John Chetwode Eustace.

A classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) online

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any time, the ancient city will be almost deserted,
and all the population of Verona pass to the Aus-
trian territory. Not to speak therefore of the
money raised, of the pictures, statues, and anti-
quities, carried off by the French, Verona has suf-
fered more, in a political sense, in the last convul-
sive war, than perhaps any city, Venice excepted,
that lay within its range of devastation. Not


content with dividing and enslaving it for the pre-
sent, the French seem determined to prevent it
from ever again becoming a place of importance ;
and have accordingly levelled its fortifications, and
destroyed the walls of its castle, formerly a fortress
of some strength from its ramparts and command-
ing position. The top and sides of the hill are
now covered with its ruins ; and the emperor is,
I believe, obliged by an article in the treaty, not
to rebuild them at any future period. Such was
the state of Verona in the year 1802.

Oar last visit, as our first, was to the amphi-
theatre: we passed some hours, as before, in a
very delightful manner, sometimes reclining on the
middle seats, and admiring the capaciousness, the
magnitude, and the durability of the vast edifice;
at other times seated on the upper range, contem-
plating the noble prospect expanded before us, the
town under our eyes, verdant plains spreading on
one side, and on the other, the Alps rising in
craggy majesty, and bearing on their ridges the
united snows of four thousand winters ; while an
Hesperian sun shone in full brightness over our
heads, and southern gales breathed all the warmth
and all the fragrance of spring around us. Pros-
pects so grand and beautiful must excite very
pleasing emotions at all times, and such vernal
breezes may well be supposed to inspire


delight and joy able to drive

" All sadness."

But the pleasure which we felt on the occa-
sion, was not a little enhanced by the contrast
between our present and late situation. We had
just descended from the mountains of the Tyrol,
where our view had long been confined to a deep
and narrow defile : our eye now ranged at liberty
over an immense extent of scenery, rich, magnifi-
cent and sublime. We had just escaped from the
rigors of winter, and we were now basking in the
beams of a summer sun. We still stood on the
very verge of frost, and beheld whole regions of
snow rising full before us ; but vernal warmth,
vegetation, and verdure, enveloped us on all sides.
In such circumstances, when for the first time the
traveller beholds the beauties of an Italian pros-
pect expanded before him, and feels the genial
influence of an Italian sun around him, he may be
allowed to indulge a momentary enthusiasm, and
hail Italy in the language of Virgil.

Sed neque Medoium sylvae, ditissima terra,

Nee pulcher Ganges, atque auro turbidus Hermus

Laudibus Italiee certent; non Bactra neque Indi,

Totaque thuriferis Panchaia pinguis arenis

Hie gravidae fruges et Bacchi Massicus humor

Implevere ; tenant oleee armentaque laeta

Hie ver assiduum, atque alienis mensibus aestas ....
Adde tot egregias urbes operumque laborem


Tot congesta manu prreruptis oppida saxis

Fluminaque antiques subterlabentia muros

Salve magna parens frugum, Saturnia tellus

Magna virum ! * Georg • 1 1 ,

On the whole, we visited few places with more
satisfaction, and left few with more regret, than
Verona ; whether as the first Italian city on our
road, it happened, by its appearance and monu-
ments very novel to a transalpine traveller, par-
ticularly to engage our attention ; or whether it
really possesses many means of exciting interest,
I know not; but as we departed, we felt our-

But neither Median woods, a plenteous land.
Fair Ganges, Hernius rolling golden sand,
Nor Bactria, nor the richer Indian fields,
Nor ail the gummy stores Arabia yields.
Nor any foreign earth of greater name,

Can with sweet Italy contend in fame

But fruitful vines, and the fat olives freight.
And harvests heavy with their fruitful weight,
Adorn our fields ; and on the cheerful green
The grazing flocks and lowing herds are seen . . . ,
Perpetual spring our happy climate sees.
And summer suns recede by slow degrees ....

Next add our cities of illustrious name,

Their costly labour and stupendous frame :

Our forts on steepy hills, that far below

fiee wanton streams in winding vallies flow ......

I^ail '. sweet Saturnian soil ! of fruitful grain
Great Parent, greater of illustrious men !

Dry den.


selves inclined to address it in the words of one
of its poets.

