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

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garlands, extending to the other four. These garlands or
festoons, instead of hanging loose, and waving gracefully in
the air, were drawn tight, and were consequently, as motion-
less as ropes. Around this ridiculous pageant^ the French
troops drew up, and paraded. The inhabitants seemed pur-
posely to keep aloof.


walls, and the roar of artillery resounded in their
ears, they had planned a public garden at Fietole,
and laid out a considerable piece of ground in
walks and groves, in the centre of which a temple
was to rise, and a statue to be erected, in honor
of the immortal poet. Thus they would have
accomplished the grand design so finely unfolded
in the third Georgic, adorned the classic M'mcio
with a fabric becoming its fame, and bestowed,
with more propriety, on the acknowledged virtues
of their countryman, the honors which he in-
tended, with a flattery pardonable because the
result of gratitude, for the very equivocal merit
of Augustus. But the second siege of Mantua
put an end to this project ; the gates were thrown
down, the enclosures torn up, the plantations
destroyed, and the whole scene of rural beauty
and poetical illusion was stained with blood, and
abandoned to devastation.

On the twenty-third of March, we took leave
of Mantua, extremely well pleased with the
general appearance of the town, and convinced,
that it is far more flourishing at present, than
it seems to have been in ancient days. In extent
it is considerable, not insignificant in population,
and in magnificence equal to most cities ; cir-
cumstances, which place it far above the epithet
of parva applied to it by Martial.


Tantum magna suo debet Verona Catullo
Quantum parva suo Mantua Virgilio *.

The road to Cremona, for some miles, borders
on the Mincio, and runs close to its reedi/ banks.

* Proud of her Virgil's honor'd name
Though little Mantua be.
As much oi great Verona's fame,
Catullus, springs from thee !

The following lines, addressed to Mantua, in the day
of its glory, are not inapplicable to it, even in its present
humiliation and distress :

Felix Mantua, civitatum ocelle,
Quam Mars Palladi certat usque & usque
Claram reddere gentibus, probisque
Ornare ingeniis virorum, & armis !
Te frugum facilis, potensque rerum
Tellus, te celebrem facit virente
Qui ripa, calamisque flexuosus
Leni flumine Mincius susurrat,
Et qui te lacus intrat, advenisque
Dites mercibus invehit carinas.
Quid palatia culta, quid deorum
Templa, quid memorem vias, & urbis
Moles nubibus arduis propinquas?
Pax secura loco, quiesque nullis
Turbata exsiliis, frequensque rerum
Semper copia, & artium bonarum.
Felix Mantua, centiesque felix,
Tantis Mantua dotibus beata.

M. Ant. Flamin. Car. Lib. i. SO.

Flow'r of cities ! Mantua fair !
Pallas, Mars, a rival pair.


as long as it forms the Lago di Sopra, that is,
till it turns northward, as it comes down from the
hills of Borghetto. As the road is formed on
the ancient Via Posthumia, it is strait and even,
runs through several large villages, or rather little
towns, and traverses a tract of country intersected
by various streams and luxuriantly fertile.

Strive fondly to exalt thy name

And to the world thy praise proclaim,

Alike for arts and arms renown'd.

For valour fam'd, with wisdom crown'd.

Fam'd is thy soil for golden grain,

Por wealth and pow'r thy rich domain :

And fam'd is Mincius, that proceeds

Soft whisp'ring through his banks of reeds.

Or winding through th' enamell'd ground :

And fam'd the lake that girds thee round,

And, borne in many a bark, supplies

Rich stores of foreign merchandize,

Need I the gorgeous fabrics tell.

In which thy high-born nobles dwell ?

Thy spacious roads? thy fanes that rise

With tow'rs that seem to touch the skies.

Peace is thy guest ; no civil war.

Nor jars, nor broils, thy blessings mar,

But gen'rous arts, and virtues rare.

And wealth and plenty flourish there.

Tenfold, Mantua, art thou blest.

Of such mighty goods possest !



CreDwna — River Addua — Placentia—the Trebia —
Farma — Reggio — Modena — its Library, and ce-
lebrated Librarians Muratori, Tiraboschi, Sgc.

Cremona derives some degree of importance from
the well-known verse of Virgil,

Mantua vae miserze nimium vicina Cremonae*.

Eclog. ix. 28.

And from the accurate ohservation of Tacitus.

