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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fiori della Liguria (F. Lees)

Luigi Speranza

Neither the Antiquary nor myself are in the strict sense
of the word botanists, but we are not without an eye for
the beauties of the flowers of the field, and the instinct or
intelligence to discriminate between what is patent and
what is curious in plant life. It would, therefore, have been
strange had we resisted the temptation to collect, by the
wayside, specimens of the flora of Liguria. These, when
we could not identify them by the aid of the works of
Mr. Clarence Bicknell, of Bordighera, I periodically sent
to England to my Father, Dr. F. Arnold Lees, F.L.S.,
the author of The Flora of West Yorkshire and other
botanical works. The many letters which we received in
acknowledgment (letters often enthusiastic and clearly
denoting that our 150 " finds " had given the intensest joy)
have suggested to me the advisability of setting down the
following notes on the principal species interesting to the
non -botanist or noteworthy for ecological reasons. Those
who follow in our footsteps on the Italian Riviera will,
I trust, derive some pleasure and not a little knowledge
of Nature by perusing this partial Flora Ligurica, which
is arranged in its natural order, beginning with the spring
Anemones, and ending with the Horsetails, the most ancient
type of existing vegetation.

The Star Anemone (Anemone stellata, Lamk.), with its
magenta or puce, and occasionally white blossom, is rare
in Liguria, and only among the Canes (Arundo donax)
westwardly at Bordighera and San Remo. But it becomes
commoner eastwardly, and is fairly plentiful at the top of
the Righi funicular at Genoa, where our specimen was

Helleborus foetidus, L. the Foetid Hellebore, not the
Classic one was also found above Genoa, high in the hills,
at Torriglia, in the month of March. Its fan-fingered
leaves and green drooping flowers, tipped with maroon red,
make it a notable herb in the thickets and torrent beds
throughout Liguria.

Fumaria capreolata, L., resembling a cloud of smoke, was
discovered on the road leading from Spezzia to Porto venere,
in May. It is a herb of singular aspect not a rare one,
but always noticed by the most perfunctory of wayfarers.

Cochlearia saxatilis, R.Br., a rare Alpine plant like a
hoary Alyssum, with silver seed-pouches Honesty in
diminutive, and with neat white flower-spikes, was found
in the morainic torrent bed at Albenga in October. Accord-
ing to Mr. Bicknell's Flora of Bordighera, it is very rare
on the highest rocks of Monte Toraggio. In the station
where our specimen was collected it was a " wash-down,"
brought as seed, or torn rootstock from its natural home
on the higher mountain scarps, but it is of interest as
emphasising one of the ways of adventitious dispersal of
plants and the fact that change to a mild climate from a
rigorous one is not inimical to an Alpine. It would be a
bad thing for the lowlanders' " rock garden " if it were.
" High Life " in plants is maugre rigour in air and connotes
the select less competition with the mob, more burly
yet more tender, a paradox in herb life !

Silene quinquevulnera , L., grows in certain hot sandy
places at Spezzia. Legend connects the five blood -like
stigmata on the petals (one on each) of this common
weedling with the five wounds of the Crucifixion.

Lychnis Flos-cuculi, L., the Cuckoo-flower, or Ragged
Robin, likewise came from the Spezzia district a marshy
place east of the town known as gli Stagnoni.

In the neighbourhood of Albenga both Reseda Phyteuma,
L., and Reseda saxatilis, Pourr., were gathered. " The
former," writes my Father, " is perhaps the origin (with
another Spanish species) of the sweet-smelling Mignonette
of gardens. Like wheat, the wild plant is said to be
unknown, but as the species of the family ' cross,' and Reseda
Phyteuma has occasionally a slight perfume, when grown
on rich soil or upon heaps of pozzuoli (sea-wrack) on the
littoral, that most ozonic or sea-breezy of flower-scents may
quite understandably have so initiated. Horticulturists
have had in the past too much of careless unreason in their
experiments to help us to the How and Why."

Saponaria ocymoides, L., a Soapwort, grows in many of
the torrent beds of Liguria.

Gypsophila repens, L., the lime-loving White Pink, was
found in several districts.

Tunica saxifraga, Scop., the Stone-breaking Pink, was
discovered to have taken firm hold in the stony torrent bed
at Albenga. It makes a moss-leaf cushion from which
spring dozens of branching miniature trees bearing neat
full purple pink star bloom. The roots are dispropor-
tionately stout, strong and long, enabling the plant to retain
its hold on the most disturbed coigns of vantage, and by
the insinuation of its wire roots into every niche or crack
of the rock succeeds, in time, and with the aid of water,
in fissuring and cleaving it.

Epilobium rosmarim folium, Haenke, Rosemary -leaved
Willowherb, was in the same torrent bed at Albenga. This
is another pretty wandy purple-flowered " wash down "
from the sub-alpine slopes of talus and scree in the
mountains. It is a moraine lover.

Dianthus furcatus, Balbis (D. tener, Ard.) is a third
" wash down " of the Albenga district. It is a rather
rare forked-stem Pink.

Dianthus Seguieri, Chaix, the Cluster Pink and a near
relative of our Sweet William, was also found.

All these, as most of the Pink tribe, are mountaineers by
breeding, liking best barren, rough ground.

Cistus salvifolius, L., the Sageleaved Gum Rockrose,
grows at Genoa and on gravelly banks at Spezzia. This
was the only one of the three species which occur in Liguria
which we had the opportunity of gathering.

Only the rosy, larger yellow flowered and typical forms
of Helianthemum vulgare, the herbaceous Rockrose, were
gathered, the white-flowered and silky-leaved species
(polifolium and italicum) not being seen.

Of the Poly gala order of the Laitier or Litania Milkworts
there are five in Liguria. Two were found over and over
again : the pink-flowered Poly gala rosea, Gren et Godron,
and the hirsute P. pubescens, Burnat, with blue flowers.
The intensely blue-bloomed P. vulgaris, L. was also

One Geranium only, the lime-rock or sea-sand loving
(because of the comminuted shell lime in the sand) Geranium
sanguineum, with inch-across crimson flowers, was found.

At Torriglia, in the mountains above Genoa, the Stork's-
bill, Et -odium cicutarium, L'Herit, was found at 2,000 feet.
Mr. Bicknell gives 1,500 metres as its upward limit.

Naturalised all along the Riviera proof of its amenity
of climate the three-leaved Sorrel-Shamrock, Oxalis
cernua or libyca, with fine yellow flowers, was noted from
San Remo eastwardly. It is a native of South Africa
and there flowers in the winter of the Tropics (July), but
in Liguria from March to May, being " a remarkable
instance of a plant having undergone a complete change
of season of blooming " (Henslow). In a way, however,
Oxalis cernua is one of the Sensitive plants, and the March
to May calenture of the Riviera is the Tropic winter a little
before its time. Needing a certain (not well known)
temperature for the maturation of its reproductive elements
(not too hot clearly, as clearly not below 45 F. its minimum
growing point) it blooms simply at the right season, dis-
regarding the arbitrary Kalendaric divisions. It keeps to
its individual need-and-seed time, just as does the well-
known pink-flowered Almond of Persia, which, planted
in our English park-lands, will insist on blossoming in
March (its kalend in the East), even though snow is on the

Tribulus terrestris, L., the Caltrops, so called because
of its spiky horns of fruit of the Bean-caper order, and the
Caper plant (Capparis spinosa), not indigenous but estab-
lished as well as cultivated, were both among the species
gathered ; whilst at Vernazza, near Spezzia, the curious
disk-like leaved, turreted-flowered Umbilicus pendulinus,
De Cand., adorned walls with its fleshy rosettes and

The Rose order was poorly represented in our consign-
ments. Among those sent were three Cinquefoils, Potcntilla
verna, P. argentea and P. erecta, with the small-flowered
Barren Strawberry, P. micrantha, Ram., from Torriglia,
at 2,000 feet elevation.

But the great Pea flower tribe, the legumes, were well
illustrated. The Laburnum in one form, the upright
Cytisus sessilifolius , was seen near San Remo, the common
' Gold-Rain ' in many places ; with, near Spezzia, the Italian
form of the Plantagenet Genista pilosa, var diffusa, Willd.,
peculiar in having triangular twigs like a Sedge and leaves
with a (protective ?) cartilaginous border.

The trefoils our Clovers were represented by the silky
hare's-footed T. arvense (Albenga) ; the pinky T.incarnatum,
T. stellatum and the hop-clover T. agrarium. The Lotus
pea flower was represented by L. decumbens, Poiret, and our
English -turf L. corniculatus . The two most singular
plants of this tribe gathered were the lens-fruited Medick,
M. orbicularis, All., the circular, flat, half-inch pods being
made up of a three to five turned spiral lying curled flat
one turn above another, with a green membranous border
spineless but veined over with net-like ridges, similar to
those on the back of an aged hand ; and the Blue Pitch
Clover, " Forfoglia," in vulgo italiano. The former was
gathered on the heights at Sarzana ; the latter at Porto-
venere, near Spezzia. Blue Pitch Clover has blue-violet
heads of bloom on long stalks surpassing the stalked tri-foil ;
its science name is Psoralea bituminosa,so called by Linnaeus
because the odour exhaled when the plant is bruised strongly
suggests a mixture of pitch and liquorice. Whether it is
eaten or refused by sheep or goats one would like to know,
but, unaware of its rustic Italian name at the time of gather-
ing, inquiry was not made. Mr. Bicknell says nothing on
the subject in his Flora of Bordighera, although he does
mention the fact of bruise-smell in his earlier and finely
illustrated Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Riviera and
Neighbouring Mountains. 1

Near Spezzia, too, we got the small-flowered Indian
Melilot, well naturalised now in the west of Europe, and
even in England by roadsides holding its own. This is
one of the species which corroborates the fact of slow but
sure change of flora in almost every area ; as one species
naturally dies out, some other, from some " far. Cathay "
of plant-land, comes, by favour of merchandise or natural
aeroplane of seed, and takes its place.

Of the tare and "fitch" families two only were observed
and gathered, probably because cultivated fields were not
much trespassed upon by us. These two were the Fod-
der Vetch, V. saliva, and the Cicerchia porporino, or
Mouchi of the Italian (Linnaeus' Lathyrus Clymenum) the
Honeysuckle Vetchling.

The spring-blooming Orobus niger, L., was also gathered,
near Pigna, and is interesting because (though turning
from green to a dull black in drying) it grows in our own
classic mountain glen, the Pass of Killiecrankie.

The Pomegranate (Punica granatuum), poorest of edibles
perhaps, but loveliest of fruit forms, was, of course, observed
and admired here and there on rocky banks and along
the torrents, but it was not practicable to dessicate speci-
mens for the herbarium. It is almost certainly from a hotter
latitude and not indigenous even on this favoured littoral ;
and the same, but with less emphasis, may be said of the
(1 Trubner & Co., 1885)
classic and decorative Oleander, most distinctive of green
growths as regard form and flower, a Rose offering on an
Olive branch !

Continuing our enumeration of some of the salient fea-
tures of the vegetation of Liguria apart from the arbor-
escent and evergreen class which, from Privet, " Rovere,"
pubescent Oak, flowering Manna Ash, Bruyere or Tree
Heath to Strawberry Tree, Chestnut, Ilex oak, " Buss "
or Box, Hornbeam oak (Ostrya), Alder, various Pines, the
Cedar Juniper, the White Beam tree, and the noble Laurus
or Sweet Bay, " Lauribaga " in popular speech, Wayfaring-
tree, tree Woodbine, red-berried Elder (Sambucus race-
mosus) Sloe, Cherry, Hawthorn, and the Amelanchier pear,
constitute in varying degrees the woodland and thickets
from the mountains to the headlands of the seaboard
some special singularity led to the gathering of the wing-
stemmed purple Loosestrife, in a damp place near Spezzia
Ly thrum Graefferi of Tenore, the Naples' systematist,
cousin-german in plants to Shakespeare's " Long Purples
of the Date."

Campanula macrorrhiza, Gay, a lovely serrate-heart-
leaved plant with thick white woody roots and large open
bell-bloom with a long protruding clapper-like style, seems,
along with C. isophylla (Moretti), special to the Riviera di
Ponente. It grows under, and hanging from rocks on the
hills above Albenga ; and Mr. Bicknell says " more abun-
dantly inland to a distance of five miles behind Finalmarina,
still in bloom at Christmas."

From the same district came the Campanula Sabatia,
De Notaris, another Harebell, recalling the Bluebell of
Scotland, but with drooping flower bud, incurved sepals,
and differing habit. It is represented by Fig. B, Plate 36,
of Mr. Bicknell's Flowering Plants and Ferns of the

One of the three Heathers attracted notice and was
gathered because of its departure from heathery ways in
a singular direction. The tip of the needle-leaved shoots
develop an abortive globular tip on which, through arrest
of stem-growth, broad boat-shaped hair-clothed leaves
crowd, one laid closely over another. This is Erica scoparia,
the Besom-heath in the vulgar.

On stony banks, brushwood, in the Finalborgo area, we
gathered the singular European Plumbago, so called because
of its clear prussian-blue or dark lead-coloured tube flowers.
It is a cousin-german of the P. Capensis of English green-
houses, held in such firm estimation by reason of its pale
turquoise to lavender flowers born in bottlebrush spikes,
each stalked flower springing from a sundew-gland-like

Near Albenga the Dyers' Woodruffe (Asperula tinctoria)
was gathered. The roots are used to dye wool a red colour.
Asp. arvensis was likewise noted.

Both Scabious were found 5. maritima and S. candicans ;
as well as the Red Beadstraw, Galium rubrum.

Of the great order of Asters (composite, as called by
botanists, from their many flowers gathered into one
head, the central ones usually yellow, the outer rows white,
though there are many exceptions, a few, like the Chicory,
being even bright blue) only a few were gathered for
preservation. Mostly coarse and bulky, these plants do
not lend themselves conveniently to pressing and drying
by those who are upon the road. The principal ones were
the yellow Shore Daisy, Chrysanthemum Myconis, Mar-
guerite-like but all yellow ; the field Wormwood Artemisia
campestris, and, at Torriglia, in the torrent bed, the familiar
British Coltsfoot, and rhubarb-leaved Butter-bur, which
has, since the landscape painter first set up his easel on a
river's bank, made a fine, foil foreground for more pictures
than any other single thing of green life. The yellow scaled,
narrow-leaved Everlasting, Helichrysum Stoechas, also
was noted on calcareous rocks at Albenga ; but the Edel-
weiss, called Stella d' Italia, which, though associated mostly
with Swiss legend, is " extremely abundant, in masses, on
the higher slopes of the Maritime Alps " (Bicknell), was
not attained to under the special circumstances of our

The next floral notable, gathered oftener than once
between Albenga and Genoa, is the Blue Globe Daisy, in
connection with which there are two economic and ecologic
facts of interest. The bush Globularia has leaves which are
senna-like and mildly aperient and much used to adulte-
rate those of the well-known " Black draught " of the
" liverish." The smaller form, vulgaris, is very common in
gravelly, grassy places, spangling the ground from Novem-
ber to May with its blue " pompom " asterine capitula.
But both are specially adapted for fertilization by butter-
flies (Muller) and the species (three in all) are the only
instances in the Germanic and Italian-Swiss floras " of a
blue colour having been produced by the selective agency
of Lepidoptera."

Travelling now a good way on the avenues of botanic
classification, the curious leafless Broomrape " minor "
or " major " 'tis hard to say with such a mummy as our
example of the Orobanche family became was collected
on marshy, grassy ground outside Spezzia.

The Snapdragon order yielded the Moth Mullein, the Ivy-
leaf Toadflax, and, in turf on arid hills, the pretty and
distinctive Odontites lutea, yellow awl-leaved Eyebright ;
whilst the Genoa neighbourhood in spring gave us Barre-
lier's Veronica, True Image, with flower " eyes " of pale
blue, and Torriglia, at some 2,000 feet, the Comb Eyebright,
Euphrasia pectinata, Tenore, and Jordan's majalis.

In sandy, grassy places near Spezzia the two grass-root
parasites, the Great Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus major] and
the gland -sticky Trixago viscosa, alike abundant in colonies
on the littoral in the Riviera and the sand dunes of
Lancashire and Cornwall, were gathered.

The White Henbane, Hyoscyamus albus, was found on
the sands of pathetic, deserted Bussana Vecchia. It is a
plant of no great beauty, but has a curiously-lidded box
fruit. In botanic parlance the seed receptacle is a buxus ;
it, and the black Nightshade of the same Sodomean order
being called vulgo " Morella."

Of the Convolvulus tribe, two only were gathered : the
Cantabrian and the mallow-leaved C. altheeoides, L. They
have pretty frail trumpet blooms, but are ephemeral like
other Morning Glorys.
At San Remo the bee-beloved Borage, with its harsh,
repellent leaves and invitingly-open eye-blooms, was in
evidence ; whilst its relation, the bulbose Comfrey (Sym-
phytum), attracted one's notice at Nervi, and, deepest of
violet-eyed flowers, the Stoneseed (Lithospermum purpureo-
cceruleum) was noted in bushy places and under the olives
in many of the more calcareous mountain spurs and fangs
which form the successive headlands of the littoral. This
plant has a curious and protective trick at its command.
It grows in tufts, in shade or on open banks, the stems which
flower successfully leaving behind them a polished porcelain
nut ready to be jerked off into some adjacent niche where it
may germinate and renew its life ; while those other leafy
stems the majority which cannot, for lack of time,
attain to blossom, lengthen out and, bending over until
their tips touch earth, at once take root there, literally
striding away two feet or more to establish a nidus of
independent life. This curious progression, to the end of
preservation of existence, is well-nigh unique among
European herbs, and yet was never adequately described
until Dr. Frederic N. Williams (of Brentford) reached its
class in his " Prodromus " of the British Flora, a work
not yet completed.

The odoriferous species of the Mint order, herbs or shrubs,
of Liguria are best described as legion. From English
Wild Thyme to other Thymes, many gatherings were made
to please eye and nose. Bee-worshipped and antiseptic,
their outlines and hues are as varied as their virtues ; with-
out undue assertiveness as individuals, though strikingly
pretty in some cases, on the dry, bushy hill-sides of Liguria,
" bee-haunted " as ever our own Furness fells, their preci-
sion of qualities in mass dominates the scene. There is the
fruticose Calamint, holding up, as with fingers, little candles
of its own on the hillside of Toirano, below the shrine of
St. Lucia. There is the even more rococo Lavandula
staechas, Spike Lavender, with tongues of violet hanging
from between the toothed lips of its flower-mouth, hoary
gray of foliage sweetening the air on the marble brows of
Spezzia. Two Herb Bugles (reptans and Iva) blow, one
or the other from April into late October, in suitable sites
on the ground they love ; and the maculated Dead Nettle,
with a pale yellow stripe down every heart-shaped leaf
(as though the sap-green had run short) occurs, more rarely,
on damp banks at Calizzano, Torriglia, etc. 1

Satureja montana, the shrubby Savory, makes sweet
even the torrent beds, wherein it blooms on its wiry wands
into late October.

And of Sage plants the noble Salvia pratensis spires in
the purple and green of its helmet-capped blossom from
out a heat tuft of hearty leaves in the grassy places it
affects. The pink-lipped Salvia canaviensis even, on the
Promenade at Sestri Levante, hung out one or two late
blossoms well into December.

Two Hemp Nettles, Stachys recta and maritima, not so
beneficently aromatic as the rest, occurred at Spezzia
and Albenga.

Of the Asclepiadeae Milkweed which have their
greatest development and variation in the western hemi-
sphere, only one, and that not truly native, Periploca
graeca, was observed on the public promenade at Nervi.

Of the decorative and distinctive herb Spurges, well
developed (there are over 30 different growths) along the
Riviera and Ligurian coast, the tree form, the only European
one growing to any size, was observed on barren slopes
from Finalmarina eastward, and the more familiar (in
English borders) Welcome Husband Home in many places
throughout the bee-land.

Near Spezzia we also gathered the Erba lazza or Com eta
(Ital. vulgo), a Spurge with softly hairy testicle-like fruit,
and horned purple-red glands ringing the green ruffed
blossom ; a singular plant in physiognomy, nodding
modestly in its youth, proudly displaying its umbrella-rib
flower-stalks in its maturity, inviting the worship of many

1 The green (chlorophyll) of leaves is developed under the invisible
wand of Sunlight, Palinurus the harlequin of the world's stage ; and
this " dead-nettle " being partial to shade one may, not too fancifully,
guess that the lack-green line bordering each leaf's sap artery is, broadly
speaking, due to there not being enough passes of the magic wand to
affect all the surface ! sorts of winged life. The flax-leaved Daphne Gnidium also
attracted notice in Eastern Liguria ; and by the Nervia
bridge, at Dolceacqua, and elsewhere near Sestri, the
spine-leaved blue-bloom-berried Juniper with needles
twice as long as the berry when ripe, which takes two years
to accomplish.

At Nervi, by the old mule-paths, was noticed a Nettle,
new to English eyes, with very thin long-stalked leaves,
and inflorescence differing with the sex : the male a curved
spike, on a winged stalk, and the female, a short-stalked
agglomeration at a lower level. It is sparsely supplied
with very venomous hairs.

With the Juniper we exhaust one great class of plants
and approach with reverential care, lest we misread or
inread too much that highly specialised group of Endogens
of which the Orchids, Lilies, and Grasses are grand types.

At Granarolo, above Genoa, about mid- April, we made
our first acquaintance with the insect, the fly imitating
Ophrys family, renewing it, with heightened amazement,
at Spezzia in May -time, the midsummer madness of Orchis,
Ophrys, and Serapias. Eleven species riot in the grassy
turf of a hill -side overlooking "La Superba": ivory white,
cream yellow, old rose, fawn, blue-gray, velvety brown,
red plush, green-veined pink and butterfly -winged purple,
all find some living green-thing of a flower to proudly or
shyly wear their colours in livery of garb that wondrously
closely represents a humble bee, a lady's mirror mounted
on black-purple plush like a coat of arms, a dark-bodied
blue-winged fly, a horse-fly, a saw fly, a diadem'd spider,
a livid leering satyr with tongue out, a chain-hanging
malefactor, legs splayed and arms dropped, or a striped
lizard suspended by its tail !

The Ophrys Bertolonii, of Morette, is the Bee Orch with
glazed shield on the back of the bumble's body ; the
Serapias lingua (commonest near Spezzia) and the Cordigera
with a third, a crossed intermediate, are the Iris-like
Orchids of more or less satyr and Silenus-like pose. The
Serapias cordigera, with its three-lobed tongue, purple
below, paler and browner towards its tip, in especial,
cosmically harmonises every hue and curve beautifully
ordered and synchronising through the successive stages
of its flower-time.

Orchis papilionacea, the Butterfly Orch, has a simple
conscious flaunt as of a pretty rustic about it, and the
commoner O. coriophora, with a variable sickly odour, is
almost the only Orchis with a distinctive rustic name
from its odour of bugs, it is the Cimiciattola of the Italian ;
whilst the tall, long loose-spray, deep violet blossomed
Orchis laxiftora (common near Spezzia) is simply the
Orch' di prato of the fields.

Another, O. Morio, var. picta, is very pretty, spurred,
with waved purple lip and wings of delicate rose with green
veins accentuating their slightness and transparency.

Yet another simulator is the O. simia, the Monkey Orchis,
of which but one was gathered ; and, still one more, the
Ophrys scolopax, of Cavanilles, the broad-veined toothed
lip of which seems to have a miniature long-billed Wood-
cock perched on the rim of the flower's throat, this effigy
being nor more nor less than the beak of the hood or helmet
which conceals the pollen masses and guards them from
wet. Another Ophrys, the O. Nicaeensis, Barla, a variety
of the Spider Orch, has a round, notched lip of brown velvet
impressed with crossing lines and dots of yellowish white,
similar to the markings of the Shrubbery Spider (Diadema) ,
which weaves such a wonderful geometrical web from leaf
to leaf on our Portugal Laurel bushes in the London parks.

Others not to be defined here are the variety Mon-
strosa a cross between the Green-winged Orchis -and O.
papilionacea ; O. tridentata, Scop. ; the sword-leaved
Cephalanthera ensifolia ; the pink hanging-man Orch
Acer as longibracteata ; the clove-scented Gymnadenia
conopsea ; and the other O. Fragrans which has
points about it that suggests hybridity, but with what
particular species it polygamates is not clear.

This ends the tale of these Orchs, the tribal features of
which are refinements and freakish adaptations far beyond
what obtains in any other less vegetised (one cannot say
civilised) races.

The Lilies, including the Garlics, present fewer difficul-
ties and so, perhaps, less interest to students. The most
beautiful and possibly biggest of all the Rivieran flowers
is amongst them, though not to be lightly gathered and dried
by reason of its proportions. This is the Amaryllid, by
name Pancratium maritimum, a lovely white, fringed cup
Lily, found on the sands of the shore (a shell idealised in a
flower) in many a spot between Cannes on the west to beyond
Albenga and Savona eastwardly. It flowers July to October
from a big sand-buried bulb, with glaucous daffodil leaf
blades, and an umbel of truly magnificent chalices of blossom,
with six stalked golden stamens growing from each second
dent of the twelve toothed crown of living alabaster.

Of the Arums, two were gathered the Friar's Cowl
(Arisarum vulgar e) of quaint rococo outline, its leaf a com-
promise between a blunt arrow-head flint and a mule's
calkin (it was got in October amidst the herbage of rocky
places), and the Italian Lords-and-Ladies, vulgo Phallus
monachi, with great diverging lobed arrow-shaped leaves,
the nerves of which are margined with white (through
absence of chlorophyll), got at Nervi in April, the immense
white spathe or sheath enclosing the female organs and the
male purple pollen-club at once revealing its kinship with
the great white cornucopia of the Lily of the Nile.

At Albenga the asperous Smilav Wild Sarsaparilla
attracts attention not only by its needle-fanged
leaves, which are a cross between heart and pike-head
in shape, wire stemmed, but by its tendrils climbing most
ornamentally over hedge vegetation.

The bicoloured (crown and ruff two shades of yellow)
Narcissus Tazetta was gathered above Genoa.

In sandy fields and in corn near Spezzia the beautiful
hyacinth (Bellevalia comosa, Kunth) arrays its habitats in
crowned spires of vividest violet, both individually and
en masse, like the red Poppy, a glory for the eye while its
loveliness lasts.

At Sestri Levante and again (in fruit) at Pegli, the singu-
lar leafy Tongue-Bloom, Ruscus hypoglossus (" very rare in
the Arma valley, Ceriana," says Mr. Bicknell) cried out for
notice. The two-inch acute ovate "leaves" are but expan-
sions of the stem, as is shown by leaves bearing first a
flower and then a berry fruit, right in the central line of
the upper side of the leathery, laurelline blade. The real
" leaf " is minimised to an awl-like scale below.

The hollow-stemmed Asphodel (A . fistulosus) one of the
classic blooms of "the glory that was Greece " outstretched
its candelabra of six rayed white stars by the sides of the
mule-paths at Nervi, near Genoa, and elsewhere. Its
spires possess a prim pale charm all their own : the vestal
taper flames of the fallentis semita vitae that Horace
commemorates .

At Torriglia, in the Appennine foot hills (600-700 metres)
the Crocuses, (C. vernus and versicolor), white, purple, or
violet striped, are a gay feature of March and April, just
after the melting of the snow sets free their enciente corms
not a true bulb but a swollen rotund root-stock.

Only one Iris, or Fleur-de-Luce proper, was preserved,
the Yellow Flag of English water-meads (Iris pseud- A cor us),
seen near Albenga and in damp ground in the neighbour-
hood of Spezzia. It is not given for any place nearer, more
west, than that in Mr. Bicknell's Flora of Bordighera ;
nor does the Western Riviera harbour the distinct red and
green bearded Iris Italica, par excellence a Ligurian indigene ;
it occurs along the sands and railway banks at Borgio,
Verezzi, and near Finalmarina in " great profusion " in
early spring (Bicknell's Flowering Plants and Ferns of
the Riviera, Plate 67). Our example was gathered near
Portovenere, where, also in damp, sandy places, grew that
other Irid the Illyrian Corn Gladiolus (G. segetum], with
its one-sided spikes of rosy-purple trumpet blooms.

In October, in the stony bed of the Centa, near Albenga,
the neat violet rose heads of Allium pulchellum, Don, cried
out to be garnered. It is of the Shalot sort, with two or
three narrow leaves on the foot-high stem. In April,
near Nervi, was got Allium neapolitanum with numerous
paper-white stalked blossoms " lasting long in a water-
vase " (Bicknell). There, likewise, grew Allium paniculatum,
with pale rose purple heads of bloom (stamens not protruding
from the perianth) and prolongation of the flower-head
stalk through the umbel bearing silvery bulbil onions
a second string against extinction to hang on to life by.

