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

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The first thing that engaged our attention and wonder,
too, was the amphitheatre, which is the most entire of
ancient remains now extant. The inhabitants call it the
Arena : it has two porticos, one within the other, and is
thirty-four rods long, twenty-two in breadth, with forty-two
ranks of stone benches, or seats, which reach to the top.
The vastness of the marble stones is stupendous. " L. V.
Flaminius, Consul, anno. urb. con. LIU." This I esteem to
be one of the noblest antiquities in Europe, it is so vast
* Or della Scala.


and entire, having escaped the ruins of so many other
public buildings for above 1400 years.

There are other arches, as that of the victory of Marius ;
temples, aqueducts, &c., showing still considerable remains
in several places of the town, and how magnificent it has
formerly been. It has three strong castles, and a large and
noble wall. Indeed, the whole city is bravely built, espe-
cially the Senate-house, where we saw those celebrated sta-
tues of Cornelius Nepos, ^milius Marcus, Plinius, and
Vitruvius, all having honoured Verona by their birth; and,
of later date, Julius Csesar Scaliger, that prodigy of

In the evening, we saw the garden of Count Crnsti's
villa, where are walks cut out of the main rock, from whence
we had the pleasant prospect of Mantua and Parma, though
at great distance. At the entrance of this garden, grows
the goodliest cypress, I fancy, in Europe, cut in a pyramid ;
it is a prodigious tree both for breadth and height, entirely
covered, and thick to the base.

Dr. Cortone, a civilian, showed us, amongst other rarities,
a St. Dorothea, of Raphael. We could not see the rare
drawings, especially of Parmensis, belonging to Dr. Mar-
cello, another advocate, on account of his absence.

Verona deserved all those elogies Scaliger has honoured
it with; for, in my opinion, the situation is the most
delightful I ever saw, it is so sweetly mixed with rising
ground and valleys, so elegantly planted with trees on which
Bacchus seems riding as it were in triumph every autumn,
for the vines reach from tree to tree ; here, of all places I
have seen in Italy, would I fix a residence. Well has that
learned man given it the name of the very eye of the
world :

Ocelle mundi, Sidus Itali coeli,

Flos Urbium, flos corniculumq' amoenum,

Quot sunt, eruntve, quot fuere, Verona.

The next morning, we travelled over the downs where
Marius fought, and fancied ourselves about Winchester,
and the country towards Dorsetshire. We dined at an inn,
called Cavalli Caschieri, near Peschiera, a very strong fort
of the Venetian Republic, and near the Lago di Garda,

1646.] JOHN EVELYN. 23

which disembogues into that of Mantua, near forty miles
in length, highly spoken of by my Lord Arundel to me, as
the most pleasant spot in Italy, for which reason I observed
it with the more diligence, ah' gh ting out of the coach, and
going up to a grove of cypresses growing about a gentle-
man's country-house, from whence indeed it presents a
most surprising prospect. The hills and gentle risings
about it produce oranges, citrons, olives, figs, and other
tempting fruits, and the waters abound in excellent fish,
especially trouts. In the middle of this lake, stands Ser-
monea, on an island ; here Captain Wray bought a pretty
nag of the master of our inn where we dined, for eight
pistoles, which his wife, our hostess, was so unwilling to
part with, that she did nothing but kiss and weep and hang
about the horse's neck, till the captain rode away.

We came this evening to Brescia, which next morning
we traversed, according to our custom, in search of anti-
quities and new sights. Here, I purchased of old Lazarino
Cominazzo my fine carbine, which cost me nine pistoles,
this city being famous for these fire-arms, and that work-
man, with Jo. Bap. Franco, the best esteemed. The city
consists most in artists, every shop abounding in guns,
swords, armourers, &c. Most of the workmen come out
of Germany. It stands in a fertile plain, yet the castle
is built on a hilL The streets abound in fair fountains.
The Torre della Pallada is of a noble Tuscan order, and
the Senate-house is inferior to few. The piazza is but
indifferent ; some of the houses arched as at Padua. The
Cathedral was under repair. We would from hence have
visited Parma, Piacenza, Mantua, &c. ; but the banditti,
and other dangerous parties being abroad, committing many
enormities, we were contented with a Pisgah sight of them.

