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ties of the way. Between Port Maurice and Oneglia, we overtook a well dressed and genteel looking woman, who appeared to be an Italian, mounted on horse-back, with a cavalier and a train of servants behind. She however so far dispensed with female delicacy, as to assume that posture upon the saddle, which she deemed the most secure; and her looks did not indicate, that she was at all conscious of any impropriety, in planting a foot in each stirrup.
From the brow of Monte Diana, a lofty promontory round which the path winds, some miles beyond Oneglia, we had a first and most splendid view of the Apennines, across the Gulf of Genoa, at the distance of eighty or a hundred miles. The long range was visible from the head of the Gulf to a point which our guide thought must be as far south as Florence. Their lofty summits were covered with snow, and almost exactly resembled white, fleecy clouds reposing in the verge of the horizon. A more magnificent prospect can scarcely be imagined, than was afforded by this interminable chain of mountains, awakening the historical associations and the classic dreams of boyhood;-the dim line of coast stretching at their bases ;-the deep azure sea spreading on this side; and the whole picture brightened by the unclouded splendours of noon-day. Under the cliffs many hundred feet beneath us, numerous vessels were seen, spreading their white sails to the breeze, and journeying on to different ports. Among these was a brig-of-war, constituting something like the tenth part of the naval force of his Sardinian Majesty. She was scouring the coast between Nice and Genoa, to prevent smuggling, and to keep the anchovies in order!
Passing the villages of Longuella and Allassio, perched upon the acclivities of the Alps, we descended just at evening into the Vale of Albenga, which is the largest traversed on this route, and is watered by a considerable stream. It is four or five miles wide, where it opens upon the sea; and the eye is enabled to follow its windings for a long distance to the left, till it is lost among the hills. Several small villages, each of which shows a steeple or two, are seated along the sides of the vale, presenting a charming picture of happy rusticity and rural quiet. The formation of the hills is here a reddish sand-stone, and nothing can surpass either the fertility of the soil or the exactness of the tillage. Fields resembling extensive gardens for many miles border upon the road, and produce corn, wine, and fruits in abundance. The peasantry were just returning from their daily labours, bearing the implements of husbandry, with cheerful and contented faces; while the smiling landscape bore witness to their honest industry. At the outlet of the
vale, stands the town of Albenga, which is one of the most considerable upon the coast, and the seat of a Bishop.*
We had hoped to reach Finale to-day, where good accommodations are to be had; but a heavy shower, which poured in torrents, and the approach of night compelled us to seek lodgings at a miserable dirty tavern in the little village of Pietro. We were drenched to the skin, and the only fire to be had was a pan of charcoals, the fumes of which poisoned the air of the small chambers. So despatching our supper, consisting of a boiled egg, and a dish of poor coffee drunk out of a tumbler, we hurried to bed as soon as possible to keep warm. On peeping from the window next morning, a tin sign was seen dangling in front labelled with the words "Locanda l'Americain!" an odd com
*The romantic region about Albenga, and indeed the whole coast between Nice and Genoa, appears to have been, in the middle ages, the scene of chivalrous adventures, which the natural features of the district are so well calculated to inspire. Vaqueiras, a valiant Knight and Troubadour, who accompanied the Marquis of Montferrat to the Holy Land, in the fourth Crusade, thus recounts, in one of the rhapsodies addressed to his patron, a high achievement which was performed by them, between Finale and Albenga, on their way back from Palestine to Provence, at the commencement of the 13th century:
"Do you remember," says he, "the Jongleur Aimonet, who brought you news of Jocobina, when she was on the point of being carried into Sardinia, and married to a man she disliked? Do you also remember how, on bidding you farewell, she threw herself into your arms, and besought you, in such moving terms, to protect her against the injustice of her uncle? You immediately ordered five of your bravest esquires to mount. We rode all night, after supper. With my own hand I bore her from the domain, amidst an universal outcry. They pursued us, horse and foot; we fled, at full speed; and we already thought ourselves out of danger, when we were attacked by the knights of Pisa. With so many cavaliers pressing close upon us, so many shields glittering around us, and so many banners waving in the wind, you need not ask us whether we were afraid. We concealed ourselves between Albenga and Finale, and, from the place of our retreat, we heard on all sides the sounds of horn and clarion, and the signal cries of pursuit. Two days we remained, without meat or drink, and when on the third day, we recommenced our journey, we encountered twelve banditti, and we knew not how to conduct ourselves; for to attack them on horseback was impossible. I dismounted, and advanced against them on foot. I was wounded by a lance; but I disabled three or four of my opponents, and put the rest to flight. My companions then came to my assistance; we drove the robbers from the defile, and you passed in safety. You, no doubt, recollect, how merrily we dined together, although we had only a single loaf to eat, and nothing to drink. In the evening we arrived at Nice, and were received by our friend Puiclair with transports of joy. gave Jacobina in marriage to Anselmo, and recovered for him his county of Ventimiglia, in spite of his uncle, who endeavoured to despoil him of it.”—Sismondi's Literature of the South of Europe, Vol. I. p. 97.