" Verona, qui te viderit,
" Et non amarit protinus,

" Amore perditissirao,
" Is, credo, se ipsum non amat,
" Caretque amandi sensibus,

" Et odit omnes gratias*." Cotta.

If a traveller have any time to spare (and he
who wishes to travel with benefit, ought always
to have some days at his disposal) he may spend
it with advantage at Verona, as his head-quarters,
and take an opportunity of visiting Monte Bolca
about eighteen, and Valle Ronca about fifteen miles
distant ; where the lovers of the picturesque will
find some beautiful scenery, and the mineralogist
some remarkable specimens of various stones,
earths, petrifactions, incrustations, basaltic pillars,
&c. Among similar curiosities, we may rank the

* Whoe'er has seen Verona fair.
Nor plac'd his whole affection there,
Methinks the cold and senseless elf
Has scarce the heart to love himself:
Sure churlish Nature has supprest
The pow'r of loving in his breast.
And curs'd him with th' unenvied fate
Whate'er is sweet and fair, to hate.
The best guide is the Compendio della Verona, in four

very thin, or two ordinary small octavo volumes, with prints.

It is an abridgment of a larger work, entitled " Verona

Illustrata" by the celebrated Maffei.


Ponte Veia, a natural arch of considerable sweep
and boldness.

The wines of Verona were formerly famous, as
appear from Virgil's apostrophe.

" et quo te carmine dicam
" Rhaetica ? nee cellis ideo contende Falernis*."

But their reputation at present is very low, as is
that of almost all the wines produced on the
northern side of the Apennines.

* How shall I praise the Rhaetian grape divine.
Which yet contends not with Falernian wine ?

Dry den.




Vicentia — Buildings — Olympic Academy and Thea-
tre — Style of Palladia — Chuixh of Monte Berico
— Cimbri Sette Communi — Padua — Its An-
tiquity, History y Literature, and University.

The distance from Verona to Vicentia is three
posts and a half; the road runs over a plain
highly cultivated, and beautifully shaded with
vines and mulberries. When I say a plain, I do
not mean that the face of the country is a dead
insipid flat, but only that it is not hilly. How-
ever, near Monte Bello, bold hills rise on each
side, and present in their windings, or on their
summits, villages, towns, and castles.

Vincentia (Vicetia) Vicenza is a town as an-
cient as Verona, large and populous ; its circum-
ference is of three miles, and the number of its
inhabitants is said to amount to 30,000. It has
passed through the same revolutions as its neigh-
bor Verona, but it seems to have suffered more
from their consequences. It was indeed burnt by


the Emperor Frederic the Second, while at war
with the Pope, oii account of its attachment to the
latter, and cannot consequently be supposed to
exhibit any remnants of its Roman glory.

But the want of ancient monuments is sup-
plied in a great degree by numberless master-
pieces of modern genius. Palladio was a native
of this city, and seems to have employed with
complacency all the power of his art in the em-
bellishment of his country. Hence the taste and
magnificence that reign in most of the public
buildings, and in many of the private houses.
Among the former we may distinguish the Town
House, called very significantly Palazzo ddla
ragione, that is, the Palace of Public Reason, or
Opinion, where justice is administered, and the
business of the city transacted ; the Palazzo del
CapitaniOf the residence of the Podestd, or prin-
cipal magistrate, so called from potestas*, a title
sometimes given by the Romans to persons
charged with the highest functions in provincial
towns ; the gate of the Campus Martins, a trium-
phal arch, solid and well proportioned ; and, above
all, the celebrated Olympic Theatre erected at the
expense of a well known academy bearing that

* An Fidenarum Gabiorumque esse potestas.— Ju v. x. 100.

Than be the May'r of some poor paltry town.

