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again rambled over the town, anxious to improve every moment of a short stay. While walking through the crowded market place, I witnessed a scene which was entirely new to me. In a splendid caleche, with two mouse-coloured horses, richly caparisoned with tassels and feathers, an itinerant quack was standing up like an auctioneer, crying his drugs for sale, and tendering his medical services to the crowd. He had a stentorian voice, and his fingers were covered with half a dozen massive rings, which are worn by all classes of the Italians, from the nobleman down to his boot-black. The doctor did not seem to lack patients. He extracted twenty teeth in as many minutes, and there was no want of bids for his medicines among the multitude.
At 8 o'clock, we resumed our journey towards Pisa, distant only twelve miles from Lucca. The road traverses a beautiful plain, passing between an insulated range of mountains on the left, and the Serchio on the right. On entering Tuscany, a fee of four francs was exacted of us, by way of initiation. Our passports underwent a slight examination, but our trunks were not opened. Few vexations have been experienced from custom-house officers, since arriving at Genoa.
A few miles from the Tuscan borders, we passed the Baths of Pisa, situated at the base of Mount Julian, whence issue
tepid and copious fountains. A handsome village has sprung up round this celebrated watering-place, which is much frequented by invalids from all parts of Italy. The number in * summer often amounts to six or eight hundred at a time. Opposite the Baths, a large building called the Casina, capable of accommodating all the visitants, has been erected by a company, and the prices of board and lodging established at a low rate, not exceeding half a dollar a day.
From this point onward, the road is bordered on one side by an aqueduct, which supplies Pisa with water. The decli vity from the foot of Mount Julian is so gentle and uniform, that nothing more has been necessary than an open channel, excavated in a light soil, at a small expense. It is filled with a stream sufficiently copious to be used as a canal, on which small boats were seen dragged against the current by females, while robust men were acting the subordinate part of riding and directing the helm !
SKETCH OF PISA-BANKS OF THE ARNO-BRIDGES-LEANING TOWER-- ANCIENT PORT-CATHEDRAL-BAPTISTRY--CAMPO SANTO-CHURCHES-SANTA MARIA DELLA SPINA-BOTANIC GARDEN--UNIVERSITY-THEATRE--EXCURSION TO LEGHORN-SKETCH OF THE TOWN AND HARBOUR.
April, 1826.—Pisa is situated in the midst of an extensive plain, stretching from the base of the Apennines to the sea at Leghorn, a distance of not less than twenty miles. It stands so low, and is so hidden by its woody environs, as not to appear to advantage from any quarter, the assertions of certain travellers to the contrary notwithstanding. We were close under its walls, before the celebrated Leaning Tower, the dome of the Cathedral, and the Gothic pinnacles of the Baptistry could be seen overtopping the ramparts and rising behind a curtain of trees. The lofty arched gateway, the antique walls overgrown with shrubbery, and the complexion of the buildings, give a venerable aspect to the city, deepened by its comparative depopulation and silence. Our entrance was at noon-day through some of the principal streets, which are neatly paved, with spacious side-walks and lined with arcades. Few people were seen, and in fact there are few in the town. Its present population does not exceed eighteen or twenty thousand, scattered over a space five or six miles in circuit, which in the glorious days of the Republic contained 150,000 inhabitants. A sort of langour and inactivity seems to characterize those that remain, who are scarcely sufficient to guard and preserve the wreck of former splendour.
The first glance at the Arno, second only perhaps among the Italian rivers to the Tiber in celebrity, was extremely interesting, although it is far from being either a grand or beau tiful stream. It is here perhaps a hundred yards in breadth. The water is shoal, sluggish, and so turbid with clay as entirely to destroy its original complexion. It sweeps through the heart of the city, with a bold and rather graceful curve. On both sides are embankments and quays of hewn stone,
like those of the Seine, to which they are scarcely inferior in exact masonry. Three stately bridges are thrown across the current at nearly equal distances. The one in the centre is of white marble, and claims as much celebrity for the beauty of its proportions, as for the richness of its materials. On this bridge, once in every three years, a combat takes place in honour of St. Raniere, the patron of the town, and in imitation of the Elian Games, in the Peloponnesus, whence Pisa claims to derive both its name and its origin, boasting of old Nestor, the Pylian sage, for its founder. These combats are sometimes fatal to the champions, who like the ancient gladiators, die for the amusement of the assembled multitude.
