Read CHAPTER XII of Fair Italy‚ the Riviera and Monte Carlo, free online book, by W. Cope Devereux, on

Excursion to Tivoli--Sulphur baths--Memories--Temple of the Sybil--River Anio--Lovely scenery--Back to Rome--Post-office--Careless officials--The everlasting “Weed”--Climate of Rome--Discomforts and disappointments-- Young Italy--Leo XIII.--Italian Politics--Cessation of Brigandage--The new city--American church--Italian Times--Departure for Naples--Regrets --The Three Taverns--A picturesque route--Naples by night.

“’Midst Tivoli’s luxuriant glades,
Bright foaming falls, and olive shades,
Where dwelt in days departed long
The sons of battle and of song,
No tree, no shrub, its foliage rears
But o’er the wrecks of other years,
Temples and domes, which long have been
The soil of that enchanted scene.
There the wild fig tree and the vine
O’er Hadrian’s mouldering Villa twine;
The cypress in funeral grace
Usurps the vanished column’s place;
O’er fallen shrine and ruined frieze
The wall-flower rustles in the breeze;
Acanthus leaves the marble hide
They once adorned in sculptured pride;
And Nature hath resumed her throne
O’er the vast works of ages flown.”

One morning we took the steam tramcar to Tivoli. I think there was one first and one second-class carriage attached to the locomotive. We travelled at the rate of about nine miles an hour, Tivoli, some twenty miles off, situated right up among the beautiful distant hills, being reached in about an hour and a half. Here the wealthy Romans used to go to enjoy the beauty of Nature, and to rest after the cares of State.

We first came to the great sulphur baths about half-way. The white sulphurous stream was employed to turn a wheel for cutting slate or marble, and thence flowed into large and handsome buildings to supply the baths. A few ladies got out here to enjoy the luxury, and await the return of the train to Rome. Then away we went again till we reached the next station, Villa Adriana, once a splendid palace of the Emperor Hadrian’s, now an extensive circle of overgrown ruins. It embraced everything beautiful in art and nature which its founder had seen and collected in the course of his expeditions, and was altogether three miles long and one wide: it comprised a great Lyceum, an Academy, an Egyptian Serapeon, a Vale of Tempe, several theatres, baths, barracks, hippodrome, etc., the sites of which can be pretty easily traced. The statuary and marbles found here are now dispersed among different museums. Two English ladies got out to sketch, sending their servants on to Tivoli to prepare their lodgings. We proceeded upwards, winding through groves of beautiful sombre olives, the light shining on their silvery-tinted leaves; and as we wound round the sharp curves we caught the full beauty of the great plains below, discovering every moment some new and lovely prospect over the Campagna; Rome lying far away in the distance, and the mountains towering above our heads. The Romans were right in seeking this beautiful retreat as their summer abode. Yes, this is Tivoli the ancient Tibur, the favourite resort of Scipio, AEmilianus, Marius, Maecenas, and other great and eminent men. Augustus and Horace came here to visit Maecenas; and here, too, Queen Zenobia spent a pleasant banishment.

At length we came to the end of our journey, and entered the Tivoli station, where there were plenty of carriages and guides awaiting us. We lingered at one gap in the mountains, through which there was a most magnificent view of the country around. Just below we saw some old ruins which had evidently been turned into a factory of some kind the property, I believe, of the Napoleon family. Then we went to an hotel, high up on the brow of the cliff, on the ruined site of the ancient Sibyl’s Temple. There are still some fine columns standing, under which we sat for a time to admire the lovely and romantic scenery, the beautiful grottoes in the abysses and glens below, in the valley of the Anio. Only ten of the eighteen Corinthian pillars of this temple now remain. Soane has imitated this architectural relic at the Moorgate Street corner of the Bank of England. Lord Bristol would have brought the original to London had he been allowed to remove it.

Around on the heights, one is told, “There was Maecenas’ villa, there Sallust’s, and there Horace’s,” but I believe the truth is doubtful, though the positions are such as might have been chosen for their commanding beauty.