Hunc eiitum Cremona habuit bellis

e.vternis intacta, civilibus infelia:'\'. In fact, these
few words contain the whole history of this city,
which, being founded by one of the Celtic tribes
that occupied the northern parts of Italy, was co-
lonized and fortified by the Romans, about the

* the Mantuan tow'rs.

Obnoxious by Cremona's neighb'ring crime.

Dry den.

t Such was the end of Cremona, uninjured by foreign,
but ever ruined by civil wars.


commencement of the second Punic war, as a ram-
part against the approaching attack of Annibal.
The strength of its walls, or the courage of its
inhabitants, preserved it from the fury of this for-
midable invader, and it went on increasing in
numbers, size, and opulence, till by its attachment
to the cause of the senate, and of liberty, it drew
down upon itself the vengeance of the Triumvirs,
and incurred forfeiture and confiscation *. Its
fidelity to ViteUius, or its mistaken prudence calcu-
lating on the supposed superiority of his interest,
exposed it to the rage of Vespasian's partisans,
who besieged, took, plundered, and reduced it to
a heap of ashes. Shortly after it rose from its
ruins ; but rose to experience the disasters of war
and of revolution, and to share the long and pain-
ful agonies of the expiring empire. However, it
survived all its reverses, and after having been the
prey of Goths and of Lombards, of French and of
Germans ; after having enjoyed a precarious li-
berty, and then born the light yoke of the
sovereigns of Milan ; it is, for the present, an-
nexed to that sickly abortion of French influence
misnamed the Italian Republic.

Cremona is a large and well-built city, adorned

* The consequences of this confiscation reached the Man-
tuan territory, and occasioned, as is well known, the flight
and the fame of Virgil.


with many noble edifices, and advantageously
situated on the northern bank of the Po. Its
cathedral, of Gothic, or rather mixed architecture,
was begun in the year 1 107, and continued at dif-
ferent periods, but not completely finished till the
fourteenth century. It is faced with white and red
marble, and highly ornamented though in a singu-
lar and fanciful style. It contains several beauti-
ful altars and fine paintings. One chapel in par-
cular merits attention. It is that which is set
apart for the preservation of the relics of the pri-
mitive martyrs. Its decorations are simple and
chaste, its colors soft and pleasing. The ashes of
the " sainted dead" repose in urns and sarcophagi
placed in niches in the wall regularly disposed on
each side of the chapel, after the manner of the
ancient Roman sepulchres. It is small, but its
proportions, form, and furniture are so appropriate
and so well combined, that they produce a very
beautiful and perfect IV hole. The Baptistery, which,
according to the ancient manner still preserved in
many of the great towns of Italy, is a separate
building near the cathedral, contains in the centre
a font of curious form and workmanship, cut out
of one immense block of party-colored marble.
The tower is of great height and of singular archi-
tecture. The view from it is extensive, taking in
the town with its streets ; the roads that cross the
country in strait lines in various directions ; the Po


winding along almost close to the walls, and in-
tersecting the immense plain of the Milanese ; the
Alps to the northj and the Apennines to the south-
west, both covered with snow, and occasionally
half veiled with passing clouds. Such was the
prospect we beheld from the top of the Torazzo.
The public palace, for so the town-hall is not
improperly called in Italy, and most of the
churches, but particularly that of St. Pietro al Po,
are worthy the attention of the traveller; since,
with several objects which correct taste must
blame, they contain many which it will admire.

Cremona has produced her proportion of ge-
nius and of talent, both in ancient and modern
times, but among all her sons, none have con-
tributed more to her reputation than Marcus Hie-
ronymus Vida, the first poet of the second Augus-
tan age of Roman literature, and sometimes not
undeservedly styled by his admirers, the Christian
Virgil. Every reader is acquainted with the poe-
tical tribute which Pope has paid to his memory,
in his Essay on Criticism ; and all, who peruse
Vida's works, will acknowledge that the compli-
ment is not misplaced. But literary excellence
was neither the sole, nor the principal merit of
Vida : piety and purity of morals unsullied even
by suspicion, graced his early years, and a zealous
discharge of every episcopal duty employed him
from the middle to the close of life. He was


buried in bis cathedral at Alba, and a cenotaph is
said to have been erected to his honor in the
Duomo at Cremona ; though we endeavoured in
vain to discover it. I shall conclude this account
with some verses taken from a hymn of this poet,
which, vvith the passage of Tacitus inserted above,
will suffice to give the reader some notion both of
the history and of the territory of Cremona. The
verses are addressed to our Blessed Saviour, and
express a Christian sentiment in the purest lan-
guage of Heathen poetry.

