John Evelyn.

Diary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) online

. (page 21 of 46)
Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

best paintings, amongst which are many pearls, diamonds,


amethysts, topazes, sumptuous and sparkling beyond de-
scription. The windows without side are of white marble.
The library is the architecture of Raphael ; before the port
is a square vestibule of excellent art, of all the orders,
without confusion ; the ascent to it from the library is
excellent. "We numbered eighty-eight shelves, all MSS.
and bound in red, chained; in all about 3500 volumes,
as they told us.

The Arsenal has sufficient to arm 70,000 men, accurately
preserved and kept, with divers lusty pieces of ordnance,
whereof one is for a ball of 300 pounds weight, and another
for 160, which weighs 72,500 pounds.

When I was at Florence, the celebrated masters were,
for pietra-commessa (a kind of mosaic, or inlaying, of va-
rious coloured marble, and other more precious stones)
Dominico Benetti, and Mazzotti: the best statuary, Vin-
centio Brochi. This statuary makes those small figures in
plaster and pasteboard, which so resemble copper that, till
one handles them, they cannot be distinguished, lie has so
rare an art of bronzing them ; I bought four of him : the
best painter, Pietro Beretino di Cortona.

This Duke has a daily tribute for every courtezan, or
prostitute, allowed to practise that infamous trade in his
dominions, and so has his Holiness the Pope, but not so
much in value.

Taking leave of our two jolly companions, Signor Gio-
vanni and his fellow, we took horses for Bologna; and, by
the way, alighted at a villa of the Grand Duke's, called
Pratolino. The house is a square of four pavilions, with a
fair platform about it, balustred with stone, situate in a
large meadow, ascending like an amphitheatre, having at
the bottom a huge rock, with water running in a small
channel, like a cascade ; on the other side, are the gardens.
The whole place seems consecrated to pleasure and summer
retirement. The inside of the Palace may compare with
any in Italy for furniture of tapestry, beds, &c., and the
gardens are delicious, and full of fountains. In the grove
sits Pan feeding his flock, the water making a melodious
sound through his pipe ; and a Hercules, whose club yields
a shower of water, which, falling into a great shell, has a
naked woman riding on the backs of dolphins. In another
grotto, is Vulcan and his family, the walls richly composed

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 191

of corals, shells, copper, and marble figures, with the hunt-
ing of several beasts, moving by the force of water. Here,
having been well washed for our curiosity, we went down
a large walk, at the sides whereof several slender streams
of water gush out of pipes concealed underneath, that
interchangeably fall into each other's channels, making a
lofty and perfect arch, so that a man on horseback may
ride under it, and not receive one drop of wet. This
canopy, or arch of water, I thought one of the most sur-
prising magnificences I had ever seen, and very refreshing
in the heat of the summer. At the end of this very long
walk, stands a woman in white marble, in posture of a
laundress wringing water out of a piece of linen, very
naturally formed, into a vast laver, the work and invention
of M. Angelo Buonarotti. Hence, we ascended Mount
Parnassus, where the Muses played to us on hydraulic
organs. Near this is a great aviary. All these waters
came from the rock in the garden, on which is the statue
of a giant representing the Apennines, at the foot of which
stands this villa. Last of all, we came to the labyrinth, in
which a huge colosse of Jupiter throws out a stream over
the garden. This is fifty feet in height, having in his body
a square chamber, his eyes and mouth serving for windows
and door.

We took horse and supped that night at II Ponte,
passing a dreadful ridge of the Apennines, in many places
capped with snow, which covers them the whole summer.
We then descended into a luxurious and rich plain. The
next day, we passed through Scarperia, mounting the
hills again, where the passage is so straight and precipitous
towards the right hand, that we climbed them with much
care and danger ; lodging at Firenzuolo, which is a fort
built amongst the rocks, and defending the confines of the
Great Duke's territories.

The next day, we passed by the Pietramala, a burning
mountain. At the summit of this prodigious mass of
hills, we had an unpleasant way to Pianura, where we slept
that night and were entertained with excellent wine. Hence
to Scargalasino, and to bed at Loiano. This plain begins
about six miles from Bologna.

