Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Americans go to London for social triumph, to Rome for art’s sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American.

Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months’ rest before it can read just itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards is “the greatest place on earth,” and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home.

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs’, and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine.

While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson’s, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish goodnature of the place and of the people after the same mariner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness.

Rome Low Cost Sightseeings

Rome Low Cost Sightseeings

The Colosseum, of course, which charges no admission for entrance to its ground floor, and no admission at all to visit any part of the ruins on Sundays… Following that, drive out as far as you have time to go along the ancient Appian Way… It’s here that you’ll pass the several largest Christian Catacombs. Most interesting and significant of these are the Catacombs of Saint Sebastiano (once the burial place of both St. Peter and St. Paul), which are the second catacombs you’ll pass as you proceed along the Appian route.

The Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel are also musts. Remember that they are at the rear of the Vatican, a long walk from the front of St. Peter’s… Downstairs in St. Peter’s a number of glass-sided coffins containing bodies of the Popes, are on view… The figures inlaid on the floor of St. Peter’s show the lengths of other famous cathedrals, thus giving you an indication of the enormous size of St. Peter’s. In the Borghese Gardens, you won’t want to miss the fabulous Villa Borghese (sometimes called the “Galleria Borghese“), with its treasures of paintings, sculpture and furnishings. On the first floor, there are works by the great sculptor Bernini (his famous Rape of Persephone is here); on the second floor is Raphael’s “Descent from the Cross,” together with several Botticelli’s and a whole array of paintings by my own favorite, the master Caravaggio.

Finally, the grandest sight in Rome, to my mind, is the “Campidoglio” (Capitoline Hill), the sight of which has caused many a tourist actually to weep over its sheer beauty. The steps and approaches were designed by Michelangelo; the plaza holds one of the few classic bronze statues in existence-the Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback-which was discovered several centuries ago on the bottom of the Tiber, where it had been thrown by Roman-hating barbarians. When Michelangelo was asked to design a pedestal for the statue, he answered, “I am not worthy.”

Rome: The Roman Forum

Rome: The Roman Forum

‘I need no ivory temple for my delight,’ wrote Propertius in Augustus’ day, ‘enough that I can see the Roman Forum.’ Here, from immemorial times, had been the meeting place of a civilization that was always positive. This Forum, so quiet in its ruins now, was filled with activity from the dawn of recorded history. Around its edges butchers, fruit-sellers, and money-lenders had their stands; in its centre were held public meetings and religious ceremonies closely bound up with the city’s practical life. If the past haunts the Forum, it is a past filled with less sinister figures than those which linger in the shadows of the Palatine above.

Nowhere in Rome has more human drama been crowded into so little space. Here, according to tradition, the men of Romulus had snatched as brides the maidens of the Sabine tribes. Here, too, was set the tragic, stirring tale of the centurion Virginius, and his daughter, Virginia, whom he stabbed with a knife from a nearby butcher’s shop to save her from a tyrant’s claim.

Here legend placed the ancient story of Marcus Curtius’ leap into the unfathomable gulf yawning below the Capitol. Here Antony showed the Romans the body of the murdered Caesar and read them his will. Here, too, roused to fury by this sight and by the dead Caesar’s generosity, the people burned his body in their most honoured spot as a final tribute to his memory. And along the Forum’s Sacred Way, from the Arch of Titus up the Capitol hill, passed the triumphal processions of emperors and generals, returning victorious from the wars.

The Forum’s activities probably took place at first entirely in the open air. Later shops and temples were built and the great basilicas along the edges, which combined halls for courts and assemblies with space for shops. Throngs too large for these basilicas were addressed from the rostra, special platforms built for this purpose, or from the steps of the Forum’s temples. The Senate met in these temples, as well as in others throughout Rome, but its special home was in the Forum, in the Senate House, consecrated to Victory.

Julius Caesar, city planner as well as warrior and statesman, gave the Forum the general shape it preserves today. One of the most arresting spots in its whole area is the altar before the temple dedicated there by the Senate to mark the place where his body was burned in 44 B.C.

