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to the mountain ; and from this quarter towards the north
we may descend into the wooded dell of Marino, to find
the fountain of the Aqua Ferentiiia, the muster- place of
the Latin tribes, in whose waters the brave Herdonius
was drowned ;'^ or, turning to the south, we may proceed
beneath the dknopy of an avenue of the finest old oak and
ilex, to the modern town of Albano, the site of Pompey's
Alban villa, beyond which lay the lovely Aricia, now
called La Riccia. The celebrated tunnel (Emissario) of
the Alban Lake still discharges its waters into the plain
in a stream about two feet deep. It is cut in the
volcanic tufo which composes the rock of Castel Gan-
dolfo, at a depth of about 480 feet beneath the summit
of the cliff. Its length is fully a mile and a half, its
width every where at least four feet, and its height from
seven and a half feet to ten. Livy's well-known tale
of the oracular command to form this outlet is an inven-
tion, or, if it be historically true, was a fraud of the laic
priesthood ; but, from authorities and an examination
of the spot, sufficient proof has been collected that the
waters of the lake did really at one time stand about 200
feet higher than their present level, and discharged
themselves by a gully, artificially widened into a broad
canal. The site of Alba Longa, so renowned in the
legendary history of Rome, is still disputed. The com-
mon opinion places it at the papal villa of Palazzuolo,
on the eastern bank of the lake, where is a remarkable
excavated tomb ; while the antiquary cited below con-
fidently assigns to this poetic city some ponderous ruins
among bushy knolls on the northern bank, at the point

* Livii Histor. lib. i. cap, 50, 51, 52.


nearest to Marino, and not far from the outlet above
alluded to.*

The Montes Praenestini, bemg the Ime of steep moun-
tains that skirt the Campagna of Rome from Palestrina
to Tivoli, are extremely majestic. A platform among
their highest ridges is covered by Guadagnolo, a con-
siderable village ; while other hamlets are scattered on
heights among the lower ravines, often in extremely
wild situations ; and villages or trifling ruins among
the grassy glens about the roots of the mountains may
be plausibly identified with some of Liv3^'s Latin fast-
nesses. The modern Palestrina, an ill-built town of
about 3500 souls, occupies the lofty site once held by
the city of Prseneste, or by its celebrated Temple of
Fortune, built by Sylla, of which several arched gal-
leries may still be seen. From the town a very steep
ascent of about 800 feet lands us on a peak covered by
the fragments of the ancient Praenestine citadel, remark-
able for its siege by Sylla, and commanding a glorious
prospect over the Roman plain, of which both Hannibal
and Pyrrhus are said to have availed themselves. Near
Tivoli we pass, at the foot of the hills, that wide wilder-
ness of confused matted ruins which once composed the
celebrated villa of Hadrian. The spot is very pleasing,
though its architectural monuments are unintelligible
to all but the professed antiquary, who disdains to be
thrown out by any obstacle. + Tivoli, the ancient " Tibur
supinum," lies on the extremity of the mountainous
ridge, and reaches' to the very edge of those precipices
at which the river Anio, called by the modern Italians
the Teverone, forms its celebrated waterfalls. Repeated
inundations have changed again and again the face of
this richly beautiful scene ; a severe flood in 1826 in-
jured the rocks, and destroyed part of the town ; and
two tunnels, since excavated in the Mount Catillus to
carry off" the surplus waters, have not sufficed to protect

" Cell's Topography of Rome, vol. i.; articles " Albano (Lake),"
and " Alba Longa."

t Nibby, Viaggio Antiquano, rora. i. pp. 120, &c.


the spot from recent devastations. But the rocks are
still wild and bold, the grottos, " the echoing habitation
of the Naiad," are still dark and tangled, and the orchards
green and irrigated ; the headlong river still pours from
its cliffs ; and round, above, and beneath, the sacred woods
of Tiburnus wave " their thick tresses." * The position
of the circular ruin, commonly called the Temple of the
Sibyl, on the height facing the principal cataract, is
indescribably grand ; one of the lesser falls discharges
itself through the extensive corridors of an ancient
villa, usually styled that of Maecenas ; and several other
imperial monuments are scattered near the town.

* Horatii Carm. lib. i. od. 7 : lib. iv. od. 2.



