« PreviousContinue »
owes much to its position, standing upon an eminence near the extremity of a high promontory projecting into the sea on the south of the harbour. Its central dome is said to resemble that of St. Peter's at Rome. It is one of the first objects to arrest the attention of the traveller in entering the town. We ascended to the cupola on a bright April morning, and enjoyed a prospect hardly to be equalled in extent, variety, and grandeur. To the north and west the Apennines and the snowy summits of the Alps, sweep in a bold amphitheatre round the head of the Gulf, the immediate shores of which are bordered with numerous white villages. Towards the south, the Mediterranean spreads a bright and boundless expanse of waters, on which vessels are seen leaving and entering the port. Along the coast towards Leghorn, the eye ranges for many miles, till the view is terminated by high bluffs jutting into the sea. The pretty white faubourg of Albaro, the torrent of Bisagno bathing the ramparts of the town, and Genoa in all its architectural pride, are spread at the feet of the spectator. Familiar as the scenery had already become, this picture afforded us far more pleasure than all the statues and portraits of saints in the aisles below, although some of them rank high as specimens of the arts.
In the vicinity of this church, a stupendous bridge resting on seven arches and something like a hundred feet in height is thrown across a gulf to connect two of the hills on which Genoa is built. A street passes in the depth of the ravine, under the bridge, and the houses along the sides are eight or nine stories high. The whole scene strikingly resembles some parts of Edinburgh, to which it is in no wise inferior. For this colossal work as well as for the church above described, the town is indebted to the public spirit and munificence of the noble family of Saoli, who constructed both at their own expense, amounting to a million dollars. An instance of greater liberality is perhaps not to be found on record. a modest mansion, surrounded with vicinity of the church.
Some of the family still reside in trees and pretty gardens, in the
The only remaining church I shall mention is that of the Annunziata, situated upon the Piazza of the same name, immediately under the windows of our hotel. It is one of the largest and most fashionable in the city. Its front is rude and unfinished, but the interior is extremely rich in marbles, paintings, and embellishments of all descriptions, which, however, do not show to advantage, on account of the smallness of the windows, and the more than twilight dimness of the long aisles. It owes the splendour of its chapels and altars to the munificence of the family of Lomelini, formerly the proprietors and sovereigns of the little isle of Tabarca in the Mediterranean, whence
they were routed by the Tunisians, who took possession of their seagirt dominions. Among the gorgeous shrines, which line the walls of the Annunziata, is one dedicated to St. Louis, king of France, and appropriated to the French nation. Near it is the tomb of the Duke of Boufflers, who was sent by Louis XV. with an army to the aid of the Genoese Republic, while undergoing a siege about the middle of the last century. He died during his mission, and his services are commemorated in a neat Latin epitaph.
We were at Genoa during Holy Week, and as the Church and Piazza of the Annunziata formed the great place of rendezvous for all the parades and religious ceremonies, a fine opportunity of witnessing the round of spectacles was afforded us, often without even the trouble of leaving our rooms. This area, or rather enlargement of the Strada Balbi, possesses peculiar sanctity in the estimation of devotees, from the circumstance that the Pope, on his return from the coronation of Napoleon at Paris, in 1804, dwelt some time in a palace bordering upon the square, and from its terrace on one occasion, blessed an immense multitude kneeling upon the pavement. Our first visit to the church was on the morning of Good Friday, when numerous lamps were glimmering at the altars, which rise along its dusky aisles, and an immense crowd of both sexes were engaged in the solemn chant.
The public ceremonies on the evening of that day struck us with utter astonishment, much as had been heard of the mummery of the Romish Church. Soon after dark, the procession appeared in sight at a distance, moving slowly along the streets. In front were great numbers of females, walking two and two, dressed in white, with veils upon their heads, and tapers in their hands, the dim light of which, glaring upon their snowy mantles, imparted a pale and ghastly hue to their features. Each bore a book, and united in the chant of a solemn dirge, responding to the priests in another part of the procession. At intervals of some twenty feet, rose a long line of black crosses, of large size and elevated high above the heads of the multitude. They were followed by a lengthened train of boys in black uniform, walking in the same manner, and joining in the general concert. Next came the priests in black robes, and the monks with bald pates, flowing beards, the coarse brown wrapper, bound by a leathern girdle, and sandals upon their feet, all bearing lights and looking like spirits from another world. To these succeeded, what ?-a hearse, with a sable canopy above it, on which was stretched feet-foremost the naked image of the crucified Saviour, all gashed with wounds, and as nearly as I could judge at the distance of a few feet, actually
stained with fresh blood. It was made of wax, as large as life, and so exact was the revolting representation, that by the livid glimmering of the flambeaux, no one could distinguish it from a real corpse. Behind the body marched a troop of infantry, with reversed arms, and to the tap of the muffled drum! It was in all respects a pompous funeral procession, and the mangled corse underwent the solemn mockery of interment with the honours of war! On a subsequent day, which is supposed to be the anniversary of the Saviour's resurrection from the tomb, a feu de joie was fired at twelve o'clock by all the garrisons and royal regiments throughout the city, and the infantry were then again permitted to shoulder their arms. Amidst this shocking pageantry, which filled our minds with horror, the multitude manifested a great degree of levity. Even some of those in the procession, during the pauses between the choral swells of the chant, were talking and laughing with each other; and a ragged boy to each candle, holding a paper to catch the wax as it dropped, added to the mockery of the scene.