In conclusion, of the many Grasses, Sedges and Fern allies,
what shall be said ? To the expert in those directions in
which perception and comparison are the paramount
factors, there are many both instructive and illuminative
forms, and a few of great decorative interest like the Canes,
Arundo Donax (often planted although very common and
native in damp places in the valleys), the fingered Andro-
pogon hirtum of variable facies, and the viviparous bulbous-
rooted Poa, so impious of aspect because of the baby tufts
of grass growing out of the parent inflorescence. But to
the casual tourist, who takes an interest in grass en masse
rather than in little, it is hardly possible to describe the
salient forms in a popular manner. The Burr-grass of Italy ,
Lappago or Tragus racemosus, with singularly pretty,
purplish spine-protected flower-sheaths, partial to hot,
sandy places where it can live when little else will, was
gathered near Albenga, and remains, though a mere mummy
dried, a continuing joy to the botanist. Briza maxima,
the great, brown silvery inflated Trembling Grass, was not
rare near Spezzia, while the huge green-plume panicles of
the Great Reed (Arundo Donax) never fail to give the
impression of combined grace and power. It is excelled,
perhaps, only by the Bamboo or the Sugar-Cane, which,
however, strike a coarser note. Then, again, those love-
grasses the Eragrostis megastachia and that of Ravenna ;
the branching Melics, M. major and M. Baugini, by the
roadside out to Portovenere from Spezzia ; mingle
with the graces and the beauties of idyllic days that
have come and gone to comrades, leaving in their wake
the silver streak of Memory which outlives much more
material things.

Last but earliest type of all in existing vegetal forms
the Horse-tails (Equisetum) , in four varieties 1, the field
E. arvense; 2, the swamp's E. palustre ; 3, the great bottle-
brush E. maximum, and 4, the loose-sheathed, branched
E. ramosissimum of sandy places were all retrieved from
the neglect they suffer at the hand of the passer-by. On
the Ligurian littoral they strike a note of reminder of
historic Change, unending, still evolving in the vegetable
world, its Alphas, its Deltas, ay ! and the rest, through the
letters that are as eons in Evolution, though not, it must
be added, down to any Omega of the present day.

R. G. Frederic Lees's Liguria -- illustrated by Edith Lees

Luigi Speranza

F. Lees,
















With sixty photographic illustrations by the Author and a Map.

"Give to me the life I love,/Let the lave go by me;/Give the jolly heaven above,/And the by-way nigh me."
----- R. L. STEVENSON.

London, 1913.

A DEDICATORY LETTER TO J. K., ANTIQUARY, Member of the "Societa Ligure di Storia Patria", San Remo. Amico carissimo,

The call of the North has been answered, and here I am once more in my native land,
with a gray sky overhead and a cold wind whistling down the street.

But as I write my thoughts are elsewhere.

The sound of the sea is in my ears, and a succession of southern visions pass before my mental eye.

I can hear the rhythmical beat of the Mediterranean on the shore of the Ligurian

I can see the intense blue of the water, the white foam on the beach, the irregular
line of the coast, with its creeks and bays and amphitheatres of hills, the purple peaks of distant mountains rising into the azure, the white and red houses of townlets and villages clustering here and there above the shore, and, out in the open, the triangular sails of little fleets of feluccas, resembling huge white mythical birds floating upon the waves.

Ah! now the scene has changed.

I am on a steep mule path which zigzags up a terraced hillside, clad with olives, and as, at a point where the stony way winds beneath a rocky buttress, I turn round to rest and admire the landscape, an exquisite view of the Mediterranean and a coast town nestling at the base of a promontory appears enframed within an opening in the gray-green leaves of the trees.

Soon the ancient way takes me out of sight of the sea, and, proceeding over hills and into valleys, cleft by the rushing waters of mountain torrents, leads to one of the hill-towns of Liguria, a mass of gray, weather-beaten houses proudly perched on the crest and topmost ridge of a mountain.

It stands in the defiant attitude of an eagle which has built its nest on a
high crag and is ever on the watch for its enemies as, indeed it was, in the turbulent days of the Middle Ages.

In what a fine strategical position it is placed!

And what a view of the valley can be obtained from the point where the pathway enters, as though through the portal of a feudal castle, an ancient gateway leading into its narrow, tortuous streets!

Far below my feet winds the main torrent, at this distance a mere thread of water shining in the sun.

Olive groves and vineyards cover the sides of the broad valley, and here and there, within the folds of the hills, are other towns and villages, each likewise holding itself aloof from the world, under the protection of a church with a tall, painted tower.

But once more my surroundings have changed.

I am walking through the streets of a cittd where everything carries me back to mediaeval Italy.

There are ancient, picturesque gates in its crumbling circle of walls.

The narrow streets are bordered by stately houses, with sculptured doorways, spacious vestibules, and marble staircases, whilst carved shrines and
paintings in honour of the Madonna adorn many a street corner.

And thus, as I write to you from this dear land of cloudy skies, the mental pictures pass one by one before me, each a delightful record of some part of the fourteen months I spent in Liguria, wandering along the shores and up the green valleys of your native province, or else basking in the sunshine in your incomparable gardens.

To complain of one's fate is a common sin among Westerners, but how often we
have reason to bless the ills which momentarily assail us!

I, at any rate, shall never regret that necessity directed my steps towards Italy.

Times without number have I congratulated myself on having found there a new country, a new language, and, what is better than either, a new friend.

How well I remember the day, amico carissimo, when I crossed your little sunlit piazza, and, in search of books to increase my knowledge of the history of Liguria, entered the door of your shop!

Fortune, indeed, led me kindly by the hand on that memorable afternoon.

For, among the pictures of Saints and Madonnas, silver and ivory crucifixes, lengths of ancient lace, and the innumerable curios which every diligent antiquary manages to collect around him, I found what was better than a whole library of Ligurian literature yourself and, a little later, when our acquaintance ripened into friendship, such an offer of assistance as few travellers have enjoyed.

It happened that the time had come when both of us had need to become wayfarers.

Your collection of antiquities needed replenishing, whilst I, for my part, wished to
obtain a personal knowledge of those natural beauties of which Charles Dickens and John Addington Symonds (to mention only two of the many cultured travellers who have
found the coast of Liguria unsurpassed for purely idyllic loveliness by anything in the South) have written so enthusiastically in their Italian Sketch Books.

So you proposed and the bargain was promptly sealed that we should go forth together.

You in quest of curios, I in search of the picturesque.

And now let me acknowledge the debt I owe you.

Though my knowledge of the glorious history of Liguria was by no means slight before we set out on our wanderings, it had the defect of being gained purely from books.

It had not yet become that living knowledge into which history is transformed
when read in conjunction with a country's historical monuments.

This was the point of view which you taught me to take, and which, as far as was possible, I have endeavoured to set forth in the following record of our journey.

To you, again, is due no small part of the credit for having inspired me to write these pages.

So many people annually come to Liguria, bent on travel, that, if you remember, we many times agreed that a book on the history and landscape of the province would be of value both to fireside travellers and those who might choose to follow in our

Many of those who make it their winter residence have but a faint knowledge of the splendid story of the province which gave birth to Columbus, and where the
immortal Alighieri wandered.

Especially is this so in the case of the valleys of Liguria and the beautiful little hill-towns buried away in the mountains.

Consequently I have devoted many pages to a description of the banks of the numerous great torrents, whose windings we followed during our three months' wanderings.

But I have written not merely for the tourist.

"Amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare,"

to quote the words which Alighieri puts into the mouth of Beatrice when she comes from Paradise to speak with Virgil on behalf of her lover.

And verily this record has, to a great extent, been penned for the personal
satisfaction which is gained by recalling
those many happy days which I spent in
sunny Italy with my old friend of San Remo.

Permit me, therefore, to dedicate these pages
to you, and believe me to be, ever yours

Frederic Lees.
London, February, 1912.

Chapter I: On the valley of Nervia and back to the sea.

"I CAN assure you, amico mio," said the Antiquary, when we were well upon the road
which leads from Ventimiglia towards the Nervia valley, " that the dry facts of the
historian will assume a different aspect during our three months' wanderings. Books can teach us much, but the picture is never really complete until we have shouldered our knapsacks and gone forth to find the traces of our ancestors. Ah ! how living history becomes when it is read not merely on the printed page, but on the hills and in the dales and along the highways and by-ways!"

That students do far too little towards supplementing their book knowledge by travel
and a personal inspection of a country's historical landmarks was one of my brother
wayfarer's favourite themes, and he was in a mood, on that bright September morning,
to press the point home.

I did my best to aid the current of his thought.

For I knew how competent he was to speak about the antiquities of the ancient Italian province which we had set out to explore.

There was not a yard of Liguria which he did not know.

Year after year his work had taken him there and ever on foot.

Now along the Cornice, now along the roads leading up the valleys, linked together by a network of innumerable ancient mule-paths, the smallest of which his feet had trod.

And thus, in course of time, he had traversed its entire length and breadth, as defined by Augustus from the Magra at one end to the Varo at the other, and between the boundaries of the Mediterranean and the Po.

Few other parts of the world, according to him, possessed such varied interests as Liguria.

Few other places were so worthy of being visited by the

And, above all, few other provinces could boast of so many still visible proofs of
their great antiquity.

This method of reading the story of a people's progress, and the many evident advantages which it presented to the specialist and dilettante alike, was, as I have
said, one of my old friend's favourite topics, and so, by the time our feet had fallen into step, I found myself listening to an outline of the history of Liguria, based, for the most part, on what we might expect to see during our travels.

Though the origin of the ancient Ligurians is by no means clear, tradition and the
researches of the paleontologist concord in identifying them with those races which,
at a time when the lowlands were for the most part covered with water, inhabited the mountains of Italy.

To the early Greek writers, who named them first "Ligui" and then "Ligures", they were the people of the western shores of the Mediterranean.

But that they had a much earlier origin and were known by the name of

"Ambri", or

as many place-names in northern Italy show, is evident.

An ancient inscription on the architrave of the right-hand side of the principal nave of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, in Genova, attributes the foundation of that essentially Ligurian city to Janus, King of the Aborigines, and we shall probably not be far from the truth in concluding that the Ligurians and the Aborigines were one and the same, and that their descent towards the littoral was preceded by a very long period of time the traditional Golden Age during which their activity was confined to the mountain regions.

One of the most striking features of Liguria, due to its special geographical
conditions, is its caverns, and the prehistoric remains which they have been found to contain throw a very important light on the habits and customs of the races of fifty to a hundred centuries ago.

The curious rock drawings met with in many parts of the mountains aid, too, in summoning before the imaginative traveller a fairly comprehensive picture of those early days.

Owing to their peculiar geographical position, the Ligurians came into touch with
civilization from two directions.

They entered into commercial relations with the Celtic races of the valley of the Po and with the Greeks who approached by way of the sea.

The earlier navigators of the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians, do not appear to have been successful in establishing colonies in Liguria.

On the other hand, the Greeks, after taking possession of Sicily and Southern Italy,
obtained, in the seventh century B.C., complete mastery of the Ligurian Sea.

Genova, like Aleria and Marseilles a century later, became an important commercial port.

Tangible evidence of this Grecian occupation and its influence on the customs of the Genoese, was brought to light in 1898, when, whilst making the new Via XX Settembre, some crematory tombs, attributed to the fifth century A.D., were discovered.

As the early Ligurians buried their dead, a great change had evidently taken place in their practices.

Face to face with the allied Etruscans and Carthaginians, the influence of Greece began gradually to decline, and was finally replaced by that of her competitors.

Questions of interest probably prevented the Ligurians from coming into very close relations with the former race, but Polybius shows that they were on excellent terms with the latter.

They acted as mercenaries in the Carthaginian army, and the Romans, in their treaties with the Carthaginians, made it a condition that they should no longer raise troops in Liguria.

At the close of the second Carthaginian War, the Romans, comprehending the importance of Liguria from the point of view of the security of the Empire, undertook the long and difficult task of subjugating its inhabitants.

And it was at this period that the Ligurians began to assume a really prominent part in history.

One must beware, however, of accepting the biased statements which are to be found in the works of Livy and other Latin writers.

All who were without the Empire were barbarians, consequently the Ligurians, to the zealous chroniclers of the mighty deeds of Rome, were but savage cave-dwellers, clothed in skins, and devoid of even the most primitive social organisation.("To other than Roman writers, the Ligurians were distinguished for their sobriety, the simplicity of their customs, and especially their indomitable courage." Arturo
Issel's Liguria Geologica e preistorica, Genoa, 1892).

Fortunately, this false view can be corrected by means of a magnificent document which was discovered at Isosecco, near Pedemonte, in 1506, and which can be seen in one of the rooms of the Municipal Palace in Genova.

Whilst working in the fields a peasant unearthed a bronze plate, measuring forty-
eight centimetres in length and thirty-eight centimetres in breadth, and bearing an inscription which was found to be a judicial decision delivered in Rome in the year 117 B.C. in regard to a territorial dispute between the Ligurians of Genoa and those of Langasco, in the Polcevera valley.

The judgment shows that the people of Liguria had already, at the time of the Roman conquest, reached a comparatively high state of civilization.

They had long since abandoned the savage life of the troglodyte and had passed from shepherdism to agriculture.

They held their land on lease from their compatriots of the littoral, who were devoted to commerce.

And they were divided, like the people of ancient Greece, into a number of small races, each possessing its definite area of territory.

It was largely owing, doubtless, to these sub-divisions, and consequent lack of union, that they failed to withstand the Roman legions.

But the conquest of Liguria was no easy one, and it was only by massacre and
transportation that the invaders finally succeeded in taking possession of the

The introduction of Roman civilization
into Liguria marked an era of prosperity
which has lasted even until the present day.

Genova, which had early espoused the cause of the invaders, was rebuilt and, once more becoming a port, shared with Pisa and Marseilles, now that Carthage was destroyed, the commercial supremacy of the Mediterranean.

The country was opened up to commerce by means of roads and trading centres, which after a time developed into towns.

The Via Postumia led from Genova to Piacenza, and thence as far as Aquileia.

Whilst the Via Aurelia followed the coast from Pisa to Vado, where it was met by the Via Julia Augusta, which, after coming from Tortona, by way of Acqui, continued along the coast, past Albenga and Ventimiglia, right into Gaul.

Well-preserved portions of these great thoroughfares to mention only one part of
the work of the Roman architects and builders are frequently met with by the
traveller in Liguria.

He finds, too, that later periods in history have also left their indelible mark on the face of the country.

The Byzantine epoch is represented in the architecture of a number of early Christian edifices, whilst recollections of the Middle Ages are constantly revived by many an ancient ruin.

He can picture, for instance, how great must have been the agitation in Genova, in 641, amongst the numerous Italian refugees who had collected there, when the
news came that the Lombards, who had occupied Milan since 570, had invaded

For it was then that the wall running from the hill of Sant' Andrea to San Siro, and the remains of which were recently brought to light among the foundations of the Convent of Sant' Andrea, was erected.

As to the days when the feudal system was established, after the Papacy and the Italian nationalist party, tired of the Lombardian domination and eager to revive
the ancient empire of the West, called Charlemagne to their aid and crowned him
Emperor in Rome at the close of 799, how vividly they are recalled by the many
picturesque castles in the valleys of Liguria!

And again, there are the towers along the coast and the villages hidden away in the
most inaccessible parts of the hills to serve as a perpetual reminder of the Saracen raids of the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries.

But is it possible to point to an epoch in the varied and stirring history of Liguria which is not illuminated by ancient monuments?

My companion did not think so.

All times, he promised me, were richly represented.

The Commune of Genova and its Renaissance.

The two centuries of warfare between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines, led by the Fieschis and the Grimaldis on the one hand, and by the Spinolas and the Dorias on the other.

The establishment of the Republic and its constant but vain efforts to bring the towns of Liguria under its dominion.

The centuries when the city again had recourse to the foreigner and in the days of the great Andrea Doria came under the domination of Spain.

And, finally, its slow decay in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Before leaving Ventimiglia I had done my best, under the antiquary's enthusiastic
guidance, to throw myself back into the past of his beloved province.

And I was grateful to him for his inspiring aid.

For to me Ventimiglia had been known merely as a very exasperating stopping place on the way into Italy.

It was merely an international railway station, on the boundary line between France
and Italy the spot where there is fifty-five minutes difference in time between the clocks of Paris and those of Central Europe.

The spot where weary travellers wait for their luggage to be opened and examined by exacting custom-house officers.

But on leaving the station I found that Ventimiglia was something more than a place of martyrdom.

On the slope of the hill above the broad bed of the Roja, which, as one of the principal rivers of Liguria, is mentioned by Pliny the Elder, and by Lucan, under the name of Rutuba, are grouped the picturesque houses of the old town, with the ruins of the castle of the Counts of Ventimiglia the castle around which the inhabitants took refuge in the Middle Ages when constant strife reigned
between Ventimiglia and Genova.

The manner in which they are clustered together not with an air of fear, but as though for attack, admirably sums up that long struggle for the sovereignty of the little coast towns.

In 1130 the reigning Count of Ventimiglia went to Genova to bend the knee and swear
fidelity to the Commune, but his subjects -- conscious of their rights and their strength -- more than once rebelled, and, indeed, were not subjugated until 1222, after many a strenuous fight.

Our ramble in the old town was followed by a visit to the cathedral and baptistery,
which are classed among the national monuments of Italy.

The former is on the plan of a basilica, with three naves, and it was built on the remains of a temple dedicated to Juno.

In 1842, having suffered considerable damage in the thirteenth, seventeenth,
and nineteenth centuries through earthquake and neglect, it was abandoned.

Two parties then arose, one in favour of its destruction and the building of a new church, and the other in favour of restoration.

Fortunately the latter gained the day.

But the work was so ill done that it had to be started entirely over again, this time under the skilful direction of Count Edouardo Arborio Mella.

Work was begun in 1875 and concluded two years later.

As far as possible the building was restored to its pristine state.

The decorative part is due to Giuseppe Costa, the frescoes to Antonio Hartman.

At present the cathedral contains eight altars, but originally there were only four.

And at one time it possessed numerous famous relics, including precious silver ornaments.

Now, its only possessions are the coffer and bust of San Secondo, the principal patron saint of Ventimiglia.

The three chapels preceding the bell tower are thirteenth century constructions.

Adjoining this cathedral is the baptistery, which architectural authorities
consider is one of the finest examples of early Christian buildings.

It was doubtless built in the fifth century.

Its form is octagonal, exactly eight metres, forty-three centimetres in diameter, not including the eight little niches four of them semicircular and four
rectangular which surround it.

The height of these niches is six metres fifty centimetres, and above their round arches rests the upper portion of the octagon, which is terminated by a semicircular cupola, surmounted by a lantern.

In the centre of the building stands an octagonal stone basin, with two steps
leading up to it, and in one of its remaining sides for a portion of the basin is missing are two curious semicircular indentations, evidently intended to allow the officiating priests to get nearer to those they were admitting into the church.

I suspect that the Antiquary would have liked to have lingered longer in this ancient town, where some important archaeological discoveries have recently been made.

But I was so eager to get to our valley that we decided to see there only what was absolutely essential.

And once we had taken to the road, it was not long before we came within sight of the Nervia.

The highway skirts the railway for some three-quarters of a mile an uninteresting stretch of ground and then, after crossing the line, follows the broad, stony bed of the torrent.

Suddenly the landscape changed to a thing of beauty.

The bone-dry bed of the river was thick with vegetation, and helped to form, with the distant village of Camporosso, an almost perfect picture. In the foreground
were oleander and tamarisk bushes.

In the middle distance the partly hidden houses, with a tall and graceful church spire rising above a clump of trees, kissed by the morning sun.

And beyond, the cloud-capped hills, veiled with a delicate blue haze.

Camporosso was one of a number of little townships of the coast which, throughout trie fourteenth century, struggled for independence against Ventimiglia, and it is thought by some that it takes its name from a blood-stained battlefield.

But it is more probably named after the rose-coloured flowers of the Nerium oleander, which abounds all along the Val Nervina.

Passing through a shady avenue of plane trees, the main road leaves the village on the right and continues along the winding bed of the torrent, and the nearer you approach the neighbouring town of Dolceacqua, the narrower and more beautiful the valley becomes.

It is in great part devoted to the growing of olives, and on either hand groves
of these lovely gray-green trees, interspersed here and there with vineyards and orchards, stretch up the hillside.

There is nothing that stimulates contemplation so powerfully as the olive groves of

They are continually inviting the wayfarer to leave his hot and dusty highway,
to recline under the cool shade of their leaves, and to let his thoughts run free.
When within about a mile of Dolceacqua, at a point where we got our first and most
perfect view of the town and its hill-crowned castle, they began to exercise their potent influence upon us.

Only a few yards away, a grassy plateau, overlooking a precipitous descent into the valley, was waiting to receive us ; so we sat under the trees to take
in the beauty of the surroundings at our leisure, and to let our vagabond thoughts
dwell on their history.

Far below was the first indication of the Nervia.

A silver thread meandering amidst a stony expanse until, here and there under the rocks, it collected in deep, dark-green basins of water.

Not wholly, however, did the river bed suggest a wilderness.

It has been reclaimed in part by industrious peasant proprietors, who have
planted there some of the vineyards from which the noted red wine of Dolceacqua, il
rossese, is made.

And these verdant oases add in no small measure to the picturesqueness of the landscape.

Rocky pine-clad hills form a background to the picture, the most prominent feature of which are the irregular houses of the little town, rising one above the other under the lee of the castle.

The ancestral home of the Dorias is a massive parallelogram, furnished at three of
its corners with towers, one of them round, the others square and crowned with parapets.

It is a characteristic building of the fifteenth century, when castles were at one and the same time residences and strongholds.

As such it was supplied with a deep moat and a drawbridge, and the various living rooms and chapel were, as is shown by ancient inventories, richly furnished.

The splendour of its halls and library and picture-gallery has, however, departed, and there remains only that air of majesty which continues to float around the dismantled walls and grass-grown courtyards of these romantic relics of feudalism.

The Marquisate of Dolceacqua, formerly in the possession of the Counts of Ventimiglia, came into the hands of the great Doria family at the end of the thirteenth century, when Genova, after dominating both the Rivieras, became the scene of bitter civil war the struggle between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines which ended in 1270 with the victory of the latter, under the leadership of Oberto Spinola and Oberto Doria.

It was in that year that Oberto Doria, the son of the Pietro Doria who gained the naval battle of Khania in 1266, and the descendant of one of the most illustrious families in Italy, acquired Dolceacqua.

A few years later he counted other neighbouring towns and districts among his possessions.

Apricale and Isolabona were gathered in in 1287, Perinaldo in 1288, and San Remo in 1297.

And thus was built up the fortune of the house which looms so large in the history of Liguria.

Several distinguished members of the family first saw the light at Dolceacqua.

Enrichetto in 1444, Imperiale in 1553, and Stefano in 1580.

And in the fifteenth century one of Oberto' s descendants Caracossa married Ceva Doria, of Oneglia, the father of that Andrea Doria who displayed, in so remarkable
a manner, his ancestors' traditional courage, clear-sightedness, and genius in diplomacy.

The oldest part of Dolceacqua is that which lies immediately beneath the castle walls.

It is locally known as the Terra, to distinguish it from the Borgo on the right bank of the river.

And the two are joined by a most picturesque old bridge of a single span of
thirty-five yards.

It is well worth while crossing this bridge to explore the dark, cool streets all secured together at the top with earthquake arches to discover there the
many ancient things which mean so much to the lover of old houses.

Carved wooden doors, wrought-iron balconies, barred prison-like windows, and dates on antique lintels.

And then, by way of the Via Castello, to climb up the hillside and wander among the ruins.

On these mountain paths the air is scented with thyme, mint, and marjoram, and there
is nothing to disturb one's thoughts save the pleasant noise of the sure-footed mules as they clatter down the stony ways burdened with huge loads of firewood, sacks of pinecones, or sweet-scented fodder.

A red-sealed diploma on the walls of a trattoria, declaring that its holder, the proprietor, had been granted a gold medal for ten years' faithful service in the household of a German baron, held forth the promise of good fare, so before continuing up the valley, we had our mid-day meal.

A Spartan meal, if you like (it consisted of olives, a tomato omelette, fresh figs, and peaches), but perfect in every detail.

It was our rule and all walkers and climbers would do well to follow it, to eat frugally whilst on the march.

At the Ponte Barbaira, two-thirds of a mile from Dolceacqua, a branch road leads
to Rocchetta Nervina, a mountain town which for many years upheld the Guelf party against the seat of Oberto Doria's marquisate.

But as our round, before returning to the sea, was to be a long one, we kept our feet well on the banks of the Nervia and, ever rising, went on to Isolabona and Pigna.

Ere reaching the former place, which rests at the foot of a steep hill, with a tall cypress on the left bank of the stream, we were once more reminded of the Dorias, this time in their commercial capacity, which (or they would not have been Genoese) was very fully developed.

As early as 1290 they established parchment manufactories in their domains, and here, near Isolabona, was one of them still standing that in which Magister
Bartholomeus Villanus worked in the early years of the sixteenth century.

Pigna, which stands a thousand feet above sea level, in a strong position on the right bank of the Nervia, recalls the names of members of the House of Savoy and the long struggle between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines.

Nearly a thousand feet higher, on the opposite side of the valley, is perched
the village of Castel Vittorio, still stronger strategically.

And as this formidable mountain stronghold owed allegiance to Genova, there was incessant strife between the rival parties.

At last, in 1365, peace was signed on the Ponte di Lagopigo, which crosses the
torrent just beyond Pigna.

But the time came, in 1625, when it was broken, and Pigna, in spite of its strength, was captured by Battivilla, the commander of the troops of the Republic.

These memories interested us less, however, than what Pigna had to offer in the way of works of art and natural beauties, and before we left it behind we heartily agreed with some reflections which we found written in the visitors' book at the

"Apart from the charm of the village and the interest of the frescoes in the cemetery church", ran the words of our unknown brother wayfarer, "what a delight-
ful centre for excursions is Pigna. What lovely walks to Castel Vittorio, to Buggio, or up the Muratone and Olivetta valleys! What splendid longer excursions to Monte Toraggio, Monte Grai, Monte Ceppo, Bajardo, or up the Rio Incisa, or to the woods near Gola di Gota! And what a centre for wild flowers!"

"Now (March 29th, 1909) the banks are all covered with primroses and hepaticas, and
later laburnum, fritillaries, peonies, scarlet Turk's Cap lilies, columbines, gentians, edelweiss, and the rarest ferns of this part of the world are all to be found not far from Pigna."

Winding up the hillside, the steep main street of the village leads to its principal
square, the Piazza Umberto I, where, in addition to an extensive view over the house-tops, an interesting carved doorway is to be seen.

We found that this led to an ancient covered square with vaulted roof supported by columns, in one of which is an iron ring to which malefactors were formerly
attached, this being the place where the people of Pigna were wont as indeed they
are now to congregate.

Not far away stands the parish church of San Michele, which was built in 1450 by two illustrious Genoese.

Giorgio Dellamotta and Giovanni Bisone.

It contains, among other works of art, an exceedingly fine picture of the fifteenth
century by Giovanni Ranavesio of Pinerolo, the artist-priest whose presence in Pigna in 1482 is proved by the admirable frescoes in the neighbouring Chapel of San Bernardo, adjoining the cemetery.

It is painted on wood, on a gold ground, and is divided into thirty-six compartments, the principal one of which is devoted to the Archangel Michael.

"The vivacity of the faces," writes one of Ranavesio' s eulogists, "the naturalness of the carnations, the brilliancy of the armour and draperies, and the fine brush-work, testify to the artist's by no means common skill."

Certainly this praise is none too high, and it was with eagerness that we set off for San Bernardo to see another example of this artist's work.

But, alas! after a quarter of an hour's walk up a mountain path shaded by olive trees, we found that his frescoes had lost most of their early beauty.

The chapel of San Bernardo is now a national monument, but, as is so often the case, the protection of the State came too late.

Damp, the falling into ruins of the roof, and clumsy restoration of the paintings after the earthquake of 1887, have played havoc with Ranavesio's handiwork.

One of the most important of his frescoes, that representing the Last Judgment,
on the wall on the left, is utterly spoilt.

However, let us be thankful for the Via Crucis and whatever else remains.

Thankful that, unlike the mural paintings by the same artist in the Benedictine church of San Tommaso, whose ruins stand among the olives, some twenty minutes' walk away, these once beautiful frescoes have not been entirely destroyed.

Ranavesio seems to have done a good deal of work in this district.

He also decorated the chapel of N.S. del Fontan, at Briga, in the Roja valley.

We sought in vain, however, for the work of another artist-priest, the Dominican Father Emmanuele Macari, which is strange, considering that he was a native of Pigna.