We dined next day at Ursa Vecchia, and, after dinner,
passed by an exceeding strong fort of the Venetians, called
Ursa Nova, on their frontier. Then by the river Oglio, and
so by Sonano, where we enter the Spanish dominions, and
that night arrived at Crema, which belongs to Venice, and
is well-defended. The Podesta's Palace is finely built, and
so is the Duomo, or Cathedral, and the tower to it, with
an ample piazza.

Early next day, after four miles' riding, we entered into


the State of Milan, and passed by Lodi,* a great city
famous for cheese, little short of the best Parmeggiano.
We dined at Marignano, ten miles before coming to Milan,
where we met half-a-dozen suspicious cavaliers, who yet
did us no harm. Then, passing as through a continual
garden, we went on with exceeding pleasure; for it is
the Paradise of Lombardy, the highways as even and
straight as a line, the fields to a vast extent planted with
fruit about the enclosures, vines to every tree at equal dis-
tances, and watered with frequent streams. There was
likewise much corn, and olives in abundance. At approach
of the city, some of our company, in dread of the Inquisi-
tion, (severer here than in all Spain), thought of throwing
away some Protestant books and papers. We arrived
about three in the afternoon, when the officers searched us
thoroughly for prohibited goods ; but, finding we were only
gentlemen travellers, dismissed us for a small reward, and
we went quietly to our inn, the Three Kings, where, for that
day, we refreshed ourselves, as we had need. The next
morning, we delivered our letters of recommendation to
the learned and courteous Ferrarius, a Doctor of the
Ambrosian College, who conducted us to all the remark-
able places of the town, the first of which was the famous
Cathedral. We entered by a portico so little inferior to
that of Rome that, when it is finished, it will be hard to
say which is the fairest ; the materials are all of white and
black marble, with columns of great height, of Egyptian
granite. The outside of the church is so full of sculpture,
that you may number 4000 statues, all of white marble,
amongst which that of St. Bartholomew is esteemed a
masterpiece. The church is very spacious, almost as long
as St. Peter's at Rome, but not so large. About the choir,
the sacred Story is finely sculptured, in snow-white marble,
nor know I where it is exceeded. About the body of the
church are the miracles of St. Charles Borromeo, and in
the vault beneath is his body before the high altar, grated,
and enclosed, in one of the largest crystals in Europe. To
this also belongs a rich treasure. The cupola is all of
marble within and without, and even covered with great

* Celebrated for the victory gained by Euonnparte over the Austrians,
in 17DG.

1646.] JOHN EVELYN. 225

planks of marble, in the Gothic design. The windows are
most beautifully painted. Here are two very fair and
excellent organs. The fabric is erected in the midst of a
fair piazza, and in the centre of the city.

Hence, we went to the Palace of the Archbishop, which
is a quadrangle, the architecture of Theobaldi, who designed
much for Philip II. in the Escurial, and has built much in
Milan. Hence, into the Governor's Palace, who was Con-
stable of Castile. Tempted by the glorious tapestries and
pictures, I adventured so far alone, that peeping into
a chamber where the great man was under the barber's
hands, he sent one of his negroes (a slave) to know what I
was. I made the best excuse I could, and that I was only
admiring the pictures, which he returning and telling his
lord, I heard the Governor reply that I was a spy; on which I
retired with all the speed I could, passed the guard of
Swiss, got into the street, and in a moment to my com-
pany, who were gone to the Jesuits' Church, which in truth
is a noble structure, the front especially, after the modern.
After dinner, we were conducted to St. Celso, a church of
Tare architecture, built by Bramante ; the carvings of the
marble facciata are by Annibal Fontana, whom they esteem
at Milan equal to the best of the ancients. In a room
joining to the Church, is a marble Madonna, like a Colosse,
of the same sculptor's work, which they will not expose to
the air. There are two sacristias, in one of which is a fine
Virgin, of Leonardo da Vinci; in the other, is one of Raphael
d'Urbino, a piece which all the world admires. The
Sacristan showed us a world of rich plate, jewels, and
embroidered copes, which are kept in presses.

Next, we went to see the Great Hospital, a quadrangular
cloister of a vast compass, a truly royal fabric, with an
annual endowment of 50,000 crowns of gold. There is in
the middle of it a cross building for the sick, and, just under
it, an altar so placed as to be seen in all places of the

There are divers colleges built in this quarter, richly pro-
vided for by the same Borromeo and his nephew, the last
Cardinal Frederico, some not yet finished, but of excellent

In St. Eustorgio, they tell us, formerly lay the bodies of
the three Magi, since translated to Cologne, in Germany ;



they however preserve the tomb, which is a square stone,
on which is engraven a star, and under it, " Sepulchrum
trium Magorum."

