John Chetwode Eustace.

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

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Fortunae), a well-built and very handsome town.
One of the gates of Fano is a triumphal arch of
Augustus ; a gallery or portico of five arcades
was built over it, at a later period, that is, under
Constantine; the whole is, or was, Corinthian.

* The violent Crustumium.


It was considerably defaced, and the upper story
destroyed, by the artillery, in a contest between
this town and Julius II. Several pillars still lie,
as they seem to have fallen, on the platform above
the arch. On the three different cornices, there
are three inscriptions. The churches at Fano are
not inferior to those at Pesaro, The theatre was
a noble and commodious edifice, but has been so
long neglected, that it has at present much the
appearance of a ruin *.

The Via Flaminia here turns from the sea to-
wards the Apennines, and runs along the banks of
the Metaurus, now called the Metaro, or shorter,
the Metro. This river, a streamlet in dry weather,
must, if we may judge by its wide-extended bed,
and by the long bridge thrown over it, form in
rainy seasons a vast sheet of water. Its western
banks are covered with wood, and increase in
height and declivity as they retire from the sea.
To the east, opens a plain, bounded by gentle emi-
nences, and contracting in breadth as it runs
southward, where the hills line the banks of the

* The Basilica annexed to the forum of Fanum was plan-
ned and built by Vitruvius. Would it be impossible to dis-
cover some traces of an edifice, which, from the account
which he gives of its form and proportions, seems to have
been of considerable magnitude and beauty ? None are now
observable. Vit. L. \. C 1.


river. The Adriatic occupies tlie north, and to the
south rise the Apennines in irregular forms, inter-
rupted only by the steep dell, through which the
river forces its passage. The character of boister-
ous rapidity, given by the poets to this stream,
agrees with it only while rushing from the Apen-
nines, or confined within the defiles that line the
base of these mountains.

Veloxque Metaurus *. Lucan ii. 495.

Cavis venientes montibus TJmbri,
Hos ^sis, Sapisque lavant, rapidasque sonanti
Vertice contorquens undas per saxa Metaurus f.

Sil. viii. 447.

The banks of this river were, as is well known, the
theatre of one of the most glorious and most de-
cisive victories ever obtained by the Romans, a
victory which saved Rome, by depriving Annibal
of his long expected reinforcements, and antici-
pated the fall of Carthage, by cutting off at one
stroke the strength of her armies and the flower of
her rising generation.

The description which Livius has given of the
battle of Metaurus is animated and circumstantial ;

* And the swift Metaurus.

f The TJmbrians left their mountains and their caves;
These drink of iEsis', and of Sapis' waves.
And swift Metaurus' stream, who rolls along,
Roaring amid the rocks, his eddies strong.



and though the learned seem to doubt whether it
be possible to ascertain the spot on which it took
place, may, I think enable us to guess at it, with
some probability. According to the historian,
both armies were encamped on or near the Sena,
about four miles westward of Senegaglia, or to use
his words, " Ad Senam castra coruidis erant, et quin-
gentos imie passus Asdruhal aberat*^ Asdrnbal
began his retreat, ^'^ prima vigilid'jf" that is, about
an hour after sunset ; and after having wandered
in the dark for some time, reached the Metaurus,
about eight miles from the Sena, and there halted
till break of day, when following the banks from
the sea towards the mountain, in order to dis-
cover some place fordable, he was overtaken and
attacked by the Romans. The battle commenced
at an early hour, for after various manoeuvres and
a most bloody contest, it vras only mid-day when
victory decided in favor of the Romans. " Et
jam diet medium erat, sitisque et calor hiautes, cdden-
dos capiundosque (hostes) affatim pr(Ebebat%'' Now
when we consider these circumstances united, that

* The camp of the consul was on the Sena, and Asdrii-
bal was five hundred paces distant thence.

t At the first watch.