As power grew more and more concentrated in the hands of the emperors and their officials, public activities in the Forum became less important. But the place remained as unique in Roman memory as when Cicero had called it ‘the Forum in which all justice is preserved’. The emperors built larger and more elaborate forums for business and amusement, but this remained ‘the Forum’ or ‘the Forum of the Romans’, by virtue of its age and associations.

As Christianity gradually conquered paganism, the temples of the Forum were closed by imperial edicts, though these edicts were disregarded from time to time. For a while some of the temples were safeguarded as public monuments or kept for various uses. But the Gothic wars of the sixth century so drained the city’s resources that it would have been impossible to keep the old buildings in good repair, even had any considerable group wanted to preserve the remnants of paganism. The temples which survived did so largely because they were transformed into churches or because they were too massive to be pulled down easily for building material. The earthquake of 847, which damaged the Colosseum, probably hastened their destruction.

During the centuries of slow decay and active pillage, the ground-level of the Forum rose with the debris of fallen structures and the washing down of earth and ruin from the surrounding hills, until traffic was almost completely blocked, and papal processions had to find other ways than the old triumphal road. The few remaining columns of the ancient temples were buried, sometimes half their height; the crumbling ruins were robbed of stone and brick to be burnt for lime or re-used in humbler buildings.

Such was the Forum’s state in the first years of the fifteenth century, when interest in antiquity was reviving with the early Renaissance. Some time before 1431 Poggio Bracciolini the humanist, wrote wistfully: ‘The Roman Forum, the most celebrated place in the city, where the people assembled and laws were made, and the nearby Comitium, where magistrates were chosen, are now deserted through the malignance of Fortune. The one is given over to swine and cattle; the other is enclosed as a vegetable garden.’

In 1536 the Forum was partially cleared to provide a triumphal way for the Hapsburg Emperor, Charles V, in celebration of his victory over the Turks in Tunisia the year before. Unfortunately, the preparation of this triumphal road gave a fresh impetus to the plundering of the ruins, against which Raphael had already protested. After this clearing, the Forum, once more passable for traffic, was drawn again into the active life of Rome. When the excavators of the sixteenth century had finished their search for antiques, quiet settled once more about the Forum, but it was no longer a quiet of death. The lowing of cattle and the shouts of drovers now filled the air, for the Forum was again used as a market.

Indeed, its classic name was almost forgotten and it was known then, and for long afterward, as the Campo Vaccino, or Cow Pasture, from the animals herded and sold there. Its very site, questioned by Ligorio in the sixteenth century, long remained a subject of antiquarian argument. Fortunately there were always men of plain common sense who, refusing to be drawn into fine-spun argument, kept to the old site while accepting the new name, and said with the seventeenth-century Englishman, John Raymond: ‘The Campo Vaccino was heretofore the Forum Romanum.’

The eighteenth century saw a revival of interest in antiquity unequalled since the early Renaissance, which stimulated the desire for scholarly excavations. Late in the century such excavations were begun in the Forum, and for a hundred and fifty years its ruins were laid bare, down even to graves of the eighth century B.C. or earlier, below its ancient paving stones. During the last century and a half more has been learned of the Forum’s buildings than was known during the thousand years before; yet even today scholars feel certain of less than many a Roman boy of ancient times.

Throughout the centuries three groups of columns and one lone shaft have been landmarks of the Forum. Most of these, at the western end, close below the Capitol, mark the sites of the temples of Saturn and of Vespasian. The eight grey and red granite columns of the portico of Saturn’s temple stand almost at right angles to the Senator’s Palace. This was one of the Forum’s oldest temples, although the columns which stand today are late.

An inscription above them states that the temple was restored by vote of the Senate after a fire, probably that of A.D. 284, which swept the Forum. The Senate had a special interest in this temple, where the steep Clivus Capitolinus wound up the Capitol, for it had its treasury here. The writer of the Mirabilia had these facts clearly in mind when he referred to the ‘public Treasury, that was the temple of Saturn’, beside the ‘Triumphal Arch, whence was the ascent into the Capitol’. Later generations which had lost the tradition called it by many names, such as the ‘Temple of Concord’ and the ‘Temple of Fortune.’