Passing by St. Laurence, we saw sixteen columns of
marble, and the ruins of a Temple of Hercules, with this
inscription yet standing :

Imp. Caesari L. Aurelio Vero Aug. Arminiaco Medio Parthico
Max. Trib. Pot. VII. Imp. IIII. Cos. El. P. P. Divi Antonini Pij Divi
Hadrian! Nepoti Divi Trajani Parthici Pro-Nepoti Divi Nervse Abnepoti
Dec. Dec.

We concluded this day's wandering at the Monastery of
Madonna delle Grazie, and in the refectory admired that
celebrated Ccena Domini of Leonardo da Vinci, which
takes up the entire wall at the end, and is the same that
the great virtuoso, Francis the First of France, was so ena-
moured of, that he consulted to remove the whole wall by
binding it about with ribs of iron and timber, to convey it
into France. It is indeed one of the rarest paintings that
was ever executed by Leonardo, who was long in the service
of that Prince, and so dear to him that the King coming
to visit him in his old age and sickness, he expired in his
arms. But this incomparable piece is now exceedingly

Early next morning, came the learned Dr. Ferrarius to
visit us, and took us in his coach to see the Ambrosian
Library, where Cardinal Fred. Borromeo has expended so
vast a sum on this building, and in furnishing with curiosi-
ties, especially paintings and drawings of inestimable value
amongst painters. It is a school fit to make the ablest
artists. There are many rare things of Hans Breugel, and
amongst them the Four Elements. In this room, stands
the glorious [boasting] inscription of Cavaliero Galeazzo
Arconati, valuing his gift to the library of several drawings
by Da Vinci, but these we could not see, the keeper of

* It is not noticed in the Painter's Voyage of Italy, published 1679, pro-
bably from its decay. The painting is still there, but, having been often
retouched, on account of the dampness of the wall, is certainly not what it
once was. The picture has been again drawn into notice in England, from
the magnificent print of it lately engraved in Italy by Raphael Morghen, which
is esteemed one of the finest works of art in this kind that has ever been
executed. There is also an old engraving from it by Peter Soutman, but
which by no means exhibits a true delineation of the characters of the piece,
as designed by Leonardo.

1646.] JOHN EVELYN. 227

them being out of town, and he always carrying the keys
with him ; but my Lord Marshal, who had seen them, told
me all but one book are small, that a huge folio contained
400 leaves full of scratches of Indians, &c. ; but whereas
the inscription pretends that our King Charles had offered
1000/. for them, the truth is, and my Lord himself told
me, that it was he who treated with Galeazzo for himself,
in the name and by permission of the King, and that the
Duke of Feria, who was then Governor, should make the
bargain ; but my Lord, having seen them since, did not
think them of so much worth.

In the great room, where is a goodly library, on the
right hand of the door, is a small wainscot closet fur-
nished with rare manuscripts. Two original letters of the
Grand Signor were showed us, sent to two Popes, one
of which was (as I remember) to Alexander VI. [Borgia],
and the other mentioning the head of the lance which
pierced our Blessed Saviour's side as a present to the
Pope : I would fain have gotten a copy of them, but could
not; I hear, however, that they are since translated into
Italian, and that therein is a most honourable mention of

We re-visited St. Ambrose's church. The high altar is
supported by four porphyry columns, and under it lie the
remains of that holy man. Near it they showed us a pit,
or well (an obscure place it is), where they say St. Ambrose
baptized St. Augustine, and recited the Te Deum ; for so
imports the inscription. The place is also famous for some
Councils that have been held here, and for the coronation
of divers Italian Kings and Emperors, receiving the iron
crown from the Archbishop of this See.* They show the
History by Josephus, written on the bark of trees. The
high altar is wonderfully rich.