Dry den.


pompous title. This edifice is raised upon the
plan of ancient theatres, and bears a great resem-
blance to those of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
The permanent and immoveable scenery, the
ranges of seats rising above each other, the situ-
ation of the orchestra in the podium, and the colon-
nade that crowns the upper range, are all faithful
representations of antiquity. The scene consists
of a magnificent gate supported by a double row
of pillars, with niches and statues : it has one
large and two smaller entrances opening into as
many principal streets, decorated with temples,
palaces and public edifices of various descriptions
formed of solid materials, and disposed according
to the rules of perspective, so as to assume some-
what more than the mere theatrical appearance
of reality. The sides are a continuation of the
same plan, and have also each one entrance giving
into its respective street ; thus there are five en-
trances, through whicli the actors pass and repass
to and from the stage. The orchestra occupies
the centre, or that part which we call the pit;
thence rise the seats forming the side of an ellipsis,
and above them the gallery composed of a range
of Corinthian pillars with their full entablature
surmounted by a balustrade and adorned with sta-
tues of marble. An air of simplicity, lightness
and beauty reigns over the whole edifice, and de-
lights the ordinary observer ; while in the opinion


of connoisseurs it entitles the Teatro Olimpico to
the appellation oF the master-piece of Palladio.

But honorable as it is to the taste and to the
talents of its architect, it reflects equal, perhaps
greater lustre on the Society, at whose expense,
and for whose purposes it was erected. The
Olympic Academy was instituted at Vicenza so
early as the year 1555, by a set of gentlenien,
for the encouragement and propagation of polite
literature. Public exhibitions were among the
means employed by the Society to attain that
object ; and several attempts were made to ac-
commodate various buildings to their purpose;
but finding none perfectly suitable, they at length
came to the public spirited resolution of erecting
a theatre ; and that its form might correspond
with its destination, no less than with the classic
spirit of the actors that were to tread its stage,
they commissioned Palladio to raise it on the
ancient model. The inscription over the stage
points out its object.


The spirit of ancient genius seemed to revive,
and the spectator might have imagined himself at

* To Virtue and Genius, The Academy of the Olympics
in the year 1584 raised from its foundation this theatre, of
which Palladio was the architect.


Athens, when the members of the Society acted
the tragedies of Sophocles and of Euripides, with
all possible attention to the dresses and to the
manners of the age and of the country, surrounded
with the scenery and amidst the statues of the
gods and the heroes of antiquity. Such an in-
stitution was highly honorable to Italy in general,
and to Vicenza in particular, at a period when
Transalpine nations were just emerging from igno-
rance, and opening their eyes to the rising bright-
ness of taste and of science. The Olympic Aca-
demy still exists, and is composed now, as it was
formerly, of the most respectable citizens, and of
many learned foreigners ; though I am sorry to
add, that the Theatre has long lamented the
absence of the tragic muse, having been devoted
for many years, solely to the assemblies of the
Academy, or perhaps enlivened with the occasional
merriment of a ball or a masquerade. Moreover,
since the French invasion, it seems to have suf-
fered from the negligence or from the poverty of
the proprietors, owing partly to the heavy con-
tributions laid on the town, and partly to that
listlessness and depression of spirits which generally
accompany national disasters. But when this
storm shall have blown over, the national genius
will probably revive and return with redoubled
ardor to its favorite pursuits.

There are said to be about twenty palaces,
which were erected by Palladio, some of which


are of unusual magnificence, and contribute in
the whole to give Vicenza an appearance of
splendor and beauty not common even in Italy.
In materials and magnitude they are inferior
perhaps to the palaces of Genoa, but in style of
architecture and in external beauty far superior.
Palladio in fact had a particular talent in apply-
ing the orders and the ornaments of architecture
to the decorations of private edifices. Unlike
the ancients, who seem to have contented them-
selves with employing its grandeur in temples,
porticos, and public buildings, he introduced it
into common life, and communicated its elegant
forms to private edifices and to ordinary dwel-
lings. I do not mean to assert that the houses
and the villas of the ancients were entirely de-
void of architectural ornaments. Horace speaks
of the columns that decorated the palaces of the
rich Romans of his time.

Nempe, inter varias nutritur Sylva Columnas. Epist. lib. 1. 10.
Non trabes Hymettije
Premunt columnas ultim^ recisas
Tu secanda marmora, &c*. Hor. ii. 18.

* Among your columns, rich with various dyes,
Unnat'ral woods with aukward art arise. Francis.

No colonnade

Proudly supports my citron beams. Francis.

But you — —

Command the pillar'd dome to rise. Francis.