Close by the Temple of Saturn stand the three corner columns of the Temple of Vespasian. Called for centuries ‘Temple of Jupiter Tonans’, this temple’s columns, with their sharp flutings, their rich Corinthian capitals, and their elaborately carved frieze above, were the delight of artists. Titus and Domitian built the temple late in the first century A.D. and dedicated it to Vespasian, their father. Titus died and was deified before it was completed; he may have shared the dedication.

The anonymous monk of the eighth century who copied the inscriptions preserved at Einsiedeln left the clue which finally solved the temple’s identity. Much more of the temple was evidently standing then, for the inscription stated clearly that the building had been dedicated to Vespasian and restored by the emperors Severus and Caracalla.

Between Vespasian’s temple and the Arch of Severus rises the Column of Phocas which has stood erect ever since it was set up in A.D. 608, the last monument erected in the Forum in what might still be considered ancient times. Its identity was completely lost until the excavations of the early nineteenth century uncovered its base with a dedication to ‘… our lord, Phocas, the eternal emperor’. It was a sign of the fallen fortunes of Rome that the citizens set up no new column to honour this upstart Byzantine Emperor of the East, but one carved long before and put to a new use.

By one of the world’s pleasant ironies this column is best known throughout the English-speaking world through two lines of poetry far from accurate. Its base had been uncovered and the inscription read in 1813; Charlotte Eaton referred to its identity in 1817 as common knowledge among visitors. But Byron, who was in Rome the same year as Mrs. Eaton, was not noted for close attention to specific facts; even when he knew them, he often preferred the suggestion of mystery. The sober facts are cold beside his apostrophe:

‘Tully was not so eloquent as thou,
Thou nameless column with the buried base!’

The third group of columns is midway between the Capitol and the Arch of Titus. These three parallel fluted shafts of the Temple of Castor which appear in the foreground of Marten van Heemskerck’s drawing, in that of Claude Lorrain, and in Canaletto’s painting, are perhaps the most outstanding of the three groups. They rise in comparative isolation near the end of the old Republican Forum, and the richness of their Corinthian capitals and carved entablature has made them, like the three of Vespasian’s temple, a favourite subject for artists. These columns do not belong to the first temple there, or even to the one Cicero called ‘that famous and glorious memorial of the past… which stands where the nation may see it daily’.

Capri: A picturesque island and tourist attraction in Italy

Capri: A picturesque island and tourist attraction in Italy

Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic.

Features of the island are the Marina Piccola (the little harbour), the Belvedere of Tragara, which is a high panoramic promenade lined with villas, the limestone crags called sea stacks that project above the sea (the Faraglioni), Anacapri, the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra), and the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas.

Capri is part of the region of Campania, Province of Naples. The town of Capri is the main centre of population on the island. It has two harbours, Marina Piccola and Marina Grande (the main port of the island). The separate commune of Anacapri is located high on the hills to the west.

The etymology of the name Capri can be traced back to the Greeks, the first recorded colonists to populate the island. This means that “Capri” was probably not derived from the Latin “Capreae” (goats), but rather the Greek “Kapros” (wild boar).

Capri: A picturesque island and tourist attraction in Italy

Capri can easily be reached by ship from Sorrento, Naples, Ischia (Porto) and Salerno / Amalfi. It is always good for a day trip. The island is rather small – about 1000 hectares for approx. 15000 inhabitants all together in the townships Capri and Anacapri. More exactly: It is 6170 m long, 1200-2750 m broad and 598 m high. But here you have a tourist season throughout the whole year. Tourists are just mixed up from as many nations as in Pompeii. Of course in the summer the island gets overcrowded by trippers and one has taken into serious consideration to limit the ferry connections.