X And now it was the middle of the dety, and abundance
of the enemy, panting with thirst and heat, were slain and
taken. T. Liv. lib. xxvii. 48.


is, that the nights were short, as it was summer,
that after having marched eight miles, the Cartha-
ginian army bewildered themselves in the windings
of the banks, " per tortuosi amnis sinus Jlexusque
errorem volvens*^' that they halted and were over-
taken early in the morning, we shall conclude,
that they had not marched more than eighteen
miles from Sena, or, in other words, that they had
had not reached the mountains, and, of course, that
the battle took place in the plain, but nearer the
mountains than the sea. Moreover, the left wing
of the Carthaginian army, formed chiefly of
Gauls, was covered by a hill. Round t\\\& hill,
when the Consul Claudius had attacked the enemy
in the rear, was the principal slaughter, and it is
highly probable that the fall of the Carthaginian
genera] ennobled this spot, and dignified it with
the appellation of Monte Asdrubale. We may
therefore I think conclude, without much danger
of wandering widely from the truth, that the
round hill which still bears that name, and rises
south of the Metanrus, about three miles from
Fossombrone on the road to Forli, was the scene of
this memorable action. It is about eighteen miles
by the Via Flaminia from Fano, and about four-
teen from the Sena^ on which both armies were en-

Lost among the tortuous mazes of the winding river.




camped the day before. In fine, a battle in which
a hundred thousand combatants are engaged, co-
vers a great extent of country, and spreads over
all the neighboring region , so that the banks of
the river, for many a mile, witnessed the rout of
the Carthaginians ; and the poetical prediction was
fully accomplished,

Multa quoque Asdrubalis fulgebit strage Metaurus *.

Two hours brought us to the river Negola

Quo Sena relictum
Gallorum a populis traxit per saecula nomen f !

for, on its banks stand Senegaglia, which took
its name from the Galli Senones, though colo-
nized by the Romans after the destruction of that

Senegaglia is a very well built, airy, and ap-
parently flourishing town. The cathedral of the
Corinthian order was lately rebuilt, and its high
altar adorned with a most beautiful tabernacle, by
the present bishop, Cardinal Onorati, who has the
reputation of being a man of taste and public
spirit. Unfortunately for the town, his means of

* And Metaurus' stream

For Asdrubal's defeat be far renown'd.

f Where Sena through unnumber'd years has borne
A name, by Gaulish tribes bequcath'd.


indulging the useful propensities which naturally
follow such endowments, have been completely
annihilated by the rapacity of the French, and all
improvements, since the fatal period of their arri-
val, have been totally suspended. The distance
from this town to Ancona is twenty-four computed,
twenty real miles. A little beyond Casa Frascata,
at the Bocca de Fiumecinu, (mouth of the rivulet)
we passed the Esitio, the Roman Aesis, entered
Picenum and arrived late at Ancona.

Ancona retains its ancient name, supposed to be
derived from its reclining posture, and no small
share of its ancient prosperity, as, Venice excepted,
it is still the most populous and the most trading
city on the shores of the Adriatic. Most of the
towns we have hitherto mentioned were founded
by various Gallic tribes. Ancona boasts a nobler
origin. It was built by a band of Syracusan pa-
triots who, to avoid the insolence and lawless
sway of Dionysius the tyrant, abandoned their
country, and settled on this coast, about four hun-
dred years before Christ. It was anciently re-
markable for a celebrated temple of Venus, and,
like Paphos and Cythera, was supposed to be one
of the favorite resorts of the Goddess of Love and
Beauty*. In reality, it would be difficult to find

* Ante domum Veneris quam Dorica sustinet Ancon.—
Juv. iv. 39.

Where Venus' shrine does fair Ancona grace.



a situation more conformable to the temper of the
" Queen of smiles and sports," or better adapted
to health and enjoyment than Ancona. Seated
on the side of a hill forming a semicircular bay,
sheltered by its summit from the exhalations of
the south, covered by a bold promontory from the
blasts of the north, open only to the breezes of the
west, that wanton on the bosom of the waters
which bathe its feet, and surrounded by fields of
inexhaustible fertility, Ancona seems formed for
the abode of mirth and luxury. Hence it has been
remarked by travellers, that the inhabitants of
Ancona, and its territory, are of a more beautiful
form and fairer color than their countrymen in
general ; and though several invidious reasons have
been given to account for this flattering distinc-
tion, I must add, that their morals are acknow-
ledged to be pure, and the conduct of the females

