A. L. (Antoine Laurent) Castellan.

Letters on Italy : illustrated by engravings online

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which may be traversed in boats; they descend into them

from the town by stairs cut in the rock. The populatioa is

VoYAttSS and Tbavei.s, No, 5. VoU III, C

10 Castellan's Travels in Italy.

reckoned at 4000 souls, and includes many respectable fami-
lies ; the country aroinid produces good wine and fruits, and
the port excellent fish.

Mola, where we dined, and which is called Mola di Bari, to
distinguish it from Mola di Gaeta, is situated on the road from
Naples to Capua. It possesses a citadel, said to have been
founded by an Athenian colony, on a point which projects into
the sea. The inhabitants, who are reckoned at 8000, have
preserved nothing of the taste and politeness of their ancestors ;
the streets are narrow and dark ; some soap and leather manu-
factories render them filthy and unhealthy : there is also a
custom-house and a salt warehouse. After having travelled
during the day on a very flat but rocky and fatiguing road, we
arrived at Bari, one of the most interesting towns on this coast.

Every little tovvn which we have passed through on our
route, boasts, perhaps with reason, of the importance which
its antiquity confers on it, or of the historical facts of which it
has been the theatre. The inhabitants never fail to relate eveiy
revolution, vicissitude, and disaster, which can be remembered,
and to name the emperors, kings, and bishops, and, in short,
every important personage who has given them cause to grieve
or rejoice. The vicissitudes which Bari has experienced, have
left it very few relics of antiquity ; all that we saw was an
ancient mile-stone marked the 28th.

Oct. 25. — On leaving Bari we were much delighted by the
beauty of the country, so well cultivated and sowed, as it were,
at small distances with little towns, all situated on the borders
of the sea, with convenient ports for small craft, and surrounded
with rural farms, cottages, and villas, which gave an idea
of the riches and industry of the inhabitants. We distinguished,
in the gardens, plantations of orange and lemon trees, arbours
of vines, hedges of laurels, and parterres bordered with cut
box, containing all the flowers of the season. We also tra-
velled through woods of large olive-trees, which stretched
nearly to the borders of the sea, and through fields covered
the cotton plant. At this period of the year many Albanians
pass over into Italy to assist the labourers ; and, as they pre-
serve their costume, we had much pleasure in recognising in
Italy the habits and manners of Greece. The citizens and
peasants whom we met on our route were well cloathed and
mounted ; they saluted us in a friendly manner, and possessed
an air of happiness, from which we inferred they were well
governed : the municipal administration is, in fact, well con-
ducted. Each of these little towns possesses respectable pub-
lic establishments, academies for youth, and hospitals for the
poor, the infirm, and the destitute.

Ancient roads—Sarletta. 11

Giovenazzo, the first of these towns after Bari, is old, and
built, it is said, on the ruins of Natiolo or Netio ; but the
period of its construction is uncertain : it is surrounded by
walls, and its cathedral is in a good style of architecture. The
population is said to amount to 5,200. A few miles further on
lies Molfetta, a modern town, whose inhabitants, in number
3000, are said to be very industrious. Then follows BescegUa,
built on a rock which is washed by the sea.

It is remarkable, that in this part of the country the houses
of the peasants are all built on the same model ; at first, on
the authority of former travellers, we imagined them to be
ancient tombs, which they resemble in form : they are built in
isolated situations, and rise here and there in the midst of the
plains and pasture grounds, for here the TavoUere commences.
(See Plate I.)

Trani, like the other towns situated on the coast, is built of
a yellowish stone, which does not grow darker by exposure
to the atmosphere, and which gives the edifices a light plea-
sant appearance. This town contains some curious monuments,
and is inhabited by many of the nobility. The population is
reckoned at 14,000 souls ;' but it possesses less commerce than
Barletta, where we arrived very late Avith an intention of slay-
ing two days.

In the time of the Romans, Magna Graecia was intersected
by an infinite number of roads ; and although the Via Appia
was the most celebrated, there were many others equally good,
and constructed with the same care— such as the Domitiana,
the Herculeana, that of Campania or the Consularis, the No-
iana, the Latina, the Egnatiana, and the Brusiana, which led
from Reggio to Calabria. These roads had all their different
branches; at present there is only one great road, which
traverses the kingdom, and that is in bad repair.