Turn veri, Graium obliti mendacia, vates
Funera per gentes referent tua, carmine verso
Atque tuis omnes resonabunt laudibus urbes.
Praesertim Izetam Italize felicis ad oram,
Addua ubi vagus, et muscoso Serius amne
Purior electro tortoque simillimus angui ;
Qua rex fluviorum Eridanus se turbidus infert,
Moenia turrigeree stringens male tuta Cremonae,
Ut sibijam tectis vix temperet unda caducis*.

Christiados vi. 885 — 890.

* Then Grecian fable shall delight no more,
But sacred bards their alter'd numbers pour
To thee, with rival zeal thy praise proclaim,
Till ev'ry realm is vocal with thy name.
But most of all on fair Italia's strand.
Where Addua wanders through the smiling land.
Where Serius in his mossy, channel strays,
As amber pure, through many a sinuous maze.
Where Po, the king of streams, in turbid pride,
Rolls on by tall Cremona's tow'r-crown'd side,
Cremona fair ! whose time-enfeebled wall
Dreads the rough wave, and totters to its fall.


If the reader wishes to see the history of Cre-
mona, the beauties of its district, and the achieve-
ments and talents of its inhabitants, set off in the
most splendid colors of partial eloquence, he may
read the pleadings or Actiones tres attributed to
this author, and supposed to have been pronunced
before competent judges at Milan, on a question
of precedency between Cremo7ia and Pwvia.

From Cremona, to the fortress of Pizzighitotie,
are two short stages. We there passed the Ad-
dua, on a flying bridge. This river is represented,
by Claudian, as remarkable for the cerulean tints
of its waves, and is united to the Tes'mo, in a very
pretty verse.

Colla lavant pulcher Ticinus et Addua visu
Ccerulus *.

The country continues populous and fertile, but
displays more forest wood. Castiglione, with va-
rious little towns and villages, appears rich and
beautiful. Thence the roads were deep and bad,
owing to the late inundations. Towards sunset
we arrived at the Po, and passing it on a flying
bridge, entered Placentia, March 23d.

Placentia was built and colonized by the Ro-
mans, about two hundred and eighteen years be-

* Tesino fair, and Addua's azure stream.


fore Christ, and, not long after, served as an
asylum to the Roman army when defeated by
Annibal, at the Trebia. It was afterwards as-
saulted by that Carthaginian, but in vain ; and
like Cremona, was destined to suffer more from
the madness of citizens, than from the fury of in-
vaders. More fortunate however than the latter,
though attacked by a party of Vitellians it resisted
with success, and in the bloody contest, had only
to lament the loss of its amphitheatre, remarkable,
(it seems) for its capaciousness and architecture.
This edifice, like that of Verona, stood without the
walls, and was of course exposed to the fury of
the assailants. It seems to have been principally
of wood, as it was consumed by fire, a circum-
stance which, in our ideas, nmst take away much
of its pretended splendor : but, whatever were its
materials, its extent was at that time unequalled ;
and it stood the pride of Placentia, and the envy
of the neighboring cities. It was set on fire when
Caecina assaulted the town, either by chance,
which is more probable, or perhaps, as the Pla-
centians suspected, by the malice of some incen-
diaries, who took advantage of the confusion of the
contest, and was reduced to ashes. It perished,
however, at a fortunate period, and with all its
glory around it ; for, had it survived only a few
years, its fame would hate been eclipsed by the
splendor and by the magnificence of the gigantic


Placentia, after having frequently changed
masters, was annexed to Parma, and remained so
till the expulsion of the late duke, when, with the
whole of its territory it was occupied hy the
French. It is a large and well-built city. Its ca-
thedral is Saxon : the town house, with some other
public buildings in the great square, are Gothic.
Several churches, particularly that of St. Agostino,
are of fine Roman architecture, and some adorned
with paintings of great celebrity. The square is
ornamented with two brass equestrian statues ; one
of the celebrated Akdwider Faruese, the other, of
his brother Ranuccio : they are much admired, par-
ticularly the former, for attitude, animation, and
drapery. Many of the convents, some of which
are now suppressed, seem to have been magnificent.