The Romans, aware of the advantages of this
port, made it their principal naval station in the
Adriatic, built a magnificent mole to cover the
harbor, and adorned it with a triumphal arch.
This useful and splendid work was undertaken
and finished by Trajan, and to him the triumphal
arch is dedicated. It is still entire, though
stripped of its metal ornaments ; the order is
Corinthian ; the materials, Parian marble ; the
form light, and the whole is considered as the


best, though not the most splendid, nor the most
massive model, that remains of similar edifices.
It was ornamented with statues, busts, and pro-
bably inferior decorations of bronze ; but of these,
as I hinted above, it has been long since stripped
by the avarice of barbarian invaders, or perhaps
of ignorant and degenerate Italians. From the
first taking of Rome by Alaric, that is, from the
total fall of the arts to their restoration, it was cer-
tain ruin to an ancient edifice to retain, or to be
supposed to retain, any ornament, or even any
stay of metal. Not the internal decorations only
were torn oflF, but the very nails pulled out, and
not unfrequently stones displaced, and columns
overturned, to seek for bronze or iron. Of this
species of sacrilegious plunder we find numberless
instances, not only in the edifice now under our
consideration, but in various remains of antiquity,
and particularly in the Pantheon and Coliseum.

Nor will this conduct appear wonderful in
men either by birth or by habits, and grovelling
passions, barbarians ; when in our own times, and
almost before our own eyes, persons of rank and
education have not hesitated to disfigure the most
ancient, and the most venerable monuaients of
Grecian architecture, to tear the works of Phidias
and Praxiteles from their original position, and to
demolish fabrics, which time, war, and barbarism,
had respected during twenty centuries. The


French, whose rapacity the voice of Europe has so
loudly and so justly censured, did not incur the
guilt of dismantling ancient edifices ; they spared
the walls, and contented themselves with statues
and paintings, and even these they have collected
and arranged in halls and galleries, for the inspec-
tion of travellers of all nations ; while, if report
does not deceive us, our plunderers have ransacked
the temples of Greece, to sell their booty to the
highest bidder, or, at best, to piece the walls of
some obscure old mansion, with fragments of Pa-
rian marble, and of Attic sculpture.

The triumphal arch has only one gateway, is
ornamented with four half columns on each front,
Che at each side of the gateway, and one at each
angle. The marble, particularly in the front, to-
wards the sea, retains its shining white ; the capi-
tals of the pillars have suffered much, and lost the
prominent parts of the acanthus ; however, on the
whole, this arch may be considered in high pre-

The greatest part of the mole still remains, a
solid compact wall, formed of huge stones bound
together by iron, and rising to a considerable
height above the level of the sea. Close to it,
but much lower, is the modern mole, adorned in
like manner with a triumphal arch of the Tuscan
order, in itself not beautiful, and when compared
with the Corinthian arch that stands almost imme-


diately over it, extremely cumbersome. The archi-
tect was Vanvitelli, a name of considerable repute
in the architectural annals of the last century ; and
if we may judge from the solidity of the new-
mole, from the elevation of the light-house that
terminates it, and from the admirable arrangement
of the Lazaretto, he seems to have merited the
celebrity which he enjoyed. It is difficult, how-
ever, to conceive what motives could have in-
duced him to place an arch, of so mixed a com-
position, and so heavy a form, so near to the
simple and airy edifice of Trajan, unless it were to
display their opposite qualities by the contrast,
and of course to degrade and vilify his own work-
manship. But all modern architects, not except-
ing the great names of Michael Angela, Bramante,
and Palladio, have had the fever of innovation,
and more than ten centuries of unsuccessful ex-
periments have not been sufficient to awaken a
spirit of diffidence, and to induce them to suspect
that, in deviating from the models of antiquity,
they have abandoned the rules of symmetry ; and
that in erecting edifices on their own peculiar
plans, they have only transmitted their bad taste,
in stone and marble monuments, to posterity.

The cathedral of Ancona is a very ancient, but a
low, dark edifice. It contains nothing within, and
exhibits nothing without, to fix attention. Its
situation, however, compensates in a great degree.



Ch. VIll.

its architectural defects. Placed near the point of
the Cumerian promontory, elevated far above the
town and the harbor, it commands a most magni-
ficent view, extending along the sea coast to Pesaro
and Fano on the north, bounded on the west by
the snow-crowned Apennines, while on the east it
wanders over the Adriatic, and, in clear weather,
rests on the distant hills of Dalmatia. We lingered
on this delightful spot with much satisfaction, and
while our eyes feasted on the varied prospect ex-
panded before us, we enjoyed, though it was only
the second of April, the freshness of the gale that
sprang occasionally from the sea, and fanned us as
we ascended the summit of the promontory and
the tops of the neighboring mountains.