The two handsomest streets in town are the Lung' Arno, extending along the quays, open to the river on one side, and lined with ranges of rather splendid buildings on the other. Next the water, the street is guarded by a wall, breast high. As there are few boats on the river, and none lie along the quays, they exhibit nothing of the noise, bustle, lumber, and filth of ordinary wharves in a commercial city. They are both clean and tranquil, enjoying a free air, presenting a pretty prospect, and affording on the whole an eligible, as well as fashionable residence. In a few minutes after our arrival, we were upon the top of the Leaning Tower, at the height of 190 feet from the ground. The ascent by means of spiral flights of steps, winding up in the interior, is less arduous and fatiguing than might be supposed. This tower was to us a perfect novelty, both in design and construction. It is the belfry (Campanile) to the Cathedral, though standing several rods from it, and erected at a subsequent period. Its form is circular, perhaps thirty feet in diameter at the base, slightly tapering towards the top, eight stories high, and built of white marble. The style of architecture is mixed, and scarcely reducible to any of the settled orders. All the stories except the uppermost, are girt with open galleries, composed of pillars and arches, presenting the most light, airy, and fanciful piece of fret-work imaginable. The seventh story contains a chime of bells; and the eighth is left open, guarded by an iron balustrade.
But the greatest curiosity about this tower is its inclination. It nods towards the south-east, by a variation from a perpendicular at top of about fourteen feet; and another
slight jog would throw it without the centre of gravity. the spectator, as the clouds swim by, it really appears in the attitude of falling. It has, however, stood in this position for six centuries, and may, perhaps, stand as many more; though a moderate shock of an earthquake would apparently rock it from its base, and prostrate its enormous load of marbles upon a block of houses directly under it. Its inclination has given rise to various speculations. Some have supposed it was originally constructed in this way as an architectural curiosity. Others believe, that while it was in progress, the ground gave way, causing the inclination; and that another story, leaning in a contrary direction, was subsequently added, by way of a balance, to keep it from falling. But what kind of a philosopher must the architect have been to place a heavy weight in any position, upon the top of a structure, to prevent it from tumbling? In my opinion, the subject does not admit of a doubt. On examining the base, the lower tier of stones was found above ground on one side, and sunk into the earth on the other. Now, unless the whole was intended as a curious deception, the foundations would not have been thus planted.
From the top of the tower, we had an enchanting view of Pisa, and of the broad plain by which it is encircled, all green, bright, and lovely as the landscape was at this season. Towards the northwest and north, the Apennines, dim with distance, rise in amphitheatric pride round the Gulf of Spezia; eastward, Mount Julian rears its woody summits; and to the south-west, the eye traces the windings of the Arno through its luxuriant borders, till its waters mingle with the sea. Farther to the south, glimpses of Leghorn, and of one or two mountainous islands beyond, heaving their chalky cliffs above the waves, complete the magnificence of the picture.
Such variety and softness of scenery, added to the interesting features of the old town at our feet, and to the delicious mildness of the day, chained us for an hour to the spot, with the cicerone all the while chattering his well conned tale. He pointed out, by way of episode, the site of the ancient port of Pisa, where perchance old Nestor landed, or Ulysses came to anchor for the night, in his erratic voyage along these shores. Certain it is, that here in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, the Pisan gallies rode in triumph, hoisting the flags of vanquished nations, and
wafting home from Parian quarries, or the ruins of oriental cities, perhaps the very marbles which now elevated us to the skies. But with this once glorious republic, "the days of chivalry are gone." Its port is choked with mud, and the wind sighs through the reeds, which rustle above its buried navies.
The Cathedral is such a colossal, irregular, and unma-s nageable pile, that one hardly knows at which end to com- : mence a description. But to begin, where the architects probably did, with the foundations: it is elevated on substructions several feet above the surrounding area, and the ascent to it is by five steps composed of enormous marble slabs. The edifice is all of stone, porous, and remarkable. for beauty. It is a huge mass of mixed materials, thrown promiscuously together, in a style of architecture, which the Italians call Moorish or Saracenic Gothic, in contradistinction to that from Germany. Its sides are three stories, re-ë treating inward, embellished with a profusion of pillars and arches, and the whole surmounted by pinnacles and statues. The ends are five stories, or rather consist of five ranges of pillars and arches, finished in the same style. Many of the columns are of oriental granite and porphyry, and some of them claim to be of Egyptian and Roman origin, thus exhibited as national trophies, at a period when the Republic was fast rising to the zenith of its glory, in the middle of the eleventh century. The church is in the shape of a cross, with a large dome at the point of intersection, which, however, does not show to much advantage. Its massive doors are of bronze, beautifully wrought and representing in basrelief sacred scenes from the scriptures.
The inside is as rich and as complex in its ornaments, as the exterior. Double aisles, formed by four rows of granite columns, of the Corinthian order, extend in long perspective on the sides of the nave. The high altar, enriched with porphyry pillars, lapis lazuli, and precious stones of all descriptions, occupies the head of the cross. On a gilded canopy above it, three monstrous black figures, misnamed angels, with their goggle eyes stare the spectator out of countenance; and below, a pretty little bronze cherub, with its spread pinions and symmetrical form, is degraded into the servile office of candle-holder to the priest. At the extremities of the transepts, are two other shrines scarcely inferior to this in splendour, and in no wise superior in taste.