Pillars had been introduced long before, as Gras-
ses, the orator, was humorously styled Venus
Palatina, on account of six pillars of Hymettian
marble, which ornamented his house on the Pa-
latine Mount. We learn also, from the same
author*, that Mamurra, a Roman knight, who had
acquired great riches in the service of Julius
Caesar, entirely incrusted his house on Mount
Celius with marble, and adorned it with columns
of the richest species of the same materials.
Cicero speaks of a Greek architect whom he em-
ployed, and complains of his ignorance or inatten-
tion, in raising his pillars as he had placed them,
neither perpendicular, nor opposite to each other.
Aliquatido, says Cicero, perpendiculo et lined discet
uti'\' (Some time or other he will learn to use
the perpendicular and the line). This surely is a
strange compliment to a Greek artist. The pillars
here alluded to seem to have supported the portico
of his villa at Arpinum. Suetonius also, to give
his reader an idea of the moderation of Augustus,
observes, that the pillars of his house on the Pa-
latine Mount were of Alban stone, not marble.
But I am inclined to believe that such ornaments
were confined to the most celebrated palaces, or
perhaps employed only in the interior courts and

* Plin. xxxvi. cap. 3. f Ad. Quint : Fratrem. III. v.


surrounding porticos *. if they had been eonnnon
on the exterior we should have discovered some
traces of them in the ruins of different villas, or at •
least in the fronts of the houses of Pompeii : and
yet though I cannot assert that there are none, I
do not recollect to have observed in the streets of
the latter city the slightest vestige of architectural
ornaments on private ediBces. To these external
decorations of architecture, the cities of Italy,
and indeed most modern towns of any consider-
ation, owe a great part of their beauty ; and may
glory, not perhaps without reason, in surpassing
the towns of antiquity in general appearance.

I feel some regret in being obliged to acknow-
ledge, that the metropolis of the British empire,
though the first city of Europe, for neatness, con-
venience and cleanliness, is yet inferior to most
Capitals in architectural embellishment. This
defect is owing, in a great degree, to the nature
of the materials of which it is formed, as brick
is ill calculated to receive the graceful forms of
an Ionic volute, or of a Corinthian acanthus ;
while the dampness of the climate seems to pre-
clude the possibility of applying stucco to the ex-
ternal parts with permanent advantage. Besides
some blame may justly be attributed to architects,
who either know not, or neglect the rules of
proportion and the models of antiquity; and in
edifices, where no expence has been spared, often


display splendid instances of tasteless contrivance
and of grotesque ingenuity. But, it is to be
hoped, that the industry and the taste of the
British nation will, ere long, triumph over this
double obstacle, inspire artists with genius, teach
even brick to emulate marble, and give a be-
coming beauty and magnificence to the seat of
government and to the Capital of so mighty an
empire. Augustus found Rome of brick, and in
his last moments boasted that he left it of marble *.
May not London hope at length to see its
Augustus ?

As Palladio was a native of Vicenza it may be
proper to say something of that celebrated archi-
tect, while we are employed in admiring the
many superb structures, with which he ornamented
his country. Of all modern architects, Palladio
seems to have had the best taste, the most correct
ideas, and the greatest influence over his contem-
poraries and posterity. Some may have had
more boldness and genius, others more favorable
opportunities of displaying their talents; and such,
in both respects, was the felicity of the two grand
architects of St. Peter's, Bramariie and Michael
Angelo : but Palladio has the exclusive glory of

Suet : D. Oct : Caes : Aug. 28.


having first collected, from the writings and mo-
numents of the ancients, a canon of symmetry
and proportion, and of having reduced archi-
tecture under all its forms, to a regular and com-
plete system. I am aware that many parts of
that system have been severely criticized ; that
his pedestals, for instance, are by many consi-
dered as heavy, his half pillars as little, and his
decorations as luxuriant : yet it must be remem-
bered, that these real or merely nominal defects
are authorised by the practice of the ancients ;
and that it is not fair to blame, in a modern edi-
fice, that which is admired in the Temple of
Fortuna Virilis, or on the Triumphal Arch of
Trajan. But supposing this criticism well foun-
ded, every candid spectator will admit, that there
are in all the edifices erected under the direction,
or on the immediate plans of Palladia a simpli-
city and beauty, a symmetry and majesty, that
abundantly compensate petty defects, and fulfil
all the ends of architecture, by producing great-
ness of manner and unity of design.