The name of his parents and the exact date of his birth (supposed to be in the year 1522) are unknown, but he is said to have come of a family which for long years occupied the chief civic posts there.

Macari joined the Dominican order in his youth, and was attached to the convent of
Santa Maria della Misericordia, at Taggia, where he probably learnt the art of painting from Corrado di Alemagna, and was a fellow-student of Ludovic Brea, of Nice.

"So it is at Taggia and elsewhere, but not at Pigna," said the Antiquary, "that we may expect to find his work."

When we commenced our climb to Castel Vittorio, with far-away Bajardo, nearly three
thousand feet above the sea, as the ultimate goal of another day's wanderings, I had no idea how trying an Italian mule-path can be to the legs of an inexperienced climber.

The well-seasoned Antiquary, scorning the easier but circuitous via carrozzabile, contended that the ancient way was infinitely the better, and that a short walk would bring us to the summit of the hill.

And, indeed, seen through the marvellously clear atmosphere, Castel Vittorio seemed at but a stone's throw.

Yet that zig-zagging strada mulattiera meant (to me, at least) three-quarters of an hour's stiff climbing.

An excellent introduction, as my friend put it, to our ten kilometre journey
(equivalent to double on the level), and a sort of apprenticeship to our mountain
excursions in Liguria.

One soon learns, in fact, to prefer these mule paths to any other ways, owing to the exquisite views which time after time appear before one's gaze and draw forth
involuntary exclamations of admiration.

Shortly after reaching Cast el Vittorio, where we passed through a diminutive square, and narrow, tunnel-like streets, we found ourselves once more on the hillside, looking down upon the village.

Up and up our mountain path, winding in and out amidst huge boulders, up and up, through chestnut groves and past wayside shrines we mounted, until at
last the valley lay at our feet, with both Castel Vittorio and Pigna shining like gems in the sun.

At a height of a little over two thousand feet we came to the Chapel of San Sebastiano, situated in a fine position on a ridge overlooking two valleys, and here we got our first view of Bajardo, a small cluster of impregnable-looking houses on the crest of the opposite hill.

Descending to the level of the vines, the mule path then brought us to a little mountain stream, where it became lost to sight.

But we picked up its traces further on and, ever descending, quickly reached the bed of the Bonda torrent, which is crossed by a substantial stone bridge.

Bajardo was now right above our heads, and to reach it looked but an easy walk.

Our hardest climb, however, had yet to come, and at a time of day, too, when we could ill-afford to loiter by the way.

For the sun was getting very low, flooding the top of a distant hillside with roseate light.

Soon it would disappear altogether and leave the valleys in semi-darkness. The possibility of having to pass the night on the mountain side for to have attempted in the darkness to ascend the precipitous, and in many places, indistinguishable track, would have been folly made us hasten forward at the top of our speed.

And just as I was beginning to despair of ever reaching the end of our crooked way,
the sound of voices came through the chilly air, and, emerging from a pine-wood on to a plateau, we encountered a party of contadini, under whose escort we safely entered into Bajardo.

Historically, Bajardo appears to have played no very important part in the story
of Liguria. If battles were fought beneath its walls, they cannot have been of vital
importance, since my companion had failed to discover any mention of them in its scant records.

Perhaps its almost inaccessible position dismayed the would-be invader ere he set out on the march.

Or did it lie so off the beaten track that its possession by one or the other party weighed but little in the political balance?

And yet Genova, to whom, presumably, it nominally owed allegiance during the Middle Ages, did not wholly despise it, for we learn that in the year 1282 the Republic drew upon its forests for the wood required in the construction of 50 galleys to be used in the war against Pisa.

Few, however, as the historical events connected with Bajardo may be, its name
never fails to awaken interest in the minds of those who hear it, and it is probably as well known to the outside world as any of the hill villages of this part of Italy.

It is identified with an event which stirred the hearts of people all over Europe, and cast a deep shadow over the homes of thousands all along the Riviera.

I refer to the great earthquake of February 23rd, 1887.

The two places to suffer the most were Bajardo and Bussana, and in the case of both villages many of the victims were those who were attending early mass, for the day was Ash

(This great earthquake also did much damage at Diana Marina and Oneglia, which were almost completely ruined.

Among the other towns along the coast which suffered Wednesday.

The church roof fell in, killing, as a memorial stone at one end of the village
records, no fewer than two hundred and two worshippers, besides injuring sixty-two others.

Many of the houses, too, around the Chiesa di San Nicolo da Ban were shattered, and a visit to this ruined quarter (for church and houses have never been repaired to this day) is the melancholy yet obligatory duty of every one who comes to Bajardo.

So deep is the impression left by a ramble among the deserted streets that one is inclined to ask if this one event of 1887 does not monopolise all a traveller's interest.

Perhaps so, if he be merely a passing guest, but emphatically no should he come to have a longer acquaintance with Bajardo.

It is noted, in fact, for its particularly pure air and healthy position, and as it is now connected with San Remo by a good carriage road, it bids fair to become
a favourite summer resort for well-to-do were

Porto Maurizio,
Alassio and

Whilst in the interior of Liguria,

Diano Castello,
Claus and
La Bollene

were badly shaken.

The large number of deaths in the churches is explained by the fact that these were in very bad structural condition.

The death record was as follows.

In the district of Porto Maurizio, 258 killed and 269 injured.

In that of San Remo, 339 killed and 205 injured.

And in that of the province of Genova, 38 killed and 81 injured.)

people of the coast. There is good shooting, too, in its surrounding woods, whilst for those who love walking and beautiful mountain scenery the excursions are innumerable.

One of the most pleasant walks in the district is that we took to Perinaldo, on our
way back to the sea.

The distance is 8 miles, and for some three-quarters of the way we followed a level light-railway track, used for transporting timber to the coast, and constructed, at points where it crosses miniature valleys, on pine-log piles.

There is also a mule-path, which winds up and down the hillside, but, in order to avoid useless exertion, it is better to keep to the railway.

It traverses some of the most perfect scenery to be found anywhere, passing around the flanks of mountains whose tall crags tower above your head, and through aromatic and health-giving pine-forests.

As you round the corners Bajardo comes into view time after time.

Deep valleys lie at your feet, with hill rising above hill in the distance, until their rocky peaks touch the clouds.

And, when about a quarter of the way, the little village of Apricale, standing on a hill and with the sunlight shining on its church tower, appears within sight.

How exhilarating is the air at these altitudes, and how reposeful are Nature's
sounds in these ideal fields for the artist and naturalist!

The call of the rooks among the crags, the flutter of startled birds in the under-
wood, the shuffle of dozens of frightened lizards among the sunlit rocks, and the
incessant hum of insects.

There is almost an entire absence of human life
on these mountain sides, and one is sometimes
thankful for it.

During the whole of our journey we met but three people.

A peasant collecting pine-cones and needles in one of the forests, and a woman with a child, picking leaves from a chestnut tree, with which, in all probability, to line her baskets when she carried them full of ripe figs to the nearest market.

She was high up among the branches and as she cast down the leaves, she taught
her little one, who sat playing below, its Paternoster.

"Pater noster, qui es in coelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum", she repeated, word by word, and the child did its best to imitate the sonorous Latin words.

For their presence, at any rate, we were grateful.

Shortly after seeing this little wayside picture we came to a disused chapel, where
the railway track and the mule-path meet.

Here it was necessary to follow the latter, as the railway branches off to the left on the opposite side of the Vallecrosia valley.

And in half an hour or so we were in Perinaldo, which stretches, at a height of eighteen hundred feet, along the crest of the hill.

This wind-swept mountain village, which until recent years was unconnected with the
coast save by a narrow, irregular mule-path, is principally known as the birthplace of three celebrated astronomers.

Gian Domenico Cassini (1625-1712),
Giacomo Filippo Maraldi (1665-1729), and
Gian Domenico Maraldi (1709-1788).

Cassini was the discoverer of four new satellites of Saturn, and Domenico
Maraldi, who, like his nephew Filippo, was a member of the French Academy, was the
author of a Catalogue of Fixed Stars.

The Perinaldo branch of this distinguished family is now extinct, but the house where the astronomers were born and worked is still standing, as recorded by a tablet over the doorway of 17, Via Maraldi.

A tablet on which are the admirable words.

"Questi tre nomi esprimono una gloria immense come il firmamento da loro discorso."

Moreover, this modest-looking house contains a valuable library of astronomical works formed by Gian Domenico Maraldi.

A collection of autograph letters received by Cassini and the Maraldis from
eminent French scientists of the eighteenth century, including

Delisle, and

The astronomer's manuscripts and observations, and, finally, the instruments with which they worked.

One of the rarest works in the library is Evelio's

Johannis Hevelii,

"Selonographia sive lunae descriptio, typis Hunefeldianis",

of which only eight copies are known to exist, almost the entire edition having been destroyed on September 29th, 1679, with the author's house, library, and observatory.

At the other end of the village, near the Piazza del Municipio and parish church, where you get an extensive view of the green valley, with a glint of blue sea in the distance, we found another unpretentious-looking house which also claims a place in history.

The Casa Allavena, at No. 21 in the street of the same name, was occupied, in 1797, by Napoleon, whilst on his way into Italy.

He was entertained by the grandfather of the present owner and occupier, Signora Allavena Embriaco, who courteously allowed us to see the room, the

"Sala Rossa",

in which the great soldier lived.

I imagine that it must have been that glimpse of the Mediterranean,' seen from the
parapet of the Piazza of Perinaldo, which set us longing to make a rapid return to the coast.

For with one accord, early the next morning, we started down the steep, winding road
which leads along the Vallecrosia valley, past many an old mill and mountainvillage.

First came Soldano with its church, containing an altar-piece painted on wood by Brea.

Then San Biagio della Cima, high above the road.

And, finally, a mile from where the river joins the sea, the village, Nervia, after which the valley is named.


When the sick people arrive from the cold, bleak North and look for the first time on the rich colouring of this southern shore, how great must be their sense of joy over the wonderful change wrought by a few hours' railway travelling!

Gray or leaden skies have changed to blue.

Such a blue as is only to be seen in sunny countries.

Leafless, snow-covered landscapes have faded away, and are replaced by a vegetation so varied and so green that only in the Tropics is it surpassed.

And as the train draws up at Bordighera, or Ospedaletti, or San Remo, the
passengers, looking out over the turquoise sea, feel that they have already made the
first step towards spiritual recovery.

All who seek health in these three favoured spots of the Italian Riviera come under the influence of their new surroundings, and especially the influence of colour.

No one, indeed, escapes it.

The sound in lung and limb experience the exhilarating effects almost if not as much as those whose nerves are more delicately strung.

Walking along the Cornice towards Bordighera, we were never more impressed than by the beauty of our palm-bordered way and the exquisite blue of the tideless sea.

Cerulean near at hand, where it beats on rocky bays and creeks, but an intenser and intenser blue in the distance up to the point where the white foam edges the

Palms, we soon learnt, are the special glory of Bordighera, where, owing to its exceptionally mild climate, they have been cultivated if reliance is to be placed in the ancient story of Captain Bresca and Pope Sixtus V for more than 400 years.

The story is related at length in Giovanni Ruffini's "Doctor Antonio", but for the benefit of those who are as yet unacquainted with that novel, it will be well once more to give its essential details.

About the year 1584, during the early years of the Pontificate of Sixtus V, this
ambitious and enterprising Pope decided to disinter an ancient obelisk which lay half buried in the earth near the vestry of San Pietro, in Rome, and to raise it on the square known as the Vaticano, where it now stands.

Placing this difficult work in the hands of an eminent architect named Domenico Fontana, he furnished him with all the necessary means for its successful termination, and, on all the preparations being completed, fixed the day when, in his presence and that of an immense concourse of people, the column should be raised.

But the architect was a nervous man, and little relished the idea of a noisy, enthusiastic crowd.

The clamour of the people, as he told the Pope, might bewilder his workmen, and should there be the slightest hitch in the proceedings, "he would answer for nothing."

So Sixtus promised that his nerves should not be shaken, and, in order that there should be no doubt about it, immediately issued an edict declaring that whosoever uttered a sound during the ceremony should suffer death.

At last the day for the elevation of the column arrived.

Fontana gave the signal, his men bent with a will at the capstans, the pulleys began to revolve and the cables to stretch and creak.

All went well until the moment when the huge granite obelisk was almost erect.

Then, suddenly, an ominous crack was heard, and the monolith, after remaining motionless for a second, was seen to sink several inches.

Fontana entirely lost his head, and it would doubtless have gone ill with him at the
hands of the frowning Pope had not assistance come from the very quarter which he had most feared.

"Water! Water!" shouted a voice from amidst the respectful crowd, "Wet the ropes!"

The advice was too good not to be immediately followed, so water was thrown on the cables, and the slackened hemp having contracted the workmen completed the uprearing of the obelisk in safety.

So far so good!

But what about the edict?

Manifestly the Papal laws must be respected.

So the Swiss Guards seized the man who had saved the situation and brought him before their master.

He turned out to be the captain of a trading vessel, named "Bresca", and his experience of the slackening of hempen ropes had doubtless been gained during his seafaring life.

However, such was the severity of Sixtus V, there was little chance, people thought, of his life being spared.

Fortunately, the Pope, pleased at the success of an undertaking which he had had very much at heart, was disposed to be lenient, and on receiving Bresca,
promised to grant him any favour he might ask.

The good captain diplomatically began by asking for the Pope's holy blessing, and,

the privilege for him and his descendants
of annually supplying the Vatican
with palms.

This request was immediately granted by a Papal Brief, "which is still," wrote Ruffini, "in the possession of the Bresca family, and the monopoly it bestowed
lasts to this day."

According to the same writer and later authorities support him Captain Bresca was
a native of San Remo, but others make him a native of Bordighera.

There is a slight difference of opinion, too, as to the exact date of the raising of the column on the Piazza Vaticano, some giving it as September 10th, 1586, others as 1588.

However, all seem to agree that Bordighera was where he established himself as a palm-grower.

Moreover, though we failed to discover any trace either of the Bresca family or their Brief, we found that Bordighera still holds, in a way, their monopoly, for hundreds of thousands of palm branches are annually sent to Rome for use on Palm Sunday.

The much-admired whiteness of the young shoots is obtained by tying together the leaves of the trees at the top, thus protecting the inner ones from the rays of the sun.

These beautiful trees, and, generally speaking, the tropical character of the
vegetation of the district, are what stand out most prominently in my recollections of Bordighera.

We spent most of our time there in gardens, and the beauties of Nature naturally take precedence over all others.

Our visit to the old town, for instance, did not greatly impress us, though we did our best to picture it as it was in 1632, when, with seven other small country places, it formed a little Republic, known as the

"Otto Luoghi,"

and governed by its own laws, under the protection of Genova.

Situated on the Capo San Ampeglio, where there is an extensive view of the coast, it is undeniably well placed and picturesque.

But when we had strolled through, entering by the Porta del Capo, which faces the Via di Capo and public garden, passing by the Piazza Fontana, with its 1783 fountain, and coming out at another of the old entrances to the town's former circle of walls, the Porta Sottana, we could not help concluding that its picturesqueness was more that of the stage than of a characteristic Ligurian citta.

Many of the walls had been neatly white-washed, the streets were impeccable, and the
whole place had the air of having been specially prepared for visitors.

The Antiquary insisted that it had come under Anglo-Saxon influence.

"Hygiene and picturesqueness are ill bed-fellows," he said," and you English are notorious worshippers of Hygeia."

"Behold your handiwork, caro mio! Old San Remo, now, has escaped you, and you will
soon see how beautiful she is!"

Two of the gardens we visited belong to Herr


a well-known horticulturist of the district.

A third was that pleasant spot which Mr. Clarence Bicknell, a resident of
Bordighera, has had planted on the sheltered western slope (known as "La Marina") for the benefit of the many English people who, as in the days of George Macdonald, inhabit the hotels and villas that now cover ground which was formerly almost exclusively given up to the cultivation of olives.

The first-named, which are largely devoted to the growing of palms, yuccas, prickly pears, agaves, and the larger tropical plants, are on the road to Ospedaletti.

One in the little Sasso valley, the other much further along, near the ancient wayside chapel of the Madonna della Ruota.

The garden nearer Ospedaletti slopes down to the sea, and above the rocky shore is a curved pergola, enclosing an ornamental piece of water.

Climbing plants grace the slender columns and open-work roof, and enframed by the verdure is an exquisite view of Ospedaletti a thin line of shining houses and palaces stretched on the opposite curve of the bay.

(George Macdonald spent the winter of 1877-78 at Nervi, near Genova, the summer of 1878 and the winter of 1878-79 at Portofino. It was at the latter place that he
wrote "Sir Gibbie" and there also that he dedicated Paul Faber to W. C. T. (W. Cowper Temple). After that year, and for more than 20 years all the winters
were spent in Bordighera, at the Casa Coraggio. See George Macdonald at Bordighera by Frances M. Brookfield, in the Sunday Magazine, 1905).

A little closer to the beaeh is an old well, known as Rebecca's, and surrounded by some of those towering palms for which the garden is famous.

You can see there some splendid specimens of the Phcenix, the Cocos, and the Pritchardia, to mention but three well-known varieties.

Whereas the Sasso and Ruota grounds form a harmony in green, Mr. Bicknell's garden is a variegated blaze of colour, since it is principally dedicated to flowering plants .

Adjoining it is a substantial stone building, in which the founder, who is the author of an excellent "Flora of Bordighera and San Remo", and other works, has brought together a very complete local herbarium and collection of fossils, minerals, and prehistoric objects.

It was here that we had an opportunity of seeing a large number of rubbings of the rock drawings of Fontanalba, near Dalmazzo di Ten da, where Mr. Bicknell has spent much time in studying them.

What is the exact signification of these rude, deep-cut pictures of men at the plough ; these heads of oxen; hese irregular parallelograms, enclosing an
ever varying number of dots ; and these figures which are clearly meant to represent

Manifestly they were not the outcome of the idle moments of prehistoric shepherds.

For there are more than two thousand of these drawings between the Lago Verde and Monte Santa Maria, and the cutting of them must have entailed enormous labour.

And at what period were they executed?

The people of the district refer to them as "Hannibal's Soldiers," but they clearly date much further back than the days of Carthage.

As far back, paleontologists think, as three or four thousand years before Christ.

"Ruota," the name given to the already mentioned chapel, is a corruption of Rodi,
and "Cavalieri di Rodi " was the original appellation of the Knights of Malta, who, in the fifteenth century, found a safe anchorage for their ships in the Bay of Ospedaletti, and established on the present site of the little town a hospital ("ospedale") for lepers.

Hence the name.

Protected from the north winds, and possessing a very high winter temperature,
its aid is still sought by the sick and delicate.

But the most picturesque feature of Ospedaletti is its thriving flower industry.

It is one of the most important flower-markets on the whole of the Riviera, and there are few sights so interesting as the early morning markets, with their heaps of fresh-cut roses and carnations, and the dark forms of buyers and sellers moving about in the light of the gas jets.

The great market of the year is held on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of December,
at the customary hour of 2 a.m.

By midnight the workers are busy in the fields, cutting the blooms, and a few hours later large numbers of women are hard at work in a shed near the railway station, packing them in cestini, as the reed hampers in which they are sent northwards are called.

There are special flower-trains at various times during the day between October and June, but the most important ones are the early morning expresses which, just before Christmas, carry the flowers of Ospedaletti and Coldirodi towards London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg.

COLDIROTI is a small village on the hill between Ospedaletti and San Remo.

We more than once caught sight of it whilst on the road.

Situated at a point where magnificent views of San Remo, Bordighera, the hills of Ventimiglia and the Mediterranean are to be obtained, the position of COLDIROTI is such as to tempt any traveller from the main road.

But it was not this reason alone which made us bend our steps up the mule-path which
leads up the hillside through fields of carnations and roses, with here and there a lemon garden full of pale, golden fruit.

Coldirodi possesses a good library and picture gallery, and the Antiquary to whom books and pictures naturally mean so much was especially anxious that I should see it.

Its founder, Stefano Paolo Rambaldi, was, said my friend, as we walked along, a man after his own heart.

Born at Coldirodi in 1803, he had early entered the priesthood, had attained considerable reputation in his profession, and in consequence had been appointed to the chair of literature and ecclesiastical history at the Seminary in Firenze.

A true patriot and a man of broad views, he had been on terms of close friendship with Silvio Pellico, Pellegrino Farini, Gioberti, and other leaders in the
Italian struggle for independence.

And as a result had had to suffer, though not so keenly as some.

Having by then become Rector of the Seminary, the worst blow that his enemies
could deal him was to obtain his dismissal.

Fortunately, his means and temperament were such as to enable him to support the injustice.

He had sought consolation in work and in study, and in the gathering together of that collection of manuscripts, books, and pictures which, at his death in 1865, were found to be bequeathed to his native village.

The Rainbaldi library, which, like the picture gallery, is housed in the Municipio
buildings, consists of more than 6,000 volumes.

It is interesting rather to the special than general student, and the large
number of works on ecclesiastical history which it contains clearly reflects the tastes of its founder.

Book-lovers and collectors will find many things to interest them.

The incunabula include Acciacioli and Poggio's

"Historiae florentinae",

printed in Florence in 1492 ;

"L'Art de Uen muorir", 1452 ;

Nicolaus de Cusa's

"Opera prima edita", 1480 ;

a Biblia vulgata, 1480 ; and an

Imitatione de Christe, Florence, 1494.

Among the manuscripts is a fourteenth century Italian translation of
Plutarch, Triunfus' Tractatus super Ave Mariae, on parchment, dated 1283, and

"Istories fiorentines",

collected by Cosimo Vetturi Mazzi in 1669-1700.

Rambaldi's connection with the Italian movement naturally resulted in correspondence with its leaders, and autograph letters by

Alessandro Manzoni,
Giovanni Ruffini, and

are included in the library.

As to his pictures, which fill two small rooms and number about a
hundred, they are such as a cultivated and keen collector, unprovided with large means, often manages in course of time to get together.

Whether they are all genuine examples of the work of the great masters --

Guido Reni,
Paul Veronese,
Salvator Rosa,
Andrea del Sarto,
Carlo Dolci, and
are all
represented) is open to doubt.

But what gallery, however celebrated, does not contain some pictures of doubtful authenticity?

After one has set aside, however, a few works which the expert, for one reason or another, but generally that of poor drawing, would hesitate to attribute to great artists, one is bound to admit that in many cases Paolo Rambaldi's judgment was unerring.

The gem of the collection is a small picture of the Holy Family, with two angels and St. John, by Fra Bartholommeo.

A picture so admirable in every way that it has rightly been considered worthy of special protection in a case with gilded doors.

There are three other pictures of the Madonna and Jesus which are also to be ranked among works of high artistic merit.

One by Guido Reni (an oval painting on wood).

Another by Andrea del Sarto.

And a third, the original drawing of which is stated by the catalogue to be in
the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, by Lorenzo di Credi.

A St. Michael, the preliminary sketch of a work which is in Rome.

And a Nazareen, both by Guido Reni.

A St. Mark writing, signed Salvator Rosa.

A portrait of a young man, by Velasquez.

And a St. Sebastian, very fine in its colouring, by an artist of the Ferrara School, are among the remaining pictures which a connoisseur would single out for special attention.

A path leading out at the top end of the village into the mountains took us, before
leaving Coldirodi, to the high northern ground from which one of the best views of the village, stretched out along the ridge and standing out against the sea and the sky, can be obtained.

Then, returning to its little piazza, which faces the church and the Municipio, we turned down a vicolo and reached the mule-path which, by way of the Bernardo valley, leads down through olive groves to the Cornice road and San Remo.

On the traveller reaching the main road again, and especially that part of it, between the Foce and Bernardo torrents, on which the Campo Santo and

the English Sports Club

stand, it is time for him to pause and consider some of the periods of history through which the famous town he has seen spread out beneath his feet has passed.

For it was on this very spot, according to Professor Rossi, who the Antiquary had no need to remind me is our chief authority on the history of this part of Liguria, that the Roman town from whose ashes San Remo sprang once stood.

It bore the name of the goddess of the sea,


and its destruction, about the middle of the seventh century, was the work of Rothari, King of the Lombards.

Rebuilt by its tenacious inhabitants, it was twice again destroyed, this time by the
Saracens, in the ninth and tenth centuries, and on each occasion it sprang up afresh.

In the eleventh century, after the definite expulsion of the Saracens, it was known by the name of

"San Romolo",

in memory of one of the apostles whom the Bishop of Genova, several centuries before, had sent to Matuta to preach Christianity.

This early connection with the Church led to "San Romolo" and several other villages in the neighbourhood, including Colla (now "Coldirodi"), Bussana, and Taggia, being tributary to the Bishop of Genova, and was the cause of constant disagreement between the Republic and the ecclesiastical authorities.

It was not, indeed, until 1297, when Oberto Doria, by consent of the Pope, purchased the Archbishop of Genova's feudal rights over "San Romolo" that the quarrel came to an end.

Judging by events, however, this change of ownership displeased the people.

There were frequent revolts, and the Dorias, unable or unwilling to enforce their rights, disposed of them, in 1301, to the Republic.

"San Romolo" had now become "San Remo", which is probably a corrupted form of the town's full Latin title.

"Sanctus Romolus in Eremo."

But Genova and San Remo were never meant to agree, and their history down to as late as the eighteenth century is one almost continuous story of friction.

The people of both towns were masterful and ambitious, and the Genoese
looked with no kindly eye on the growing maritime importance of the smaller port.

For the trade of the San Remese, who possessed no fewer than 84 ships, stretched from Corfu to Cadiz. Troubles arose in 1628 when Victor, Duke of Savoy, seized the Riviera, and his claim was disputed by the Republic.

There was a revolt against her authority at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and, a little more than fifty years later, following rapidly on the disturbances which were brought about by the question of the Spanish Succession, open war
broke out.

Little Colla was the one who set a match to the powder magazine, with her appeal to the Republic to be separated from her neighbour.

The result of the fight, however, was a foregone conclusion.

"San Remo" could never hope to stand out for long against Genova la Superba, and in the end she had to undergo all the bitter humiliations which invariably fall to the lot of the conquered.

Her trade was destroyed, all her civic rights were taken away, her citizens were fined and imprisoned, her cathedral of San Siro was deprived of its bell and part of
its tower, and, what was hardest of all to bear, a Doria was established as Governor in her finest palace, the Palazzo Borea, and a fort, that of Santa Tecla, with all its loop-holes pointing towards the town, was erected at the harbour.

However, she had not long to wait for her freedom, for the time was rapidly drawing near when the whole of Liguria, fired by the principles of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," was to shatter the power of the autocratic Genoese, and finally come under the liberal rule of the House of Savoy.

Relieved of all further anxiety as far as political events were concerned, "San Remolo" was now able to look to her social welfare, and as we entered the western end of the town, we were repeatedly reminded of the latest phase in her history, the one in which her inhabitants are still deeply interested.

The palatial villas in the high-lying Berigo district, the fine hotels on the sunny hillside, and the well-laid-out palm gardens, overlooking the sea and skirting

"Corso dell' Imperatrice",

were an eloquent proof of her development into the

most fashionable

of all the resorts on the Italian Riviera.

This development, said the Antiquary, who is particularly well-versed in such little known details of local history, was the result of half a century of combined efforts on the part of the San Remese.

But the principal credit was due to Dr. Panizzi, who, in 1857, entered upon a well-conceived plan of campaign to make known to the Anglo-Saxon world the
peculiar advantages of the climate of his
native district. He began by making the
acquaintance of an influential English man
of letters, and, through him, publishing a
detailed article in The Times. A pamphlet,
dealing still more fully with San Remo and
its climate, was issued in 1860, and translated
into English three years later. Dr. Panizzi

On the Road to San Remo 53

then went to London, where he published
numerous articles. Returning home, he con-
tinued his work with redoubled energy, and
endeavoured to make the Anglo-Italian bond
still stronger by translating works from
English into his own language. And thus,
by the winter of 1874-75, San Remo had
become a popular resort.