There are, however, several churches that merit
observation ; particularly the Agostinia7ii, and the
Gitsu (of Vanvitdli) as also the Palazzo della Com-
mimita, or Town-hall, and the Palazzodti Mtrcantl,
or Merchant's-hall. The Popes have not been
wanting in their attention to the prosperity of
Ancona. They have made it a free port, allowed
liberty of conscience to persons of all religions,
improved the harbor, and opened a new and very
noble approach on the land side. However, in
commerce, activity, and population, Ancona is still
inferior to Leghorn, owing probably to the situa-
tion of the latter on the western coast of Italy, in
the heart of the Mediterranean, and open, of


course, to the commerce of France, Spain, Africa,
and the Mediterranean islands ; while the former,
on the Adriatic, a sea comparatively unfrequented,
faces Dalmatia, a country little known in the
commercial world, and little given to mercantile
speculation and activity.

The general appearance of Ancona, though
beautiful at a distance, is, within, dark and gloomy,
in consequence of the narrowness of the streets,
and the want of squares and of great public
buildings. Ancona and its neighboring towns
and coasts, are celebrated in the following lines of
Silius Italicus :

Hie & quos pascunt scopulosze rura Numanae,
Et quis litoreje fumant altaria Cupree,
Quique Truentinas servant cum flumine turres
Cernere erat : clypeata procul sub sole corusco
Agmina, sanguined vibrant in nubila luce.
Stat Fucare colus nee Sidone vilior Ancon,
Murice nee Libyco. Statque humectata Vomano
Adria, & incleniens hirsuti signifer Ascli *.

Sil. Ital. viii. 430, 438.

* And here were they, who reap the scanty grain
On wild Numana's cliffs, a rough domain ;
And they, whose altars smoke upon the strand
Of sea-wash'd Cupra; and the neighbour band,
That till the fields which deep Truentium laves,
His name-sake tow'rs reflecting in his waves :
Their bucklers, flashing to the solar rays,
Shoot far into the clouds a sanguine blaze.



Numana is now Humana; Cupra, Le Grotte.
Truentium on the banks of the Tronto, unknown
at present. The river still bears its ancient name
Vomano and Ascli Ascoli.

The distance from Ancona to Loretto, is about
fourteen miles ; the road hilly, the country in the
highest degree fertile, and the views on every side
extremely beautiful. Camurano, the intermediate
stage, stands on a high hill, and has a small but
handsome church. Loretto also is situate on a
very bold and commanding eminence. This town
is modern, and owes its existence to the Santissima
Casa (the holy house), and its splendor to the
zeal or to the policy of Sixtus Quintus. It is
large, well built, populous, and notwithstanding
its elevated site well supplied by an aqueduct with
water. It is surrounded with a rampart, and from
that rampart commands a varied and most de-
lightful prospect on all sides. To the north rise
Osimo the Auximum of the ancients, and Camu-
rano, each on a lofty hill; also close to the sea,
an abbey perched on the summit of Monte Gomero
(Cumerium promontoriura, the Cumerium pro-
montory); on the south, Monte Santo (the holy

There too was Ancon, whose bright purple vies
Or with the Libyan or Sidoiiian dyes ;
And Adria through whose plain Vomanus runs,
And the fierce flag of Ascli's rugged sons.


mountain), anciently Sacrata, and Macerata ; to
the west, Recanati, and Monte Fiore ; with the
Apennines rising, broken, white and craggy behind;
while to the east, beween two hills, the Adriatic
spreads its blue expanse, and brightening as it
retires from the shore, vanishes gradually in the
white fleecy clouds that border the horizon.

Every reader is acquainted with the legendary
history of the Santissima Casa^ or most holy house ;
that it was the very house which the Virgin
Mother, with the infant Saviour and St. Joseph,
inhabited at Nazareth ; that it was transported
by angels from Palestine, when that country was
totally abandoned to the infidels, and was placed,
first in Dalmatia, and afterwards on the opposite
shore in Italy, close to the sea side, whence, in
consequence of a quarrel between two brothers,
the proprietors of the ground, it was removed, and
finally fixed on its present site. This wonderful
event is said to have taken place in the year 1294,
and is attested by the ocular evidence of some
Dalmatian peasants, the testimony of the two
quarrelsome brothers, and, I believe, the declara-
tion of a good old lady of the name of Laureta,
Some had seen it in Dalmatia, others beheld it
hovering in the air, and many had found it in the
morning on a spot, which they knew to have
been vacant the evening before. Such is, at least
in general, the account given at Loretto, cir-


ciliated all over Italy, piously admitted by many
holy persons, and not a little encouraged by the