I know not whether my opinion, in this respect,
may agree with that of professed artists ; but of
all the grand fabrics, which I have had an oppor-
tunity of contemplating after St. Peter's and the
Pantheon, the two master-pieces, one of ancient,
the other of modern architecture, I own I was
most delighted with the abbey church of St.


George at Venice, and that of St. Justina at Padua.
Addison represents the latter as the most luminous
and disencumbered building that he had ever seen;
though, for my part, I should be inclined to give
the preference to the former, which he passes over
in silence : but be the superiority where it may,
both these superb edifices display the characteristic
features of Palladian architecture to the highest
advantage ; and in a manner not often witnessed,
even in Italy, blend simplicity with ornament, ex-
tent with proportion, and combination with unity.
St. Justina was, if I be not mistaken, erected on
the plan of Palladio, though after his death ; some
defects consequently occur in the execution, which
ought not to be attributed to that illustrious archi-
tect, particularly as these defects are lost in the
admirable symmetry and proportion of the whole;
perfections owing exclusively to the genius that
conceived and arranged the original model. On
the whole, Palladio may be considered as the
Vitruvius of modern architecture ; and it has been
very properly recommended to persons who wish
to make a proficiency in that art, to pass some
time at Vicenza, Padua, and Venice, in order to
study the many monuments of Palladian skill that
abound in these cities.

The splendor of Vicenza is not confined to its
walls, but extends to the country for some distance
round, where private or public munificence has


erected several villas and magnificent edifices.
Among the former, we may rank the villa of the
Marchesif called the Rotunda, an exquisite fabric
of Palladio's, and among the latter the triumphal
arch, and the portico which lead to the church on
Monte Berico. The arch is said by some to be
the work of Palladio, in imitation of that of Trajan
at Ancona ; and is, like it, light and airy. The
portico is a noble gallery leading from the town to
the church, and intended to shade and shelter the
persons who visit the sanctuary in which it termi-
nates ; and as its length is more than a mile, its
materials stone, and its form not inelegant, it
strikes the spectator as a very magnificent instance
of public taste. The church is seen to most ad-
vantage at a distance ; as, on a nearer approach, it
appears overloaded with ornaments. It is of fine
stone, of the Corinthian order, in the form of a
Greek cross, with a dome in the centre ; but wants
in all its decorations, both internal and (external,
the proportions and the simplicity of Palladio.
The view from the windo\vs of the convent annexed
to the church, is extensive and beautiful.

It may be here the proper place to mention a
political phenomenon, of a very extraordinary na-
ture, which few travellers have, I believe, noticed.
The Cimbri and Teutones, two tribes from the
northern Chersonesus, invaded Italy, as it is well
known, in the year of Rome 640, and were de-


feated, and almost extirpated by Marius, in the
neighborhood of Verona. The few who escaped
from the vengeance of the conquerors took refuge
in the neighboring mountains, and formed a little
colony, which either from its poverty, its insigni-
ficance, or its retired position, has escaped the
notice, or perhaps excited the contempt of the
various parties, that have disputed the possession
of Italy for nearly two thousand years. They
occupy altogether seven parishes, and are therefore
called the Sette commune (the seven communes) ;
they retain the tradition of their origin, and though
surrounded by Italians still preserve their Teutonic
language. The late king of Denmark visited this
singular colony, discoursed with them in Danish,
and found their idiom perfectly intelligible. Though
we felt no inclination to visit them (for a classic
traveller cannot be supposed to be very partial to
barbarian establishments in Italy however ancient
their date) yet, we were struck with the circum-
stance, and beheld their distant villages nested in
the Alps, as they were pointed out to us from
Vicenza, with some interest. The reader will hear
with more satisfaction that a Roman colony still
remains on the borders of Transylvania, and that
it retains the Latin language nearly unmixed, and
glories in its illustrious origin. Hence, when any
of its members enlists in the imperial service, and
according to custom is asked his country and


origin, his answer is always, " Romanus sum" (I
am a Roman)*.

* In mezzo alia colta Europa, says Lanzi, viron tuttora
popolazioni di linguaggi non estesi ; nelle raontagne tli Vi-
cenza vive il Celtico di Barbari chi vi si annidarano ai tempi
di Mario; nellaValakia il Latino di presidi che vi miscTra-
jano ; in qualche parte di Elvezia il Romans di Franzesi an-

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Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 27)