During the season, which begins in October
and ends in May, San Remo presents all the
well-known characteristics of an international
resort. Everybody's attention is engrossed
in social gatherings and the amusements with
which society people endeavour to counteract
their ennui. Each nation follows its own
particular tastes. The Englishman spends a
good deal of his time on the tennis-court or
the golf links ; the German drinks his lager
at the caffd and patronises the operas and
classical concerts at the Casino ; whilst the Rus-
sian loses his money on the gaming-tables of
that showy building, which stands, surrounded
by a terrace garden, opposite the railway
station, and the entrance to the Via Vittoria
Emmanuele. The recognised English quarter,
with its churches and Sports Club, lies in the
Berigo district and, generally speaking, the
whole of the western part of the town ; the

54 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Germans for the most part reside in the
eastern quarter, where stands the Villa Zirio,
in which Frederick III of Germany passed
his long agony. The Via Vittorio Emmanuele
and its prolongation, the Piazza Colombo and
the Cor so Garibaldi, forms a connecting link
between the two quarters, and in this, the
main street of the town, all nations congregate.
One must be a polyglot to understand all
the notices. For an attempt is made by the
shopkeepers of San Remo to cater for the
requirements of many peoples. French dress-
makers and milliners display their wares
from Paris, English grocers and libraries
supply the bodily and mental wants of the
Anglo-Saxon, Viennese cafes and German
restaurants provide for Teutonic visitors,
Russian tea-rooms and book-stores invite the
attention of the Slav ; and so in the case of
the Italian, the Spanish, and even the
Hebrew. As we walked along the Via Vittorio
Emmanuele many of the shops were only just
being put in order ready for the arrival of
their patrons, so on this particular visit to
San Remo I saw nothing of its fashionable
side. And it was just as well that it was so,
for it enabled us, during our week's sojourn
there, to devote our exclusive attention to

On the Road to San Remo 55

what is best worth seeing and studying : the
old town and the life of its people (so different
from that of the foreign colony), its churches,
and its public monuments.

The Antiquary was a true prophet when
he predicted that I should find the old town
beautiful. It is none too clean, the nose is
offended at many a turn, and the death-rate
of its inhabitants, deprived of light and air,
is high. But it is exceedingly picturesque,
and so fascinating does it become that one
is attracted there time after time, to explore
the innumerable winding ways which lead to
the top of the hill on whose sides it is built.
Its position has never been better described
than by John Addington Symonds, who,
referring to his visit prior to 1879, says that
" it resembles a huge glacier of houses poured
over a wedge of rock, running down the sides
and along the ridge, and spreading itself into
a fan between two torrents on the shore
below." These houses seem to be clinging
to each other, seeking mutual aid and pro-
tection from some unseen danger, as indeed
they are, for all along the centuries, ever
since the days of Matuta, earthquakes have
shaken San Remo to her base. Here and
there are arches, binding them together,

56 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

but at times they actually meet, forming a
solid block of irregular buildings, and on
passing through these parts of the town you
find above your head, instead of a peep of
deep blue sky, the vaulted roofs of dark and
tortuous passages. The cobbled streets wind
in and out in apparently aimless confusion,
now rising gently up the hill, now ascending
abruptly by a flight of steps. They lead you
past churches, with the faint odour of incense
around their doors past shrines, placed over
archways or at street corners, and piously
decked with flowers on to little piazzas
with fountains and small provision shops
overflowing with vividly-coloured fruit and
vegetables, a sudden joy to the eye ; and
then, higher up, out into a blaze of dazzling
sunshine, through the Porta Candelieri or
the Porta San Giuseppe, where a fragment of
the original wall which once protected the
town from Saracens or Genoese still stands,
and an ancient vine climbs skywards to bear
its fruit on a sunny terrace.

Many an hour, whilst my friend was
searching for his curios and he confessed
that he had a predilection for old San Remo
as a place where, outside a general shop, he
had once discovered a roll of original drawings

The Porta San Giuseppe at San Remo

On the Road to San Remo 57

by old masters many an hour have I
wandered in these streets watching the people
at their daily occupations. There is the
blacksmith whose form suddenly appears in
the glow of the furnace at the bottom of some
dark and narrow smithy ; the ever-busy
cobbler and the maker of pack-saddles working
at their doors ; the baker shovelling in his
loaves at the open door of his oven. Women
are continually passing in and out, balancing
long trays of bread upon their heads ; and,
as you observe them, you begin to understand
the reason for the remarkably erect carriage
of the women of San Remo. Even the aged
ones, who are left at home to mind the children
whilst their sons and daughters are away in
the pine-woods or vineyards, are as straight
as a dart, so that you wonder, when you
look into their yellow, wrinkled faces, how
old they really are. There is no sign of
decrepitude in their carriage as they pass to
and fro between their homes and the foun-
tains, bearing huge water- vessels of burnished
copper upon their heads. Such are some of
the scenes which form an unforgetable picture
of these fascinating old streets ; a picture,
however, which is never complete without
the mischievous, dark-eyed children, the

58 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

black-robed priests, the white-capped nuns,
and the contadini, with their mules and asses,
loaded with grapes or brushwood, clattering
down the stony streets at the end of the day.
Either of the two ancient gateways leads
to the top of the hill : the Porta Candelieri
on one side and the Porta San Giuseppe, up
the Rampe al Santuario, past a succession
of painted shrines, on the other. On the
summit stands the most prominently situated
church of San Remo, the Madonna della
Costa, a fifteenth century oratory which was
transformed to its present state in 1630, and
whose dome is a landmark for mariners.
Below is a little semicircular plateau, laid
out as a public garden, and almost on the
same level, but to the west of the Sanctuary,
stands the green-shuttered lazar-house, which
was endowed in 1846 by Carlo Alberto for the
exclusive treatment of leprosy. Only four
or five patients suffering from this disease, a
white-robed doctor told me, are now under
observation there, so the wards are almost
entirely devoted to cases of ordinary sickness.
From the garden is to be obtained the finest
of the many fine views which can be got
of San Remo either from above or below :
a view of weather - beaten housetops,

On the Road to San Remo 59

roof-gardens, convent turrets and campaniles,
with the blue sea and the long, projecting
arm of the Molo lying beyond.

Of the many churches of San Remo, the
one to impress me most was San Siro, princi-
pally, perhaps, on account of the extremely
picturesque view of its tower, as seen when
looking down the Via Palma, but also because
of the prominent part which the building
and its former bell once played in the political
affairs of the town. Many a time did the
bell call the people to take up arms against
the hated Republic of Genoa, and many a
time was the church the meeting-place for
crowds of indignant San Remese. Architec-
turally it is not very noteworthy. For fine
architecture you must turn to one of the
civic buildings of San Remo : the Palazzo
Borea, in the Via Vittorio Emmanuele. It
was built at the end of the sixteenth century,
and is in the late Renaissance style, and the
sculptured nymphs and dolphins around the
doors and windows are in a very good state
of preservation. As to its interior, one
suspects that it must have lost much of its
former beauty, for, with the exception of one
floor, which is still occupied by members of
the Borea family, it has been split up into

60 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

tenements and shops. Far away, indeed, are
the days when it received beneath its roof
such passing guests as King Philip V of
Spain and his wife Elizabetta Farnese, King
Charles Emanuel of Sardinia and his sons
Vittorio Amedeo and Ottone, Pius VII, and
Queen Maria Christina of Savoy !

A narrow, ancient street, opposite the
entrance to the Palazzo Borea, leads down
to the fisher-folks' quarter and the sea. Here
are to be seen other aspects of the everyday
life of the San Remese. On fete-days and
Sundays, on a large piazza, near the house
from which Garibaldi " comforted the people "
in September, 1848, there are eagerly followed
games of pallone, or hand-ball ; and beneath
the shadow of the Fort of Santa Tecla, now
used as a prison, less agile players take part
in hotly-contested bowling competitions. The
work of the people largely takes the form of
fishing ; and a very unprofitable occupation
it often seems to be. The net is carefully let
down in a semicircle from a row-boat ; the
fishermen then make a round of the line of
floats, beating the gunwales with their oars,
in order to frighten the fish towards the
meshes ; and, finally, comes the long task of
dragging in from the shore the two ends of

On the Road to San Rerno


the net. As the ever-narrowing loop formed
by the floats comes nearer and nearer,
spectators stand and watch with an expecta-
tion almost as keen as that of the fishermen
themselves. Everybody wonders what the
bag of the net will contain ; and when, with
a final jerk, it is rapidly pulled on to the
beach, the people crowd around to inspect
the catch. Alas ! it too often contains but a
mere handful of fry, and the workers, ill repaid
for their labour, turn sorrowfully homewards.

A shrine in old San Remo

Bussana Vecchia



CHATEAUBRIAND, in his Genie du Christian-
isme, gives a very lucid explanation of the
reason for the " secret attraction " which
ruins exercise over man. It is due, he says,
" to the fragility of our nature, to a secret
conformity between these shattered monu-
ments and the rapidity of our existence. . . .
Ruins, in the midst of the scenes of Nature,
point a great moral."

In the case of an essentially contemplative
man this feeling certainly rules supreme,
and it must surely play a part, too, though a
minor one, in the heart of even the least


Bussana : Old and New 63

reflective. It is something more than mere
curiosity which leads our steps towards those
places where every stone cries forth the
frailty and the transit oriness of man's handi-
work. Whether we are visiting the ruins of
Pompeii or those of Bussana Vecchia, the
feeling is the same. If difference there is, it
is one in degree only ; the difference which
naturally exists between our emotions when
looking on the remains of a great city, buried
under the ashes of Vesuvius, and those
aroused by the earthquake-shattered walls
of a poor little mountain village.

What Pompeii, then, is to the visitor to
Naples, Old Bussana is to the winter resi-
dents of San Remo. They are all of them
acquainted with the fact that they are living
within one of the well-known zones that are
periodically visited by earthquakes ; some
of them, doubtless, have been shaken in
their beds and heard the terrified cries of
" Terremoto ! " in the streets ; and all, having
read of the great shock of 1887, they would
see with their own eyes some of the effects
of that hidden force whose approach scientists
are still unable to foretell, and whose nature
they have not yet been able wholly to explain .
So they follow the road eastward by the sea,

64 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

ascend to Bussana Nuova, proceed up the
valley on foot or on the backs of mules,
wander among the deserted streets of the
silent old town, lunch within the shadow of
its ruined church, and, after listening to the
stories which the contadini of the district
still tell about that 23rd of February, return
home, feeling that they have looked upon a
picture which is only a few degrees less vivid
than reality. Some, unsatisfied with any
save subtle sensations, have even visited
Old Bussana by moonlight. But there is no
need to seek to heighten the impression by
seeing it under unusual aspects ; it is suffi-
ciently impressive, in all conscience, in the
full light of day.

Bussana Nuova stands on an eminence
above the Cornice road, a little more than
two miles from the older village, and I can
find nothing to say in its favour, save that
it enjoys a fine view of sea and mountains.
If ever there was an example of how ignorance
and superstition can enslave the human mind,
here, surely, we see it. When the earthquake
came, killing forty-three people and injuring
twenty-seven others, Old Bussana was found
to be too badly damaged, besides being too
full of sorrowful memories, to think of

Bussana : Old and New 65

remaining there ; so the inhabitants wisely
decided to rebuild their homes on a less
dangerous site, and within nearer reach of
civilization. But how did they expend the
money which the Government loaned to them
for eleven years free of interest ? In a manner
which even an American backwoods town
would consider as a disgrace. The houses
are of the cheapest : ill-built, ugly in design,
and so badly kept in repair that they are
already falling into decay ; the broad,
regularly laid out streets are unpaved, and
in many cases without side walks. Here and
there they are overgrown with grass, and
everywhere there is mud. Poverty and
uncleanliness stare you in the face or peep
through the open doors of the houses. Where-
fore this singular squalidness ? The reason
is not far to seek. In the midst of the
wretched houses rises a massive stone temple,
one of the " masterpieces " of modern church
architecture and decoration. Dedicated to
the Holy Heart of Jesus, everything that
money can do has been done to make it what
is called a fitting offering. Huge statues
adorn the apse, elaborate mural paintings
decorate the ceiling and sides, the most
precious marbles and metals have been used

5 (2230)

66 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

to beautify the altar. Carving and gilding
obtrude themselves both inside and outside.
The size of this incongruous building strikes
one, too, as much as its elaborate decoration.
Its dimensions are out of all proportion to the
requirements of the worshippers of the village,
its length from door to choir being forty yards,
its breadth twenty-four yards, and its height
the same. What a contrast between this
gorgeous sanctuary and the shabby dwelling-
houses that surround it ! It is impossible
not to conclude that the one must have
grown up at the expense of the other. And
such, in fact, was the case. On the people
of Old Bussana fleeing down the valley they
had but one thought : How were they to
appease the Deity who had smitten them
hip and thigh ? Evidently by building a
magnificent church in his honour. So all
other considerations : health, the rearing of
strong sons and daughters, and the happiness
of the home became subordinate to this one
idea. And thus it was that the Sanctuary
of Bussana Nuova absorbed, not only the
public subscriptions which flowed in from all
parts of the Catholic world, but also most of
the savings of the inhabitants, that they
never repaid the 200,000 lire lent them by

Bussana : Old and New 67

the Government, and that they are to-day
living in a state of sordid poverty !

What a relief to leave the last houses behind
and find oneself on the irregular path, now
steep, now level, which leads to Bussana
Vecchia ! A broad and fairly deep valley,
that of the Arma torrent, lies at your feet on
the left : a landscape of many greens, but
principally those of the vine and the olive.
Soon, the little village of Poggio comes into
view, a stretch of white houses buried in
verdure on the ridge of the opposite hillside,
and with a background of distant mountains
to throw it still more strongly into relief.
Old Bussana, too, now grows into being, and
at this distance one would never suspect, if
one did not know her story, that she is a body
without a soul. The spire of her church
rises from amidst the houses, which cluster
around this symbol of spiritual life in that
familiar, homely way which gives so many
of these Ligurian townlets their wealth of
character. This impression of vitality, how-
ever, is fleeting. The rugged edges of crumb-
ling walls, the frameless windows, gaping like
the empty sockets of a skull, tell their tale
long before one has entered the narrow alley
leading into the deserted village. The main

68 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

street, winding up towards the church,
and the vicoli are scattered with stones ; the
earthquake arches remain intact, but were
unable to prevent the renting of roof and
wall ; the cottage interiors, open some of
them to the sky, are obstructed by heaps of
stones and plaster. As though to cover up
this picture of desolation, vegetation has
sprung up wherever it could gain a foothold.
The church and the houses in the upper
quarter of the village, where the shocks did
most damage, stand in a wilderness of rank
weeds and grass, and on the lower fringe,
overlooking the valley, what were once living
rooms have in some cases become wild gardens,
with trailing vine and hard-fruited orange
tree. It is in this high-lying part of Old
Bussana that memories of the earthquake
are most vivid, and whilst visiting the roofless
church one tries to realise what the impression
on the minds of the worshippers must have
been at the moment of the terrible cataclysm.
It was the first day of Lent, the hour
6.25 a.m., and the mark of the holy ashes
having been placed on the forehead of the
last arrival, Canon Fresia, of the Collegiate
Church of Pieve di Teco, was about to ascend
into the pulpit to remind his listeners that

The Ruined Church of Old Bussana

Bussana : Old and New 69

they had not only to die, but that the place
and hour were uncertain. Suddenly, a slight
breeze, which had sprung up only a short
time before, changed to a furious and ever-
increasing wind. The earth shook and heaved
with long undulations, and, amidst the noise
of falling walls, the splintering of wood and
the twisting of iron, there were heard the
cries and shrieks of the injured. All at once,
however, these sounds were drowned by a
still louder crash that of the falling of the
church roof and the worshippers, who had
fled to the side chapels at the first cry of
" Terremoto ! Terremoto ! Salvatevi ! " were
enveloped in a dense cloud of dust. And
when the rector, who had succeeded in lighting
a candle, stumbled into the midst of the ruins,
he beheld, on raising his eyes, the twinkling

A portion of the fagade also fell, completely
destroying a house, which is ever pointed
out to visitors, and killing nearly all its
occupants. Three sons were crushed to death
there, a fourth was hurled into a corner and
escaped, and the father saved his life almost
miraculously. But the mother met her death
in a particularly tragic manner. Surrounded
by ruins, she was unable to escape from her

70 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

bed, and saw the roof slowly descending upon
her. Those outside could hear her cries of
" Farewell " to sons and husband growing
ever weaker and weaker, but were powerless
to help her.

Wandering among the now lifeless streets
of Bussana Vecchia, it seems impossible that
they can ever have been the stage of those
familiar everyday scenes which make up the
life of every Italian village. Yet they were
once as full of life as the most animated.
Roguish children played at toss-penny down
the side alleys, women stood at their doors
or lingered at the well gossiping over the
latest piece of news that had travelled up the
valley, and the men assembled at the trattoria
to smoke and drink and play bowls. Here,
at this corner, beneath a shattered shrine,
Giovanni plighted his troth to Lucia, as she
was returning from the fountain ; here, in
this disembowelled interior, with windows
looking on to the valley and flooded with
sunlight, the betrothal feast was held ; and
here, in this church, before the now broken
altar, they were married.

Few though the victims of the 1887 earth-
quake may appear to have been in Bussana
Vecchia, there was not a family that did not

Bussana : Old and New


pay tribute to Death. Everybody lost either
a close or distant relative, and the little
camposanto which lies a short distance off
the road between the old and the new village,
is still to many an inhabitant of Bussana
Nuova, though it is more than twenty years
since the catastrophe overwhelmed them, a
sad place of pilgrimage.

The Cemetery, Old Bussana

Ruffini's country house at Taggia



IT would manifestly be incorrect to say that
any particular one of the great valleys of
Liguria possesses a monopoly of beauty.
Each has some special characteristic which
distinguishes it from one or other of its
neighbours, and places it, in the mind of the
traveller, in a clearly denned category. Thus,
the names of the Nervia and the Argentina,
the Impero and the Arroscia, the Bisagno and
the Scrivia, the Taro and the Vara, the Magra
and the other intermediary torrents whose
banks we followed during our three months'
wanderings, recalled a varied series of land-
scapes, which, each perfect in itself, form that


On the Banks of the Argentina 73

rare and beautiful picture of the whole
province which never fades from the memory.
On reaching the Argentina, which was the
next valley to which we came on our journey
eastward, we were quick to discover its
dominating feature. Its rich alluvial land
has made it, at its lower portion, the fruit
garden of this part of Italy, as is evident-
long before one has covered the two miles
between the coast villages of Arma and the
inland town of Taggia from the extensive
lemon and orange groves, and orchards rich
with almost every fruit that stretch on either
hand. It might also, too, be called the valley
of the violet, since large quantities of this
flower are grown in the orchards for scent-
making, and perfume the air during the whole
of the winter and spring. But it is essentially
the land of fruit, and at every season of the
year presents a wonderful sight. In the
spring the landscape is dotted with bouquets
of pink and white blossom, that of the almond
and the peach ; then follow the fragrant
flowers of the orange and lemon ; and all
through the winter, glowing amidst their
dark-green, glossy leaves, like " golden lamps
in a green night," are the ever-enchanting
golden spheres. Truly, Boccaccio's description

74 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

of this lovely fruit is none too extrava-
gant. The ripe oranges of the Argentina
valley are, indeed, like " fire that burns on
boughs of emerald " ; whilst the pale
lemon may well be likened to a " lover who
has passed the night in weeping for his absent

Arma, 1 facing the beach, on the right of
the Argentina, gave us no idea that we were
upon the threshold of this Arcadia. It is a little
village which was formerly actively engaged
in the coasting trade, but whose energies are
now, in consequence of the railway, concen-
trated on the prosaic occupation of brick-
making. Historically, however, it is not
without interest. In the flank of a western
hillock, surmounted by an ancient fortress,
is a grotto which has been converted into a
chapel and dedicated to the Madonna Annun-
ziata. It was in this grotto, which is situated
about seven yards above sea-level, and pene-
trates a distance of seventeen yards into the
hillside, that the Saracens, in 900, established
one of those military bases from which they

1 " Arma " is a dialect word signifying grotto. It is
frequently met with in Ligurian place-names. Cf. Arma
do Rian, or Caverna del Rio ; Arma de Martin, or Caverna
di Martino ; Arma de Faje, or Caverna delle Fate all
names of grottos in the Finalmarina district.

On the Banks of the Argentina 75

periodically set out to plunder the coast and
hill towns of Liguria. Taggia suffered severe
losses both in men and money from this
particular colony. But at last the Taggians
succeeded in defeating these sporcissimi
Saraceni, as the chroniclers disdainfully
called the ferocious, yet intelligent and
cultured inhabitants of Barbary, and out of
gratitude to the Virgin erected a chapel on
the scene of their victory. Though driven
from the grotto, the Saracens, however,
continued for some time to make raids on
the district, so on January 10th, 1554, the
Parliament of Taggia decided to construct a
fort on the rocky promontory above the
cavern. It was built on the ruins of a very
ancient fortress which had been destroyed in
1270 by Baliano Doria in order to punish
the Taggians for rebelling against Genoa.
Whilst the work was in progress a stone
tablet was discovered, bearing a Latin in-
scription which recorded a memorable feat
of arms between the Romans and the Ligu-
rians. Placed over the entrance to the new
fortress, this valuable historical document
was naturally regarded with great pride by
the people of Taggia and Arma, and one can
well understand their indignation when, in

76 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

comparatively recent years, the Italian
Government sold the fort and the hill on
which it stands for 1,800 lire, and the stone
disappeared. The new owner removed it
from its place of honour over the doorway,
and no one not even the Antiquary could
tell me what became of it.

From what has been said it will rightly be
judged that Taggia, a town of great antiquity,
since one of her historians places her founda-
tion as far back as the days of the Etruscans,
has played no mean part in the history of
Liguria. She is said to have possessed, at
one time, a flourishing port, and tradition
makes it the place where, in 1525, after the
Battle of Pavia had been fought and the
French had, for the time being, lost all hope
of possessing Italy, Francis I was embarked
for Spain as a prisoner of war. The fact that
she had a Parliament of her own shows that
she had pretensions to independence, though
she may not always have been able to uphold
them, and may at times, like many another
townlet, have been merely the shuttle-cock
in the fierce political game which was ever
being played between the greater powers of
Genoa and Ventimiglia and San Remo.
During these stormy times she was frequently

On the Banks of the Argentina 77

a harbour of refuge for the members of the
noble families who had fallen from power ;
the birthplace, too, of many men who, in their
turn, rose to eminence. The Spinolas owned
one of the largest and most majestic of the
palaces of Taggia and were glad to make it
their home when the political wheel of
fortune in Genoa had ceased to turn in their
favour. The two most notable families who
could call Taggia their home were those of
the Lercaris and the Curios. Both held high
positions in Church and State. Cardinal
Nicolo Maria Lercari stood forth with especial
prominence during the Papacy of Bene-
dict XIII, and there was a Monsignor
Gerolamo Curio, whose ashes were buried in
the Dominican Church of Taggia. But the
most noteworthy of the Curios were Jacopo
and Roberto. The former attained a high
position in the fourteenth century as a naval
commander and ambassador under the
Republic of Genoa, whilst the latter, in 1335,
became Lord High Chancellor of England.

In the fifteenth century Taggia was a place
of considerable ecclesiastical importance.
Apart from her various old churches, the most
striking proof of this is the still existing
Dominican Convent and Church, which were

78 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

built in 1460 in accordance with plans drawn
up by the Milanese architects, Antonio,
Ambrogio, and Crist of oro Bunicchi. They
stand but a couple of hundred yards to the
south of the town, so, by turning up a mule-
path on the left of the main road, they were
the first of her ancient monuments to which
we came. The convent and its garden are
now occupied by the bersaglieri, but the
church, which is classed as a national monu-
ment, has been respected, though the scant
care which is shown for its precious contents
says little for the watchfulness of the authori-
ties whose duty it is to guard them. The
convent of Santa Maria della Misericordia
was the abode, in the fifteenth century, of a
little colony of distinguished painters. Corrado
di Alemagna was one of them ; Ludovic Brea,
of Nice, was another ; and Emanuele Macari,
of Pigna, who learnt the elements of his art
from the first-named, was a third. There
must certainly have been many others, too,
forming a community which can rarely have
been equalled in strength and harmony,
since it was bound together by the double
bonds of religion and art. Walking through
the church and looking at the pictures which
some of these holy men left behind them as
a record of the thoughts which Christ and His saints had inspired in their hearts during their brief earthly sojourn, we could not help trying to realise what their life must have been within their quiet and studious precincts.

Prayer and meditation, an overwhelming belief in their mission and in the uselessness of all human effort unless directed towards the salvation of the soul, a strong love of their art, and the glad consciousness that
they exercised it not for lucre, but for the
greater glory of God, such were some of
the links in the golden chain which bound
these white-robed brethren together. Most
probably, too, they conversed about their
work whilst walking in groups in the shady
cloisters, spoke of the vision or inspiration
which had come to them from on high, and
then, when the time came to interpret it on
canvas, appealed to the one whom they
regarded as the master craftsman, for his
helpful criticism. Great earnestness was the
dominating characteristic of the lives of the
Dominican painters of Taggia, and it is
reflected in every one of the pictures with
which they adorned their convent church.
They include a " Nativity," by Molosso ; an
" Adoration of the Magi," by Pierin del Vaga ;
a " St. Vincent and St. Catherine/' by Piola ;
a " Madonna del Rosario/' by Brea ; and a
work, " The Baptism of the Saviour," hanging
in the little chapel to the left of the altar,
which is attributed to Perugino. The last-
named is, perhaps, the finest of them all.
It is divided into a number of panels. Christ
is represented on the central ones, St. Sebas-
tian, St. Peter, and other saints on others,
and on a bottom panel, the Last Supper.
There is also an example of the work of
Macari, but, much to our disappointment,
we found that it had considerably suffered
from the damp, which threatens to spoil this
exceptionally good collection of pictures.
The roof and the walls of the church are,
indeed, in such a state that it is to be feared
a few more years of neglect will work havoc
with most of these adorable paintings of
saints and angels on gold grounds and their
ornate gilded frames ; a fate which has
already befallen some pictures attributed to
Perugino which decorated one of the chapels
on the left.

The Salita San Domenico led us down into
one of the main streets of Taggia, and, whilst
walking along, my friend pointed out one
of the little local peculiarities of the town.
On the doorsteps of some of the houses were
rows of plates heaped up with fruit or
tomatoes, which the inhabitants had placed
there on sale before setting out for the fields
or the market. The recognised price is a
halfpenny a plateful, and as there is no one
to receive the money the purchaser places it
either on or under the plate. Never has
anyone been known to take the fruit without
paying for it, nor has any small boy of Taggia
ever stolen the halfpence a fact which says
something for the honesty of the Taggians.
After filling all the empty spaces in our
knapsacks with ripe figs and there were no
fewer than seventeen on one of the plates
we proceeded on our way and soon came to
the Palazzo Lercari, with its arch over the
end of the street. This, and the Palazzo
Spinola, the large quadrilateral building at
the corner of the main road, and another of
the entrances into the town, are the most
stately of the many houses in Taggia which
were formerly occupied by the aristocracy.
They are now inhabited by the people, and
in some cases are put to the most humble of
uses ; yet, in spite of this degradation, they
still retain a good deal of their former
magnificence. Carved lintels, spacious
entrance-halls, marble staircases and balus-
trades give them an air of refinement which
one little expected to find in a small Ligurian
town. And wherever you wander in Taggia
you are almost certain to meet with indica-
tions of her ancient greatness. Numerous
are the inscriptions and slate bas-reliefs and
effaced coats of arms which are let into the
sides of these old mansions.

But let us turn from these aristocratic-
looking buildings to a certain plain and
unpretentious house in the Via Soleri the
first one on your right as you enter the
street. Despite its lack of architectural
beauty, it is not without interest to the
visitor, and especially if he be an Anglo-
Saxon, for it was once the town residence of
Giovanni Ruffini, the author of Doctor Antonio
and many other books which have given
pleasure to thousands of English and Italian
readers. A severe literary critic would,
perhaps, condemn these works as being " too
local in their character, too old-fashioned in
their style," and as " smacking somewhat of
the foreigner/' but there is no denying the
fact that Ruffini still has his admirers, and
that nearly every Anglo-Saxon who winters
at Bordighera or San Remo reads the story
of Sir John Davenne, his daughter Lucy, and
the good-hearted Sicilian doctor. One cannot
afford (at least I cannot) to be over critical
whilst on a holiday. Besides, it should not
be forgotten that Ruffini chose to write his
novels, not in his mother tongue, but in
English, and considering how correctly, on
the whole, they are written, the performance
is a remarkable one.