Bologna belongs to the Pope, and is a famous Univer-
sity, situate in one of the richest spots of Europe for all


sorts of provisions. It is built like a ship, whereof the
Torre (TAsinelli may go for the mainmast. The city is of
no great strength, having a trifling wall about it, in circuit
near five miles, and two in length. This Torre d'Asinelli,
ascended by 447 steps of a foot rise, seems exceedingly
high, is very narrow, and the more conspicuous from
another tower called Garisendi, so artificially built of brick,
(which increases the wonder) that it seems ready to fall :
it is not now so high as the other ; but they say the upper
part was formerly taken down for fear it should really fall,
and do mischief.

Next, we went to see an imperfect church, called
St. Petronius, showing the intent of the founder, had he
gone on. From this, our guide led us to the schools,
which indeed are very magnificent. Thence to St. Domi-
nic' s, where that saint's body lies richly enshrined. The
stalls, or seats, of this goodly church have the history of
the Bible inlaid with several woods, very curiously done,
the work of one Fr. Damiano di Bergamo, and a friar of
that order. Amongst other relics, they show the two
books of Esdras, written with his own hand. Here lie
buried Jac. Andreas, and divers other learned persons. To
the church joins the convent, in the quadrangle whereof
are old cypresses, said to have been planted by their saint.

Then, we went to the Palace of the Legate, a fair brick
building, as are most of the houses and buildings, full of
excellent carving and mouldings, so as nothing in stone
seems to be better finished, or more ornamental ; witness
those excellent columns to be seen in many of their
churches, convents, and public buildings; for the whole
town is so cloistered, that one may pass from house to
house through the streets without being exposed either to
rain, or sun.

Before the stately hall of this Palace stands the statue
of Paul IV. and divers others; also the monument of
the coronation of Charles V. The piazza before it is the
most stately in Italy, St. Mark's at Venice only excepted.
In the centre of it is a fountain of Neptune, a noble figure
in copper. Here I saw a Persian walking about in a rich
vest of cloth of tissue, and several other ornaments,
according to the fashion of his country, which much pleased
me ; he was a young handsome person, of the most stately

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 193

I would fain have seen the library of St. Saviour,
famous for the number of rare manuscripts ; but could not,
so we went to St. Francis, a glorious pile, and exceedingly
adorned within.

After dinner, I enquired out a priest and Dr. Montalbano,
to whom I brought recommendations from Rome; this
learned person invented, or found out, the composition of
the lapis illuminabilis, or phosphorus. He showed me their
property (for he had several), being to retain the light of
the sun for some competent time, by a kind of imbibition,
by a particular way of calcination. Some of these pre-
sented a blue colour, like the flame of brimstone, others
like coals of a kitchen-fire. The rest of the afternoon was
taken up in St. Michael in Bosco, built on a steep hill on
the edge of the city, for its fabric, pleasant shade and
groves, cellars, dormitory, and prospects, one of the most
delicious retirements I ever saw ; art and nature contend-
ing which shall exceed ; so as till now I never envied the life
of a friar. The whole town and country to a vast extent
are under command of their eyes, almost as far as Venice
itself. In this convent there are many excellent paint-
ings of Guido Reni ; above all, the little cloister of eight
faces, painted by Caracci in fresco. The carvings in wood,
in the sacristy, are admirable, as is the inlaid work about
the chapel, which even emulates the best paintings ; the
work is so delicate and tender. The paintings of the
Saviour are of Caracci and Leonardo, and there are excel-
lent things of Raphael which we could not see.

In the Church of St. John is a fine piece of St. Cecilia,
by Raphael. As to other paintings, there is in the Church
of St. Gregory an excellent picture of a Bishop giving the
habit of St. Bernard to an armed soldier, with several
other figures in the piecCj the work of Guerchino. Indeed,
this city is full of rare pieces, especially of Guido,
Domenico, and a virgin named Isabella Sirani, now living,
who has painted many excellent pieces, and imitates Guido
so well, that many skilful artists have been deceived.

At the Mendicants are the Miracles of St. Eloy, by

Reni, after the manner of Caravaggio, but better; and

here they showed us that famous piece of Christ calling

St. Matthew, by Annibal Caracci. The Marquis Magniani

VOL. i. o




has the whole frieze of his hall painted in fresco by the
same hand.

Many of the religious men nourish those lap-dogs which
the ladies are so fond of, and which they here sell. They
are a pigmy sort of spaniels, whose noses they break when
puppies ; which, in my opinion, deforms them.