Top tourist attraction is the Blue Grotto “Grotta azzurra”. If Capri is overcrowded with tourists you may even have to wait for hours. But if you reach Capri rather early (e.g. before 10.30), it makes sense, to go straight to the grotto, before still more people arrive at the Marina Grande. There are many boats waiting to take you directly from Marina Grande to the grotto. But looking at the local situation you can see, that it is probably better (and at lower cost), to go by bus to the Blue Grotto.

Take the funicolare (cable railway) to Capri-Town. The ticket counter (Biglietteria) for the funicolare is at the end of the quay (to the right). At the piazzetta in Capri keep right to get to the small “bus terminal” and take the bus to Anacapri. There is another “bus terminal” in Anacapri, where you can take the bus to “Grotta azzurra”. The tickets for the bus (at present 1.40 Euro) can always be bought on the bus.

Destination Venice

Destination Venice

Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you’ve seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you’ll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.

Why go now?

Spring is the ideal time to visit La Serenissima – 9 May sees the return of La Biennale to the Giardini, the Arsenale and smaller spaces around the city. Artists from 53 participating countries will be interpreting the theme of this year’s exhibition: “All the World’s Futures”. Another important date in the Venetian calendar is 17 May and the historic Festa della Sensa, or “Marriage to the Sea”, with a parade of rowing boats led by the Serenissima, carrying various local dignitaries.

Touch down

Marco Polo airport is around 12km north of the city on the mainland. A romantic way to arrive in Venice is to chug across the lagoon on the Alilaguna water bus; that leaves from the pier outside the terminal. There are three lines, the seasonal Linea Rossa, running from from now until October, and the Linea Blu that both stop at San Marco, while the Linea Arancio also stops at Rialto. Single fares cost €15 for the 75- to 90-minute journey. Another option is to take AeroBus number 5 to the city’s Piazzale Roma. This costs €6 one-way.

A water taxi from the airport to San Marco costs about €100 and takes 20 minutes. Trains from other parts of Italy arrive at the city’s Santa Lucia Station.

Destination Venice

Get your bearings

Resembling a fish hooked by a thin spit of land, the “Queen of the Seas” is a mosaic of 118 small islands linked by 417 bridges. With the Grand Canal meandering down its centre, the city is divided up into six quarters, or sestieri: San Polo, Dorsoduro and Santa Croce on the west side and San Marco, Castello and Cannaregio on the east. St Mark’s Square is the focal point for most visitors, while the rest of the city’s tiny calle, caruggi, sotoportegi, rio teras, salizadas, campos and ramos conspire to make this a bewildering labyrinth (although getting lost is all part of the enchantment).

The square is also the site of the main tourist office. It opens daily from 8.30am to 7pm. The Venezia Unica Citypass; allows you to pre-buy transport tickets, combined entry museum and church passes and wi-fi access on a loaded card. A return AeroBus ticket and 24-hour pass for ACTV vaporetto and bus services within the city costs €28.

Check in

Venice’s hotel scene is about to get some new luxurious arrivals in the form of the St Regis and JW Marriott, both set on islands in the lagoon. Both will no doubt be hoping to create some of the enduring appeal of the Hotel Danieli. This coral pink 14th-century palazzo is a piece of Venetian history, whose former residents include four Doges. Doubles start at €540, room only.

Stay in one of the six tastefully decorated rooms of the intimate Oltre il Giardini, Fondamenta Contarini, San Polo; oltreilgiardino-venezia.com) and you also get the benefit of the secluded garden. In the 1920s the villa was home to the widow of composer Gustav Mahler. Doubles start at €180, with breakfast.

A reasonably priced room can be found at the Generator Venice (10) at Fondamenta Zitelle 86 on Giudecca Island (00 39 041 877 8288; generatorhostels.com). Set in a converted grain store, the hostel’s private rooms start at €45.

Take a ride

It’s an initiation rite for first timers, but there is a cheaper way to experience a gondola. Several points along the Grand Canal have traghetto stops such as the one at Santa Maria del Giglio, with gondolas operating as ferries where there is no convenient bridge. It costs €2 one-way.