Nearly opposite the Temple of the Sibyl, and across this romantic chasm, the river Anio tumbles over the cliffs in a magnificent volume of water, throwing out beautiful rainbows across the glen by its radiated vapour:

“The green steep whence Anio leaps
In floods of snow-white foam.”

Lower down there is another smaller stream, and the two form tumultuous rapids among the rocks below, ultimately finding their way through a vast cavern-like opening to the plains of the Campagna, and probably at last find the Tiber. There is a zigzag pathway leading down to the deep valley, and we stood so close to the basin into which the water fell that we were covered with the spray and almost deafened by the roar. All around the sides of this glen, inside the numerous caves, and among the jutting rocks were most beautiful maidenhair ferns; and on the mossy terraces and banks, violets and lilies grew in luxuriant profusion. The violets were exceedingly large and full of perfume, and we found, on pulling some of them up, that they had immense bulbs; we took some of the delicate little ferns and violet bulbs away as mementoes of this lovely spot

“Where little caves were wreathed
So thick with leaves and mosses, that they seem’d
Large honeycombs of green, and freshly teemed
With airs delicious.”

We thought perhaps these violets and lilies were planted originally by the hands of some fair Roman maiden or matron centuries ago.

The Anio has most extraordinary petrifying properties. We saw whole trunks of trees petrified like rocks, and our guide gave me a mass of stones and leaves perfectly solid, but with every vein and stem beautifully defined and marked. This enchanting series of glens and grottoes was most probably the work of the distinguished Romans who resided here, and employed their leisure in improving the natural beauties of the place.

We had not time to visit the Cathedral and other buildings of interest. The former was built on the ruins of the Temple of Hercules, which once stood there. The Church of the Madonna di Quintiliolo is near the remains of the villa of Quintilius Varus, on a hill facing that of Maecenas. Near the Roman gate are remains of an octagon temple or tomb, known as Tosse; there is a Roman bridge near Ponte Celio, also a fine old castle built by Pius II. Massive remains of the Claudian aqueduct are to be seen here and there. The tramcar train was ready to start on the return journey at about 3.30, so we were obliged to leave this beautiful and interesting place. We got back to Rome at about 5.30. This was a most enjoyable excursion, and we should have been glad to remain longer, but it was our last day in the Eternal City, which we were now leaving with regret.

The Post and Telegraph Offices at Rome are beautifully situated; the walls are frescoed with Italian art, and overlook a square of tropical gardens. Altogether it seemed more like an Arcadian Temple than a post-office. I found by experience that this was so, for, although I had given the name of our hotel for all letters to be forwarded to me, I was greatly annoyed to find a large budget had been awaiting me for some days, especially as it included a telegram from London. I fancy that the everlasting “weed” has much to do with this dreamy forgetfulness of important duty. Even in the Government department the cigarette seems as necessary as the pen; from morning till night it is rarely laid aside.

Some of the hotels in Rome we thought very expensive; but the Hotel de Ville is moderate, comfortable, and altogether satisfactory.

We found the weather too chilly to be pleasant at that time of the year, and there was a fair quantity of rain, usually lasting about two days; but the atmosphere was generally fresh and healthy, and some days were warm, bright, and sunny. I should think February, March, and early April the most agreeable months to spend there. The mornings are the best part of the day: excursions to various places of interest should be accomplished by 4 p.m.

I fancy many travellers expose themselves to fever, and other ills, by neglecting to take proper nourishment at regular hours in their forgetfulness of health when occupied in “sight-seeing.” They should make it a rule to commence the day by a good substantial breakfast, instead of the French coffee and rolls in their bedroom, as is mostly the custom; at midday, always taking care to have luncheon at their hotel or the nearest cafe. Again, they cannot be too particular about overcoats and other warm garments; for the marble-paved, unwarmed churches are extremely chilling, and so are even the streets on the shady side, at this time of the year (January). There is little doubt that Papal and Old Rome, where most of the visitors reside, is over-crowded and badly drained, and hence subject to typhoid and other fevers. It is therefore to be hoped that they will prefer the more healthful and modern quarter of the city, New Italy, near the railway station. Under any circumstances, they cannot be too careful as to the water they drink being properly filtered.