Ruffini gained his knowledge of English
whilst living in exile in London. His intimate
acquaintanceship with Giuseppe Mazzini, with
whom he became connected during the first
year of his university training in Genoa, his
intense sympathy for the cause of Italian
emancipation, and the part which he and his
brothers took in the work of the Carbonari,
made flight imperative in the June of 1833,
in the twenty-sixth year of his age. After
a series of romantic adventures, which are
faithfully related in Lorenzo Benoni, he
succeeded in reaching Marseilles, where he
found Mazzini, and was shortly joined by his
mother and younger brother, Agostino. The
little party of refugees lived for some time in
Switzerland, but at the beginning of 1836
Giovanni and Agostino Ruffini proceeded to
England. Melancholy and difficult as their
life in London must have been (they earned
a scant living by giving lessons in Italian), it
had the advantage of enabling Giovanni to
learn the language in which he was after-
wards to write all his books. It was there,
too, that he wrote the early chapters of
Lorenzo Benoni, but, unsatisfied with the
result, he put the manuscript on one side,
and did not return to it until many years
later ; not, in fact, until Italy had gained
her independence, and he had returned,
burdened with honours, to Taggia and the
scenes of his childhood. On the completion
of the book, Agostino gave his brother a
letter of introduction to Thomas Constable,
the Edinburgh publisher, who, on reading
the story, immediately decided to publish it.
It was brought out in 1853 and was very well
received. Two years later, Ruffini was again
in London, this time for the publication of
Doctor Antonio, the main idea of which had
come to him one evening whilst sitting
on the Taggia bridge admiring a particularly
fine sunset. The success of the new story
was so great that, on Constable suggesting
he should follow it up with something in a
humorous vein, Rufnni began work almost
immediately on The Paragreens, a narrative

On the Banks of the Argentina 85

of the comical adventures of an English
family at the Paris Exhibition of 1856. The
author, who had lived many years in Paris
during the period of his exile, and mixed
much in English society there, knew his
subject well. But the new work, though it
went through many editions when translated
into French, received only a moderate welcome
from English readers, who did not care
for the idea of a foreigner presuming to
ridicule their countrymen. The illness and
death of Ruffini's mother, who had staunchly
supported all her sons in their brave fight for
the independence of Italy, greatly afflicted
Giovanni at this time, and was doubtless
the cause, apart from the ill-success of The
Paragreens, of his temporary abandonment
of authorship. He took up his pen again,
however, some two years later, and in Novem-
ber, 1859, published Lavinia, once more
with success. His next story, Vincenzo,
which was published serially in Macmillaris
Magazine, was issued in volume form in
1863. Then, after a long silence, came A
Quiet Nook in the Jura, and finally, during
1869, there appeared in Good Words his short
narrative entitled Car lino, which, with other
stories, was published in a volume in 1872.

86 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Of these seven stories the two which will
be remembered the longest are, undoubtedly,
Doctor Antonio and Lorenzo Benoni, the
former on account of its references to Taggia,
Ospedaletti, and Bordighera, and the latter
because of its autobiographical interest.
Lorenzo Benoni, which that clear-minded
critic and graceful writer, Edmondo De
Amicis, described as the " prima anello
d'una catena d'oro," is indeed a valuable
picture of the persecution which Italian
patriots underwent at the hands of the
Sardinian police during the first half of the
nineteenth century. The concluding chap-
ters of the romance, as Rufnni himself de-
clared in an unpublished letter to his mother
dated May 31st, 1855, are a strictly accurate
account of the dramatic incidents of his
flight to France in 1833. The " two sure
friends " who assisted him to escape on
arriving at Ventimiglia, disguised as a sailor,
were Andrea Biancheri, an oil merchant of
that place, and father of a former president
of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and a
certain Lucangelo Pignone, a native of
Bordighera, named respectively in the story
Dr. Palli and Ercole. Biancheri hid Rufnni
in an old tower situated in one of his olive

On the Banks of the Argentina 87

woods on a hillside on the left bank of the
Roj a, overlooking Ventimiglia a tower which
is still standing and whilst waiting there
for a favourable opportunity to slip through
the fingers of the police, who were already
on his track, his needs were attended to by a
peasant named Giambattista Viale, whom
he introduces to his readers as Pietro.
Ruffini never forgot the services of these
staunch friends, and never, above all, those
of " il buon Ercole," who, though he sought
in after years to arrogate to himself the entire
credit of having saved the patriot, was
financially assisted up to the time of his
death. Lucangelo's widow, moreover, also
benefited by the generosity of the Ruffini

Giovanni Ruffini had a country house just
outside Taggia, and before continuing our
journey up the valley we paid it a visit. It
is a large white building with a shady loggia
(under which its former owner must often have
written on summer days), standing under
the lee of an olive-clad hill to the north of
the town, and possessing a fine view of the
curious serpentine bridge which crosses the
broad, verdure-covered bed of the Argentina,
the little village of Castellaro " shimmering

88 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

in the golden light " on the summit of the
opposite hill, and, on still higher ground to
the left, rising from amidst the olives and
flanked by tall cypresses, the delicate
ivory-like chapel of Lampedusa.

Castellaro and Lampedusa had also to be
visited ere we turned our backs on Taggia,
so we crossed the bridge, which is provided
with a stone seat from end to end, a shrine
with three mediaeval sculptured figures, and
a memorial testifying to the miraculous inter-
vention of the Madonna during an earthquake,
and entered on the long climb up the zig-
zagging mule-path which leads to the top of
the hill. Whilst on the way we got a very
good idea as to the position of Taggia in the
Argentina valley : a long, irregular line of
houses, on the right bank of the torrent,
stretching at the base of the hill, with the
ruins of an old castle above. The view
became finer and finer the higher we mounted,
until, on reaching the rocky promontory on
which the church of Castellaro is built, high
above the village, we were rewarded by the
most perfect panorama it is possible to
imagine. The broad, fertile valley from
Taggia to Arma lay at our feet ; to the left
was a neighbouring village, a clump of white,

On the Banks of the Argentina 89

red-roofed houses, with the tall, square tower
of a church rising from a surrounding mass
of greenery ; to the right, on a hill over-
looking the Mediterranean, was the church
of the Madonna della Guardia, surrounded
by trees ; beyond was an immense blue
expanse of sea, flecked, on that sunny, breezy
day, with the white crests of the waves ; and
above it was the paler blue of the sky, with
a tinge of pink on the horizon. The view
on the road from Castellaro to Lampedusa,
past a dozen or more shrines, is equally fine,
and, on reaching the sanctuary, with its
twelve cypresses, we could not help expressing
our admiration at its marvellously well-
chosen site. Little wonder that its choice is
attributed to the Virgin !

We read in Doctor Antonio that this
road was the result of immense labour on
the part of the Castellini, and that they point
it out as well they may with especial pride.
' They tell you with infinite complacency,"
says Ruffini, " how every one of the pebbles
with which it is paved was brought from the
sea-shore, those who had mules using them
for that purpose, those who had none bringing
up loads on their backs ; how every one,
gentleman and peasant, young and old,

90 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

women and boys, worked day and night,
with no other inducement than the love of
the Madonna. The Madonna of Lampedusa
is their creed, their occupation, their pride,
their Carroccio, their fixed idea."

The story of the sanctuary, and the sacred
picture it contains is stranger still :

" All that relates to the miraculous image,
and the date and mode of its translation to
Castellaro, is given at full length in two
inscriptions, one in Latin, the other in bad
Italian verses, which are to be seen in the
interior of the little chapel of the sanctuary.
Andrea Anfosso, a native of Castellaro, being
the captain of a privateer, was one day
attacked and defeated by the Turks and
carried to the Isle of Lampedusa. Here he
succeeded in making his escape and hiding
himself, until the Turkish vessel which had
captured his, left the island. Anfosso, being
a man of expedients, set about building a
boat, and finding himself in a great dilemma
what to do for a sail, ventured on the bold
and original step of taking from the altar or
chapel of the island a picture of the Madonna
to serve as one ; and so well did it answer
his purpose that he made an unusually
prosperous voyage back to his native shores,

On the Banks of the Argentina 91

and in a fit of generosity offered his holy sail
to the worship of his fellow-townsmen. The
wonder of the affair does not stop here.
A place was chosen by universal acclamation,
two gunshots in advance of the present sanctu-
ary, and a chapel erected, in which the gift was
deposited with all due honour. But the
Madonna, as it would seem, had an insur-
mountable objection to the spot selected, for,
every morning that God made, the picture
was found at the exact place where the church
now stands. Sentinels were posted at the
door of the chapel, the entire village remained
on foot for nights, mounting guard at the
entrance ; no precaution, however, availed.
In spite of the strictest watch, the picture,
now undeniably a miraculous one, found
means to make its way to the spot it preferred.
At length the Castellini came to understand
that it was the Madonna's express will that
her headquarters should be shifted to where
her resemblance betook itself every night ;
and though it had pleased her to make choice
of the most abrupt and the steepest spot on
the whole mountain, just where it was requisite
to raise arches in order to lay a sure foundation
for her sanctuary, the Castellini set themselves
con amore to the task so clearly revealed to

92 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

them, and this widely-renowned chapel was
completed. This took place in 1619."

Whatever may be the historical basis on
which the story of Lampedusa is founded, of
one thing there can be no doubt, that the
Castellini firmly believe it, and that they are
an extremely religious-minded people. The
anti-clerical spirit which has invaded the
large cities of Italy and spread even to such
small towns as San Remo, as you cannot fail
to note from the phrases " Abbasso gli
clericali ! " or " Abbasso i sperperotori ! "
which are sometimes scrawled or painted on
the sides of churches and chapels, has not
yet penetrated to Castellaro and similar
mountain villages. Far from the beaten
track, only stray copies of the journals which
preach revolt against the Church ever arrive
there, leaving the priest in the position of
unchallenged authority which he and his
predecessors have enjoyed for centuries. He
is the spiritual and intellectual power to
which all appeal in time of difficulty ; at
one and the same time their arbiter, counsellor,
and friend. The Church and the Presbytery
are much more the Parliament-house of these
little rural communes than the village council
chamber. In short, the beliefs and teachings

On the Banks of the Argentina 93

of the Church have almost as strong a sway
over men's minds as they had in the Middle
Ages. The Madonna and her power to per-
form miracles, the efficacy of a prayer and
an offering to a richly-adorned santo bambino,
or the medicinal virtue of the holy water
which bubbles forth near some noted shrine
or sacred grotto still holds many a mind in
bondage. Whilst talking of this matter,
sitting by the roadside, just before we reached
the sanctuary, there came under our notice
a curious instance of this one that fully
convinced me the Antiquary was right in
what he said. A brown-skinned Italian lad
of ten or twelve came along the road, and,
espying an ancient fig tree overhanging the
precipitous outer edge, climbed into its
branches after the fruit. Seeing them sway
under his weight, and hearing certain ominous
cracks, I feared at every moment that they
would break and we should see him fall.
So we called him to us, and whilst admonishing
him for his recklessness, fed him with the
luscious figs of Taggia. ' Were you not
frightened," I asked, after he had admitted
they were better than those which grew by
the wayside, " to trust yourself to the branches
of so old a tree ? " " Nossignore," he replied,

94 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

with a sunny smile, " for there was not the
slightest danger. The tree may be old, but
it grows within the bounds of the Sanctuary
of Lampedusa and therefore belongs to the
Madonna. And she would not have seen me
fall into the valley."

After leaving Taggia the Argentina valley
gradually changes in its character. The higher
one mounts the torrent the wilder and more
picturesque the landscape becomes, making
it difficult to find its equal in grandeur. The
bed of the stream, narrow at times, broad at
others, is strewn with blocks of stone as large,
in some cases, as a cottage, and amidst these
the water, when it is not collecting in deep,
green, refreshing-looking pools, leaps and
rushes with impetuous fury. The road follows
the sinuosities of the torrent, with high hills
on either hand, and as you proceed on your
way through the village of Badalucco, on
the right bank, and within the shadow of
Montalto Ligure, perched three hundred feet
above your head on the top of an olive-clad
hill at the confluence of the Carpasina torrent,
you meet with all those things that give such
a subtle charm to Italian landscape : quaint
camel-back bridges with shrines built into
the parapets, abandoned mills, asses and

On the Banks of the Argentina 95

mules with loads of fuel or fodder, and
accompanied by sturdy peasant women busily
knitting as they walk along, and parties of
carbonari taking their cartloads of sacks of
charcoal down to the coast. The scene is
ever changing as you push forward towards
Molini and Triora. The way is now bordered
by centenial chestnuts, and the valley, with
its lichen-covered rocks, has become still

The exquisite picturesqueness of one's
surroundings above all, the colour and
lighting of the landscape prompts the
query : How is it that artists do not seek
inspiration on the banks of the Argentina ?
A few, it is true, have from time to time found
their way to Triora. But why is there not
a colony of them there, as in many a much
less picturesque place in England and in
France ? Believe me, there is the material
for thousands of the most varied pictures
within but a few miles of Molini and its
mountain sister Triora. Marvellous is the
play of light in the valleys in the early morn-
ing or late evening, whilst one is actually
embarrassed in one's choice amongst the
numerous ruined bridges and mills and
cypress-surrounded churches.

96 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Triora stands at an altitude of two thousand
five hundred feet on the southern slope of
Monte Fronte, and is one of the most strongly
situated hill towns that I have seen in

No wonder that in 1625, whilst all the dis-
tricts along the coast fell into the power of
the Franco-Savoyard troops, it alone held
out on behalf of the Republic of Genoa ! It
is not surprising, too, that it withstood the
earthquake of 1887 much better than Bajardo
and Bussana and Castellaro. For it is so
solidly built into the mountain and bound
together by arches that only if Monte Fronte
itself were destroyed can we imagine the
possibility of its destruction. We found it
a very fascinating place for a short sojourn,
chiefly on account of the unparalleled views
which can be obtained when walking on the
outskirts of the town. It is encompassed on
two sides by high hills, which furnish a
number of interesting excursions for the
alpinist ; and in the course of a short walk
you can study, as though on a huge map
stretched at your feet, a good deal of the
geography of the district, including Molini,
of which you have a veritable bird's-eye
view. But travellers who contemplate

On the Banks of the Argentina


coming so far afield as Triora should be
warned that they will find no Grand Hotel
de Paris there. Personally, we were glad of
it, for, once this hill-town has become a
fashionable mountain resort, it will inevitably
lose something of its rustic charm. However,
true wayfarers need never sigh for the
smart, up-to-date hostelry. As long as
there is a clean bed, a plentiful board,
and a hearty welcome and all these are
to be had at the primitive inn of Triora
they need never regret their journey up
the Argentina valley.


7 (2230)


Camel-back bridge at Pieve di Teco



CONTINUING along the coast across the Ponte
della Fiumara di Taggia as the Argentina is
named at its lower reaches through vine-
yards and olive groves, and past the villages
of Riva Ligure, San Stefano al Mare, and San
Lorenzo al Mare, all three washed by the sea
and the first two with ancient defences, we
came to Porto Maurizio and Oneglia.

Porto Maurizio, picturesquely situated on
an eminence which projects into the sea, and
surrounded by fine houses and gardens, is an
ancient port and commercial town which of
recent years has developed into a winter

The Impero and the Arroscia 99

resort. It existed .as early as the days of
Augustus Caesar, who erected a tower, with
an inscription, at one of its highest points,
to commemorate his victory over the Liguri-
ans of the mountains, is mentioned in Anto-
nino's ancient itinerary, as follows : " Occurrit
oppidum Portus Maurici " ; and is named in
the sixth book of Strabo's history among
the ports of Liguria. After being in the
possession of the Counts of Ventimiglia and
the Marquesses of Clavesana, it passed, about
the middle of the twelfth century, under the
dominion of Genoa, with whose fortunes it
was for long closely identified. Reading the
chronicles of Giustiniani, Caffero, and others,
we find that in 1166 a galley of the Commune
of Porto Maurizio joined six galleys of the
Republic of Genoa and pursued the Pisans,
who were cruising in the seas of Provence ;
that in 1295, when the Genoese sent a fleet
of one hundred and twenty galleys against
the Venetians, six hundred sailors, trained
to arms and all of them from Porto Maurizio,
formed part of the crew ; and that as late as
1786 the Parliament of Porto Maurizio raised
five hundred soldiers at its own expense to
reinforce the troops sent by the Republic
against the King of Sardinia. Deriving great

100 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

wealth, like her neighbour Oneglia, on the
opposite side of the bay, from the trade in
olive oil, Porto Maurizio was ever the com-
mercial rival of her sister seaport, and as the
two were rarely of one and the same mind
politically, their rivalry, which more than
once led to blows, was all the more intense.
And I suspect that even to-day they look at
each other somewhat jealously.

Oneglia, which stands at the mouth of the
Impero torrent, was founded in the tenth
century, after the destruction by the Saracens
of Frassineto of a more ancient town, standing
on the site of the inland village of Cast el -
vecchio. It possesses a port of the second
class, is deeply interested in the exportation
of olive oil and in the importation of the
woollen rags with which the olive trees are
manured, l and, industrially and commercially,
is a place of considerable importance. But
it is a town that holds forth hardly any of
those attractions which are usually sought
by the traveller. To speak frankly, my note-
book is not a testimonial either to the interest
of its buildings or to the cleanliness of its

1 " The cultivation of the olive is expensive, the tree
needing, at least every fourth year, plenty of a particular
and very dear manure, consisting of woollen rags and the
horns and hoofs of cattle." Doctor Antonio.

The Impero and the Arroscia 101

inhabitants. It recalls the repellent peni-
tentiary near the railway station an immense
quadrilateral building surrounded by a high
wall, at the top of which, provided on either
side with railings and with here and there
a sentry box, armed guards are eternally
promenading the dusty, ill-kept streets
leading down to the harbour, and, bitterest
memory of all, our hurried departure, after
a sleepless night, from an albergo whose clean-
liness we had found was treacherously super-
ficial. There is a note, too, referring to the
dull and unintellectual side of the life of
Oneglia. So engrossed is she in making
money out of oil that she has no time to
think of her mental development. She does
not possess even a communal library. Nor
did an official at the Municipio, when I
asked to be directed to the Biblioteca Com-
munale, ever seem to have heard of such a
thing as a library. He looked at me in
wonder, and then demanded if I were not
looking for the office where mortgages were
registered. " Vuol dire, forse," he said, with
the most serious of faces, " ipoteca, non

Yet Oneglia and it was partly for this
reason that we made it another of our

102 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

headquarters was the birthplace of many
distinguished men of letters. These include
Nicolo Gazzelli, a Latin poet and
learned jurisconsult ; Carlo Sebastiano
Berardi, an ecclesiastical writer ; Maria
Pellegrina Amoretti, of the University of
Pavia ; Father Antonio Maria Amoretti, a
celebrated bibliographer, whose paternal
grandfather, the architect Gaetano Amoretti,
drew up the plans for the erection, in 1759,
of the collegiate church of St. John the
Baptist ; and, finally, Edmondo De Amicis,
the author of II Cuore, and many other books
which are on the shelves of every lover of
modern Italian literature.

We made inquiries as to the whereabouts
of the house in which De Amicis was born in
1846, and after some difficulty succeeded in
finding it. It is a large, bare building, near
the harbour, facing the piazza, on one side of
which the Palazzo di Justicia stands, and the
author, who was the son of a government
official (connected with the custom-house
when at Oneglia, we were told, but later, as
De Amicis has recorded in his recollections,
a banchieri regio del sali e tabacchi in a small
Piedmontese town), first saw the light in an
apartment on the second floor. The De

The Irnpero and the Arroscia 103

Amicis family left Oneglia when Edmondo
was in his early childhood, but he ever
retained " a sweet and deep affection " for
his native place, where he learnt to chatter
in the Genoese dialect and played with his
brother on the sands. " My earliest recol-
lection," he writes in Ricordi d 1 infanzia, " is
that of a day on which I played on a heap of
sand with my little brother, who was my
senior by two years, and who died when I
was four, leaving me but a vague reminiscence
of his face. How it is that I remember him
on that occasion, and have not the slightest
recollection of what happened at our home
on the occasion of his death, which ought to
have left a deep impression, is one of those
many mysteries of memory which are an
eternal puzzle to our minds. And what is
no less mysterious to me is the absolute
certainty which I have ever had that that
mite with whom I was playing that day was
my brother, although I had never had any
proof of the fact. It appears to me that my
existence began at that moment." We were
surprised to find that no tablet had been
placed on the house to Edmondo De Amicis'
memory, and that the municipality had failed
to name the square after him. But evidently

104 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Oneglia sets little store on men of literary

We did not think, either, that Oneglia had
done full justice to the memory of another
of her sons, the famous Andrea Doria, who
makes such a valiant figure in the history of
Genoa. It is true that in his case the house
in which he was born on November 30th,
1466, bears a marble plaque and an adequate
inscription, but it was unkind to give his
glorious name to an adjoining square of
secondary importance and a street which is
one of the meanest in the whole town.

It is largely for Andrea's sake, and the
memories which his family name recalls,
that the traveller along the shore of the
Ligurian Sea pauses awhile at Oneglia.
Finding a lack of picturesqueness, he is not
deeply grieved ; he quickly fills the void
by using his imagination, and letting his
thoughts dwell on the cloudy origin of the
Dorias, and on the manner in which they
built up the fortune of their great house.
They are said to have descended from a
certain Ardoino, of the family of the Counts
of Narbonne, who married a young Genoese
named Oria, and had four sons, commonly
known as the " figliuoli di Oria," and one of

The Impero and the Arroscia 105

whom was that Ansaldo who was Consul of
Genoa in 1134. One of the great authorities
in matters concerning the Italian nobility has
proved, however, that Ansaldo himself was
the husband of an Oria, so the question is
still full of doubt. One thing we know for
certain : that among the various branches of
the family two were especially noteworthy
and prolific in illustrious men : those who
descended from Oberto, the son of Pietro,
the first Lord of Loano in 1262, and those
who formed the dynasty of the Dorias of

The founders of the Oneglia branch were
Nicolo and Federico, the sons of Babilano,
and they acquired their rights by purchase
from the Bishop of Albenga in 1276. Their
father was a man of considerable note. He
was an ambassador at the court of Charles,
King of Naples, in 1255, and served in the
same capacity at the Papal court in 1276 ;
was a patron of Church lands in Sardinia, and
was buried, with, a noble epitaph on his tomb,
in the family vault at San Fruttuoso, near
Portofino. No sooner had the sale to his
sons been concluded than it was contested by
the inhabitants of Oneglia, on the ground
that neither the bishop nor his predecessors

106 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

had ever exercised the least right of lordship
over Oneglia. But they seem to have settled
the matter pacifically and to have received
Nicolo and Federico Doria in a friendly
manner, though only as simple protectors, as
the Bishops of Albenga had ever been.
Subsequent events showed that the Oneglians
had been right in suspecting that the strangers
wished to trespass on their communal rights.
Both the Dorias had a numerous progeniture,
and during the struggle between the Guelfs
and the Ghibellines, in which Oneglia, Porto
Maurizio, and other towns along the coast
were inevitably involved, the two branches
of the family gradually acquired a firm hold
over the lands of the district. By the end
of the fourteenth century they had assumed
the title of Lords of Oneglia, and claimed the
feudal right of using the people of the district
to defend their private interests. There is
no denying the fact that at this period of their
history the Dorias grossly abused their power.
Frequent were the disputes between the heads
of the two branches and the people, and these
did not wholly cease until, at the close of the
fifteenth century, the interests of the Dorias
of Oneglia became centred in Gian Domenico
Doria, the descendant of another branch and

The Impero and the Arroscia 107

a man of great merit, who had purchased his
lands and rights from the then few remaining
descendants of Nicolo and Federico.

One of the parties in this transaction was
Andrea Doria. He was the youngest of the
four sons of Ceva and Caracosa Doria, and,
being the smallest, he was known to members
of the family as Andrietta. Having lost his
father in early childhood, " Little Andrea's "
education was left entirely in the hands of
his mother, who, it would seem, had some
difficulty in repressing his buoyant disposi-
tion. " His generous and vivacious nature,"
says one of his biographers, Giuseppe Maria
Pira, " soon showed that he was destined to
become a soldier. Numerous signs indicated
the inclination of his mind. The word
' glory ' was often on his lips, and whenever
he heard the narration of some striking fact
or event he jumped with joy. A Genoese
galley having put into the harbour of Oneglia,
he went on board, child though he was, arid
displayed there such delight that, had his
widowed mother not gently forced him to
return home, he would have remained with
the sailors throughout the night." He carried
out his studies, at any rate until his fifteenth
year, at Porto Maurizio, at the house of Luca

108 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Ballario, an old friend of his father, but
presumably ever itching as he was to instruct
himself in the art of war they were never
of a nature wholly to satisfy him, for on
the death of his mother we find him quickly
making up his mind as to the profession he
would follow. In conjunction with his only
remaining brother, Davide, he sold his patri-
mony to Gian Domenico, and in the same
year, 1488, set out for Rome to enter the
service of Innocent III as a man of arms.
His next master was the King of Naples.
Then, with the ease of the born soldier of
fortune, he passed under the flag of the
Duke of Urbino. But love of his native
province drew him back, in the end, to
Liguria. He was given command of the
galleys of Genoa, and entered the service of
Francis I, who made him an admiral. Con-
sidering, however, that the work he had done
for France was ill-paid, he once more changed
his master. Francis was replaced by the
Emperor Charles V. He captured many
French men-of-war, and, fired with a desire
to liberate his countrymen from the foreigner,
called upon the people, in September, 1528,
to take up arms. On the following day the
Senate of Genoa declared the rule of France

The Impero and the Arroscia 109

at an end, hailed Andrea Doria as the " Father
of the Country," and to the cry of "St.
George and Liberty," the French garrison
was driven out. By the end of the year
Liguria was freed from the French yoke.
Andrea Doria' s next exploit was his expedi-
tion against the Turks. Carrying terror into
Grecian waters, he took Patras and Corone
from the Turks in 1532, and defeated them
in a great naval engagement. Created Prince
of Mem, in the Kingdom of Naples, and a
Knight of the Golden Fleece, he continued
to serve Charles V during his Tunisian,
Algerian, Italian, and Provencal expeditions,
and it is said that not a few of his former
townsmen of Oneglia formed part of the
crew of his squadron. Ambitious though he
was, Andrea, who knew as well as anyone
the dangers which menace the heads of States,
was a man of great prudence. So when
Genoa, as a mark of its gratitude, offered him
the sovereignty of the city, he refused it.
He wisely judged that it was better to be its
protector and to establish the Republic on
that solid basis which it retained even until
as late as 1796. After a life crowded with
brave deeds and fine actions, he retired to
a splendid palace which he had had built in

110 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Genoa, where he died, without issue, on
November 25th, 1560, at the age of ninety-four.

Such is a brief outline of the life of the
Doria who reflects most glory on Oneglia.
The reign of the second dynasty of the
Dorias lasted less than a century, and does
not call for special mention. They sold their
rights, in 1576, to Emanuele Filiberto, Duke
of Savoy, and the town, with the districts of
Prela and Maro, was then made into a

As it was our plan to make Oneglia the
starting-point of a journey up the Impero
valley, to descend from the Colla di San
Bartolomeo to Pieve di Teco, and then to
return to the coast by way of the Arroscia
torrent, we made a short excursion to Diano
Marina and Diano Castello before leaving the
birthplace of Andrea Doria.

Diano one of those places which attract
through the sweetness of their names is so
called because the goddess Diana was wor-
shipped there by the pagan inhabitants of
Liguria. The neighbouring village of Cervo,
sunning itself on a hillside above the sea, also
indicates that the same goddess had a temple
there ; for did she not change Atteone, the
son of Aristius, into a stag (cervo), and is she

The Impero and the Arroscia 111

not frequently represented in company with
that animal ? We found Diano to be a very
pleasant little seaside town, with good, well-
paved streets, shady avenues planted with
feathery-leaved pepper trees, and modern
houses. After the 1887 earthquake, which
wrecked most of the buildings, and killed one
hundred and ninety-one inhabitants, it was
almost entirely rebuilt. The municipality
has made a brave attempt to make it a
resort for visitors, and it can certainly be
recommended to families who seek the bene-
fits of the Riviera at a small cost. There is
a public garden, neatly set out with firs and
palms, in front of the well-protected bay, a
band-stand, and a good bathing establishment.
Half-an-hour's walk inland brings you to
Diano Castello, a little town on high ground
with an ancient encircling wall and towers.
It was formerly part of the dominion of the
Marquis of Clavesana, and was sold to the
Republic of Genoa in 1228. Apart from its
former fortifications, there is proof of its
antiquity in an old painting, representing
ships and a fortified seaport, on the wall of the
town hall, near the church square. On this
little square is a quaint three-sided shelter,
with slate seats, from which you can get a

112 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

good view of the open valley, Diano Marina,
and the sea beyond. Diano Castello is, by
the by, noted for its fine outlook, and where-
ever a view is to be obtained the thoughtful
inhabitants have built a seat alongside their
ancient enceinte. Some of the houses of the
town have the air of dating very far back in
history, a peep now and then through doors
that had been left ajar revealing broad stair-
cases with marble columns and traces of
sculpture. In one of these large entrance
halls we obtained a glimpse of some fine old
furniture and, hanging on the walls, a number
of old pictures in carved wooden frames ;
and not until my friend the Antiquary had
discovered that the house was a casa privata
was it possible to drag him away.