Take a hike

Start on the Riva degli Schiavoni and continue west; as you cross the Ponte della Paglia; to your right will be the Bridge of Sighs (13), where prisoners crossed for interrogation. Straight ahead are the twin Columns of San Marco that were the original seafaring entrance to the city.

Bear right into St Mark’s Square, with its beautiful arcades – to your right the Doge’s Palace, and next door the ornate Basilica of San Marco. Pass under the arch at the Torre dell-Orologio and continue up the Mercerie that has been the centre of commercial Venetian life for centuries.

Continue along the Calle Morosina, bear right over the bridge and walk down the Merceria San Salvador, with the 16th-century Church of San Salvatore to your left. Turn right along the Via do April and you will arrive at the Campo San Bartolomeo, with its statue of 18th-century Venetian playwright Carlo Goldini. Turn left down Salizada Pio towards the much-photographed Rialto Bridge (4). Across it you find the colourful Rialto market.

Lunch on the run

Bacari, Venetian wine bars, serve the local take on tapas, cichetti. Cantina Do Mori San Polo has reputedly been open since the mid-15th century. Try the tuna polpetti or tiny sandwiches known as tramezzini washed down with an ombra (a small glass of wine). If you are still peckish stroll down to All’Arco 436 Rialto, for a plate of spiedini (meat skewers).

Window shopping

All the big designer brands are concentrated around Via 22 Marzo and nearby streets. Calle dei Fabbri and the Merceria San Salvadore are jammed with small shops . The streets of Dorsoduro and San Polo are good for browsing.

An aperitif

Cross over the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro. For some this represents the real local side of Venice, often with a more raucous atmosphere thanks to its proximity to the university. Order an Aperol spritz from one of the tables outside Caffè Rosso on Campo Santa Margherita.

Dining with the locals

Al Covo, Campiello della Pescaria, Castello has a refined, nautical interior. Ingredients are sourced locally with an emphasis on fish – marinated anchovies, a gossamer light fritto misto and spaghetti alla vongole with courgette flowers (€50).

For something more casual, Pane Vino e San Daniele has tables spill-ing out onto the peaceful Campo dell’Angelo Raffaele, Dorsoduro; panevinosandaniele.net). It specialises in wine, cheese and cured meats from the Friuli area.

Go to church

Sitting on a thin spit of land between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal in Dorsoduro,Santa Maria della Salute, Campo della Salute is one of the quintessential Venetian landmarks, immortalised by artist J M W Turner. Mass is celebrated on Sundays at 11am.

Out to brunch

Try one of the city’s sublime pastry shops for a coffee and sugary confection. Rosa Salva has a few branches including one at Campo San Giovanni e Paolo with al fresco tables. Around €6.

A walk in the park

Venice is predominantly a city of stone and water. To the east, in Castello, along the Riva dei Partigiani waterfront, is one of the few verdant splashes, the Giardini Pubblici. During the Biennale, the adjacent Biennale Pavilions will be open to ticketholders (9 May to 21 November, 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday). Admission costs €25.

Cultural afternoon

The imposing Ca’Pesaro, Sante Croce is staging “Paradise”, a retrospective of the work of American painter Cy Twombly (10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday; €10). If your tastes lean towards the historic, the Doge’s Palace on St Mark’s Square is a high point of Venetian Gothic architecture. On 1 April it launched a new guided tour, “The Doge’s Hidden Treasures”, following restoration in private apartments. Booking is essential for the daily English tours at 11.45am (€20, or €14 with a UnicaVenice card).

The icing on the cake

Glassmaking is synonymous with Murano, a history chronicled at Museo del Vetro, Palazzo Giustinian, Fondamenta Giustinian. It reopened in February following renovations (daily 10am-6pm; €10).