I need not say, however, that many men of
reflection in Italy, and indeed within the pre-
cincts of Loretto itself, consider this wonderful
story as an idle tale, or at best a pious dream,
conceived by a heated imagination, and circulated
among an ignorant race of peasants and fishermen.
They suppose the holy house to have been a
cottage or building long buried in a pathless forest,
and unnoticed in a country turned almost into
a desert by a succession of civil wars, invasions,
and revolutions, during the space often or twelve
centuries. A dream, an accidental coincidence of
circumstances might have led one or more persons
to the discovery of this long forgotten edifice, and
such an incident working on minds heated by soli-
tude and enthusiasm, might easily have produced
the conviction, and propagated the belief of the
wonderful tale.

But be the origin of the holy house what it
may, the efl^ect of artifice or of credulity, it gra-
dually attracted the attention first of the country
round, then of Italy at large, and at length of the
whole Christian world. The miracle vvas every
where heard with joy and admiration, and every
where welcomed with implicit unsuspecting faith.
Princes and prelates, rich and poor, hastened with


pious alacrity to venerate the terrestrial abode of
the incarnate Word, and to implore the present
aid and influence of his Virgin Mother. Gifts
and votive offerings accumulated ; a magnificent
church was erected ; gold, silver and diamonds
blazed round every altar, and heaps of treasures
loaded the shelves of the sacristy ; various edifices
rose around the new temple, and Loretto became,
as it still remains, a large and populous city.

The church was planned by Brmnante, and is
a very noble structure, in the form of a cross,
with a dome over the point of intersection.
Under this dome is the Santa Casa, a building
about thirty feet long and fourteen high, vaulted,
of stone rough and rather uneven. It is difficult
to discover the original color of the stone, as it is
blackened by the smoke of the numberless lamps
continually burning, but it is said to be of a reddish
grey ; the interior is divided by a silver rail into
two parts of unequal dimensions. In the largest
is an altar ; in the less, which is considered as
peculiarly holy, is a cedar image of the blessed
Virgin placed over the chimney-piece. The ex-
terior is covered with a marble casing, ornamented
with Corinthian pilasters and sculptured pannels
representing various incidents of Gospel History.
The font, the Mosaics over several altars, the
bronze gates both of the church and of the Santa
Casa, and several paintings in the chapels are ad-


mired by connoisseurs, and deserve a minute exa-
mination. The square before the church, formed
principally of the apostolical palace the residence
of the bishop, and of the canons and the peniten-
tiaries, is in a very grand style of architecture.

The treasury was formerly a subject of admi-
ration and astonishment to all travellers, who
seemed to attempt but in vain to describe, not the
gold and silver only, but the gems and the dia-
monds that glittered on every vase, and dazzled
the eyes with their splendor. Long catalogues
were produced of the names of Emperors, Kings,
Potentates, and Republics, who had contributed
to augment this immense accumulation of wealth
with additional offerings, and some surprise was
expressed, that the Turk or some hardy pirate
tempted by the greatness of the booty, and by the
facility of the conquest, did not assault the town,
and endeavor to enrich himself with the plunder.
But such was the supposed sanctity of the place,
such the religious awe that surrounded it, that
even the Turks themselves beheld it with venera-
tion, and the inhabitants reposed with confidence
under the tutelar care of the Virgin Patroness.
Once, indeed, the infidels made a bold attempt to
assault the sanctuary of Loretto ; but, like the
Gauls under Brennus presuming to attack the
temple of Delphi, they were repulsed by tremen-
dous storms, and struck with supernatural blind-


ness. Loretto, indeed, in later times, as Delphi
in days of old, was surrounded with an invisible
rampart, which no mortal arm could force, and no
malignant daemon even venture to assail repressed
both by superior power,

motique verenda

Majestate loci *

But Loretto has now shared the fate of Delphi;
its sacred bounds have been violated, its sanctuary
forced, and its stores of treasure seized, and
dispersed by the daring hands of its late invaders.
No vestige now remains of this celebrated collec-
tion of every thing that was valuable ; rows of

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