At the end of the turning in one of the wings of the
dormitory of St. Michael, I found a paper pasted near the
window, containing the dimensions of most of the famous
churches in Italy compared with their towers here, and the
length of this gallery, a copy whereof I took.

St. Pietro di Roma, longo
Cupola del muro, alta
Torre d'Asinello, alto
Dormitorio de St. Mich, a
Bologn. longo. . .


Piedi diBolognia.

Canna di






59pr. mi 6


From hence, being brought to a subterranean territory
of cellars, the courteous friars made us taste a variety of
excellent wines ; and so we departed to our inn.

This city is famous also for sausages ; and here is sold
great quantities of Parmegiano cheese, with Botargo,.
Caviare, &c. which makes some of their shops perfume the
streets with no agreeable smell. We furnished ourselves
with wash-balls, the best being made here, and being a
considerable commodity. This place has also been cele-
brated for lutes made by the old masters, Mollen, Hans
Prey, and Nicholas Sconvelt, which were of extraordinary
price; the workmen were chiefly Germans. The cattle
used for draught in this country (which is very rich and
fertile, especially in pasturage) are covered with housings
of linen fringed at the bottom, that dangle about them,
preserving them from flies, which in summer are very

From this pleasant city, we proceeded towards Ferrara,
carrying with us a bulletino, or bill of health (customary
in all these parts of Italy, especially in the State of Venice),
and so put ourselves into a boat that was towed with

A measure of half an ell.

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 195

horses, often interrupted by the sluices, (inventions there
to raise the water for the use of mills, and to fill the
artificial canals) at every of which we stayed till passage
was made. "We went by the Castle Bentivoglio, and,
about night, arrived at an ugly inn called Mai Albergo,
agreeable to its name, whence, after we had supped, we
embarked and passed that night through the Fens, where
we were so pestered with those flying glow-worms, called
Luccioli, that one who had never heard of them, would
think the country full of sparks of fire ; beating some of
them down, and applying them to a book, I could read in
the dark by the light they afforded.

Quitting our boat, we took coach, and by morning got
to Ferrara, where, before we could gain entrance, our
guns and arms were taken from us of custom, the lock
being taken off before, as we were advised. The city is in
a low marshy country, and therefore well fortified. The
houses and streets have nothing of beauty, except the
palace and church of St. Benedict, where Ariosto lies
buried ; and there are some good statues, the palazzo del
Diamante, citadel, church of St. Dominico. The market-
place is very spacious, having in its centre the figure of
Nicholao Olao, once Duke of Ferrara, on horseback, in
copper. It is, in a word, a dirty town, and, though the
streets be large, they remain ill paved; yet it is a
University, and now belongs to the Pope. Though there
are not many fine houses in the city, the inn where we
lodged was a very noble palace, having an Angel for its

We parted from hence about three in the afternoon, and
went some of our way on the canal, and then embarked on
the Po, or Padus, by the poets called Eridanus, where they
feign Phseton to have fallen after his rash attempt, and
where lo was metamorphosed into a cow. There was in
our company, amongst others, a Polonian Bishop, who was
exceeding civil to me in this passage, and afterwards did me
many kindnesses at Venice. We supped this night at a place
called Corbua, near the ruins of the ancient city, Adria,
which gives name to the Gulf, or Sea. After three miles,
having passed thirty on the Po, we embarked in a stout
vessel, and through an artificial canal, very straight, we
entered the Adige, which carried us by break of day into



the Adriatic, and so sailing prosperously by Chioza (a town
upon an island in this sea,) and Palestina, we came over
against Malamocco (the chief port and anchorage where
our English merchantmen lie that trade to Venice) about
seven at night, after we had stayed at least two hours for
permission to land, our bill of health being delivered,
according to custom. So soon as we came on shore, we
were conducted to the Dogana, where our portmanteaus
were visited, and then we got to our lodging, which was at
honest Signer Paulo Rhodomante's at the Black Eagle,
near the Rialto, one of the best quarters of the town.
This journey from Rome to Venice cost me seven pistoles,
and thirteen julios.