The bulk of the inhabitants live closely packed between the Corso and the Tiber, some in fine palaces, splendid indeed, yet with little comfort, the rest in small and miserable dwellings. These latter, at least, will doubtless disappear in time as the population gradually become aware of the expediency of rebuilding this quarter of the city, some parts of which offer striking contrasts of gorgeous splendour and squalid misery. Whiteside, speaking of a traveller’s impression on arriving at Rome, says, “Whithersoever he turns his eager steps he is alternately delighted and disgusted: the majestic remains of a great antiquity he wishes to examine with accuracy, but he stands in the midst of inconceivable filth. He turns to the churches, sacred in the eyes of Christians, but not safe from defilement in the City of Churches. He notes on the map numerous piazze, which he imagines to be fine squares, clean, if not splendid; and he observes, with few exceptions, that they resemble waste ground reserved for the rubbish of a great city.”

It is pleasant to turn to the long-deserted Eastern quarter of Rome, where an entirely new city is being erected since the Italian occupation. We may yet hope to see Rome worthy of her past greatness.

“His Holiness” Pope Leo XIII. has lately issued, from his small isolated world within the walls of the Vatican, a most extraordinary letter, addressed to Cardinal Antonius di Luca, John Baptiste Petra, and Joseph Herzenroether, in which he shows the world at large that he has no eye for anything but the claims of the Church, and would fain have mankind believe that the temporal government of the Popes has been an unappreciated blessing, and far superior to that of any other, and to the present government of United Free Italy under the constitutional sway of King Humbert, in particular. Since 1859 the Italians of what was once known as the States of the Church, have been deprived of this great blessing of the Pontifical rule, and with what dire results let us examine.

During the period between the expulsion of King Bombina from the throne of the two Sicilies by the Garibaldians, and the evacuation of the Eternal City by the French in 1870, a brigand warfare was carried on, if not under the immediate auspices of the Pope and his Cardinals, at least with their secret support and connivance. Now, after little more than a decade of constitutional rule, brigandage has almost disappeared from the face of the land, and travellers are comparatively safe.

When Victor Emmanuel and the Italian troops entered Rome and took possession of it as the Capital of Italy, free from the Alps to Taranto, they found it a city of ruins, squalor, and hardly habitable in a sanitary point of view. Interesting, of course, to the traveller from its wealth of splendid relics of the past and vast treasures of art, but as undesirable for residence as the Upas Valley. Now what does the traveller see? A prosperous and happy population; a new city rapidly rising on the site of the ancient “Queen of the world,” with all the conveniences, appliances, and luxuries of a modern European city. Magnificent new streets and boulevards, lined with buildings equal to any in Paris or London streets traversed by tramways, and brilliantly lighted by gas; with shops and magazines, as in other great continental capitals. An energetic Government and municipality have planned and are carrying out vast improvements, that bid fair in a few years to render modern Rome not only equal to the Rome of the Caesars in beauty and magnificence, but as desirable a residence from a sanitary point of view as any other city of its size.

It is proposed to embank the famous old Tiber; and already the squalid quarter of the Ghetto has been invaded by the workmen, who are levelling the wretched dwellings that have for so many ages rendered its name a byword throughout the world, preparatory to the erection of new buildings. So greatly has Rome already improved, that instead of travellers paying it a hurried visit merely for the sake of its art treasures, and hastening away as from a plague-stricken city, great numbers of English and Americans make it their head-quarters for many months. Both countries have now their own churches, a fact above all others proving the vast change that has taken place since Italy has been free from foreign and papal yokes. King Humbert observed, that no greater proof of the faith England and America had in the stability of Italian constitution could be given, than the building of these churches. Not only have the Anglo-Saxons their churches in Rome, but their newspaper also; and the Italian Times, a weekly paper printed in English and published in Rome, is another evidence of what Italian freedom now is. This paper, which is a staunch advocate of all improvements, especially to those relating to sanitation, boldly takes for its motto “Independent in all things, neutral in none.”