The next day you
pound of Italian and French, to designate the American Hotel. It is difficult to see what should induce the good lady to pay such a compliment to our country, unless it be from her vicinity to the birth-place of Columbus.
Early on the morning of the 23d, we pursued our journey from Pietro, through scenery rugged, waste, and wild, with the misty tops of the mountains above us on the left, and the sea, agitated by storms during the night, thundering in upon the rocks far below us on the right. Bright skies and sunny glades had suddenly vanished; and in doubling the tremendous promontories of naked rock, projecting into the Gulf of Genoa, we were pelted with bleak winds and rain from the snowy tops of the Alps. The town of Finale has an appropriate name; for it appears to be at the end of the world.* It is cradled between two mountains, along the crags of which the path runs, whence the eye looks down a precipice of more than a thousand feet, upon the little vale and village below. The descent of this mountain seemed hardly possible, before it was undertaken, and quite impossible, on looking back upon the serpentine path winding down the cliffs. Poor Sardo's mettle was never more severely put to the test, than in sliding down these declivities on one side, and in climbing the paved path on the other. The latter is actually so steep, that ribs are placed transversely to furnish steps and foot-hold for the animals. In many places, this rude terrace, hanging upon the cliffs, is so narrow, that two horses cannot pass abreast. Happening to meet an Englishman this morning, we were all obliged to dismount, and there was as much maneuvering to get by, as between two boats upon a canal. Sardo was a stubborn rogue, not very courteous in his manners, and would turn aside for no man.
* Sir James Edward Smith performed the journey from Port Maurice to Finale on foot, treading precipices, wading through torrents, and sweetening his coarse fare by exercise. "No part of my whole tour," he remarks, "has left a more pleasing impression than this walk. Traversing these majestic cliffs, among groves of olive and carob trees, and thickets of oleander and myrtle,
His account of the country between Nice and Genoa is decidedly the best I have seen. Indeed the observations of all other tourists, which have come to my knowledge, are extremely meagre, unworthy of one of the most romantic districts I have ever visited. Most travellers, who have entered Italy by this route, alarmed at the reputed dangers and difficulties of a passage over the Maritime Alps, have injudiciously taken a felucca at Nice, and traversed the coast to Genoa by water, thereby losing one of the finest portions of Italian scenery, for the sake of avoiding a few inconveniences.