The streets of Barletta are straight and Avell paved ; the
walls, which are a mile in circuit, are solidly constructed, and
the citadel is strong : they shew to strangers the Orfanosio,
or retreat for orphans, two schools of jjolite learning, and some
churches. Here resides the Reggio Portolano, who, under the
command of the royal chamber of Naples, inspects the pro-
visions which are collected in the Capitanate and the territory
of Bari. Here also the Royal Council of Commerce is held,
and this town is the residence of the Inspector of the Salt
Manufactories, and of the Grand Prior of Malta, who holds
the assemblies at which the Knights bring proof of their no-
bility. The number of inhabitants is said to be 16,000.

We now made a visit to the celebrated field of Cannae. The
expression which is applied to designate the theatre, where

12 Castellan's Travels in Italy. "

the pride of the monarch-people was humbled, gives a strong
idea of the traces which this terrible catastrophe has left on
the mind, and of the consternation which seized the people
of that day, and which has descended to their posterity — the
plain is called, II canipo di sangue, or the Field of Blood. It is
very sterile, and contains only a few scattered villages, and
crowds of cattle which with their rude conductors wander about
in the pathless waste. After having left on our right the Adriatic
and the Castle of Barletta, situate some miles from that town
at the mouth of the Ofanto, we crossed that river by a bridge.
This stream is the ancient Aufidus, Avhich, in the sanguinary
contest at Cannse, was covered with floating corpses. When
we had crossed the river we entered an immense plain, which,
as far as the eye could reach, did not contain a single tree.
We were only interrupted by numerous flocks, w^iich were
spread over this sterile land ; from morning to night nothing
was heard but the barking of shepherd-dogs, the shouts of
their masters, and the sound of their horns, with which they
answered one another, or collected their flocks.

We passed some very miserable villages — San Cassano, La-
tomba, and Cirignola ; between Cirignola and La Stornara we
passed the two branches of the Tratturo delle pecore, which
lead from Foggia the capital of the province — the one towards
Ascoli, the other towards Canosa, We arrived very late at
Ordona, an inn surrounded by some huts, where we could
get nothing but rushes to sleep on. Having foreseen the ab-
solute nakedness of this land, we luckily provided ourselves
with some viands, which it would have been impossible to
procure there.

It is now time to give some account of the TavoUere of La
Puglia, of which we have traversed the greater part. They
give this name to the tract of land which lies between the
Adriatic and the Apennines, and which extends from Civitare
to Andria, in length about 70 miles, and in breadth 30. This
vast plain of pasturage is frequented by a set of people, whose
cattle successively consume the herbage of every part; yet it
would maintain more human creatures than it does cattle at
present, if the system of pasturage, which is favoured by the
Government from pecuniary motives, were not preferred to
tillage. At the present mdment the Tavoliere supports im-
mense flocks of sheep, and the revenue arising from it is
reckoned at 425,600 ducats.

At some miles from Ordona we began to remark the pro-
gress of vegetation ; first a few thickets, and then some plan-
tations of olives, which certainly were sufficiently distant from
one another. At length Ave perceived the mountains so long

Bovtno-^ltalian Scenery. 13

wished for, and by their blue tint could see they were covered
with vast forests ; as we approached them we felt a sensation
of delight which can be experienced by none but painters —
their forms gradually expanded, and the outlines of each
became visible, and we could distinguish the different kinds
of trees with which they were covered, and the little villages
and rural habitations built on their sides. We now began to
ascend a more elevated country ; the cattle of Sauri is the first
object in this interesting picture ; it commands the plain inter-
sected by the windings of the Cervaro ; Bovino next presented
itself to our attention.

This town must formerly have been of much importance,
if we may judge by the ruins with which it is surrounded, and
the marbles, medals, and other antiquities which are found
in turning the ground. We had 20 miles to go ere we
reached Ariano, so having dined in haste, favoured by the
most beautiful weather we gave ourselves up to all the en-
chantment of the sylvan pictures, which unfolded themselves
to our eyes during the remainder of this, and for several suc-
ceeding days. Sometimes the road lay along narrow parapets,
raised on and bounded by deep declivities ; sometimes it was
elevated on lofty causeways, and now it was formed of bridges
thi'own from rock to rock, in order to leave a free passage to
the wintry torrents; farther on it descended with a gentle
slope to the bottom of the vallies ; then we followed the
windings of streams, whose rapid waters dashed past rocks
which impeded their course, or finding a smoother channel,
murmured through the meadows, beneath the shade of nut-
trees and alders.