I Tlie Ancient Topography ofEtruria, the Central Apennines,
and Upper Italy,

Etrcxria: The Plain— Its ruined Cities and Tombs— Recent
Excavations — The inland Region — Veii — Soracte — The Thrasi-
mene Lake — Cortona — The River-springs — Faesulse — The Val
d' Amo — The Sabellian Apennines : Sahines — Reate —
Primeval Ruins— Scenes near Rome — The Valley of the Anio
— Marsians — The Lake Fucinus— Its Scenery and Tunnel^ —
Pelignians — Sulmo — Vestinians — The Vale of the Aternus —
Samnites — TheCaudine Defile — Beneventum — Lake Amsanctus
— Umbria and Picenum: Umbria — The Adriatic Coast —
The IVIountains— The Valley of the Clitumnus— Spoletium—
Interanina and the Cataract — Ocriculum — Picenum — Ancona
— Asculum— Passes and Summits of the Great Rock of Italy
— Upper Italy — Liguria — Genua — Mount Vesulus — Segu-
sium — Cisalpine Gaul — The River Po — The Alpine Lakes-
Mantua — Verona — Battlefields — Insubrian Towns — Towns on
the ^milian Highway — The Disinterment of Velleia— Towns
on the Eastern Coast — The Rubicon — Venetia — Patavium—
The Baths — Istria — Aquileia — Pola.

Many of those natural features wliicli characterise the
extensive and diversified territory set down for exami-
nation in this chapter, will offer themselves more pro-
minently to our view hereafter. But the leading
peculiarities of the several districts ought to be well un-
derstood, even for the study of our present subject.

Upper Italy, as we learned at the commencement of
tliLs volume, assuming its northern boundary among the
Alps, embraces that rich alluvial valley which forms
the basin of the Po, with the mountains which on each


side collect the waters that irrigate it ; end to this wide
scene of fertility it adds the narrow shores of Liguria,
rocky and romantic in aspect, but yielding few natural
productions of any importance. This division of the
peninsula holds, in ancient history, a position very un-
like the commanding one which we shall find it bearing
in times nearer to our own.

The remainder of the country here to be surveyed,
comprehends the whole of Middle Italy except Latium ;
but a small portion of Lower Italy likewise is in-
cluded in it, for the sake of convenience and historical
connexion. In the centre of our region stand the wildest
and highest of the Apennines, encu'cled on aU hands by
huge niountain ranges, among whose inequalities we
discover every variety of landscape, from the barren
sublimity of the rocky desert to the cheerfulness of the
village with its cabins and its gardens. Amidst the
forests and passes of these glens, the warlike tribes
that almost destroyed Rome have given place to the
peasantry, and sometimes to the robber-hordes, of the
Papal Sabina and the Neapolitan Abruzzi. Descend-
ing yet lower, on the south, we find ourselves among
the woods and defiles of Samnium ; or, turning to the
east, we see the heights sinking abruptly down into
the Adriatic, but still sheltering among their roots the
rushing streams, the waving corn-fields, and the olive-
groves, which attest the fertility of the old Picenum.
On the same side of the Apennine we enter a less valuable
district, composing a part of Umbria ; while a moun-
tainous and very picturesque quarter of that province in-
troduces us, on the western declivity of the hills, to those
richly beautiful Umbrian valleys which are watered
by little rivers flowing into the Tiber. Etruria, which
thence extends towards the norfh and west, has four-
fifths of its surface covered by mountains, bare and
d.esolate in some places, thickly wooded in others, and
subsiding into chains of hills, on which wide olive-
grounds are interspersed with vineyards. The low
country, composing the remainder of this province,


subdivides itself into two regions ; the valleys vi^atered
Ijy the Tuscan rivers, and the plain which borders the
Mediterranean. Several of the vales, and in particular
that of the Arao, the largest of all, rank at once among
the loveliest and most productive districts in Italy. The
Etrurian plain closely resembles that of Latium ; but,
although almost equally unhealthy and much less fer-
tile, it is far from being so completely deserted, and
even contains some considerable towns.


In reviewing the classical topography of this import-
ant province, a few of the ruined cities of the plain will
first engage our attention ; after which we may proceed
northward from Rome to the upper valley of the Arno,
and thence downwards along the course of that river.

The Etruscan Maremma, or plain on the sea-coast,
extends, with very few lofty elevations, from the Tiber
to Pisa. The recent investigations by antiquaries in this
quarter have produced abundant discoveries, of which
some account has been given in the first chapter on art ;
and to it, with the authorities there cited, together with
Passeri, and other older sources, recourse may be had for
details regarding the monuments. A few topographical
features of the district may however be here added.