Milan is one of the most princely cities in Europe : it
has no suburbs, but is circled with a stately wall for ten
miles, in the centre of a country that seems to flow with
milk and honey. The air is excellent ; the fields fruitful
to admiration, the market abounding with all sorts of pro-
visions. In the city are near 100 churches, 71 monasteries,
and 40,000 inhabitants; it is of a circular figure, fortified

* Buonaparte took it and put it on his own head.


with bastions, full of sumptuous palaces and rare artists,
especially for works in crystal, which is here cheap, being
found among the Alps. They have curious straw-work
among the nuns, even to admiration. It has a good river,
and a citadel at some small distance from the city, com-
manding it, of great strength for its works and munition
of all kinds. It was built by Galeatius the Second, and
consists of four bastions, and works at the angles and
fronts; the graff is faced with brick to a very great depth;
has two strong towers as one enters, and within is another
fort, and spacious lodgings for the soldiers, and for exercis-
ing them. No accommodation for strength is wanting,
and all exactly uniform. They have here also all sorts of
work and tradesmen, a great magazine of arms and pro-
visions. The fosse is of spring water, with a mill for
grinding corn, and the ramparts vaulted underneath. Don
Juan Vasques Coronada was now Governor ; the garrison
Spaniards only.

There is nothing better worth seeing than the collec-
tion of Signor Septalla,* a canon of St. Ambrose, famous
over Christendom for his learning and virtues. Amongst
other things, he showed us an Indian wood, that has the
perfect scent of civet ; a flint, or pebble, that has a quan-
tity of water in it, which is plainly to be seen, it being
clear as agate ; divers crystals that have water moving in
them, some of them having plants, leaves, and hog's bristles
in them ; much amber full of insects, and divers things of
woven amianthus.f

Milan is a sweet place, and, though the streets are
narrow, >they abound in rich coaches, and are full of
noblesse/~who frequent the course every night. Walking
a turn itt the portico before the dome, a cavaliero who
passed by, ; hearing some of us speaking English, looked a
good while earnestly on us, and by and bye sending his

* The Painter's Voyage particularizes 85 pictures in this Collection, but
few of them by great masters.

t There are two descriptive Catalogues of the Museum, in its day one of
the most celebrated in all Italy ; both are in small quarto, the one in Latin,
the later and most complete one, in Italian. To this is prefixed a large inside
view of the Museum, exhibiting its curious contents of busts, statues, pictures,
urns, and every kind of rarity, natural and artificial.

Keysler, in his Travels, laments the not being able to see it, on account of a
law-suit then depending, and it has been long since dispersed, probably in con-
sequence of it.

1C46.] JOHN EVELYN. 229

servant, desired we would honour him the next day at
dinner. We looked on this as an odd invitation, he not
speaking to us himself, but we returned his civility with
thanks, though not fully resolved what to do, or indeed
what might be the meaning of it in this jealous place; but,
on enquiry, it was told us he was a Scots Colonel, who had
an honourable command in the city, so that we agreed to
go. This afternoon, we were wholly taken up in seeing an
opera represented by some Neapolitans, performed all in
excellent music with rare scenes, in which there acted a
celebrated beauty.

Next morning, we went to the Colonel's, who had sent
his servant again to conduct us to his house, which we
found to be a noble palace, richly furnished. There were
other guests, all soldiers, one of them a Scotchman, but we
could not learn one of their names. At dinner, he excused
his rudeness that he had not himself spoken to us, telling
us it was his custom, when he heard of any English
travellers (who but rarely would be known to pass through
that city for fear of the Inquisition), to invite them to his
house, where they might be free. We had a sumptuous
dinner, and the wine was so tempting that after some
healths had gone about, and we had risen from table, the
Colonel led us into his hall, where there hung up divers
colours, saddles, bridles, pistols, and other arms, being
trophies which he had taken with his own hands from the
enemy ; amongst them, he would needs bestow a pair of
pistols on Captain Wray, one of our fellow-travellers and a
good drinking gentleman, and on me a Turkish bridle
woven with silk and very curiously embossed, with other
silk trappings, to which hung a half moon finely wrought,
which he had taken from a bashaw whom he had slain.
With this glorious spoil, I rid the rest of my journey as
far as Paris, and brought it afterwards into England. He
then showed us a stable of brave horses, with his menage
and cavalerizzo. Some of the horses he caused to be
brought out, which he mounted, and performed all the
motions of an excellent horseman. When this was done,
and he had alighted, contrary to the advice of his groom
and page, who knew the nature of the beast, and that their
master was a little spirited with wine, he would have a
fiery horse that had not yet been managed and was very