Although it was late in the year, vegetation \vas still rich
and abundant ; in the plains which we had quitted the trees
had become bare, and the meadows scorched up by the heat,
and covered with dust : but here the trees bore the rich
livery of autumn, the vines glowed with a purple hue, and
the transparent grapes fostered by a refreshing dew, hung in
clusters from the extremity of the branches. The hills were
covered with orchards, from which Pomona filled her rudrly
baskets, and the summits of the mountains were cloathed
with the unfading verdure of the pine.

Occasionally, isolated and arid rocks rose before us, crowned
with ancient castles, whose pyramidal keeps were now only
the refuge of ravens, or the boast of noble families, whose
origin they recalled. The picture varied every instant ; when
we traversed, in the morning, a deep valley, the shadows of
the mountains generally covered the greater part of it, while
the opposite heights burned^ with all the rays of the rising

14 Castellan's Travels in Italy,

sun ; these rays darting through the summits of the rocks,
pierced in luminous columns the mass of dense vapours which
were collected in the valley; while at night the immense disk
of that brilliant luminary sinking before us, illuminated all
our path. Before it disappeared, it seemed to communicate a
rapid motion to a million of floating atoms in the inflamed
atmosphere, which, as it sunk, were plunged, like ourselves,
into the shade and the stillness of night.

I have traversed many countries, all celebrated for the
beauty of their scenery ; I have travelled through Greece,
Italy, and Switzerland, and the livelier plains of my own
country, but I have no where met with such a rich union of
picturesque objects as in the kingdom of Naples.

The climate of this province is more temperate, and the
air more pure than that of Campania ; the towns are almost
all of them built upon the sides of hills ; the elevation of the
ground, and its mountainous form, render it colder than Cam-
pania ; indeed, frost commences at the end of October, but
the rivers never are frozen. This province produces good
marble, and has a salt mine at Monte-Fuscoli. Notwithstand-
ing the feudal system, it is the best peopled part of the king-
dom after Campania ; the pasture-grounds are few ; as for
thefts, the number was so great that we left off" counting
them ; we lost several little articles by the way, but all our
inquiries after them were vain ; all the answer we got was an
articulate sound, a grimace, or a shrug of the slioulders, as
though they mocked us. Having left an article of some value
at our inn Ave despatched a messenger back for it, having the
politeness to pay him before hand : the consequence was, that
neither messenger or property ever made their appearance.

At length we perceived Ariana, situated on a range of high
rock which rose in the midst of a plain washed by tlie Calore and
the Tripaldo; we reached the town after many windings, for our
course resembled that of a vessel in distress, which is obliged
repeatedly to tack in order to enter the port. The fatigue of
our horses, which had ceased to regard the admonitions of
the whip, the coldness of the evening air, and the calls of
hunger increased our impatience, which seemed to afford
much diversion to our driver ; he insisted on the advantages
of the impregnable situation of the town; he boasted of the
purity of the air, and the beauty of the prospect, and answered
all our pressing inquiries by the words adesso, adesso, arriviamo,
ci vuoljiegma. We had need of all our patience not to lay a
hearty malediction on the men, whose madness had led them
to build their habitations out of human reach.

.iU'ianp is a miserable town; all its manufactures consist of

Ariano — Monte Virgine. 15

common earthenware: the soil is mixed with marine remains.
The country between Ariano and Avellino presents some very
picturesque prospects ; sometimes embosomed in rocks, and
amid the deepest solitude, we listened to the rush of the tor-
rents, the cries of the birds of prey, and the roar of the winds
which swept through the clefts of the mountains. Farther on
we found ourselves buried in the deep silence of woods which
seemed impenetrable. On leaving the forests the scene
clianged, and as we emerged we perceived by the noise of a
mill, the barking of dogs, or the zampogna (the pipe of a shep-
herd,) that we were in the neighbourhood of human habita-
tions. At last the plain of Avellino was spread before our
eyes in all its richness.