The neighborhood of Placentia is, perhaps,
more intei'esting than the town itself, as it has
been the theatre of many bloody engagements.
The first, and most remarkable, occurred shortly
after the foundation of the city, about three miles
from it, and its scene lies on the banks of the
Trebia. We visited the spot, with Livy as our
guide, and I need not add, that we found his
description extremely accurate. It must indeed
be observed, in justice to the great writers of an-
tiquity, that their pictures so resemble the objects
which they are intended to represent, that a tra-
veller might imagine they had always been
sketched on the spot itself, and in the very heat of


action. The banks, though low, are yet sufficiently
elevated, in a military sense, not indeed at the
very confluence of the two rivers, the Po and the
Trebia; but a little higher up the latter, where
the battle took place, the stream is wide enough
to form a line of defence, and yet shallow enough
to be in many places fordable. Its sides, particu-
larly on the right as you ascend the stream,
where Mago lay in ambush, are still covered with
reeds and brush-wood. After these observations,
merely applying the present scenery to the his-
torian's description, the reader need but open
Livy, and he will become a spectator of the action
so bloody and disastrous to the Romans.

But the banks of the Trebia have been the
theatre of more contests than one, nor is the last-
mentioned, though, without doubt, the most illus-
trious, either the most bloody or the most decisive.
It is well known that a memorable battle between
the French and the Russians, under the command
of Marshal Suwarrow, was fought on the same
spot, and was attended with more important con-
sequences. It is said to have lasted two days, and
to have been supported with the utmost obstinacy
on both sides. The Russians, who advanced with
their usual firmness and impetuosity, were thrice
driven back in dismay : at length, the Marshal,
with the looks and the voice of a Fury, led them
on to a fourth attack, when they rushed into the
bed of the river, and with horrible shouts and


screams, fell once more upon the enemy. Resist-
ance was now overpowered ; the French fled in
confiision ; the banks were strewed with bodies,
and the fields covered with fugitives. The con-
sequence of this victory was the immediate deHver-
ance of Italy from the insolence and rapacity of
the French armies ; a deliverance which, instead
of being a mere interval of repose, would perhaps
have been the commencement of a long era of
tranquillity, had the same spirit continued to ani-
mate the armies, and the same union prevailed in
the cabinets of the confederates. But this battle,
however bloody and important, will pass unnoticed,
in the long register of contests between d liferent
tribes of invading barbarians ; perhaps the very
names of the generals may sink into oblivion, with
the leaders of the Goths and of the Vandals, of
the Huns and of the Lombards ; while the " Battle
of Trebia" will live for ever in the pages of Livy,
the names of Annibal and of Mago, of Scipio and
of Sempronius, recorded both by the historian and
by the poet, will continue to delight the youthful
reader, and a thousand generations will contem-
plate with emotion,

Cannas et Trebiam ante oculos, Thrasimenaque busta*.

Sil. Ital. lib. xi. 345.

* Cannae, and Trebia, and th' abundant graves
Of fatal Thrasimene.


From Placentia we proceeded to Parma, on
the Via Emilia. This road was made by Marcus
Emilius Lepidus, about one hundred and eighty-
seven years before the Christian era ; it has been
kept in good repair, and is still excellent. We
ciT)ssed over several rivers, and passed through
some pretty towns. These rivers generally retain
their ancient name with little variation, and de-
scending from the Apennines, fall into the neigh-
boring Po. The principal are the Chiavenna, the
Ongina, the StivonUy and the Taro. Among
the towns Fiorenzuala, anciently Florentiala, and
S. Donnino, deserve most attention. At or near
the latter (once Fidentiola) Sylla defeated the
Marian general Carbo, and dispersed or utterly
destroyed his army. About twelve miles to the
south of Fiorenzuala, once stood the town of Vel-
leia ruined by the sudden fall of part of the neigh-
boring mountain, about the end of the fourth cen-
tury. Several excavations were made amongst
the ruins, in 1760, and the four following years;
but the diffioulty of penetrating through the vast
masses of rock that cover the town, was so great,
that the work was suspended, and I believe never
since renewed. This want of spirit, or of perse-
verance, is much to be regretted, as few enterprises
promise so fairly, or seem so likely to reward the
labor. The dreadful catastrophe is supposed to
have been sudden, and the inhabitants, with their
furniture and property were buried in one tremen-