Pieve di Teco lies in a hollow in the moun-
tains, in the Arroscia valley, some twenty
miles from Oneglia, and at an altitude of
two hundred and forty-five metres. To get
there the road passes over much higher ground,
as high, indeed, as 621 metres at the Colla
di San Bartolomeo, where it begins to descend
with great abruptness through plantations of
chestnut trees and olives. Up to this point
the views of the Impero valley, with the vil-
lages and hamlets scattered on the hillsides,

The Impero and the Arroscia 113

are, therefore, very extensive, and give an
excellent idea of the vegetation on either
side of the torrent.

Soon after leaving Oneglia you discover
the reason why the Impero has been called
the Golden Valley. The waters of the stream
supply the motive-force for the olive mills
which stand upon its banks, and the terraced
hillsides are planted with innumerable olive
trees of great commercial value. Owing to
its fine position, the quality of its earth, and
the industry of its inhabitants, there is,
perhaps, no place in the whole of Europe
which produces such exquisite oil as the
Oneglia district. Two centuries ago the
annual output was some 30,000 barrels : now
it is nearly trebled ; and though this increase
may not seem to be very great, the progress
made is, in reality, considerable, considering
the enormous amount of work that has been
required to acclimatise the olive in a district
which was naturally sterile. The terraced
olive groves of the Impero valley represent
the work of no fewer than seven centuries.
Some think that the olive was brought to
Liguria from Palestine by the Crusaders, but
it was, as a matter of fact, the gift of the

Benedictines who established themselves in
& (2230)

114 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

this part of Italy after the invasion of
Frassineto by the Saracens.

On the way to Pieve di Teco, and when
we had covered less than a third of our
journey, we passed through Pontedassio and
Chieusavecchia, villages which were the
birthplaces of two noteworthy men, both of
them poets. Pontedassio's man of letters was
Paolo Ramoino, and he wrote his verses in
Latin, in the fifteenth century ; Chieusa-
vecchia (which shows by its name that it
was once a fortified place) saw the birth of
Pellegrino in the seventeenth century, and
he also wrote most of his poems in the Latin
tongue. Of the two, Pellegrino is best worth
reading by the visitor to the Golden Valley,
since he sang in De Classe Gallica Vallis
Unelicz triumphus (1692)- a poem of 926
lines in heroic verse of the bravery of his
fellow-countrymen, and the beauties of his
native district. He ingeniously represents the
Impero valley as the abode of nymphs and
goddesses, a place dear to Flora and Diana,
but especially to Minerva, whom he pictures
as coming there, after her victory over
Neptune, to plant the olive. The style in
which he wrote is Virgilian, and his modes of
expression sometimes decidedly original. He

The Impero and the Arroscia 115

was one of the first to describe the terrible
effects of a bursting shell, an engine of warfare
which was invented no great time before his
day. In short, Pellegrino, who was trained
for the priesthood, but never ordained, was
a genuine poet.

Pieve di Teco, a long, straggling town with
gray roofs, stands on the left bank of the
Arroscia. It derives part of its curious name
from the ancient castle of Teico, which stood
there until about the middle of the thirteenth
century. This name, Teico, is a valuable
indication as to the religion of the ancient
Ligurians, for, as shown by an inscription on
an urn which was discovered in the district
in 1718, it is derived from Teutates, the name
of the chief Deity of the Celtic races. Teutates
was Mercury, to whom the ancient Gauls, and
probably his worshippers in the Arroscia
valley, offered human sacrifices.

A long, narrow street with picturesque
arcades on either side forms the central
artery of the town, and under these, from
morning until night, sit the many shoemakers
who give Pieve di Teco its distinguishing
mark. There are over sixty masters, em-
ploying some two hundred workmen, and
they are kept busy at their lasts, thanks

116 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

in a great measure to government orders
for military boots and knapsacks. Pieve
di Teco, being on the direct road to the
frontier, it is the seat of a small garrison
of soldiers, who occupy an ancient convent
with towers on the northern outskirts of
the town. Another old convent, that in
the centre of Pieve, near the Municipio,
is now used as a storehouse for the handi-
work of the shoemakers of the town.
Tailoresses, busily working their sewing-
machines, are in close proximity to these
Crispins, and as the bakers, hosiers, mercers,
and other tradespeople set out their stalls
under the arches, great is the commercial
activity of the town throughout the day.
These groups of workers are often most
picturesque. The setting of the picture, too,
is such as will delight those, who are in search
of the things on which Time has placed his
beautifying finger. Old religious paintings
as the one of Christ and Mary above the
Caffe Patrio, under the arcades, a cafe which
also possesses an ancient lantern and bracket,
the predecessors of the modern electric lamp,
beneath the picture are to be seen here and
there on the sides of the houses ; shrines and
carved doorways are fairly numerous ;

The Impero and the Arroscia 117

pleasant little squares are encountered with
that unexpectedness which lends them part
of their charm ; and one's rambles among
the narrower streets, such as the Via Madonna
della Ripa, which leads to a gray old church
with a pointed spire, dedicated to the Madonna
of that name, often bring a rich reward in
the form of architectural " discoveries." The
ecclesiastical buildings of Pieve di Teco, which
was formerly the home of several orders of
monks, were once very numerous. The finest
of those which remain is the large, domed
parish church, which was built in accordance
with the plans of the eighteenth century
Lombardian architect Gaetano Cantoni. The
interior, with its painted columns, is very
harmonious in its colouring, and it contains
a number of good pictures by Giulio Benso,
Cambiaso, and Piola Domenico. On the slope
of the hill near the hospital is a little Capucine
chapel which should also be visited on account
of its excellent pictures and reposeful

During nearly the whole of the eighteen
miles journey back to the sea we travelled
on the left bank of the Arroscia, which at
times far beneath the road winds along a
narrow, rocky bed, through a landscape ever

118 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

varying in beauty, and past many a village
noted either for its position, its buildings, or
the part it has played in history. There is
Muzio, on whose bridge, in 1672, a bloody
fray between the troops of the Republic of
Genoa and those of the Duke of Savoy took
place, ending in the defeat of the former, and
the death of several noble Piedmont ese ;
there is Borghetto di Ranzo, with its little
chapel, which contains a good picture with
several compartments, representing the
Madonna, St. Sebastian, and other subjects,
enclosed in an antique gilded frame ; there
is Bacelega on the hillside ; there is Ortovero
amidst the orchards ; and, when getting very
near Albenga, there is Bastia and the fortified
house from which it doubtless takes its name.
Between Borghetto d'Arroscia and Borghetto
di Ranzo, by the side of the road, and at a
point where an extensive view of the winding
torrent can be obtained, stands a little church
dedicated to San Pantaleo. Its porch is
covered with fifteenth century frescoes,
representing the Madonna and Child, Christ
before Pilate, Christ carrying the Cross, the
Last Supper, the Raising of Lazarus, and
other scenes in the life of the Saviour a
delightful harmony in red, yellow, green, and

The Impero and the Arroscia 119

blue, especially when seen on such a clear
day as that on which we followed the long,
white road towards Albenga. These paint-
ings were the work of Franchinus Saiada, and
he executed them in the years 1491 and 1493,
as shown by the dates which he carved above
the sculptured slate doorways. He was a
sculptor as well as a painter, and his bas-
reliefs of angels are almost as clear cut as
when, more than four hundred years ago, he
worked (on just such a bright, sunny day as
ours, it pleased us to picture him) on the hard,
black stone. There is a second beautiful old
church, shaded by two enormous cypresses,
a short distance along the road after leaving
Borghetto di Ranzo. Above the door is
another ancient fresco, and inside the building
is a noteworthy picture of the Madonna della

As we came within sight of the towers of
Albenga, the sun was setting behind the
circle of deep purple hills which encompass
the town, and, on looking backwards, we
beheld one of those superb sunsets for which
this district is noted. The broad, stony bed
of the river Centa, as the waters of the
Arroscia and Lerone torrents are called after
mingling at Villanova, was flooded with

120 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

golden light ; dark clouds stretched just
above the pointed crests of the mountains ;
above were lighter ones, gloriously roseate ;
and, higher still, were pure white cirrus
cloudlets with deep pink edges. No one
could have desired a more fitting spectacle
with which to end the day.

Roadside Chapel with frescoes, Arroscia Valley

Albenga Cathedral



IT has well been said that " few Italian towns,
and certainly none in Liguria, can boast of
such glorious memories, recorded in the
pages of Roman history, as those of ancient
Albenga." The banks of the river Centa were
the scene of that titanic struggle between


122 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

the Romans and the tribe of Ligurians known
as the Ingauni, which followed on the victory
of Zama (201 B.C.), near Carthage, and the
close of the second Carthaginian War a
struggle, as shown by the pages of Livy, which
was remarkable for the heroic resistance of
the vanquished and the ruthless cruelty of
the conquerors.

The Romans had a special reason for the
vindictiveness with which they conducted
their campaign against the capital of the
Ingauni, then situated on the slope of the
hill which overlooks the Isle of Gallinaria,
since these had been the close allies of Magone,
the brother of Hannibal, and had on many
occasions been of the greatest service to the
Carthaginians. Whilst Hannibal was march-
ing into Italy over the Alps, Magone, with the
object of invading the valley of the Po by
way of the Bormida valley, had disembarked
on the Riviera di Ponente, where he knew
that the inhabitants, and particularly those
of Albenga and Savona, were favourable to
his plans. With the aid of his Ligurian
mercenaries, he had attacked and destroyed
Genoa, a city which had secretly been
favourable to Rome. This had never been
forgotten by the Romans, so that when the

Albenga 123

time came to establish themselves in Liguria
they set about their work of conquest with
the thoroughness which marked all their

Marcus Sempronius and Appius Claudius
were sent to conquer the two Rivieras, and
it fell to the latter to begin the difficult task
of overcoming the Ingauni. Not until the
Ligurians had lost six strongholds and the
battlefield was strewn with their dead did
they give up the fight. Many thousands of
citizens were taken prisoners and transported,
and forty-three of the most prominent were
beheaded. This victory, however, by no
means brought the struggle to an end. In
conjunction with the Epanteri, another of
the tribes of Liguria and formerly their
enemies, the Ingauni endeavoured to throw
off the Roman yoke, and once more ancient
Albenga was besieged. The result is summed
up in Livy's incisive phrase : " ^Emilius
Paulus proconsul ex Liguribus Ingaunis
triumphavit." Thirteen thousand Ligurians
were killed and two thousand five hundred
were taken prisoners.

Such was the importance attached in Rome
to this success that the return of the con-
queror was made the occasion for special

124 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

rejoicings: three days' public prayers were
ordered, and Paulus ^milius was drawn
through the streets of the city in a triumphal
car, preceded by the enchained leaders of
the Ligurian insurrection and the twenty-five
golden crowns which he had captured from
the enemy.

Yet even then the conquest of the stubborn
inhabitants of Albenga was not final. Aullus
Postumius had to take up the work begun
by Appius Claudius and continued by Paulus
^Emilius, and not until he had unmercifully
massacred or transported the Ingauni could
it be said that Liguria had come under the
sway of Rome.

The story of these concluding years of
conquest is one of the blackest in history, and
says little for the generosity of the Romans ;
for we learn from Pliny, who says, " nee situs,
neo origines persequi facile est Ingaunis
Liguribus, ut costeri omittantur agro tricies
dato," that the Senate, in order to destroy
the domestic affections of the deported
Ingauni, changed their place of residence no
fewer than thirty times. Even if we regard
that word tricies as an alteration of vicies or
decies, as it most probably is, what a
tale of misery, heroically supported, is

Albenga 125

unfolded in the words of the Roman
naturalist !

From what we know of the magnificence
of other Roman cities, and with the aid of
the remains which have been discovered at
Albenga, it is possible to form a very fair idea
of the transformation which the capital of
the Ingauni underwent at the hands of the
conquerors. It became a city of fine houses,
inhabited by powerful Roman families a city
with triumphal arches, well-made streets,
luxurious places of amusement, and magnifi-
cent churches, dedicated to pagan divinities.
Many famous people must have been born
there, and, among them, in all probability,
the Emperor Pertinax, whom Albenga has
ever claimed as one of her sons. l For, though
Gibbon, Giuistiniani, and other authorities
each give a different town as his native place,
Albenga can, by pointing to a certain portrait
which was brought to light there, and by
appealing to tradition, make out as strong a
case as anyone.

Striking evidence of all this magnificence
is naturally, nowadays, wanting. In 409,
Albenga was destroyed by Aleric, King of the

1 Albenga is also said to have been the birthplace of
another Roman Emperor, Titus Elius Proculus, but the
evidence is not as strong in this case as in the other.

126 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Visigoths ; consequently one must look to
the period of her resurrection, in the days of
Flavius Costanzius, the general of the Emperor
Honorius, who defeated Aleric's successor,
Ataulf, to find any remarkable specimens of
Roman work. In rebuilding the city, on the
plain, Costanzius' first care was to erect a
baptistery that beautiful octagonal building
which stands on the left of the cathedral,
and which those who desire to trace the his-
tory of Albenga in a comprehensive manner
would do well to see before any other.

This baptistery is surrounded on six of its
sides by a railing and a little moat, the depth
of which is a valuable indication as to the
age of the building. To reach the interior
it is necessary to pass through the shop of a
draper and dealer in second-hand odds-and-
ends (a singular means of ingress which drew
from the Antiquary an indignant " Che
vergogna ! "), and on entering the baptistery,
by an iron door on the right, you descend to
its original level by a flight of stone steps.
Either these steps or the depth of the moat
may be used as a scale to measure the increase
which has taken place along the centuries
in the height of the land on the banks of the
Centa. Owing to innumerable floods, the

A portion of the Baptistery, Albenga

Albenga 127

ground has been raised about the depth of a
step every century, and as there are thirteen
or fourteen steps down into the baptistery,
the date of its construction may be fixed
approximately as the fifth century. The
style in which it is built supports the claim
that it dates from the days of Flavius Cos-
tanzius : it^is similar in character to the most
ancient of early Christian buildings, and,
although it was built for Christian uses,
archaeologists have decided that, as was usual
in the fifth and sixth centuries, part of the
materials with which it was constructed were
the remains of some older pagan temple.
The granite columns and their carved capitals
bear all the characteristics of works of art
of the best period. The pierced and sculp-
tured stone plaques, which serve as windows
in the semicircular recesses, are also fine
examples of early sculpture. But perhaps
the most noteworthy specimen of primitive
art work is the mosaic, formed with small
pieces of coloured glass, which ornaments the
arch of one of the recesses, that immediately
facing the entrance. The design represents
the mystic lamb, surrounded by doves and
stars the symbols, in the early days of the
Church, of the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

128 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

The special manner in which this recess is
decorated shows that the ancient altar of
the baptistery was situated there. On each
side of the entrance are two stone coffins,
which are supposed to have once held the relics
of those Bishops of Albenga whom the
inhabitants held in special esteem on account
of their saintliness. Bunches of grapes form
part of the carving in low relief, and these
one of the well-known symbols employed by
early Christians allude to the words of the
Saviour : " Ego sum vitis, vos palmites."
The original octagonal font in the centre of
the baptistery was removed by Bishop
Fieschi, with the idea of modernising the
building, so that the remains of the one now
seen there date only from 1588. A much
later font stands in one of the semicircular
alcoves. Marchese, another of the Bishops
of Albenga, had already, nearly a century
before, begun to restore the edifice ; and
again, in 1865, it underwent a little judicious
restoration. A number of ancient amphorae,
found, presumably, in or near the baptistery,
are also on view to the right of the

Behind the cathedral is a little square,
known as the Piazza dei Leoni, and above it

Albenga 129

rises one of the many brick towers of Albenga.
May we regard this tower (which is mentioned
in a document of 1288) and the three stone
lions, standing on pedestals in the corners of
the piazza, as the remains of a fine monument
raised by the inhabitants of ancient Albenga
to the memory of the man who rebuilt their
city ? Possibly so. At any rate, there is
still another monument which undoubtedly
testifies to the work of Flavius Costanzius.
About a third of a mile to the north of the
town there stretches along the side of the
road, surrounded by fields devoted to the
cultivation of tomatoes and maize, the well-
preserved remains of a Roman bridge. This
is the famous ponte lungo 147 metres in
length, and three and a half metres broad
which Costanzius, in order to facilitate com-
munications with Albenga, built over the
Cent a. Water no longer flows under its ten
arches, the tops of many of which are reached
by the earth ; for the river is now half-a-mile
away, placidly flowing beneath the remains
of the old wall which once completely sur-
rounded the town. When it changed its
course no one can say, since there is no record
of the event. Some time, however, between
the fifth and the tenth centuries, the Lerone

9 (2230)

130 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and Arroscia torrents brought down such
immense quantities of earth from the moun-
tains that the bed of the ever-rising Centa
became blocked, so much so, indeed, that at
last it was obliged to seek a free passage to
the sea along another channel. 1

If the ponte lungo be taken as representing
Roman times, and the baptistery as a relic
of the early days of Christianity, the Cathedral
of St. Michael and the towers of Albenga may
be pointed out as typifying the Middle Ages.

The cathedral, with its square brick tower
and pointed spire of coloured tiles, is, owing
to the numerous changes which its architecture
has undergone, a curious mixture of Gothic
and the baroque. The original building out
of which it grew was erected by the Com-
mune of Albenga as a parliament-house and
church combined, dedicated to the Archangel,
whom the people of the town had chosen as
their protector, and whose figure they placed
on their coat-of-arms. Finding, as the place
grew in importance, that their bishop needed

1 " During the pliocene period, the Albenga district
consisted of a deep gulf, which extended for thirteen or
fourteen kilometres into the Arroscia valley and a little
less into that of the Neva a gulf which was filled up by
deposits from these two rivers, then independent." Arturo
Issel's Liguria Geologica e Prehistorica.

Albenga 131

an ampler and more majestic place of
worship, the building was gradually converted
into a cathedral. In 1419 Pope Martin V
granted a three years' indulgence to whoso-
ever, with arm or with money, aided in the
work of reconstruction, from which we may
conclude that it was then beginning to fall
into ruins. The tower was erected in 1453.
But more than a century later, in 1585, it
was again in a very bad state of repair, and
the then reigning bishop, Luca Fieschi, was
obliged to restore it at his own expense. He
it was who had the original level of the build-
ing raised to that of the surrounding streets,
the difference being from one to no fewer
than three metres ! Restoration or addition
continued in this way until as late as the
eighteenth century. The interior of the
building, with its well-painted ceiling and
square columns, on which are figures repre-
senting Religion, Charity, Hope, Temperance,
Fortitude, and other virtues, is almost wholly
modern, so that to find examples of early
work one has to look on its exterior. There
is some interesting carving over the side
entrance, facing the baptistery, but the most
curious specimens of primitive sculpture are
on the principal facade, opposite the Piazza

132 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

San Michele, from which the best view of the
building is obtainable.

Many are the bishops whose bones repose
in this cathedral, and many were the cele-
brated ecclesiasts who, after officiating
there, rose to greater eminence. Sinibaldo
Fieschi, Bishop of Albenga in 1235, became
Innocent IV ; Giulio de' Medici, who held the
same office, was elevated to the papacy in
the sixteenth century as Clement VII ;
whilst Giorgio Fieschi, Bendinello Sauli, and
Girolamo Grimaldi, holders of the Albenga
episcopate in the fourteenth and sixteenth
centuries, all of them became cardinals.

If further evidence of the past ecclesiastical
importance of Albenga were wanting, it can
be found in the magnificent cathedral library,
which, thanks to an obliging canon, we were
able to visit and examine at our leisure.
But the fine volumes of which it is composed
are now kept in a room which can hardly be
called a library, since it is nothing more than
an attic at the top of one of the low buildings
adjoining the right of the cathedral. When
we entered this room, on a sunny October
afternoon, the window was wide open, and,
suspended from canes stretching between two
pieces of dust-covered furniture, were dozens

Albenga 133

of bunches of grapes, drying for the winter
use of some ecclesiast or official connected
with the cathedral ! Removing a screen from
the front of one of the cupboards with which
two of the sides of the chamber are lined, our
friend the canon proceeded to unlock it with
one of the most ordinary of keys ; and as
he drew forth the most precious of the many
ancient manuscript volumes, bound in vellum,
we could not help thinking how easy it would
have been, even for the most inexperienced
of burglars, to enter by that open window and,
without exciting the least suspicion, to carry
off those bibliographical treasures. The cathe-
dral authorities are, of course, well aware
of the inadequate way in which their beautiful
old books are stored, and it has been proposed
that the choicest of these be moved to another
room, where, in show-cases, and safely under
lock and key, they could be placed on view
for the benefit of the connoisseurs who come
to Albenga in search of the beautiful. It is
much to be hoped that this suggestion will be
quickly carried into effect, otherwise it is to
be feared that the manuscripts of the cathedral
of Albenga are doomed, sooner or later, to
deterioration, if not destruction, through
damp and bookworms. The choicest of these

134 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

manuscript volumes are five in number, all
dating from the fifteenth century. The cali-
graphy on their parchment leaves is as fine
and as accurate as any of the printing in our
finest examples of typography, and they con-
tain initial letters and miniatures, in blue
and gold, which may be said to be as
exquisite as any illumination ever produced by
monkish scribe. Many of these miniatures,
although but a few square inches in area,
are complete pictures, with the faces of
angels, saints, virgins, and monks, all most
tenderly expressive and full of the most
delicate detail ; and the colours with which
they are painted are every bit as fresh as on
the day on which they left the brush. One
of the volumes is a large folio Bible ; another
is a breviary, bearing the arms of one of the
Bishops of Albenga, who probably ordered it
to be produced ; a third is a martyrology ;
a fourth is a missal ; and the fifth is a psalter.
There are also quite a number of illuminated
books of music, but the five manuscript
volumes I have mentioned are the pick
of the collection, and in the case of these
the cathedral authorities have, every two
years, to render an account to the Italian

Albenga 135

The quarter in which the cathedral stands,
that of San Giovanni Battista and it is a
noteworthy fact that it took its name, not
from the church, but from the baptistery-
was the most important of the four districts,
each separated by gates, into which Albenga
was divided in the Middle Ages. These gates
no longer exist they were doubtless pulled
down when the town wall was rebuilt in 1553
but the names of the quarters remain. The
three others are those of San Siro, Santa
Eulalia, and Santa Maria the last taking its
name from the ancient collegiate church of
Santa Maria in Fontibus which is still

This tenth century church is at no great
distance to the right of the cathedral. Origin-
ally dedicated wholly to the Virgin, the addi-
tional appellation in Fontibus was given
because of a miraculous spring, said to be a
sure cure for leprosy, which one day bubbled
forth under the choir. It disappeared as
mysteriously as it had come, in consequence,
it is related, of a woman having polluted
its waters by immersing her little dog, which
was suffering from the above-named disease.
The exterior of Santa Maria in Fontibus,
does not need any special mention, but the

136 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

interior deserves a few words. It contains,
on the left-hand side, a white carved marble
holy-water stoop, dated 1628, and some very
good pictures. One of the best represents
the Raising of Lazarus. Christ is standing
by the bedside, at the foot of the bed is a
woman warming a cloth in front of a charcoal
brazier, and in the upper left-hand corner is
God surrounded by angels.

Helpful as the ecclesiastical buildings of
Albenga are in forming a picture of the life
of the Middle Ages, the towers of the town,
built for civic uses, are what bring it before
our mental eye most vividly. There are four
of these towers, all of brick, near the cathedral
one to the left of that building ; a second
behind it ; a third above a building on the
opposite side of the narrow Via Bernardo
Ricci, at the corner of the Piazza San Michele ;
and the fourth, much lower than the others,
surmounting a house which forms another of
the angles of the square. The most interesting
of these is the first-named. Its elegant
windows with pointed arches, supported in
the middle by slender, marble columns,
indicate that it was once regarded as a building
of special importance. It was, in fact, the
tower of the parliament-house built by the

Albenga 137

Commune of Albenga when the church of
St. Michael was abandoned, and it was
doubtless the residence of the Podestas
during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth
centuries. The bell in its campanile certainly
called the people together, and we know for
certain, also, that they assembled to discuss
the business of the town in a large chamber
on the ground floor of the building : a room
over whose entrance were the words " Mens
omnibus Una " (an imitation of the Virgilian
" Vox omnibus una "), and around the walls
of which were busts, with inscriptions, of the
most celebrated of the former citizens of
Albenga, including the Emperors Pertinax and

When we had pondered over all the promi-
nent monuments of Albenga, we endeavoured
to complete the picture which they call up
by sauntering through her streets and musing
on the days when she was a flourishing town
of silversmiths, weavers, tanners, and mercers ;
and in spite of the undoubted decadence
which has set in in modern times, we suc-
ceeded in our object. Though the houses
in the narrow streets are often badly in
need of repair, and the acrid smell of wine-
presses issues from many a one-time noble

138 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

building, the atmosphere around you belongs
more to olden than to modern days. There
is a stateliness in the architecture of some of
the houses which we do not find in those of
to-day. Slate bas-reliefs at times with in-
scriptions in Latin adorn the portals, and on
looking inside the porches you discover
massive marble staircases and painted walls.
The love of the Italians for colour is a very
marked feature of Albenga. Wherever you
wander you see painted fagades. There are
paintings on the cathedral tower, on most of
the fronts of the more important public and
private edifices, such as the hospital and the
home for aged people, and another of the
towers of the town, that rising above the
building now used as a technical school, is
entirely covered. Besides purely decorative
designs, there are religious paintings some
of them mere fragments, it is true, but
nevertheless harmonious in colouring, and a
distinct addition to the town's beauty.
Weather-beaten though they be, they are,
perhaps, even more beautiful now than when
they were painted, and the colours were fresh.
In such cases Time is often a great beautifier.
A good view of the town and a portion of
its ancient wall is to be had from the opposite

Albenga 139

bank of the Centa, after crossing the new
iron bridge leading from the Piazza XX
Settembre, but to my mind the best point
from which to see it lies further down the
stream. Almost at the very mouth of the
river, which you can cross by a plank when
the water is low, is a good deal of marshy
ground, a perfect godsend to the botanist,
since its paludal flora is exceedingly rich in
specimens of plants which grow in no other
part of Liguria. Here you have a foreground
of reeds and tall aquatic grasses, then a
screen of trees, and above their tops you
obtain an admirable view of the ruddy
towers and houses of ancient Albenga. The
sight of this swampy ground, by the by,
made the Antiquary quote the well-known
Ligurian proverb :

" Albenga piana se fosse sana
Se chiameria stella Diana,"

which he explained to me was a reference to
the fetid swamps which surrounded the
town in the twelfth century and made the
place so unhealthy that many of the
inhabitants withdrew to the hillsides.

Walking westward along the beach, we
soon came face to face with the Isle of Gal-
linaria, which is separated from the mainland

140 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

by a narrow channel of sea. This bare
and inhospitable-looking little island, rising
abruptly from the sea, somewhat in the form
of a truncated cone, played its part in the
history of the Church, and reminds the
traveller of those early days when Christianity
was being introduced into this part of the
world. San Calocero, Bishop of Milan,
preached the doctrines of the new religion at
Albenga in the year 180, and about the
middle of the fourth century came St. Martin,
Bishop of Tours, not, it is true, with the
object of making fresh converts, though his
coming undoubtedly led to that result, but
in order to flee from his persecutors, the
Ariani. He found a place of refuge (tradition
says that it was in the year 350) in a cave,
six yards in length, and which still bears his
name, on the Isle of Gallinaria, and he is
said to have lived there for more than a year
performing many miracles, not the least
strange of which was his consumption of the
poisonous plants, which were his sole source
of nourishment, since none other would grow
there. A few years later St. Ilario is believed
to have set foot on the island in search of
St. Martin, but the Bishop of Tours had
already left for Rome to pay a visit to St.

Albenga 141

Ilario ! The Isle of Gallinaria was ever after
regarded with veneration by the Church,
and when the Benedictines, who played a great
part in the affairs of Albenga and district
during the Middle Ages, established them-
selves there, they raised an altar in St.
Martin's cave and built a church and monas-
tery on the topmost part of the island. It
was in this church that Pope Alexander III,
in 1162, when surprised by a storm and
forced to land, celebrated divine service ; and
a Bull which he issued several years later,
taking the property of the Benedictines under
his special protection, shows the great
affection he retained for little Gallinaria.

The Benedictines of Albenga possessed
the chapel of Santa Croce, the ruins of which
stand on the headland which rises high above
the sea to the west of the town. It stands by
the side of the Roman road which ran along
the coast, and which still forms a link between
Albenga and Alassio. So we climbed up
the ancient way, to be rewarded on reaching
its highest point by superb views both east
and west. Far below, rising from the deep
blue sea, lay Gallinaria ; whilst enframed by
the chapel's irregular stone doorway appeared
the fine sweep of the Bay of Alassio, with its

142 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

stretch of pure white sand and the gleaming
facades of its hotels and villas.

