the base of a romantic hill, the rocks of which rose to Alpine heights above our windows. But how fallacious are often our hopes in the smaller, as well as in the more important concerns of life! Scarcely were we comfortably settled, before domestic afflictions began to thicken upon us.

At Pistoia my companions laughed at my apprehensions of meeting scorpions. Soon after our arrival, the Consul, in letting down his window-curtain, was nigh putting his hand upon one of the monsters, coiled up in its folds. A cry was raised, and an old woman came in and despatched with her broom-stick. Next morning I found another of the venomous reptiles, secreted under my boots, within a few feet of my bed.* In the course of the day, three or four more were killed in various parts of the house. I sat up all one night as a sentinel, to watch the movements of the enemy, while my friends slept. A council of war was held, and it was unanimously agreed, that a retreat was expedient. We accordingly repacked our trunks, and took lodgings with Signora Pieri, a smart Luccese housewife, who gave us new apartments, which were at least free from scorpions.

Thus eligibly settled for a week, we set about examining localities, and the resources for instruction and amusement. The situation of the Baths of Lucca is in the highest degree picturesque and romantic. An insulated hill, perhaps 1500 feet in height, rises in the centre of an immense amphitheatre of the Apennines, of still greater elevation, but clothed to their very tops with successive belts of vines, olives, and chestnuts, in the midst of which is here and there seen a dwelling or convent hanging upon the rocks. To the north of the central mount, which is three or four miles in circumference, flows the Serchio, and on the south, the Lima, one of its principal branches.

* A captain in the British Navy, whom I met at the Baths, informed me that he found one of these animals crawling up the bed-clothes towards an infant child, who was asleep. They appear to be more numerous here, than in other parts of Italy; though thirteen were killed in my boarding-house at Florence the

rast year.

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