dous crash ; it is therefore highly probable, that
more medals, coins, and books, may be found here
than in Herculaneum, where gradual ruin gave
time to remove the most precious and portable
effects. Besides the latter town, with Pompeii,
and the various cities that studded the Neapolitan
coast, were Greek colonies, and apjDear to have
paid but little attention to Latin literature ; while
Velleia was entirely Roman, and some of its citi-
zens must have possessed tolerable collections of
Latin authors. It would not, therefore, be unrea-
sonable to expect, if the excavations were pushed .
on with vigor and with discernment, the discovery
of some, if not of several Latin manuscripts. But
such undertakings require opulence and leisure,
and are not to be expected in the present impo-
verished and distracted state of Italy.

The country, as the traveller advances, im-
proves in beauty, and, if not in fertility (for that
seemss scarcely possible), at least in the neatness
and in the order of cultivation. The Apennines
advancing at every step present their bold forms
to vary the dulness of the plain ; hedges, and neat
enclosures mark the different farms ; elms in long
rows garlanded with vines separate the fields ; and
villages, each with a magnificent church, enliven
the road at every mile.

Farma stands on a river of the same name : it
was founded by the Etrurians, taken by the Boii,


a tribe of Gauls, and, at length, colonized by the
Romans. It is said to have suffered much from
the licentious cruelty of Antony, and its sufferings,
on this occasion^ are pathetically deplored and im-
mortalized by Cicero in his fourteenth Philippic,
the last tribute which he paid to Rome and to
liberty. During the disastrous period that elapsed
between the reigns of Theodosius and of Charle-
magne, it was taken and retaken by the Goths
and by the Romans, by the Lombards and by the
Greek Exarchs, till it was given by Charlemagne
to the Holy See ; and, after a succession of ages
and of changes, it was at length bestowed by
Paul III. on his son Ottavio Farnese. On the
extinction of this family in the middle of the last
century, it passed to a Prince of Spain ; and, on
the death of the last Duke, it was taken possession
of by the French, and is now pining away under
the influence of their iron domination.

Parma is large, populous, airy, and clean,
though it cannot boast of any very striking or
regular building. The cathedral is Saxon, but
lined in the interior with Roman architecture ; its
dome is much admired for the beautiful painting
with which it was adorned by Correggio. The
baptistery is an octagon, in the same style as the
cathedral, cased with marble, and ornamented
with various arches and galleries. The Steccata
is the most regular church in Parma ; it is in the


form of a Greek cross, and not without beauty.
The church of the Capuchins is remarkable only
for being the burial place of the celebrated Ak.v-
ander^ Farnese^ who, in consequence of his own
directions, lies interred, distinguished from the
vulgar dead only by the following epitaph :

D. 0. M.






The palace is large, but irregular ; the library
is well furnished : it contains the Academia de Belle
Ai'ti (Academy of Fine Arts), in which there is a
noble hall adorned with excellent paintings, and
with several ancient statues found in the ruins of
Valleia. In this hall, during the happier eera of
Parma, the prince used to preside over the assem-
bled academicians, and to distribute prizes in the
various arts. In the same palace is the celebrated
theatre magnificent in its size, its proportions, its
form, and its decorations. It is modelled on the an-

* Alexander Faniese, having conquered the Belgians,
and delivered the French from blockade, ordered that his
body should be deposited in this humble spot, on the 2d of
December, 1592.


cient plan, like the Olympic theatre at Vicenza, and
like it, but on a greater scale, adorned with pillars,
colonnades, and statues. Unfortunately, either in
consequence of the many revolutions of late years,
or on account of the difficulty of filling, and the
expence of repairing, furnishing, and lighting up
such a vast edifice, this theatre perhaps the noblest
in the world, has been so long and so much neg-
lected, that it will probably soon sink into a heap
of ruins, and remain only in the plans of artists,
and in the descriptions of travellers.

But the principal ornament of Parma, and its
pride and glory, were the numberless master-
pieces of Correggio, with which its churches,
palaces, and public halls were once adorned. This
celebrated artist, born in a village near Modena,
and of course not far from Parma, has spread the
enchantments of his pencil over all the great
towns that bordered on the place of his nativity,
and seems to have exerted his wonderful powers,
in a particular manner, for the decoration of this
city. Parmeggiani and Lanfranco, two other
painters of high reputation, were natives of
Parma, and contributed not a little to the embel-

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