It has been claimed that Alassio was founded
by Aleramus, that adventurer of the tenth
century who married a daughter of the
Emperor Ottone I, but the statement is
unsupported by even the smallest piece of
historical evidence. As a matter of fact,
this beautiful little seaside town, now
renowned as a winter and summer resort of
the first order, was only, in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries, a small group of
poor houses, occupied for the most part by
fisher-folk, and the ownership of which was
a source of constant dispute between the
Friars and the Commune of Albenga.

We descended the Roman road, amidst
olives and carob-trees, on to its unparalleled
beach (at one end of which stands a circular
fort that once formed part of the town's
defences against the Saracens), and there,
tranquilly promenading in the mild October
air, we met a man who might have been
Robinson Crusoe himself. A more picturesque
figure we never saw in our lives. His
only clothing consisted of a pair of primitive
sandals, a white loin cloth, and a brown
canvas bag slung on his back. Long, white,



silky hair hung down over his shoulders, and
so long had he basked and promenaded in
the eternal sun of the Riviera that his skin
had become the colour of roasted coffee. We
found that he was of German nationality ;
a total abstainer and fruitarian ; and that,
in company with his wife and child and a
donkey, he was accustomed to pass all his
time in the open air. The soft white beach
of Alassio was, winter and summer alike, his
dining-room and his bed-chamber, and this
primeval mode of life had led to a state of
health which he had never enjoyed in the
days when he lived in houses.

The Ruined Castle at Alassio

Spanish triumphal arch at Finalmarina



KNAPSACK on back and stick in hand, we
had once more become wayfarers. For a
few miles our road lay inland, past the Ponte
Lungo and across the rich alluvial land which
the people of Albenga have so profitably
converted into market gardens, and we did
not touch the coast again until we had reached


Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 145

Ceriale. The Mediterranean was then once
more our compagno di viaggio (to use the
Antiquary's phrase), and, except whilst on
a short excursion up the Varatella torrent to
Toirano, a blue expanse of sea and the ever-
welcome sound of breakers were ours as far
as Finalmarina, where, for the fourth time,
our joint interests made us direct our steps
far into the hills and dales of Liguria.

How deceptive is the tranquillity of the
little coast towns of the Ligurian Sea ! So
calm nowadays is the life of their inhabitants,
so occupied are they with the peaceful arts
of fishing and husbandry that the traveller
has sometimes a difficulty in conceiving that
it was once disturbed by war's alarms. Yet
not one of the villages through which we passed
managed to escape the turmoil into which
the greed of man has time after time thrown
this maritime province ; and a little search
generally reveals the ancient scars of these
unwilling warriors of the past. The crumb-
ling round towers of Ceriale are an example,
and may be regarded as symbolical at one
and the same time of her desire to live a life
of peace and the shattering of that most
laudable hope ; for on the night of July 2nd,
1637, they failed to save her from the band

10 (2230 )

146 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

of Algerian and Tunisian pirates which
landed on the beach and besieged the village.
Three hundred of the inhabitants were taken
prisoners and led into captivity on the African
coast, and not until the commune had paid
a ransom of more than 16,000 lire thus con-
tracting a debt of which it was not relieved
until as late as 1800 were they allowed to
return to their homes.

The neighbouring villages of Borghetto,
San Spirito, Toirano, and Loano (which, by
the way, was the birthplace, on January 22nd,
1776, of Rosa Raimondi, the mother of
Giuseppe Garibaldi) were hardly less fortunate
at the close of the eighteenth century. They
were the scene of the struggle between the
troops of the French Republic and those of
the allied Austrians and Sardinians, and as
regards the ferocity with which the inhabit-
ants were plundered and ill-treated there was
little to choose, as the records show, between
the conquerors and the conquered. Above
Borghetto and Toirano is the chain of moun-
tains which the French converted into a strong
line of fortifications (known under the name
of San Spirito) and held against the Austrians
for two years ; whilst at the latter village,
on December 24th and 25th, 1795, was fought

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 147

an important battle in which the Austrians
and Sardinians were defeated.

Our visit to Toirano (a village of some five
hundred souls, at the confluence of the
Varatella and Barassone torrents ; a charming
little place, memorable for its cleanliness, its
picturesqueness, and its good fare) was
occasioned, however, not by a desire to revive
recollections of the Napoleonic Wars, but by
a wish to see the Sanctuary and Grotto of
Santa Lucia. l They are situated in the
rocky flank of one of the mountains which
rise above Toirano, and though visible from
below, and seemingly near at hand, the walk
up the zig-zagging path which the faithful
have made and bordered with olives, is a
long and tiring one. But on reaching the
platform, planted with cypresses, which has
been built in front of the painted entrance to

1 Though these are the chief attractions of the district,
Toirano, as one of the oldest places in Liguria, is interesting
in itself. It was founded at the time of the Roman domina-
tion, and was an oppidum that is, a walled town. Its
origin has been proved by the traces of Roman architecture
and the coins, bearing the effigies of Nero, Domitian, and
Marcus Aurelius, which have been discovered there.

The parish church, dedicated to St. Martin, as the mural
painting over the doorway shows, is not unworthy of a
visit. It contains some rather good modern paintings,
those on the ceiling representing scenes in the life of St.
Martin, and a fine inlaid marble pulpit all of them really
remarkable works for a small village church.

148 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

the Sanctuary, one's labour is amply rewarded.
It is not the Sanctuary, however, so much
as the Grotto, which is interesting, though
its antiquity as a place of pilgrimage is un-
doubted, since it is mentioned in Leo X's
Bull, " Pastoralis officii," under the date of
September 22nd, 1519. There is no such
picturesque story as that of Lampedusa con-
nected with it. The shadowy legend of the
Saint having come to Toirano and spent many
days in the grotto, making herself worthy of
admission to Heaven by fasting and prayer,
has no such hold over the imagination as the
tradition concerning Andrea Anfossi. Nor
is the position of the Sanctuary of Santa
Lucia to be compared to that of the Madonna
of Lampedusa. It is true that there is a
" holy " spring, reputed to be a certain cure
for eye diseases, but its waters are conducted
from the interior to the exterior of the
grotto by means of pipes, so that the poetic
fancies with which one might have clothed it,
had it been a crystal stream pouring from
the rock, are lacking. The grotto, then, takes
precedence as, indeed, a work of Nature
should over Man's handiwork, and whilst
exploring it by the dim light of candles one
would be inclined to forget Santa Lucia were

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 149

it not for the guide's persistence in introducing
her name into his explanations. The forms
which certain rocks have taken under the
action of water are such that they bear a
slight resemblance to those of articles used
in domestic life, and to believers in the
legend these are a clear proof of the Virgin's
presence in Toirano. This was her arm-
chair ; that was her washing-tub ; and here,
clearly, was her bed-chamber ! The cavern,
which owes its origin principally to the
erosive action of water, is some three hundred
and fifty yards in length, and its exploration
is instructive to those who are not already
acquainted with the manner in which stalac-
tites and stalagmites are formed and the often
beautiful shapes assumed by calcium carbonate.
The large number of grottos which are to
be found between Toirano and Finalmarina
may well permit of this district being called
the Cavern Country, and the splendid oppor-
tunity for study which nearly all of them
offer is one that should not be missed. There
are two other caverns in the same precipitous
wall of rock as that in which the Grotto of
Santa Lucia is situated : one a little higher
up, on the left, and the other, called the
Caverna Inferiore, on a lower level, to the

150 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

right. An extremely rare batracia, Pelodytes
punctatus, was found in the latter. Not far
from Toirano, there is also the Grotto Lubea,
in which numerous remains of extinct animals,
including Ursus Ligusticus and Felis antiqua,
have been discovered ; and near the neigh-
bouring mountain village of Balestrino is the
Grotto della Taragnina. Further along the
coast, about a mile to the north of Pietra
Ligure, and on the left bank of the Paremola
torrent, you will find the small but interesting
Cavern of Ponte Vara, which is supposed,
owing to the extraordinary accumulation of
human bones and fragments of Roman
amphorae found there, to have been an
ancient Celto-Ligurian cemetery. We decided,
however, that it was better not to visit this,
but to push forward on our journey along
the coast road. We knew that we should
soon come, within a stone's throw of the sea,
to one of the most important of the caverns
of Liguria, the celebrated Caverna delle
Arene Candide, between Borgio and Final-
marina, and that whilst in our new district
we should have an opportunity of visiting
no fewer than eight others. x

1 These are the Caverna di Pollera, situated near the
source of a little torrent called La Valle, an affluent of the

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 151

There is no mistaking the place called the
White Arenas. It is the natural curiosity
which first strikes the eye of the traveller as
he comes within sight of the Caprazoppa, that
high, rocky promontory which encloses the
western side of the Bay of Finalmarina, and
through which the Cornice road, by means of
a long gallery, passes. The steep slope of
the hill is covered, up to a fairly high level,
with fine white sand, which, blown there by
southern winds from the neighbouring beach,
has accumulated in the manner of drifted
snow and formed a sort of huge white

Aquila ; the Caverna del Rio, on the right bank of La Valle,
near Montesordo ; the Caverna di Martino, near the pre-
ceding grotto ; the Caverna del Sanguineto, on the right
bank of the Aquila, in the district of Perti, above Final-
borgo ; the Caverna della Rocca di Perti, in the same
region ; the Caverna dei Zerbi, on the left bank of the Aquila,
opposite Sanguineto ; the Caverna delle Fate, on the left
bank of the Rio de Ponci, opposite the Roman bridge of
Verzi ; and the Caverna di Verezzi, a few hundred yards to
the east of the Borgio- Verezzi railway station.

The discoveries that have been made in these caverns
consist of human bones, and in some cases entire skeletons ;
the bones of animals, such as bears, wild boars, and wolves ;
flint and bronze implements ; fragments of pottery ; pierced
shells and other ornaments ; and a large number of other
articles used by prehistoric man. Specimens of these are
to be seen in the Geological Museum, 1, Via S. Agnese, at
Genoa, and readers who would obtain further particulars
about them may be referred to the exhaustive studies of
Professor A. Issel, Don N. Morelli, and Bensa.

152 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

amphitheatre. A little above these Arene
Candide, at a height of eighty-nine metres
above sea-level, is the cave which has taken
their name. Its shape is irregular : seventy
metres at its greatest length, fifteen metres
in breadth, and a little less than five metres
in height and it has three openings, by one
of which entrance is easy. Here, as in another
of the caves of Finalmarina, the Caverna di
Pollera, a large number of tombs, containing
human bones, and in some cases entire skele-
tons, were found ; consequently it may be
regarded as an admirable type of the burying-
places of the ancient Ligurians. But other
discoveries show that it was something more
than this : it was one of their places of
habitation, though probably during only
certain periods of the year. A passage in the
writings of Diodorus Siculus, referring to the
Ligurians of his day (the 1st century B.C.),
shows that the practice of living in caves
survived in this part of Italy until com-
paratively recent times. " At night they sleep
in the country ," he writes, " and rarely in their
wretched hovels or small huts, but generally in
those caverns, formed by Nature, which offer
a convenient shelter." In the Caverna delle
Arene Candide, then, prehistoric man found

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 153

protection against both the inclemency of
the weather and his enemies. There and
the things he left behind him prove it he
slept and ate ; there he decorated his body
with red or yellow ochre, or prepared the
teeth of wild boars and wolves to serve as
ornaments ; there he made ready his stone,
and later his bronze, weapons for war on man
or animal ; and there he died if he did not
die on the battlefield or in the forest and was
buried. The story of almost his entire life
can be read in the discoveries of those who
have searched the caverns of Finalmarina.
As regards his physique, the picture which
the skeletons of the Arene Candide and
Pollera caves reveal is a particularly clear
one. In stature, he was a little below the
average, but well proportioned and extremely
muscular. His feet and legs were those of
one accustomed to much walking and climbing.
His skull presented the well-known character-
istics of primitive man : the low forehead,
the long jaw-bones, the prominent chin and
deep-sunk eyes. He was, in fact, the sum
total of strength and savage energy ; and it
requires no great effort of the imagination to
place him once more with his long hair
falling over his shoulders, his muscular body

154 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

painted and clothed with skins, and his hand
ever armed and ready to strike among his
native hills.

Notwithstanding the defects of Finalmarina
from the point of view of those who seek a
sheltered winter resort (it is not very well
protected from the north winds, and there
is a saying that it is always either blowing or
raining at Finalmarina), it is one of the places
to which I look back with the keenest pleasure.
It is a happy combination of the picturesque
and the romantic ; a spot full of charm to
the artist, and a great quickener of the
imagination in the case of the lover of history.

Down on the beach, facing the long line of
houses which form the little cittd y and in the
immediate neighbourhood of the town, the
views and scenes that are worthy of being
depicted are numerous. The fishing-boats
are drawn up high on to the sands ; nets are
stretched out in the sun to dry ; and the
fisher-folk are ever occupied with the work
of the day : the mending or dyeing of the
nets, or else the pulling of them in from the
shore. What a picture they form, these
sturdy men, women, and girls, as they toil
like beasts of burden at the two long ropes
attached to the bag-net far out at sea 1 In

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 155

the light of the setting sun, their bronzed
faces and naked legs are the colour of gold.
And how fine, too, is the colour of the women's
gowns : their faded reds and blues, and
that of the men's primitive garments, which,
through long exposure to salt water and
the sun, display every shade of brown ! To
see these honest workers digging their heels
into the sand and straining at the wet ropes
to perceive the look of hope in their faces
as the net gets ever nearer and nearer to
look on whilst the glittering catch is landed
and sorted, is one of the sights of Final-
marina. Then there are the sunsets glorious
pageants of colour almost every evening,
over the Camprazoppa, and the dark, distant
hills of the coast line, jutting out into the sea ;
and merely to be able to sit on the sands
of Finalmarina and watch these ever-changing
sky-effects is worth a visit there.

Historically, the district is as full of stirring
memories as any in Liguria. In the Middle
Ages it was under the rule of the powerful
Del Carretto family ; in the fifteenth century
the scene of a sanguinary contest between
the Del Carrettos and the Republic of Genoa ;
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in
the possession of Spain ; and in the eighteenth

156 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

century alternately under the dominion of
Genoa and Austria. Many ancient monu-
ments are still standing to aid you in your
dreaming over the romance of these various
periods. Facing the beach is a fine Spanish
triumphal arch ; to the east of the town,
high above the road, is the picturesque Fort
of Castelfranco (now a prison) which the
Commune of Genoa built in 1365 to secure
the possession of a portion of territory
wrested from one of the Del Carrettos ; and
a mile to the north lies Finalborgo, which,
older than either Finalmarina 1 or Finalpia,
the other components of the ancient Finaro
district, has retained a portion of its old
wall and two of its gates, dating from 1452.
Medievalism is stamped very plainly on the
walls and streets of Finalborgo, and this is

1 The most noteworthy of the other buildings of Final-
marina is the Church of San Giovanni Battista, erected in
accordance with the plans of the great Florentine architect
Lorenzo Bernini. Its fa9ade is, perhaps, a little too ornate
to suit all tastes, but there is no denying the majesty of
its interior, with its massive square marble columns, inlaid
with reddish marble, and its round pillars arranged in pairs.
The fine painted dome, with stained-glass windows, the
inlaid marble work of the pulpit, which is further orna-
mented with delicately carved figures in marble, and that of
the altars of the chapels at the upper part of the building
also call for special attention. The paintings on the ceilings
and walls, and the white and red marbles form a very
harmonious combination of colour.

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 157

still further emphasised by the presence on
a neighbouring hill commanding the town
and the valley, of the twelfth century Castel
Gavone, that magnificent structure with a
tower of faceted stone which has been well
compared to " a vulture, perched on a lofty
crag, in the act of searching the surrounding
country and meditating in which direction
to fly and dart upon its prey."

A visit to Castel Gavone and meditation
among its ruins is indispensable if you would
thoroughly enter into the spirit of the Middle
Ages, and rightly understand the story of
the ancient Marquisate of Finaro. You reach
the castle by way of a broad mule-path, known
as the Strada Beretta, which zig-zags up the
mountain side towards the seventeenth
century Fort of San Giovanni, and passes,
just before you arrive at that building, now
used as a prison, under an arched gateway
dated 1666. The road mounts to the crest
of a rocky hill, covered with stunted trees
and bushes, where the bird-catchers of Final-
borgo place their cages, containing decoy -
birds, and, having limed the surrounding
twigs, lie in wait to pounce upon their
feathered victims. Many a morning and
afternoon, whilst the Antiquary was away on

158 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

his professional expeditions, have I, too, sat
there, looking down on Finalborgo and thinking
of that other more vital war, in which for
three long months the troops of the Republic
of Genoa fought against the defenders of
Castel Gavone and waited for their opportunity
to enter the castle, which they only succeeded
in doing thanks to the treason of the Marquis
Galeotto Del Carretto's favourite Giacome
Pico. On those occasions, in lieu of my old
friend, my companion was Anton Giulio
Barrili's l Castel Gavone, a story in which
history and romance have been very nicely
blended, and which should be read by
every one who goes to Finalmarina.

Up to the year 1100 the district which
formed the Marquisate of Finaro was included
in that of Savona, and was a portion of the
patrimony of Aleramus, that soldier of fortune
of obscure birth (or was he the son of Count
Guillaume of France, as is claimed by history ?)

1 This excellent writer was born at Savona on December
14th, 1836. He was educated in his native town and in
Genoa ; entered journalism in the latter city, and took an
active part, in his early manhood, in the struggle for the
independence of Italy. His experiences during the Mentana
Campaign are related in a volume entitled Con Garibaldi
alle porte di Roma. On returning to journalism, he wrote
for // Movimento for sixteen years and then, in 1876,
founded the Genoa newspaper // Caffaro. Meanwhile
he had written his first novels, Capitan Dod&ro, Santa

Castel Gavone

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 159

who married Adelasia, the daughter of the
Emperor Ottone I. Two powerful families
sprang from Aleramus' descendants : the
Marquisses of Montferrato, who belonged to
the elder branch, and the Del Carrettos, who
became the Marquisses of Savona and other
places, including Finaro.

Cast el Gavone was built about 1181 by
Enrico Del Carretto II and was strengthened
in 1292 by the Marquis Antonio. It was at
once a stronghold and a residence one of a
number of defences which the Del Carrettos
raised against their many enemies and the
seat of their Court. A stronger position than
that of a buttress of the Rocca di Perti, on
which it is placed, could not have been found
in the entire district. " From the consider-
able height at which it stood/' says Barrili,
" the feudal rampart of the Del Carrettos
commanded a view of the town and the entire
course of the Porra as far as the sea shore.

Cecilia, I Rossi e Neri, Le Confessioni di Fra Gualberto,
and Vald'Olivi. His romances, which became very popular
and some of which are still much read, number no fewer
than sixty. An extremely prolific writer, he also published
a large number of works of history and literary criticism,
several volumes of speeches, and three plays. He was for
many years a Professor of Literature at the University of
Genoa, its Dean for five years and its Rettor Magnifico for
two. He died on August 15th, 1908.

160 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

In addition, it looked out, on either side, on
to the two valleys of the Calice and the
Aquila, the former leading to Rialto and the
latter to San Giacomo. It was, for those
days, very strongly fortified. Its corners
were provided with four embattled towers.
Along the walls were broad windows, divided
by small columns, an indication of the
luxury of the interior ; but above these
windows ran a heavy stone cornice, and a
little higher than this a long balcony with
embrasures, whence, on occasion, a shower
of stones could be hurled down on the enemy
who had been daring enough to approach the
base of the walls." It was further protected
in the front and to the rear by two deep
moats, one of which was crossed by a draw-
bridge, leading to the main entrance, above
which were the sculptured arms of the Del
Carrettos a shield, divided diagonally, sur-
mounted by a helmet and drawn on a sym-
bolical chariot by two yoked lions.

During the Middle Ages Castle Gavone was,
in fact, regarded as impregnable. Yet the
ambitious Republic of Genoa decided to
attempt to take it, and in 1448, in the days
of the Marquis Biagio Galeotto Del Carretto,
sent an army of more than fifteen thousand

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 161

men, mostly arbalesters, to lay siege to the

The quarrel between Genoa and the Del
Carrettos was of long standing. The latter
were the sole remaining representatives on
the western Riviera of feudalism, and the
Republic, which was constantly aiming at
the sovereignty of the whole of Liguria,
naturally looked on them with no kindly
eye. The Marquisses of Finaro, on the other
hand, showed no disposition to be friendly
towards Genoa ; and whenever it was in diffi-
culties, did everything in their power to
increase them. A secret attempt was made to
bring about peace by a marriage between one
of the Doges of Genoa and Galeotto's beautiful
daughter Nicolosina, but the offer was dis-
dainfully refused by the Marquis Del Garretto,
and open war quickly broke out. The
Genoese troops were under the command of
Pietro Fregoso, a soldier of great experience,
and the advance guard came within sight
of Finaro on the 5th of December, 1448.
Besieging Finalborgo, they set to work to
bombard the town, and for many weeks the air
resounded with the battle cries of " St. George
and Fregoso ! " and "St. George and Car-

retto ! " It soon became evident, however,
ii (2230)

162 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

that, as regards Castel Gavone, there was no
hope of taking it except by a night surprise,
and only then by the aid of a traitor. Pietro
Fregoso found the man he wanted in a
certain Giacomo Pico, the Marquis Galeotto's
favourite, who had been taken prisoner, and
who, probably for money, though Barrili
makes him betray his master owing to a
desire to be revenged for the loss of Nicolo-
sino whom he had secretly sought in
marriage, consented to indicate the pathway
by which the enemy might reach the castle
without being detected. The attack was
made by Giovanni di Trezzo and three
hundred soldiers, divided into ten detach-
ments and accompanied by Giacomo Pico,
on a dark, windy night in February, 1449.
It was successful except in one particular
Galeotto Del Carretto escaped down the
castle walls and, though wounded, succeeded
in reaching Millesimo, whence he proceeded
into France. Finalborgo was not subdued
until the 8th of March, and on the 20th of
the same month, according to the chronicler
Mario Filelfo, the town was consigned to
the flames and the castle dismantled ; a
statement which Barrili rightly warns us
against accepting literally, since the beautiful

Along the Coast : to Fin aim ar in a 163

tower of San Biagio, l the church of Santa
Catterina, with the Dominican Convent, and
other buildings of the Middle Ages, are still

Galeotto Del Carretto whom Barrili des-
cribes as a man of about fifty years of age, with
a fresh complexion, light hair and beard, and
blue, sparkling eyes, a man pleasing in
appearance and courteous in manner took
part in the wars of France, and during a
naval engagement off the coast of Brittany,
received a wound from which he died. 2 He

1 This church contains a very beautiful white marble
pulpit, inlaid, at its upper part, with red. The design is
extremely charming. The pulpit is supported by a single,
irregular block of marble, carved to represent the heads of
cherubs and clouds, which are being blown upwards by the
mouths of these cupids. Above are larger masses of clouds
and the figure of a cherub with outstretched arms resting
on wheels, which are supported on the left by a winged
lion, and on the right by a winged ox. An eagle with
extended wings is represented on the right. Clouds and
cupids' heads also enter into the design of the front panel
of the pulpit, whilst the panels on the right and left are
inlaid with red marble.

The white marble altar-rails are also noteworthy. Figures
of angels on the right and left are supporting what at first
sight appears to be a lace-edged communion-cloth, but
which, on approaching, turns out to be marble.

2 Galeotto Del Carretto was buried in the Dominican
Church at Finalborgo, and his tomb, erected in 1449, bears
an epitaph in Latin describing the manner of his death.
This church and convent, dedicated to Santa Caterina,
were founded in 1330 by Giorgio Del Carretto.

164 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

was succeeded by his brother Giovanni, who,
smarting under the recollection of the victory
of the Genoese and his imprisonment in
Genoa, devoted himself to the work of
regaining the family possessions. Aided by
French troops, he attained his object. The
Genoese were driven out of Finaro, the Borgo
was rebuilt, and Castel Gavone was once
more made into a splendid residence and
stronghold. This was in 1452. Genoa being
then too disturbed by factions to think of
other matters, the Del Carrettos were left to
enjoy their rights until 1568, when the last
of the Marquisses, Alfonso II, whose liber-
tinism became proverbial, was driven from
his States by the incensed inhabitants.

Three years later Finaro passed into the
hands of Spain, which, being in the possession
of the State of Milan, had particular need of
a port such as Finalmarina, for the disem-
barkment of her troops, and of a convenient
road for their passage northwards. The
Spanish domination lasted for more than a
century and a half, and was one of the most
prosperous periods in the history of Finaro.
Large sums of money were spent in the
building of new fortifications and in the
strengthening of old ones, the Finalese were

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 165

granted the privilege of free navigation in
the ports of Spain and India, commerce and
industry flourished, and the district became
one of the most prosperous in Liguria.

But in 1713 this period of prosperity came
to an end. Charles VI sold the Marquisate
of Finaro to the Republic of Genoa for six
million lire, and La Superba at once began
her work of destruction. Once more was
Castel Gavone dismantled, and of the seven
castles of the district, only two were left
intact : Castelfranco at Finalmarina, and
the Fort of San Giovanni above Finalborgo.

Some very fine scenery is to be found in
the valleys north of Finalborgo. A good idea
of its character will be obtained whilst on
excursions to some of the caves, but to
appreciate it fully you must go further
afield and make a journey to Calizzano over
the Colle di Melogno. Seventeen kilometres
separate Finalmarina from the Colle, and
after leaving Finalborgo you are mounting
every foot of the way until you reach an
altitude of over a thousand metres. When
you have passed out of sight of Castel Gavone,
proudly perched on the opposite hillside, and
have traversed the little village of Gorra,
which stands on a hill between the Borgio

166 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and Finaro valleys, the road winds along the
western slope of the mountain, amidst chest-
nut and hazel-nut trees, and with green
pastures and heath-covered expanses both
above and below. Small brown mountain
cattle and goats, tended by young shepherds
and shepherdesses, feed here and there on
the slopes ; but with the exception of these
and an occasional bullock-wagon, leisurely
travelling along the steep, white road, there
is nothing to disturb the glorious silence
which reigns over Nature. Northwards the
landscape is wild and mountainous. The
long, rocky back of Monte Settepani, which
has an altitude of 1391 metres, comes within
sight ; in colour a rich purple, and with the
shadows of clouds intersecting its craggy,
beech-tree covered sides. Looking south-
wards you see the valleys running down to
the coast, hamlets and isolated houses nestling
in the ridges and dimples of the earth, hills
that separate one valley from another ; and
between them, far in the distance, the sea,
with the Isle of Gallinaria faintly visible to
the right. At the Colle di Melogno stand
the military fortifications known as the Forte
Centrale. The fort, a strong quadrilateral
building of stone, covered with grass-grown

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 167

earth and surrounded by a dry moat, is con-
structed over the road, and both on entering
and on leaving it you pass over drawbridges.
Once you are over the Colle, the road begins
to descend with great rapidity towards
Calizzano, which lies eight kilometres away,
on the left bank of the Bormida, at a height
of 637 metres above sea level. The change
in the character of the landscape now becomes
very marked. The valley, along one side of
which the road twists and turns, is narrow
and precipitous, and is thickly covered with
beech trees, oaks, and chestnuts. Ferns
grow in great profusion on the grassy slopes
under the trees, and among the rocks on the
right j and their varied greens add greatly to
the magnificent harmony of colour which
seemed to us to be one of the most noticeable
features of this mountain road. At the time
we followed the course of the little babbling
torrent, merrily turning many a saw-mill on
its way down to Calizzano, the leaves of the
trees had taken on their autumn tints ; the
white road was strewn with them ; and
through a screen of foliage of the richest and
most varied browns, russets, and orange
could be seen a background of purple hills,
rising into a blue sky necked with the most

168 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

delicate of white clouds. Though this stretch
of road is not a long one, it takes you through
unforgettable scenery. After a few miles the
valley widens out, and then, reaching the
plain of the Bormida torrent, you come to
little Calizzano, surrounded by its fertile
pastures, which were purple, when we first
saw them, with Meadow Saffron.

Calizzano known in ancient days as
Calitianum, Calixanum, or Castrum Calixani
is a very old town. But, apart from the
ruins of its castle, which stand on a chestnut-
covered hill above the houses, there is little
to prove its antiquity. It was formerly
surrounded by a wall, provided with strong
gates, and the castle, which was almost
entirely destroyed by the French in 1500, was
supplied with towers of great height and
strength. The town and district were in the
possession, in 1142, of Enrico, the son of
Bonifacio, Marquis of Savona and Vasto ;
and they then passed to the Del Carrettos,
whose reign came to an end in the sixteenth
century, as in the case of Finaro, with the
arrogant and licentious Alfonso II. Calizzano
was added, in 1613, to the possessions of
Genoa, and the part which it played in the
turbulent days of the history of Liguria may

A Wayside Church, in the Arroscia Valley

Along the Coast : to Finalmarina 169

then be said to have ended. One more item
from its chronicles is, however, worthy of
being recorded. It was the birthplace, in
1815, of Monsignor Andrea Ighina, domestic
prelate to His Holiness the Pope, and a friend
of Silvio Pellico.