Destination Rome

Destination Rome

A League of Latine cities is said to have been founded in the eighth century, and Rome under her kings gradually attained in it a leading position. The expulsion of the kings and the introduction of an Aristocratic government, with two consuls and a governing assembly, the Senate, caused internal dissensions which brought the Romans again under the rule of the Etruscans, until, after a long period of strife, the conditions were reversed and Rome with the Latines and Sabines conquered all round.

This development was interrupted by the Keltic invasion, which in the beginning of the fourth century descended on Italy from over the Alps. Rome was overwhelmed but soon recovered herself and drove back the Kelts, who then settled permanently in the Plain of the Po. No energetic attempts were made to Latinize them till after the Second Punic War. The powerful mountain tribes gave the Romans much trouble, as we learn from the accounts of the Samnite wars, the more so as these nations had just before destroyed the Etruscan rule in Campania and had laid hands on several of the Greek colonies.

After the overthrow of the Samnites, Lucanians, and other nations of Southern Italy, the Greek towns on the coast necessarily became subject to Rome. Tarentum held out the last by inviting over Pyrrhus, the warlike but unstable King of Epirus, and made a successful stand during a series of years until it fell in 270 B.C., and Rome was acknowledged as the predominant power from the Apennines to the Straits of Messina.

This war with Tarentum had forced Rome, owing to the expedition of Pyrrhus to Sicily, to interfere in the politics and trade of the island. Since the overthrow of the Etruscans the dominion of the Tyrrhenian Sea had fallen into the hands of Rome. Thus she became a rival of Carthage, who had treated the Western Mediterranean from Africa and Sicily onwards as her own domain and had made the utmost of it.

Assistance given to the Greeks of Sicily and an alliance with the Mamertines of Messina brought about a conflict with Carthage, leading to the First Punic War and a delimitation of the respective spheres of influence. Carthage surrendered the island but compensated herself richly in Spain. Sicily was shared between Rome and Hiero of Syracuse, and became the first Roman Province.

Italy: North and South

Italy: North and South

Until the victory of the Left in 1876 the Ministers who governed Italy were almost all Northerners, who considered the Southerners as lively, witty and eloquent beings but politically immature. In truth, the only immaturity was to be found in the heads of the “Piedmontese”, as was said at Naples after 1860, when they sat themselves down to serve out judgments on their brothers of the South. Only Cavour had foreseen the importance of an understanding with the South, but he died too soon.

After 1876 many of the most important Ministers were often from the South, but they belonged to the Left whose habit and rôle had been to criticize, not to govern, and that remained for long the victim of a reverential respect for high functionaries, who were honest but incapable of understanding new problems; people for whom going to the South as prefects or magistrates was worse than a punishment, almost a dishonour. The few Ministers of the Left who took office, like Nicotera, violated the law; and this increased the diffidence of the Direttori generali in regard to them.

For the rest, never in our history has there been a constant passing to and fro between the North and the South, nor do Northerners go to live in the South and vice versa. Only one of our ancient classical writers knew and loved the South: Boccaccio. One of our delights in reading Dante is to discover at every moment a verse which describes with an unforgettable touch the most varied aspects and landscapes of our country; but there is not a single one of the South; for Dante never described what he had not seen.

Petrarch never went to the South, nor Ariosto, Machiavelli nor Manzoni. Leopardi was in Naples, but he was ill; Mazzini was there as a prisoner.

Italy: The difference between North and South

Italy: The difference between North and South

Why such a separation? The difference between North and South is not greater in Italy than in France or in the United States; and it is less than in Germany. But in Italy the actual division is perhaps more clear cut; which would explain how the French of Charles VIII could sing: “Nous conquerons les Ralies…” But if the division is sharper it has nothing to do with pretended differences of “race”, that is to say, of Greek influences in the South and Germanic or Celtic in the North. The reasons are historical and incidental: namely, that the States of the Church dividing the peninsula in two, separated the Neapolitan Kingdom from the rest of Italy in a more radical way than the division between Piedmont and Lombardy or between Liguria and Tuscany.