June. The next morning, finding myself extremely
weary and beaten with my journey, I went to one of their
bagnios, where you are treated after the eastern manner,
washing with hot and cold water, with oils, and being
rubbed with a kind of strigil of seaVs-skin, put on the
operator's hand like a glove. This bath did so open my
pores, that it cost me one of the greatest colds I ever had
in my life, for want of necessary caution in keeping myself
warm for some time after ; for, coming out, I immediately
began to visit the famous places of the city ; and travellers
who come into Italy do nothing but run up and down to
see sights, and this city well deserved our admiration, being
the most wonderfully placed of any in the world, built on
so many hundred islands, in the very sea, and at good dis-
tance from the continent. It has no fresh water, except
what is reserved in cisterns from rain, and such as is
daily brought from terra firma in boats, yet there was no
want of it, and all sorts of excellent provisions were very

It is said that when the Huns over-ran Italy some mean
fishermen and others left the main land, and fled for shelter
to these despicable and muddy islands, which, in process of
time, by industry, are grown to the greatness of one of the
most considerable States, considered as a Republic, and
having now subsisted longer than any of the four ancient
Monarchies, flourishing in great state, wealth, and glory,
by the conquest of great territories in Italy, Dacia, Greece,
Candia, Rhodes, and Sclavonia, and at present challenging
the empire of all the Adriatic Sea, which they yearly

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 197

espouse by casting a gold ring into it with great pomp and
ceremony, on Ascension-day ; the desire of seeing this, was
one of the reasons that hastened us from Rome.

The Doge, having heard mass in his robes of state (which
are very particular, after the eastern fashion), together
with the Senate in their gowns, embarked in their glori-
ously painted, carved, and gilded Bucentora, environed and
followed by innumerable galleys, gondolas, and boats, filled
with spectators, some dressed in masquerade, trumpets,
music, and cannons. Having rowed about a league into the
Gulf, the Duke, at the prow, casts a gold ring and cup into
the sea, at which a loud acclamation is echoed from the
great guns of the Arsenal, and at the Liddo. We then

Two days after, taking a gondola, which is their water-
coach (for land ones there are many old men in this city
who never saw one, or rarely a horse), we rowed up and
down the channels, which answer to our streets. These ves-
sels are built very long and narrow, having necks and tails of
steel, somewhat spreading at the beak like a fish's tail, and
kept so exceedingly polished as to give a great lustre ;
some are adorned with carving, others lined with velvet,
(commonly black), with curtains and tassels, and the seats
like couches, to He stretched on, while he who rows, stands
upright on the very edge of the boat, and, with one oar
bending forward as if he would fall into the sea, rows and
turns with incredible dexterity ; thus passing from channel
to channel, landing his fare, or patron, at what house he
pleases. The beaks of these vessels are not unlike the
ancient Roman rostrums.

The first public building I went to see, was the Rialto, a
bridge of one arch over the grand canal, so large as to
admit a galley to row under it, built of good marble, and
having on it, besides many pretty shops, three ample and
stately passages for people without any inconvenience, the
two outmost nobly balustred with the same stone ; a piece
of architecture much to be admired. It was evening, and
the canal where the Noblesse go to take the air, as in our
Hyde-park, was full of ladies and gentlemen. There are
many times dangerous stops, by reason of the multitude of
gondolas ready to sink one another; and indeed they
affect to lean them on one side, that one who is not


accustomed to it, would be afraid of over-setting. Here
they were singing, playing on harpsichords, and other
music, and serenading their mistresses ; in another place,
racing, and other pastimes on the water, it being now
exceeding hot.

Next day, I went to their Exchange, a place like ours,
frequented by merchants, but nothing so magnificent :
from thence, my guide led me to the Fondigo di Todeschi,
which is their magazine, and here many of the merchants,
especially Germans, have their lodging and diet as in a
college. The outside of this stately fabric is painted by
Giorgione da Castelfranco, and Titian himself.

Hence, I passed through the Mercera, one -of the most
delicious streets in the world for the sweetness of it, and
is all the way on both sides tapestred as it were with cloth
of gold, rich damasks and other silks, which the shops
expose and hang before their houses from the first floor,
and with that variety that for near hah the year spent
chiefly in this city, I hardly remember to have seen the
same piece twice exposed ; to this add the perfumes, apo-
thecaries' shops, and the innumerable cages of nightingales
which they keep, that entertain you with their melody
from shop to shop, so that shutting your eyes you. would
imagine yourself in the country, when indeed you are in
the middle of the sea. It is almost as silent as the middle
of a field, there being neither rattling of coaches nor
trampling of horses. This street, paved with brick, and
exceedingly clean, brought us through an arch into the
famous piazza of St. Mark.