There is not a spot in it uncultivated ; every part is covered
with vegetation ; orchards are mingled with vines, and mea-
dows with corn-fields : all the gifts of Nature are lavished
most luxuriously, which delight the eye, and rejoice the
senses. Magnificent avenues of trees lead to the gates of the
town ; and, as the traveller enters, he recognizes the bustle of
commerce and industry, the footsteps of the arts, and all the
appearance of a populous city.

On the Monte Vergine there is a convent of white Benedic-
tines, founded about 1 134 ; the cemetery of the convent is con-
sidered as a curious object ; it is a vast cavern on the same
level with the church, and is cut in the rock : it has the sin-
gular property of preserving the bodies deposited in it, in the
freshness of the period of their dissolution. On leaving this
town we left Monte Vergine on our right ; the appearance of
this mountain is curious, it is sprinkled over with chapels,
oratories, and crosses, the whole length of the winding way
which leads to the sanctuary. The buildings present a very
picturesque outline, and the whole effect is almost theatrical.


Arrival at Naples — Character of the Neapolitans — Vesuvius —
Castel-nuovo — View from the Gulf of Naples — Visit to Pouz-
zuole — Grotto of Pausilypo — Curious effect of the sun-beams —
Singular phenomenon — Remains of Antiquity — The Solfatara
Tomb of Virgil — and of Sanazaro.

TT E are in Naples! The city of which the Italians them-
selves are at a loss for expressions of sufficient admiration,
compressing thfcir praise into the proverb — See Naples and die!

18 Castellan's Travels in Italy.

As we approached we entered the walks which extend from
the gates of the city, bordered with fountains, chapels, and
houses of entertainment ; a little later and it would have been
pleasant enough, but at present it was nothing but a scene of
noise, dust, and disorder — only imagine crowds of peasants in
every description of dress, carts loaded with the produce of
the country jostling brilliant equipages preceded by outriders,
open carriages, and horsemen spurring through the crowd, and
in the midst of this confusion our melancholy vehicle dragged
slowly on by our tired horses.

The Neapolitan delights in ease, pleasure, and noise ; he is
full of vivacity, speaks quickly, and at great length ; and he
has great power of comic expression in his gestures, which are
innumerable ; much attached to fetes and shews, notbing is
seen but rope-dancers, pickpockets, puppet-shows, and ballad-
singers : they make great use of the tambourine, of the casta-^
nets, or nacchere, and of the colascino, a two-stringed instru-
ment. Their religious festivals are generally preferred, and
they certainly are very brilliant. The churches seem to be
converted into theatres, and resound with light and cheerfnl
sounds ; the audience turn their backs on the altar, and fix
all their attention on the orchestra. The processions are an
object of great curiosity ; they extend to an immense length,
as almost the whole population of the city is enrolled in some
one ot the fraternities of white, blue, grey, or black penitents.

The pleasures of the table are much sought after by the
Neapolitans, the least sober of all the Italians. During the
carnival, and the great festivals, the streets seem loaded with
viands, which are scarcely sufficient to supply the consump-
tion of the day ; at every corner stand immense baskets of
maccaroni, which the passengers carry away by handsfull ;
while ices are distributed from coolers filled with snow. At
another place you may see them measuring out to the Lazza-
roni the coffee, which they call levante, and which if it does
not possess the fine flavour, at least has the colour. Pride and
misery, which in great capitals border so nearly on one ano-
ther, present in Naples a striking picture ; individuals who
sport splendid equipages, lacqueys, and couriers cloathed in
rich liveries, live in the most restricted style in the interior of
their palaces, of which they perhaps only inhabit the garrets.

The Lazzaroni, however, seem to boast of their poverty ;
they walk bare-footed, and frequently without shirts, and sleep
in such places as the recesses of a church. These people are
completely unincumbered, without a hearth, and witiiout a
home, they live continually in the open air ; as soon as they
have collected a few carlini, they spend them in a glass of ice.