The full material reunion of the whole peninsula was the result of the railways. One day, in a dream à la Rousseau, Napoleon imagined that Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia were moved towards the coasts of Latium and Tuscany, swelling out an Italy too elongated for his taste as a collector of cannon-fodder. One of the principal merits of the Liberal governments from 1860 to 1890 was the creation of a vast net of rapid communications from the Cenis to Trapani, and they did this with a series of bridges, galleries and other engineering feats more complicated and costly than in any other country of Europe.

It was probably the long period of the isolation of the “Kingdom ” — as the country from Velletri southward is called — that made of our South an island of philosophers and thinkers, from Giordano Bruno and Campanella to Vico and Benedetto Croce. Among the philosophers of Northern Italy in the first half of the nineteenth century, such as Rosmini or Gioberti, foreign influences are very visible. It is not so in the South, where Benedetto Croce himself has only taken from Hegel a certain amount of material for the elaboration of a new way of thought.

Those who, half astonished and half disgusted, are saddened by the haughty attitude that certain Northerners assume towards the Southerners, ought to feel rather pity than anger. It is everywhere thus; a stupid industrial of Flanders thinks that he is better than the most intelligent Provençal; a merchant of Barcelona laughs at the poetical vein that makes life in Andalusia so charming; a fat Prussian grumbles at the beer-house: “The Bavarians are the link between a man and an Austrian…”

It is for us Italians of the North to remember and to cause to be remembered that it is the South which has given to Italy the purest champions of the things of the mind — to begin with the anatomists of the School of Salerno, who first in Europe braved the fury of the ignorant by going in the darkness of the night to the cemetery to steal the corpses by which they might learn the secrets of life; that it is the South which has given us the earliest and most devoted martyrs of our Risorgimento, among them those who were hanged under the Republic of 1799; that from their ashes arose, as avengers, the Spaventa, the Settembrini, the De Sanctis and all the rest.

For my part, if it were not that my stay between Bari, Salerno and Naples was made longer by a far too slow military tactic for which Italy had to pay with cities destroyed, due to the blindness and fixed ideas of certain foreign governments, I could bless heaven that I remained for two years in the midst of a civilization far more refined than our own. I do not believe that there was in any other spot in Italy a refuge like that of my house at San Pasquale a Chiaia, a refuge from which, through idleness, I did not descend into the shelters even during the most violent bombardment, but in which I had to pass a night in which I had the responsibility of the life of Croce, for two days my guest at Naples; we went down, the shelter was full of people — doctors, professors, lawyers, the typical Neapolitan middle classes — and Croce began to tell anecdotes of the time of Ferdinand II and then to discourse on Belli and Porta, of whom his hearers knew little; and when the alert ceased, all said: “What a pity ! Let us hope for tomorrow evening…”

Italy and Foreign Visitors

Italy and Foreign Visitors

The railways powerfully contributed to the fusion of North and South, after the historical dissolution, so long resisted, of the Pontifical State. But it was easy for the Italians to find one another; the obstacle had been there a long time, it is true, but it was artificial.

For foreigners, however, the result was the very opposite; the railways — and later, the rapidity of the automobile — made it less easy for them to enter into any real relation with Italian life, with the mental and spiritual life of ideas not only in the great cities, but in the quiet smaller cities of the country-side, and the provinces. After the advent of the railways, books appeared by foreigners, often full of beauty, on the Greek ruins in Calabria, on Milan or on Venice, on art in Sicily or in the Uffizi at Florence; but we no longer found among us a Goethe, a Stendhal, a Browning, a Shelley, wandering about among the contadini and humble folk.

In boyhood I had discovered at home, to my delight, some old guide-books of Italy of the eighteenth century, and I have never forgotten the emotion that I received from a Guida di Viaggio in Italia per un Gentiluomo Polacco, and its appendix, in four columns, of Conver sazione in italiano, latino, francese e polacco. There was a little of everything, both in the book and in the “Conversazione”, and almost everything was dealt with together as in life: archaeology and cookery, music and women, high roads and receptions.