Proceeding from Rome, on the road to the port of
Civita Vecchia, which was the ancient Centumcellffi,
we reach, by a journey of about thirty miles, a ruinous
village called Cerveteri, where may be seen some re-
mains of the city of Agylla or Csere, which, " s. ated on
its ancient rock," taught the Romans the religion of
Etruria. But the most remarkable of the Etruscan
ruins exist near Corneto, eleven miles northward from
Civita Vecchia, at a spot called Turchina, which was
the site of the old Tarquinii. Besides portions of the
rectangular blocks of limestone that composed its walls,
and still line some places of its steep bank, a hill on
the opposite side of a valley is covered with tombs, of
which more than 300 may be counted. Excavations are



still prosecuted there, and also proceed, though less
systematically, at various other places in the papal ter-
ritory, especially at the Ponte dell' Abbadia, a few miles
north of Coraeto, on the site of the ancient Volci or
Volcium. At Chiusi, which was Clusium, Porsena's
capital, investigations are also carried on. The ruined
walls of some obscure cities in this district are exceed-
ingly curious specimens of the primitive architecture.
Such are Volsinii, now Bolsena, on the beautiful lake
of the same name, — Rusellae, now Rosselle, — and Cossa,
on a deserted hill not far from Orbitello. In several
places, likewise, have been found considerable remains
of fortresses whose ancient names are uncertain. An
especial interest attaches to the ruins of two other
cities, — Populonium, the only seaport of ancient Etruria,
which lay to the north of Piombino, — and Volaterrse,
whose walls, sepulchres, and other works of art, con-
tained in Volterra, a modern town of some note, ex-
ceeded any tlmig that had been discovered in the pro-
vince till the excavations of Corneto.

In the inland region of Etruria, the first spot for which
we must look after lea\ing Rome is the site of Veil.
So early as the reign of Augustus the shepherd blew
his horn among the ruins of this renowned city ;* and,
although an imperial town afterwards covered part of
the ground, its real situation has been the subject of in-
finite dispute. Since 1810, however, inscriptions have
fixed it at the ruined and unhealthy hamlet of Isola
Farnese, about twelve miles from Rome, between the
Cassian and Flaminian Highways. If we approach the
place from the Tiber, we turn off, near the sixth mile
stone, into the glen of the Valca, which is the renowned
stream Cremera. Green hills, with clumps of copse-
wood, enclose the valley, and beautiful holms of pas-
ture-land, with scattered trees, fill the hollow below. At
a point where two rivulets unite to compose the Valca,

• Propertii lib. iv. Eleg. 10, v. 29


the hi]Is give place to steep precipices ; and the table-
land, four miles in circuit, wliich stands between their
two ravines, was the site not only of the Etruscan Veii,
but of the Roman colony and municipium, which suc-
cessively occupied part of the ground it had covered.
Remarkable fragments of squared stones may be dis-
covered among the bushes, with which the crags are
matted ; sepulchral tumuli appear on the ridges around,
and hewn tombs with niches are visible among the cliffs.
At the farthest extremity of the walls, one of the rivu-
lets forms at a mill a very beautiful cascade of fifty feet ;
and near this nook rises an isolated height, from which
the deserted manor-house of Isola looks down ou a little
city of excavated sepulchral caves and niches. This
was probably the Necropolis, or public burying-ground,
and the celebrated citadel was on a rock near the junc-
tion of the two brooks.*

Thirty-five miles from Rome we arrive at Civita Cas-
tellana, situated most picturesquely above a precipitous
dell, and occupying the site either of Falerii, or of Fes-
cennium.t Interesting remains of a town surrounding a
deserted church, called Santa Maria de' Faleri, near Ci-
vita Castellana, certainly belonged either to the Etruscan
Falerii, or to the Roman colony which took its name.
A few miles to the south-east of these ruins a long but
steep mountain, peaked at its summit, rises isolated from
the plain. San Oreste, a little town of 1000 inhabitants,
occupies a platform more than half way up, giving its
name to the mount ; and a wood with an abnipt rocky
path leads to a cluster of churches which stand on its
summits, the highest of these being covered by the con-
vent of S. Silvester. This mountain is the ancient
Soracte ; the wood, once consecrated to Apollo, became
the refuge of Silvester, a persecuted Christian bishop,

" Nibby, Viaggio Antiquario, vol, i. p. 54. Cell's Topography
of Rome, vol. ii. art. " Veii ;" a highly interesting analysis of this
classical spot, accompanied with a plan.