Between Finale and Noli, the country becomes still more broken. and savage in its aspect. The Alps here push their lofty, dark, and craggy precipices into the Gulf, forming for many miles a series of bleak headlands, and an iron-bound shore. Round these enormous piles of rock, the path, even in its present rude state, has been opened at an immense expense. It is often nothing more than a gallery hewn from the cliffs, hundreds of feet above the water, and frequently shelving, so that the traveller hears the sea beating and thundering beneath his feet with a grandeur absolutely terrific. In one place, the road pierces a precipice for the distance of several hundred yards, forming a magnificent arch thirty feet high and twenty wide. The excavation must have been the work of years. I am sure that no part of the Semplon can surpass the grandeur of this gallery, with a superincumbent mass of rocks rising to the height of a thousand feet above the arch, and the waves lashing the base in the abyss below. The path winding round these frightful bluffs is perfectly desolate and solitary. Not a habitation of any kind is to be seen, and even the aspiring olive ceases to clothe the hills. Here and there the gens d'armes of his Sardinian Majesty are found stationed along the road, just in sufficient numbers to remind one of danger. A line of them extends from Nice to Genoa. They are armed with guard the most unfrequented passes night and day. generally manifest a remarkable degree of vigilance. In some instances, we saw them sheltering themselves from the wind and rain under the rocks, and in others, basking in the sun, sleeping upon their posts with their guns by their sides. It becomes us, however, to speak well of them, as they neither molested us themselves, nor permitted others to molest us.
They do not
At Noli the road becomes passable with carriages to Genoa ; but as the charges for coaches are exorbitant, and the gentle pace of our ponies was by no means fatiguing, we concluded to retain them as far as Savone. The situation of Noli resembles that of Finale. It stands upon the sea-shore, at the mouth of a deep gorge opening from the Alps, and secluded from the rest of the world by an amphitheatre of mountains. The town is inhabited almost exclusively by fishermen, who once formed a little Republic, with barren hills and a waste of waters for their only dominions. In the character of the scenery, one may yet trace the elements of their hardy enterprise, independence, and freedom. The head of the Gulf of Genoa, exposed as it is to sudden and violent storms from the mountains which surround it, assumes a sterner aspect than the seas that bathe the sunny shores in the vicinity of Nice, and is well fitted for a nursery of hardy seamen,
accustomed from infancy to buffet winds and waves to gain a scanty subsistence. In our ride along the rocks of Noli this morning, we saw the little boats of these fishermen dancing fearlessly among the billows, which ran so high as often to conceal them in the trough of the sea. Such men, habitually familiar with hardships and dangers, with few wants, an equality of wealth, and no luxuries to soften and corrupt, became naturally republicans, arriving at freedom and independence as a consequence of their habits, rather than as the result of any deliberate plans of policy. It is much easier for the character of a nation to create and sustain free institutions, than for those institutions themselves to create a free people. This remark is strikingly illustrated by the history of our own Republic and of the French Revolution.
We reached the large town of Savone at about noon, and after taking some refreshments at a hotel, where the landlord and waiters seemed more hungry and voracious than ourselves, we set out immediately in the Diligence for Genoa; a distance of something more than forty miles. The road is excellent, made at a great expense on terraces, by the side of the sea, which it often overhangs, with one or two arched galleries, like that above described. It traverses many small villages, rising along the shore, presenting picturesque views at a distance, but mean and dirty on a nearer inspection. The number of white steeples, everywhere seen on the route from Nice, contributes largely to the romantic beauty of the scenery. In descending into one of the retired vales, embosomed in the Alps, I counted not less than twelve or fifteen in sight at one time, though the whole population probably did not exceed as many hundreds. The people of this district appear to be extremely religious, industrious, yet poor, small in stature, rough in dress and appearance, but mild and inoffensive in manners. In our ride this afternoon, we met thousands of the peasantry flocking to the churches to celebrate one of their great festivals. The females all wore upon their heads a sort of hood, composed among the higher classes of white muslin or lace, and among the lower orders, of counterpane or calico. It is bound tight about the head, and descends gracefully upon the shoulders, somewhat like the costume of the ancient Vestal Virgins. The first group we met, dressed in this way, were taken for nuns, as the white drapery, without hats or ornaments of any kind, give to the face a pale and demure look, like that of the holy sisterhood. Subsequent observation proved, that this meek and comely article of dress, so far from being confined to the cloisters of a convent, is the universal costume of Genoese females.