The streets were thronged with religious processions during every day and night of Holy Week. Priests, monks, and women seemed to be allowed to beat up for recruits, and to head processions as often as they chose. Sometimes squads of not more than a dozen boys or beggars, in tattered garments, were seen marching from church to church, under the sacred banner of the cross, and bawling out the service, as if to attract public attention. On one occasion, a pretty Genoese female, who in appearance might pass for a Vestal, was seen leading a band of volunteers, bearing a heavy wooden cross wreathed with flowers. Her party appeared to be composed of ladies from the higher classes of society, who to the costume of lace veils and spotless robes, added the accompaniments of white kid shoes and gloves. They made the tour of the principal streets, singing anthems as they passed, with voices that possessed much of the Italian softness.
On the Sunday following Good Friday, we attended church at the Annunciation, where a regiment of Sardinian troops were paraded under arms along the aisles, and a band of martial music stationed near the High Altar. They actually went through the forms of public worship at the word of command from their officers, kneeling and rising in long lines with as much exactness as they would go through with the manual exercise. Peals of the trumpet gave notice of the elevation of the host, and of other stages in the holy rites. At the conclusion of the service, the band played some spirited marches, with which the priesthood seemed as highly pleased as the multitude.
At 11 o'clock the next day, the whole body of troops stationed at
Genoa were paraded in the same church, to take the annual oath of allegiance to the King. They all knelt upon the pavement, and held up their right hands in concert, while the form was administered. On this occasion the Bishop made a long harangue, throwing himself into an oratorical attitude. At the close of his speech, the troops shouted "Viva il Re!"-Long live the King! As the cry was simultaneous, it was evidently preconcerted applause. Martial music from the same. band as on the day previous, the notes of the bugle, reverberated from the lofty dome, and the pompous ceremonies of the church, gave a theatrical effect to the whole scene.
It would be impossible to describe in detail all the shows, chiefly of a religious character, which the streets of Genoa exhibited during the Holy Week. On one occasion we saw a crowd collected upon the steps of a church in the Strada Balbi, and, on stepping up, found a priest in the centre, blessing a tub of water, which he was dealing out to a ragged multitude, each bearing a pitcher, bottle, or jug, and pressing to receive a portion of the consecrated liquid. A benediction is pronounced upon every thing here: even horses at certain seasons are led up and touched by holy hands. One day in passing through a public square, I observed an itinerant and street auctioneer, mounted upon a stool, with a basket before him, and encircled by a squalid group of purchasers. He was vending little prints of saints and martyrs, which were generally knocked off at about a sous a head. He kissed each picture as he drew it from the basket, and on holding it up for a bid, all the crowd took off their hats. But this habitual prevalence of religious feeling does not seem to have much influence in the prevention of crimes. On the same day or the day after, in threading one of the narrow streets, we observed fresh blood upon the pavement, and on inquiry, a by-stander informed us, that a man had just stabbed another to the heart, who expired immediately.
A coincidence of important events seemed to take place during our visit-Holy Week with all its novelties--the arrival of his Majesty from Turin-and last of all the King's birthday came round. The glorious anniversary did not happen on the first of April, though it was very near it. A morning so auspicious to the Genoese republicans was hailed by a tremendous cannonade, which led us to hope, till informed of the cause, that the American squadron had arrived. At 12 o'clock, the royal pair followed by the court, entered their sedans and were borne to the Church of Annunciation, to say mass and show themselves to the multitude. In the evening the fashionable part of the town was illuminated.
There are few public amusements at Genoa.
A minor theatre, and a temporary circus were open; but neither of them was worth attending. The foundations of a large Opera House have been laid, and a Russian Mountain is in progress. At this time the churches seem to be the most fashionable places of resort; though on one afternoon, we saw most of the nobility, taste, and beauty of the city upon the new Promenade, which has recently been opened near the ancient walls of the town. The Genoese horses and carriages are both handsome-much more so than the French. There were many of them upon the course, chasing one another round a circle perhaps half a mile in diameter, to show their equipages to the crowd. A lady of the first rank was pointed out to us, with a whiskered chasseur, six feet high, in a military coat, for her servente. It was ludicrous to see this grenadier obsequiously treading in the footsteps of a female, keeping a few feet behind her, stopping when she stopped, and crossing the streets when she crossed. To such service the bone and muscle of Italy are trained.
Of the manufactures of Genoa I have but a word to say. Like those of France, and unlike those of England, they are carried on in private establishments, upon a small scale. Immense quantities of coral are made into beads and other ornaments for exportation. We visited one of these manufactories, common all over town, and constituting perhaps the most prominent article of industry. Genoese jewelry is also splendid. All the shops are concentrated in one street, forming its only embellishments. We likewise examined several of the manufactories for damasks, silks, and other fine stuffs, which appeared in no respect inferior to those of Lyons. In one of the looms was a beautiful web for his Holiness the Pope; another for a Spanish nobleman; and a third for the Lima market. The Genoese are an ingenious people, and need only a free government to revive the spirit of industry and enterprise.
One morning was not unpleasantly employed, in a ramble along the wild and rocky banks of the Bisagno, and through the village of Albaro, standing upon its shore. Here Lord Byron resided for the last nine months, previous to his embarkation for Greece. An anecdote was told us respecting his departure, which perhaps is not new, as few incidents in his life have escaped the avidity of the public. On the night after sailing, the ship was overtaken by a tremendous storm in the Gulf, and the master was so frightened as to be incapable of performing his duty. Byron assumed the command, seized the helm, and guided her back into port. The furniture of the house in which he lived, remains just as he left it, and is now in possession of his