-'r Cramer's Ancient Italy, vol. i. p. 226 ; and Gell's Topo-
graphy, vol. i. articles " Civita Castellana" and " Falerii."


and the hermitage of Carloman, the devout son of a
Christian king. On the east of Civita Castellana,
among the hills near Ronciglione, we find the Ciminian
Lake, but there are few traces of the Ciminian forest,
whose impassable defiles so long checked the Roman
conquests. After a further journey inland we again
meet the Tiber, now a clear and pebbly highland stream,
beside which, on a magnificent wooded mountain, in
one of the noblest positions of any town in Europe,
stands Perugia, more celebrated for its appearance in
the annals of modern art than its Etruscan predecessor
Pei-usia for its spirited resistance to the Romans and the

Proceeding northward from this interesting city, we
soon begin to ascend among woods and defiles, and, reach-
ing the brow of a lofty hill, look down through the
trees on the celebrated and beautiful Lake Thrasimenus.
On the west of it, the eminences are inconsiderable and
gentle ; on the east, two abrupt heights, one at each
extremity of the basin, shut in, between them and the
water, the plain in which the Roman army, like a
herd of wild beasts, was baited by Hannibal. Vineyards
cover the flat ; the village of Passignano is presumed to
indicate the hottest scene of the battle ; and the streamlet
Sanguinetto reminds us of the carnage. Beyond the
boundaries of the lake, Cortona, seated on a lofty and
very steep hill, retains some singularly splendid remains
of the fortifications which encompassed the ancient city
of the same name, whose origin is lost among the mists
of fable. The Clusine Marshes, now converted into the
richly cultivated Val di Chiana, lead to Arezzo, the old
Arretium, near which we enter the upper valley of the
Arnus or Arno. Winding between rising banks, which
are covered with vineyards and olive groves, and are
crowned on the right by the grand mountain of the
poetic Vallombrosa, the waters of the Tuscan river flow
to wash the walls of Florence.

This beautiful city boasts, under its Roman name
Florentia, of having been founded either by Julius



Caesar or Sylla ; but its antiquity is eclipsed by the
huge Etruscan ramparts of the neighbouring Faesulge.
The steepest, but most lovely of pleasure-paths, conducts
through viny woods and white villas to the elevated
spot which these ruins occupy, on the delightful " top
of Fiesole." The square of the little village is known
to cover an ancient forum ; and, from the corridors
of a convent, once the citadel, the eye wanders over
one of the most enchanting landscapes that ever minis-
tered to the heart and imagination of a poet. In the
lower Val d' Amo, the richest scenes of Tuscan cultiva-
tion, interspersed with hamlets and little towns perched
on eminences, accompany us to the plain where Pisae,
for which Virgil claims a Grecian origin, has made
room for the silent streets and ecclesiastical ruins of the
modem Pisa. Luca, the scene of a conference between
the members of the first triumvirate, retains its name
nearly unchanged in the modern Lucca. The bus}" port,
whose Italian title of Livoi-no the English have cor-
rupted into the barbarous Leghorn, seems to be indebted
to a mistake for the claims to classical antiquity that
have been advanced in its favour.


The territory of those Sabellian tribes, which are
here classed together, includes the central heights and
valleys of the Apennines, with a portion of the plains
that lie along their southern roots. The greater part of
the robber-country of the Abruzzi is contained in its
northern quarter. Its mountain-scenery is at once rich
and wild beyond all other regions in Italy, and its anti-
quities illustrate well the primitive history of the Italian

The Sabines.

At the northern extremity of Sabina is found, far up
among the recesses of the hills, the town of Norcia, in
ancient times called Nursia, and noted as the seat of


the imperial Flavian family. On the river Velinus, in
the beautiful plain of Rieti, are recognised those " rosy
fields" of Reate, on which the Latin poets bestowed
the Grecian name of Tempe. Their neighbourhood
abounds, beyond almost any other district, in ruins of
fastnesses belonging to the earliest ages of the country.
In the valley of one little river alone (the Salto), ex-
tending from this quarter towards Alba Fucentia, there
have been found polygonal walls in at least twelve
different spots.* Lista was the chief place of the Abori-
gines, and Palatium is said to have given its name to the
Palatine Hill of Rome. The Pelasgic ramparts of both
are visible in the same neighbourhood. The deep lake
of Cutiliae, anciently termed the central point of Italy,
and now called Pozzo Ratignano, still spreads out its
blue, cold, acidulated waters, in a green plain beneath a
village, nine miles eastward from Rieti ; loose masses of
reeds represent its celebrated floating islands ; and a
Roman terrace, and vestiges of baths, remind us of the
sick emperor Vespasian, who retired thither to die.i
Probably the pasturages of Varro's Gurgures Montes
may be found somewhere among the heights surround-
ing the grand peak of the Leonessa, wliich is a promi-
nent object even when viewed from Rome.