Appearance of Vesuvius. 1/

or some boiled maccaroni ; they then fall to sleep, till urged
again by necessity to seek their little sum of money, that they
may once more enjoy their benedetto far niente. There are
many different accounts given of the Lazzaroni : some pretend
that they form a separate body, and elect a king who enjoys a
pension, and that their number amounts to 40,000, all which
is false — the population of Naples is only 400,200, and it is
very improbable that a tenth part of it should be composed of

In the manners, institutions, and even language of the Nea-
politans, the footsteps of strangers are visible ; the French
more especially have left many traces of their dominion ; their
name even is become the generic designation of strangers,
and the word Frank is applied to every foreigner. The Greek
origin of the Neapolitans may be still perceived in their phy-
siognomy and their character ; they possess the intelligence
and quickness of perception, and even the manual address
for which the Greeks were remarkable ; they are like them
lovers of noise, joy, and pleasantry, and of mimicry and
satirical productions ; we therefore find amongst them the
best mimics : the facetious Tiberio Fiorelli, who gained such
celebrity in France, under the name of Scaramouch, came
from Naples.

One of the greatest objects of my curiosity on my amval at
Naples was Vesuvius ; my surprise and disappointment were
great on beholding this celebrated mountain — I had imagined
to myself a volcano ploughed into deep furrows by streams of
lava, which marked with black traces their devastating path ;
I thought to walk amongst hanging rocks, demolished edi
fices, and the crumbling ruins of the mountain over which
clouds of thick floating smoke passed, forming a scene almost
resembling one of the mouths of Tartarus : in fact, however,
I only saw a hill of ordinary dimensions, of a broad conical
shape, without any variety in its appearance, without any
inequality in its declivity, of an uniform ashy colour, and the
crater of which exhales a little vapour, which is only percep-
tible in the morning and at evening, when the rays of the sun
fall upon it obliquely. No doubt the volcano, filled with fire
and flame, burning in the darkness of night, and terrifying the
countiy, its bellowing and shaking would have produced a
livelier impression on my senses, than this dark and sterile
mass which rises in the midst of a flourishing country.
Nevertheless, when one thinks how a whole people can gaily
dance and sing on the edge of this terrific precipice — ^that
their harvests, their orchards, and their delicious villas, are
supported by. a thin bed of earth, cloathed indeed with the

VoYAGfis and TBAYfi|,§. No, 5, VoU UL J>

18 Castellan's Travels in Italy.

most verdant carpet, but undermined by ever-burning- fires,
which may at any moment engulph them — this contrast of ani-
mated and vigorous life with a spot where every thing lan-
guishes and dies — this opposition oi the brightest colours with
an uniform grey and livid tint — the silent crater, and the pro-
found but deceitful calm — all inspire a melancholy kind of
feeling, and a conviction of disaster, which persuade us of
the emptiness of human pursuits, and speak of peril and death.

Castel- nuovo, from which there is a fine view of Vesuvius,
is a favourite promenade of the Neapolitans, who walk there
for the sake of enjoying the pure air, and the odours of the
flowers with which the valleys are covered ; they are wafted
by the land-breeze very regularly, which every evening
sweetens and refreshes the streets of Naples, which are parched
by the heat of the sun — it re-animates the over-fatigued frames
of the inhabitants, communicate fresh vivacity to the spirits,
and gives birth to festivities and pleasures which stretch far
into the night.

The view of Naples from the sea has been compared to that
of Constantinople, and it is said these two cities form the most
beautiful pictures of the kind in the world ; but Naples is in-
finitely more picturesque, and it o\Ves this advantage to the
disposition of the ground, which, by its winding and abrupt
jines, displays the edifices of the city better, towering above
each other, and yet gives the masses sufficiently detached and
distinct, while the borders of the Bosphorus, in general level
or rounded into hills, present lines of great length without
variety of form, and without contrast of effect.

In arriving in the Gulf of Naples, leaving the isles of Ischia
and Capree, which seem like advanced guards, the most beauti-
ful pictures break upon the sight; on the left the steep rocks
of Procita stretch from Cape Misene, behind which the Gulf of
Pouzzuole is seen, overshadowed by Monte Barbaro. — As the
gazer approaches, the interest is concentrated, and his eye
takes in the prospect between Pausilypo and Mount Vesuvius;
Naples occupies the centre, and its edifices rise in groups
behind Santa Elma, the Acropolis of the ancient Parthenope.

To enjoy this view an hour should be chosen favourable to
picturesque effect ; the traveller should enter his boat towards
the close of day — the sun is setting behind the tomb of
Virgil, surrounding it with his resplendent rays ; not yet con-
cealed behind the point of Pausilypo, he still sheds his lights
on the remains of antiquity, which lie dispersed on the shores
of Pouzzuole, and be at last plunges himself into the sea

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