ungovernable, but was otherwise a very beautiful creature ;
this, he mounting, the horse getting the reins in a full
carrier, rose so desperately that he fell quite back, crushing
the Colonel so forcibly against the wall of the menage,
that though he sat on him like a Centaur, yet recovering the
jade on all fours again, he desired to be taken down and
so led in, where he cast himself on a pallet, and, with infi-
nite lamentations, after some time we took leave of him,
being now speechless. The next morning, going to visit
him, we found before the door the canopy which they
usually carry over the host, and some with lighted tapers ;
which made us suspect he was in very sad condition, and
so indeed we found him, an Irish Friar standing by his
bedside as confessing him, or at least disguising a confes-
sion, and other ceremonies used in extremis, for we after-
wards learned that the gentleman was a Protestant, and
had this Friar, his confidant ; which was a dangerous thing
at Milan, had it been but suspected. At our entrance, he
sighed grievously, and held up his hands, but was not able
to speak. After vomiting some blood, he kindly took us
all by the hand, and made signs that he should see us no
more, which made us take our leave of him with extreme
reluctancy and affliction for the accident. This sad disaster
made us consult about our departure as soon as we could,
not knowing how we might be inquired after, or engaged,
the Inquisition being so cruelly formidable and inevitable,
on the least suspicion. The next morning, therefore, dis-
charging our lodgings, we agreed for a coach to carry us
to the foot of the Alps, not a little concerned for the death
of the Colonel, which we now heard of, and who had so
courteously entertained us.

The first day, we got as far as Castellanza, by which
runs a considerable river into Lago Maggiore; here, at
dinner, were two or three Jesuits, who were very prag-
matical and inquisitive, whom we declined conversation
with as decently as we could : so we pursued our journey
through a most fruitful plain, but the weather was wet and
uncomfortable. At night, we lay at Sesto.

The next morning, leaving our coach, we embarked in a
boat to carry us over the lake (being one of the largest in
Europe), and whence we could see the towering Alps, and
amongst them the great San Bernardo, esteemed the

1646.] JOHN EVELYN. 31

highest mountain in Europe, appearing to be some miles
above the clouds. Through this vast water, passes the river
Ticinus, which discharges itself into the Po, by which
means Helvetia transports her merchandizes into Italy,
which we now begin to leave behind us.

Having now sailed about two leagues, we were hauled
ashore at Arona, a strong town belonging to the Duchy
of Milan, where, being examined by the Governor, and
paying a small duty, we were dismissed. Opposite to this
fort, is Angiera, another small town, the passage very
pleasant with the prospect of the Alps covered with pine
and fir-trees, and above them snow. We passed the pretty
Island Isabella,* about the middle of the lake, on which is
a fair house built on a mount ; indeed, the whole island is
a mount ascended by several terraces and walks all set
above with orange and citron trees.

The next we saw was Isola,* and we left on our right
hand the Isle of St. Jovanni ; * and so sailing by another
small town built also on an island, we arrived at night at
Margazzo, an obscure village at the end of the lake, and
at the very foot of the Alps, which now rise as it were
suddenly after some hundreds of miles of the most even
country in the world, and where there is hardly a stone to
be found, as if Nature had here swept up the rubbish of
the earth in the Alps, to form and clear the plains of
Lombardy, which we had hitherto passed since our coming
from Venice. In this wretched place, I lay on a bed
stuffed with leaves, which made such a crackling, and did
so prick my skin through the tick, that I could not sleep.
The next morning, I was furnished with an ass, for we
could not get horses ; instead of stirrups, we had ropes tied
with a loop to put our feet in, which supplied the place of
other trappings. Thus, with my gallant steed, bridled with
my Turkish present, we passed through a reasonably plea-
sant but very narrow valley, till we came to Duomo,
where we rested, and, having showed the Spanish pass, the
Governor would press another on us, that his Secretary
might get a crown. Here, we exchanged our asses for
mules, sure-footed on the hills and precipices, being accus-
tomed to pass them. Hiring a guide, we were brought

* These are called " the Borromean Islands in the Lago Maggiore, belong-
ing to the great Milanese family of Borromeo."


that night through very steep, craggy and dangerous
passages to a village called Vedra, being the last of the
King of Spain's dominions in the Duchy of Milan. We
had a very infamous wretched lodging.

The next morning, we mounted again through strange,
horrid, and fearful crags and tracts, abounding in pine-
trees, and only inhabited by bears, wolves, and wild goats \
nor could we anywhere see above a pistol-shot before us,
the horizon being terminated with rocks and mountains,
whose tops, covered with snow, seemed to touch the skies,

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 24 of 46)