Proceeding southwards, and approaching the Tiber,
we find, at a hamlet called Correse, the Sabine Cures,
which gave birth to Numa Pompilius. Eleven miles
from the capital, on the Via Salaria, near the left bank of
the Tiber, we have to seek the fatal rivulet Allia ; but
it is still doubtful which of the insignificant streamlets
or ditches that cross the highway in this quarter has
the just right to the " ill-omened name." Nomentum,
now the village of La Mentana, pleasingly secluded
among woodlands, and adorned by a romantic baronial

" For details of the investigations lately carried on among those
hills, chiefly by Mr Dodwell and Sir William Gell, consult Gell's
Topography of Rome.

-f Senec. Natur. Quaest. lib. iii. cap. 23 ; Plinii Hist. Natur.
lib. ii. cap. 95, and lib. iii. cap. 12; Suetonius in Vespasiano,
cap. 24.


castle, retains considerable sepulchral and other ruins ;
as does Fidenae, at the mount of Castel Giubileo, on the
main road, nearer the city. The site of Crustumerium is

At the conflux of the Anio with the Tiber, we reach
the extreme point of the Sabine territory, and, skirting
the sandy hillocks of the famous Mons Sacer, turn east-
ward towards the mountains. Not far from the edge of
the plain, and near the ancient quarries, we enter a de-
solate shrubby flat containing three little sulphureous
lakes (the Acque Albule), which, with their tiny float-
ing islets, and their strong mephitic odour, have long
laid claim, perhaps erroneously, to the honour of re-
presenting Virgil's Albunea and oracle of Faunus. The
Sabine comer of the Roman plain is here bounded by-
three pretty hills, which, in ancient times, were the
Montes Comiculani ; and the S. Angelo, the most north-
erly of the three, is the probable site of Comiculum, the
birthplace of Scrvius Tullius. Behind these eminences
stands the Monte Gennaro. Its steep ravines are finely
diversified with woods and pastures ; and Horace's
Lucretilis is either this mountain itself, or the range of
which it is a part.

The obscure Sabine fortresses, which have left so
many fragments among the glens about Tivoli, must be
abandoned to the antiquaries ; * and we thence pro-
ceed up the deep and picturesque valley of the Anio till,
passing Vicovaro, the ancient Varise, we reach a point
where the river receives the stream Licenza. This rivulet
is Horace's chilly brook Digentia ; the short vale which
it waters presents some of the loveliest scenery about
Rome ; the precipitous height of Rocca Giovine may be
declared the site of the mouldering temple of Vacuna ;
Bardella is perhaps Mandela ; and in a pleasant woodland
spot, beneath the hill and hamlet of Licenza, the slight
remains of a Roman villa are pointed out as belonging
to Horace's Sabine dwelling. Two beautifully situated

• Consult Nibby's Viaggio Antiquario, vol. i.


springs, one of them a considerable way up a mountain-
dell, discharge their waters into the Licenza near the
village ; but it is an undetermined point whether either
is the poet's glassy fountain of Bandusia.

A short way above the influx of the Licenza into the
Anio, we are diverted from our classical researches by
reaching the Benedictine monastery of San Cosimato,
boldly seated among cypresses *n the edge of a magnifi-
cent cliff, which overlooks a dark and fearful gorge of
the river, crossed by a Roman bridge. Near the source
of the stream, Subiaco, the ancient Sublaqueum, exhibits
equally attractive scenery and equally sacred monastic

The Marsians, Pelignians, and Vestinians.

From the fountains of the Anio, at Treba, the hills
may bo crossed to the sources of the river Garigliano,
or Lu'is, where we find ourselves again on poetic ground
in the region of the Marsians, Virgil's enchanters and

A little to the south-east of these springs lies the
mountain-lake Fucinus, which derives its modern name
from Celano, a considerable town on its banks. This
fine and extensive sheet of water is in shape elliptical ;
a narrow plain wearing the aspect of one continued
orchard interspersed with villages, skirts most quarters
of it ; and behind these soar on two of its sides some of
the loftiest of the Apennines, including the conical
Mount Velino, and the round Majella, crowned with

Online LibraryWilliam SpaldingItaly and the Italian islands, from the earliest ages to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 35)