When all the contemplated improvements are carried out, there will be no more delightful or healthy residence for six or eight months in the year than this poor unfortunate city of Rome, that has been for the last dozen years deprived of the blessings(?) of Pontifical and Cardinalite government.

Happy indeed would be the condition of our own poor unhappy Ireland could she also cast off the bondage and evil influences of the Papacy; for then her gifted people would become industrious, intelligent and loyal subjects, as the Protestant communities of Ireland are.

We found our nine days’ visit all too short; it was but a race and scamper at best, and we regretted our inability to visit all the objects of interest in this city of museums and art galleries. The days at Rome are very short, as most places where there is an entrance-fee (and there are few without), are only open between the hours of ten and three. This may be a profitable arrangement for the doorkeepers, but it is difficult to see much in five hours.

The morning of our departure from Rome arrived at last, and we sighed at the thoughts of having missed so much, and seen so little.

“The grandeur of Rome
Could I leave it unseen, and nor yield to regret?
With a hope (and no more) for a season to come
Which ne’er may discharge the magnificent debt?
Thou fortunate region! whose greatness inurned,
Awoke to new life from its ashes and dust;
Twice-glorified fields! if in sadness I turned
From your infinite marvels, the sadness was just.”

Ancient Roma and the remains of her past greatness will ever be impressed upon our memories. An empire once so mighty, the Mistress of the World; then for so long desolate and entombed, a city of ruins; and now, phoenix-like, rising rapidly from her ashes, and preparing as “Young Italy” to take her place as a power among the other nations of Europe, many of whom have already welcomed her as a sister.

On the morning of the 26th of January we left Rome for Naples, some 163 miles by railway.

For many miles we travelled almost in a direct line, and on a level plain through the Campagna, close to one of the great aqueducts, and with the Via Appia always following in the distance, until we passed the first station, Gaimpino, when we crossed this fine old Roman road, and wound round the base of the hills. We saw an almost endless succession of ruins the tombs of Pompey, Dominician, and many others of the conquerors and arbiters of the world in bygone times. Then through Albano and Curioli, from which Coriolanus obtained his famous surname. Among the hills we caught glimpses every now and then of the Campagna, bright with heather; and sometimes, also, of the blue sea beyond.

We next passed through Civita Lavinia, near the site of Lanuvium, the birthplace of Antoninus Pius. The Via Appia here strikes across the Pontine marshes. Velletri, the site of an old city of the Volscians, and the birthplace of Augustus, is picturesquely situated half-way up Monte Arriano in the Alban Hills. Its raised walls were built by Coriolanus. Here the railway, leaving the old route towards the Naples frontier and along the Appian Way, strikes inland among the hills. Not far from this spot, on the old Appian coach road, is “Très Tabernae,” or “Three Taverns,” where St Paul met the brethren after his landing at Puteoli. This old road is so full of interest, that we hope to be able to travel by it more leisurely on a future occasion especially as brigandage, once a common occurrence, is now a thing of the past, since Italy is under a strong and honest government.

The whole route is grandly picturesque, circling round mountains and hills, and through romantic passes; churches and towers finely pinnacled on the summits and situated here and there on the slopes. The ancient Romans made these places their summer residences, enclosing the wild and wooded parts as hunting-grounds, and the more beautiful spots near the shore as luxurious health resorts.

Travelling as usual second-class, and therefore by a slow train, the journey was rather long. En route we were allowed ample time for luncheon at one of the stations. In a former chapter, I mentioned how greatly wanting in necessary comfort the French railway stations were, especially for ladies. Here in Italy I think it is, if possible, worse still. It is really a scandal and disgrace that, while reaping so much benefit from the stream of visitors from every part of the world, proper accommodation is not provided for them. This is really a great evil, and should certainly be attended to by the proper authorities without delay.

After eight hours journey we came through a bold pass suddenly in full view of the sea coast, then wound round towards Naples from the south. In the dusk of the evening, we looked forth to see

“How night hath hushed the clamour and the stir
Of the tumultuous streets. The cloudless moon
Roofs the whole city as with tiles of silver;
The dim mysterious sea in silence sleeps;
And straight into the air Vesuvius lifts
His plume of smoke.”