It is a great contrast to those famous Sensations d’Italie in which Paul Bourget goes into ecstasies before Sienese pictures of the second class, and which seems like a cemetery of ideas that have been embalmed. One feels that authors of this kind can never really have lived in Italy, that, driven by the contracts with the publishers, they are only thinking of the magnificent pages they will build up from the notes scribbled in their pocket-books, and for this very reason there utterly escapes them that integration of the ancient and the actual which alone allows us to understand a living nation.

The Italian — and above all, the Italian of the people — is so complex and yet at the same time so simple that one can only smile at the foreigners who think they have discovered the key to the Italian character after passing a year or two in the peninsula.

It seems like a paradox, but I believe it is easier to understand the complexity of the Italian than his simplicity. How can a contadino or an Italian artisan be anything but complex when he is such an infallible judge of the moral character of the “foreigner”, of the “signore” with whom he has to deal?

Woe to the new proprietor of a podere or of a villa, woe to the foreigner who has rented a house or apartment for three years, if the people around him sum him up as “proud” or “overbearing”; very soon there will be an emptiness about him and he will obtain nothing from anyone, even though he is ready to pay double what other foreigners are paying — “forestieri” and “signori” who are recognized as “gentile” and “alla mano”.

To understand a people, a foreign nation : that is a business in which intelligence and culture only serve if they are enlivened by human sympathy.

What makes the traveller is not the distance of the country visited but the capacity to see, to immerse himself in the spirit of the country to which he has travelled. I have seen the standardized traveller in Mongolia, and real travellers on the Lombard plain and in the villages of the Var.

The capacity to understand is not to be acquired by literary experience, it is bought with our very life. The French who, wishing to penetrate beyond the museums, come to Italy saturated with Stendhal, and the Germans who come down with a Goethe in their hands, remind me of certain Oriental converts to Catholicism, who read in one of our Cathedrals the same Massbook as the ordinary crowd of the faithful : they read, but their emotion is not the same.

Italy Geography: Changes in Historical Times

Italy Geography: Changes in Historical Times

Within historical times, that is a length of time varying in different parts of Italy from 2,000-3,000 years, changes in the physical environment have of course been gradual and limited. Some may be suggested, however, since they have affected man’s activities in the historical period, even if only locally and to a limited extent.

In the first place there has been considerable volcanic activity. Pompei and Herculaneum were completely destroyed by Vesuvius in A.D. 79; the former by an ash fall and the latter by a mud flow up to 20 metres thick, which was much harder than the pumice ash. Four volcanoes are still active. Associated in some cases with volcanic activity but generally with other movements in the earth’s crust have been numerous earthquakes of varying degrees of intensity.

Virtually every part of Italy is susceptible to tremors but very serious earthquakes are more limited in occurrence. Apart from a few areas in the Alps and Liguria the worst earthquakes have nearly all occurred in the interior of the Peninsula and in eastern Sicily. Three very serious earthquakes of the 20th century are noted on the map and in 1962 the Irpinia area was again affected.

The epicentre of the Messina earthquake in 1908 was in the Strait of Messina facing the town. It brought destruction or serious damage to almost every building in Messina and Reggio Calabria and caused the death of almost 100,000 persons in these two provinces alone. The widespread earthquake activity testifies to the youthful state of the landscape in which tectonic relief dominates in parts of the Peninsula.

Other activity that has changed the physical environment in historical times has affected both the coasts and many interior localities. There is a marked tendency for many Italian rivers to build deltas. Some, including the Po, Arno and Tiber, have pushed seawards many miles. Inland, usually with the help of man, lakes have been drained or reduced.

In the Alps steep slopes are widespread and avalanches frequently occur, and in the Apennines, as already noted, landslides occur widely in clay areas. Partly at least as a result of the removal of woodland and excessive ploughing of steep slopes, gullying has also been widespread in Peninsular Italy and Sicily and much land has been rendered permanently useless or made suitable only for gradual reclamation by afforestation.