Over this porch, stands that admirable Clock, celebrated
next to that of Strasburg for its many movements ; amongst
which, about twelve and six, which are their hours of Ave
Maria, when all the town are on their knees, come forth
the three Kings led by a star, and passing by the image of
Christ in his Mother's arms, do their reverence, and enter
into the clock by another door. At the top of this turret,
another automaton strikes the quarters. An honest mer-
chant told me that one day, walking in the piazza, he saw
the fellow who kept the clock struck with this hammer so
forcibly, as he was stooping his head near the bell to
mend something amiss at the instant of striking, that being
stunned he reeled over the battlements, and broke his

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 199

neck. The buildings in this piazza are all arched, on
pillars, paved within with black and white polished marble,
even to the shops, the rest of the fabric as stately as any in
Europe, being not only marble, but the architecture is of
the famous Sansovini, who lies buried in St. Jacomo, at the
end of the piazza. The battlements of this noble range of
building are railed with stone, and thick-set with excellent
statues, which add a great ornament. One of the sides is
yet much more Roman-like than the other which regards
the sea, and where the church is placed. The other range
is plainly Gothic : and so we entered into St. Mark's
Church, before which stand two brass pedestals exquisitely
cast and figured, which bear as many tall masts painted
red, on which upon great festivals they hang flags and
streamers. The church is also Gothic; yet for the pre-
ciousness of the materials, being of several rich marbles,
abundance of porphyry, serpentine, &c., far exceeding any
in Rome, St. Peter's hardly excepted. I much admired
the splendid history of our blessed Saviour composed all of
mosaic over the facciata, below which and over the chief
gate are cast four horses in copper as big as the life, the
same that formerly were transported from Rome by Con-
stantine to Byzantium, and thence by the Venetians
hither.* They are supported by eight porphyry columns,
of very great size and value. Being come into the Church,
you see nothing, and tread on nothing, but what is precious.
The floor is all inlaid with agates, lazulis, chalcedons, jas-
pers, porphyries, and other rich marbles, admirable also for
the work ; the walls sumptuously incrusted, and presenting
to the imagination the shapes of men, birds, houses, flowers,
and a thousand varieties. The roof is of most excellent
mosaic ; but what most persons admire is the new work of
the emblematic tree at the other passage out of the church.
In the midst of this rich volto rise five cupolas, the middle
very large and sustained by thirty-six marble columns,
eight of which are of precious marbles : under these
cupolas is the high altar, on which is a reliquary of several
sorts of jewels, engraven with figures, after the Greek
manner, and set together with plates of pure gold. The
altar is covered with a canopy of ophite, on which is

* They were taken away by Buonaparte to Paris ; but, in 1815, were sent
back to Venice. EDIT.


sculptured the story of the Bible, and so on the pillars, which
are of Parian marble, that support it. Behind these, are
four other columns of transparent and true oriental ala-
baster, brought hither out of the mines of Solomon's
Temple, as they report. There are many chapels and
notable monuments of illustrious persons, dukes, cardinals,.
&c., as Zeno, J. Soranzi, and others : there is likewise
a vast baptistery, of copper. Among other venerable relics
is a stone, on which they say our blessed Lord stood
preaching to those of Tyre and Sidon, and near the door is
an image of Christ, much adored, esteeming it very sacred,
for that a rude fellow striking it, they say, there gushed out
a torrent of blood. In one of the corners lies the body of
St. Isidore, brought hither 500 years since from the island
of Chios. A little farther, they show the picture of
St. Dominic and Francis, affirmed to have been made by
the Abbot Joachim (many years before any of them were
born). Going out of the Church, tbey showed us the
stone where Alexander III. trod on the neck of the Emperor
Frederick Barbarossa, pronouncing that verse of the psalm,
" super basiliscum" &c. The doors of the Church are of
massy copper. There are near 500 pillars in this building,
most of them porphyry and serpentine, and brought chiefly
from Athens, and other parts of Greece, formerly in their

Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 46)