Church and part of the old wall, Finalborgo

The Arcades of Noli



To save time and avoid useless fatigue, we
returned to Finalmarina by the shaky,
rumbling diligenza, which daily makes the
journey to and from Calizzano. It was the
first occasion, since setting out from Venti-
miglia, that we had broken our resolution to
travel without the aid of vehicles of whatso-
ever kind they might be. But our excuse
was a valid one, and, as it turned out, we
profited by the change.

For one thing, there were signs that the
district intended to keep up its bad


Along the Coast : to Genoa 171

reputation . The sky was no longer so serenely
fine as when we travelled up the valley ; black
clouds overhung the mountains ; and after
we had once more passed over the Colle di
Melogno, the coming of a storm was announced
by big drops of rain. We were glad, therefore,
to have an assured shelter up to the very
door of our albergo ; and to be able to enjoy
it, moreover, in company that accorded
fairly well with the mental attitude into
which we had fallen the mental attitude of
the true wayfarer, who is interested in all
men and in all things. Our companions
were a Capuchin monk and a peasant sports-
man : the former travelling on I know not
what mission, the latter returning to Gorra
after a day's shooting in the neighbourhood
of the Osteria di Melogno.

There is nothing to equal an Italian
diligenza, with its scant accommodation and
its trick of throwing its passengers into each
other's arms, in the rapid formation of
friendships. The most reserved of men would
be forced by its rolling and pitching to unbend.
But in our case there was never need of any
such aids as these ; and so, no sooner were
we together than conversation began. The
Capuchin produced his silver snuff-box from

172 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

a pocket inside the ample sleeve of his gown
a pocket in which he also kept his breviary
smilingly and courteously presented it, with
open lid, to each of the company, and, having
taken a pinch himself, entered into converse
with the Antiquary on matters relating to
church history and ecclesiastical art. The
sportsman and I naturally talked on the
subject of sport, and I soon learnt that he
considered he had had an excellent day's
shooting. But j udge of my surprise though
I did not show it when he told me that his
bag consisted of a jay and two linnets, which
he proudly drew from the pocket of his
brown canvas shooting-coat ! He assured
me that his wife and the piccini would be
very well satisfied as he was and, at this
point, thinking of the huge dish of rice and
oil in which his birds would be cooked, he
smacked his lips.

An Italian peasant's idea of a good day's
sport is decidedly rudimentary. He will
expend a cartridge on the smallest of the
feathered beasts of the field, and this is
undoubtedly one of the causes of that marked
and deplorable absence of bird life which
one notices in so many parts of the country.
In Italy bird catchers are allowed a very free

Along the Coast : to Genoa 173

hand in satisfying the barbarous tastes of
those who eat larks and other small songsters ;
while such " sportsmen " as my travelling
companion are at liberty to spend their
Sundays helping in the extermination of those
lovely coloured birds whose flight from tree
to tree is witnessed with so much delight by
the naturalist and rambler. One has only
to walk through any Italian market, where
long strings of larks and linnets are invari-
ably hanging up for sale, to be convinced of
the ruthless war which is waged on the
birds of Italy.

The storm being only a passing one, and
principally confined to the mountains, we
were able, the next morning, to continue on our
journey along the coast without any fear of
an unpleasant soaking.

Just after leaving Finalmarina, we came to
Finalpia, the smallest of the three districts of
which the Marquisate of Finaro was com-
posed. The village is noted for its ancient
church. A Pope, an Emperor, Empresses,
Queens, and Princes have worshipped there,
and the memorable visits of the first two are
recorded by rather good modern paintings
on each side of the altar. That on the left
represents the visit of Clement VII ; the

174 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

one on the right that of Charles V. Another
picture, but a mental one, came before our
eyes as we entered this Church of Santa
Maria, a vision of the dissolute Alfonso II,
Marquis of Finaro, riding in on horseback,
accompanied by his courtiers, and, loudly
laughing and disdainful of all religious laws,
slaking his horse's thirst at the holy water
font. This was one of the acts in his irregular
life which most revolted his religious -minded
subjects : the one, it may be, which made
them determined to have done with him for

A little beyond this church the road crosses
the railway line and then passes, by means of
a short tunnel, similar to the one which
traverses the Caprazoppa, through a promon-
tory on which formerly stood the Castle
of Pia, now transformed into a comfortable
villa. Between a sandy beach and high
crags, in which white-throated martins build
their nests, it continues towards Capo di San
Donato, winds round this rocky headland, on
whose summit stand the ruins of an ancient
tower, and proceeds along the shore in the
direction of Varigotti, Capo Noli, and Noli.

The picturesque white walls and the small,
square, unglazed windows of the flat-topped

Along the Coast : to Genoa 175

houses of Varigotti, strangely resembling
those of a Barbary village, tempted us to
leave the road and climb the wooded heights
on which this former " Pirates' Nest " as it
has been called is situated. We found, on
reaching its stony, tortuous streets, that it
was almost deserted. Half-a-dozen inhabit-
ants, at the most, make up its population,
and nearly all of these are old people. One of
them, a woman with short-cropped hair, sat
motionless on the doorstep of a ruined house,
and made no reply, nor gave any sign of
possessing human intelligence, when we asked
to be directed along the crumbling galleries
which wind beneath or alongside the cluster
of deserted cottages. She might have been
a figure in stone, so fixed was her attitude,
and the expression in her eyes a statue
symbolical of this cittd morta. Only one
human being could we find with whom to
talk : an ancient man with bowed back and
long, gray beard, who mumbled a tale of how
all his sons had left him for America, and how
all " the old familiar faces " had departed.
Surrounded on almost all sides by precipitous
rocks, overgrown with trees and shrubs,
Varigotti's position is a very strong one, the
evident reason why, in former days, it was a

176 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

beloved haunt of evil-doers. And I could
not help thinking, as we hastened on to
beautiful Noli, that they were responsible for
the curse which would seem to have descended
upon it.

Many ancient records claim that Noli is one
of the oldest towns in the world. A manu-
script of 1582 states that, founded by a colony
of Genoese, it dates back to the days of
Moses or Samson : " more than seven hun-
dred years before the foundation of Rome ! "
Fra Giacomo d'Aque claims that its founders
were the nephews of Noah, who, about three
hundred years after the Flood, emigrated
westward and settled down on the shores of
Liguria. Other writers contend that it is of
Grecian origin ; and so on. Varied though
the opinions are, all the authorities agree,
however, as regards the essential fact that
Noli is a place of very*great antiquity, and,
in proving this, there is no need to appeal to
the vague traditions set down by early
chroniclers. Traces have been found of three
distinct periods in the primitive history of
the town and district. Those of the first
period are to be seen on the southern side of
Monte Orsini, above the town, where there
are numerous remains of buildings, similar

Along the Coast : to Genoa 177

to small fortalices, which are much anterior
to the Roman epoch ; those of the second
have been brought to light in the neighbour-
hood of the ancient church of San Paragorio,
and date from the time when the founders of
Noli descended from their mountain homes
to the sea shore ; whilst those of the third
indicate the presence of the Romans in these

Noli is believed to have been destroyed by
the Carthaginians in 317 B.C., and it was
rebuilt by the Romans of Genoa, who, after
surrounding it with a strong wall and erecting
a castle on Monte Orsini, on the ruins of
previous defences, established a colony there.
Owing to its particularly sheltered position,
within an amphitheatre of hills, its bay
became famous as a harbour and arsenal, and
it appears on the Tabula Peutingeriana, or
map of the roads of the Roman Empire, under
the name A d Navalia . The interests of Noli, as
in the case of Genoa, having become those of
Rome, the inhabitants cast in their lot with
the conquerors. After being classed among
the confederate towns, it was raised to the
position of a municipality, and during the
Roman domination of Liguria enjoyed full
administrative liberty. As a reward for its

13 (2230)

178 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

fidelity, it was granted the further privilege
of exemption from the payment of tribute.
In the accomplishment of that other essential
duty of the municipalities of Italy towards
Rome the furnishing of soldiers Noli had
ever showed great zeal, and in the early
years of the Christian era it continued to
distinguish itself by sending many brave
warriors to assist in fighting the battles of
the Empire. Among these were the four
glorious soldier-saints Paragorio, Parteo,
Partenopio, and Severino who, rather than
renounce their faith, gave up their lives in
the name of Christ and the new religion.

The story of these four sons of Noli, and
especially the part which San Paragorio
played in it, forms so important a feature in
the history of this little Mediterranean town
that, well known though it may be to many
of my readers, I may be excused for repeating
it. Paragorio, Parteo, Partenopio, and
Severino were born in Noli about the year
278, in the days of the Emperors Diocletian
and Maximinus Herculeus. The first of our
four soldiers was of noble blood, and as a
youth was distinguished for his manly grace
and virtues. He and his companions left
their native place for Rome when they were

Along the Coast : to Genoa 179

between eighteen and twenty years of age,
and the offer of their services having been
accepted, they were drafted into the Tebana
Legion, then on duty in Africa. This Legion,
which at first consisted of four thousand two
hundred picked soldiers, but which was after-
wards raised to the strength of eleven thou-
sand, was composed almost entirely of Chris-
tians, who showed particular bravery in
fighting against those Asiatic kings and
princes who were then among the most
relentless enemies of Rome. In the midst
of the victory which crowned the efforts of
the Roman army, dissension broke out over
the question of religion, and the Tebana
Legion suffered the first of the many acts
of persecution which were to be crowded
into its long, and heroically-supported
martyrdom. A large number of Christian
soldiers, who had refused to worship pagan
gods, were massacred ; the army became
divided into two sharply-defined parties ;
and the pagan element having separated from
Paragorio and his companions, the Tebana
Legion became wholly Christian. At this
point the army was recalled by Diocletian
and ordered into Gaul, under the supreme
command of Maximinus, who at once began

180 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

to display the most savage cruelty against
the Tebana Legion. Enraged at the con-
spicuous bravery with which it fought, as
compared with other legions composed of
pagan soldiers ; enraged at its refusal to take
part in the profane rites with which each
victory was celebrated, he determined on its
extermination. An order was given that one
in every ten of the Christians should be drawn
by lot and killed in the presence of his com-
rades, in the hope that this public sacrifice
would force the others to renounce their
belief. But the sight of those brave men
dying with the name of Christ upon their lips
did no more than strengthen the faith of the
survivors, and Maximinus was faced by the
fact that he had uselessly sacrificed some of
his most heroic and illustrious men. How-
ever, he had made up his mind to be master,
whatever it might cost. Once more he
attempted to undermine the belief of Paragorio
and his fellow-Christians this time by offering
them honours. But the bribe was refused,
and so the terrible sentence of death against
the entire Legion went forth. Laying down
their arms, the soldiers of the Tebana Legion
renewed their fervid declarations of belief in
the divinity of Christ and, commending their

Along the Coast : to Genoa 181

spirits into the hands of their Father, met
their death with true Roman fortitude. The
few who survived the massacre took refuge
in the Haute Savoie and in Switzerland, whilst
the most distinguished members of the Legion,
including Paragorio and his three fellow-
citizens, were transported to various parts of
the Roman Empire, with orders that a further
attempt was to be made to make them return
to paganism. Paragorio, Parteo, Partenopio,
and Severino were exiled to Corsica. Honours
and high positions were once more held before
their eyes. But in vain ! Nor did im-
prisonment, hunger and thirst, and torments
of all kinds succeed where fair words had
failed ; and thus, on the 7th of September-
some say in the year 303, others in the year
310 came the day of torture and death.

The people of Noli are rightly proud of
their four saints, and every year, on the
anniversary of their martyrdom, they cele-
brate their memory. In the eighth and
ninth centuries they built a church in
honour of San Paragorio and his companions,
and this beautiful early Christian building
can still be seen on the southern side of the
town, near the beach. According to the
historian Pizzarelli, it was begun in the

182 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

year 760 and completed about 820. " Con-
structed with singular magnificence above a
more ancient subterranean church, which,
moreover, still exists," writes another learned
authority, 1 "it presents as a whole, and in
each of its parts, the characteristics of a Latin
basilica. ... It is conspicuous for its size
and grandeur, and also on account of the
fact that, with the exception of its portico,
or vestibule, traces of which are to be seen
on the old facade, it retains its primitive
form. ... In the fifteenth century, and
probably immediately after the falling into
ruins of this portico, the decorative orna-
mentation of which must certainly have been
very fine, a second vestibule was built on the
eastern side of the church." This beautiful
portico is constructed on two octagonal pillars
of black chiselled stone, with elegantly carved
marble corbels ; its arches are formed of
black stone and white marble ; and it is

1 Canon Luigi Descalzi, the author of a Storia di Noli
dalle origini ai nostri giorni, and to whom I am indebted
for some of the facts connected with the history of Noli.
The Church of San Paragorio, which since 1890 has been
classed as a national monument, is under the care of this
distinguished ecclesiast, to whom the credit of many
archaeological discoveries relating to the building, and
some of which are to be seen in the little museum which
he shows to visitors, is due.

Along the Coast : to Genoa 183

faced with brick-work, completed by a fine
cornice. Among other decorative features
of the exterior of the church are three thir-
teenth century tombs and the remains of
some early mural paintings. The interior,
which presents a beautiful and well-ordered
ensemble, contains several works of art of
much interest, including a wooden crucifix,
known as that of the Volto Santo, bearing a
curious picture of Christ in a long tunic a
work attributed to the eighth or ninth century,
and which was probably brought from the
East by some of those inhabitants of Noli
who trafficked there during the Middle Ages. l
There is also an interesting pontifical chair,
a carefully executed copy of the ancient
cathedra of the Bishops of Noli ; 2 and the
crypt, which is more than two yards and a
half below the present level of the ground,
contains details of sculpture and remains of
mural paintings that should not be missed by
those who have a taste for art and archaeology.

1 This " Volto Santo " is highly venerated by the people
of Noli, and many believe that, as in the case of the Crucifix
in the Cathedral of Lucca, which is said to have been carved
by Nicodemus and finished by Angels, and which Dante
mentions in the Divine Comedy (Inferno XXI, 48), it is of
miraculous origin.

2 Noli became the seat of a bishop in 1 239 ; it was merged
into the bishopric of Savona in 1819.

184 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

In 1887, the church was much damaged by
the earthquake, and threatened to fall into
ruins, but in the following year its restoration
was begun by Commendatore Alfredo
d'Andrada, and it is now a splendid example
of early ecclesiastical architecture.

From the year 335 to the year 641, Noli
was one of a number of small Republics which
had sprung up in various parts of Liguria
under the influence of the Roman Empire.
It was then destroyed by Rothari, King of the
Lombards, but quickly reconstructed and
more strongly defended than ever. Fired
with a desire, like Genoa, Savona, and
Albenga, to be modelled on the lines of the
Power which had done so much for its
development, and determined to be ready
to ward off any future blows which might
be dealt by the barbarian, it strengthened
the great castle on Monte Orsini and built a
number of high and solid towers. These
numbered no fewer than seventy-two, a proof
of how important the town became during
the Middle Ages, since no one, unless he were
a noble or an extremely rich man, owning at
least one ship of commerce or of war, was
allowed to raise or possess one of these
embattled outlooks. From the summit of

Along the Coast : to Genoa 185

these towers the inhabitants of the cittd delle
settantadue torre, as ancient Noli was called,
kept a sharp look-out on the horizon, and on
the approach of the sails of the dreaded
Saracens, lit the fires which were the agreed-
upon signal to Genoa, its great protector,
that help was needed.

A great number of the seventy-two towers
of Noli have, unfortunately, been pulled down,
but one can form a very good idea of the
former appearance of the town from those
which are still standing, though even these
have been considerably reduced in their
height. Seen from the slopes of the encircling
hills, these red brick watch-towers, rising here
and there from amidst the old houses, give
the town just that air of mediae valism which
accords so well with its history.

We viewed them from a path which we
christened the Golden Way : an ancient,
winding, stony mule-track, leading to the
heights on which the ruined castle stands.
The day was drawing to a close, and the sun,
about to disappear behind a hill, was pouring
a flood of golden light on to the town's
ruddy towers and our mountain pathway.
It was not this sunset alone, however, which
suggested the appellation : the Antiquary

186 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

reminded me that we were now treading in
the footsteps of Dante, and what better word
than " golden " could be applied to a foot-
path which, as it pleased us to fancy, had
been followed by an immortal poet ? Many
places to which we were coming in Liguria
were visited by this great wayfarer during
the years of exile that followed his banishment
and flight from Florence in 1302, and some
of them, with the most acute observation
of the beauty of the landscapes of the province
a faculty which only a few great natures
of the Renaissance displayed are mentioned
in the Divine Comedy. J

1 In addition to his numerous references to places,
persons, and events connected with the history of Liguria,
Dante drew upon the Genoese dialect for some of his words,
such as cd (casa), co (capo], ft (figlio), barba (zio), chiappa
(ardesia), and levre (lepve), thus making them a recognised
part of the national language. He is said by Filelfo to have
been an ambassador in Genoa, but this is denied by some
authorities. However, the Divine Comedy shows a remark-
able knowledge of the dialect of the city, and he was clearly
well-acquainted with its political events as, for example,
the murder of Branca Doria, in 1290, which prompted the
scathing words :

" Ah Genoese ! men perverse in every way,

With every foulness stain'd, why from the earth

Are ye not cancel'd ? "

(Inferno XXXIII, 151-153.)

But Dante's anathemas must not be taken too seriously.
He was given to using hard names, and many are the cities

The "Golden Way," above Noli

Along the Coast : to Genoa 187

" Vassi in Sanleo, e discendesi in Noli ;
Montasi su Bismantova in cacume
Con esso i pie : ma qui convien ch'uom voli," 1

(Purg. IV, 30.)

sings Dante, describing his ascent, with
Virgil, of the mountain of Purgatory, by a
" steep and narrow path pent in on each side
by rock." Hard and rough indeed must
have been the coast roads of Liguria when,
meditating on his great poem in which, as
Edmund G. Gardner has well said, " all the
noblest thought and work of the ages that
passed between the fall of the Roman Empire
and the closing years of the thirteenth century,
finds supreme artistic expression " he
wandered from city to city throughout Italy.
The wild and precipitous character of a good
deal of the littoral, especially in the neigh-
bourhood of Noli, Rapallo, and Sestri Levante,
is still a safe indication of the scenery upon

which received the lash every whit as severely as La Superba.
Florence was the " plant of him that on his Maker turn'd
the back," that is, Satan ; Pistoja was likened to a den
of wild beasts ; and Lucca, the city of Santa Zita, was
peopled with barattieri, those guilty of corrupt practices
and peculation a sin to which great importance was
attached in the days of Dante.

1 " On Sanleo's road
Who journeys, or to Noli low descends,
Or mounts Bismantua's height, must use his feet ;
But here a man had need to fly . . . "

(Gary's translation.)

188 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

which the divine singer gazed in the fourteenth
century ; and, indeed, I am much inclined
to the opinion that a visit to the shores of the
Ligurian Sea is an essential part of the
education of every student of Dante. At
any rate, the power of some of the descrip-
tions in the Divine Comedy is certainly
made clearer by personal inspection of these
rugged, pine-clad cliffs, along whose sides,
high above the sea, wind the narrow, steep
paths of the contadini and their mules. Can
we for a moment doubt that the following
lines were inspired by the surroundings of
Noli ?-

" Noi salivam per entro il sasso rotto,

E d'ogni lato ne stringea lo stremo,

E piedi e man voleva il suol di sotto.
Poi che noi fummo in su 1'orlo supremo

Dell'alta ripa, alia scoperta piaggia ;

' Maestro mio,' diss'io, ' che via faremo ? '
Ed egli a me : ' Nessun tuo passo caggia :

Pur su al monte dietro a me acquista,

Fin che n'appaia alcuna scorta saggia.'
Lo sommo er'alto che vincea la vista,

E la costa superba piu assai

Che da mezzo quadrante a centre lista.
lo era lasso, quando cominciai :

' O dolce padre, volgiti e rimira

Com'io rimango solo, se non ristai.'
' Figliuol mio,' disse, ' infin quivi ti tira,'

Additandomi un balzo poco in sue,

Che da quel lato il poggio tutto gira.
Si mi spronaron le parole sue,

Along the Coast : to Genoa 189

Ch'io mi sforzai, carpando appresso lui,
Tanto che il cinghio sotto i pie mi fue.
A seder ci ponemmo ivi ambedui
Volti a levante, ond' eravam saliti ;
Che suole, a riguardar, giovare altrui." 1

(Purg. IV, 31-54.)

Asa perpetual reminder of Dante's visit to
Noli, the municipality has recorded it on a
memorial stone under the town's picturesque
arcades. Here there are also tablets to
the memory of two other great men, whose

1 We through the broken rock ascended, close
Pent on each side, while underneath the ground
Ask'd aid of hands and feet. When we arrived
Near on the highest ridge of the steep bank,
Where the plain level open'd, I exclaim'd,
" O Master ! say, which way can we proceed."
He answer'd, " Let no step of thine recede.
Behind me gain the mountain, till to us
Some practised guide appear." That eminence
Was lofty, that no eye might reach its point ;
And the side proudly rising, more than line
From the mid quadrant to the centre drawn.
I, wearied, thus began : " Parent beloved !
Turn and behold how I remain alone,
If thou stay not." " My son ! " he straight replied,
" Thus far put forth thy strength " ; and to a track
Pointed, that, on this side projecting, round
Circles the hill. His words so spurr'd me on,
That I, behind him, clambering, forced myself,
Till my feet press'd the circuit plain beneath.
There both together seated, turn'd we round
To eastward, whence was our ascent : and oft
Many beside have with delight look'd back.

(Gary's translation.)

190 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

names are invariably connected with the
history of Noli : Antonio da Noli, the daring
navigator who discovered the Cape Verde
Islands in 1462, and Fra Giordano Bruno,
who began life in a convent and died, on
February 17th, 1600, a confirmed materialist.
The wisdom of putting up a plaque to this
antichristian writer, whose connection with
the town was merely that of a teacher of
grammar and cosmography during a period
of four or five months, has, perhaps, been
doubted by some of the devout Nolese, but
no one has ever raised a protest against the
celebration of the memory of the man who
upheld the reputation of the sons of Noli for
bravery and experience in sea-craft. Antonio
left his native town to offer his services to
Portugal about the middle of the fifteenth
century, when he was between twenty-five
and thirty years of age. He was accompanied
by his brother Bartholomeo and his nephew
Raffaele, and he had three ships, all his own
property. Received with open arms at the
Portuguese Court, he was entrusted by Prince
Henry, whose great desire was to discover a
way to the Indies, with an expedition, and
whilst it was en route the Cape Verde Islands
were discovered and added to the possessions

Along the Coast : to Genoa 191

of Portugal. Antonio made other discoveries,
but in company with the Venetian navigator,
Alvise Cadamosto, whom he met between
the mouth of the Senegal and Cape Verde.
After sailing down the River Gambia, they
met with so many difficulties that they
had to abandon the idea of reaching the
Indies, and were forced, with greatly reduced
crews, to return to Portugal. When and
where Antonio died no one knows ; but he is
believed to have breathed his last in 1466.

The road from Noli to the Porto di Vado
passes through ten kilometres of very pic-
turesque scenery ; it follows the sinuosities of
the rocky coast, and on winding round a little
cape opposite the Isle of Bergeggi (and above
a sea-washed cavern of the same name),
enables you to obtain a fine view of distant
Savona. But from this point it falls off in
interest, since, for the greater part of the
remaining nine kilometres to Savona, it runs
slightly inland, across the fertile plains of
the banks of the Quiliano and Segno

The Isle of Bergeggi, which during the
Middle Ages was called the Isola di Liguria, is
interesting on account of the remains of
Roman and Mediaeval buildings which crown

192 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

its summit. According to Commendatore
d'Andrada, who carefully studied and
described them in 1899, the ruins attributable
to the Romans a round tower within a tri-
angular enclosure are those of a lighthouse,
erected to guide navigators into the harbour
of Vado. At the time of the construction of
this tower, the Romans were in complete
possession of Liguria, so that the idea that
it may have been a fort can be rejected. The
other remains are those of the church and
monastery which were built at the end of
the tenth century in honour of Sant' Eugenio,
who died and was buried on the island in
505. They were inhabited by a small colony
of Benedictine monks from the year 992 to
1252, when the sacred ashes of Sant' Eugenio
were transported by Monsignor Filippo, Bishop
of Noli, to the church of San Paragorio. The
relics of the saint were removed in 1602 to
the new cathedral of San Pietro, where they
are still venerated.

The Grotta di Bergeggi is some thirty
metres long, twenty-five broad, and fifteen
high, and though it can be entered by a
difficult passage from above, it is more easily
explored by means of a boat. A number of
skeletons, with flint and bronze implements,

Along the Coast : to Genoa 193

were discovered some years ago in one of its
galleries ; but it contains nothing of interest
now save fossil remains, and is hardly worth
while visiting unless you are particularly
interested in geology. Most travellers will
prefer as we did to take its history for
granted and push along the road towards
their next great centre, Savona, passing, en
route, Vado and Fornaci, which deserve brief
mention. The former is the Vada Sebatia of
the Roman epoch, was an important station
on the Via Julia, and claims to have been
the birthplace, in 193, of the Emperor
Pertinax. The latter, as its name indicates,
is engaged in the manufacture of earthenware,
which, before being fired in its kilns (forni),
is placed in the sun, along the roadside, to

Modern Savona, an enterprising and well-
ordered seaport, with fine, broad streets and
stately arcades, may be said to be quickly
swallowing up the old town ; or, perhaps, it
would be more correct to say that the old is
being enveloped and hidden by the new.
One's first impression, on seeing its large
squares and gardens, and on walking under
its many portici, which are every bit as

magnificent as those in the Rue de Rivoli, in

13 (2230)

194 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Paris, is that the Savona of the Middle
Ages, when it was under the dominion
of Genoa, much against its will ; l the
Savona of the epoch of Columbus and
those other great navigators (many of them
Ligurians) who made geographical discoveries
of the utmost importance, is a thing of the
past. But this is not really so. Portions of
old Savona still exist, and a very little search
in the narrow streets of the quarter near the
port will result in you finding them. The
most ancient monument of the town is the
Brandale tower, which formed part of the old
defences, and a mention of which is to be
found in a document of 1178. The fifteenth
century is represented by another tower
that bearing the name of Leone Pancaldo,
opposite the square at the end of the Via
Paleocapa ; the sixteenth century by the fort
which the Genoese built on the western side
of the town : a fort which is now used as a
prison, and in which Giuseppe Mazzini was
imprisoned ; and the end of the sixteenth
and the beginning of the seventeenth
centuries by the cathedral.

The Torre Pancaldo is the ancient tower

1 " The people of Savona," wrote Giustiniani, " possess
great understanding and ill-support servitude."

Along the Coast : to Genoa 195

of the wet-dock, and there is little to be said
about it save that it was built in the century
of Columbus as a nocturnal guard of the
port ; that it has many times been restored ;
and that in 1664 the Commune of Savona
ornamented it with a clock and a statue of
the Madonna, the latter facing the sea and
bearing underneath these lines, in Latinised
Italian, by the sixteenth century Savona
poet, Gabriello Chiabrera :

In mare irato in subito procella
Invoco te nostra benigna stella.

But slight though its history may be, how
vividly this tower and the name it bears
call up one's recollections of the splendid
pages which are devoted to the mariners
of Liguria in the great story of the early
explorers of the ocean ! In the management
of ships and a knowledge of the moods of the
sea, the Ligurians were acknowledged in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to be without
equal. Naval skill and bravery were part of
their birthright, inherited from those fierce
ancestors who stood out so stoutly against
the Romans, and who drew a cry of admira-
tion even from the conqueror. ' They are
strong and brave, not only in war," wrote
Diodorus Siculus, " but also in confronting

196 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

the tempests of the ocean, on which they set
out in their slender boats to sail even as far
as the seas of Sardinia and Lybia." The
reputation of the navigators of Liguria
became, then, world-wide, and, as in the
case of Columbus and Antonio da Noli and
Pancaldo, their services were eagerly sought
by those kings and princes who were ambitious
of adding to their possessions. The part
which Columbus, the greatest of all Ligurian
navigators, played in the century of great
territorial discoveries is known to every one. l
I have already written of the work of Antonio.
But few have heard of Leone Pancaldo. He

1 Without entering into the complicated controversy
regarding the birthplace of Columbus, let me point out that
only two of the many towns and cities which claim him as
a son are considered by modern critics to have made out
a good case, and that up to the present the balance dips in
favour, not of Genoa, but of Savona. Numerous facts
support Savona's claim, but the most conclusive are those
contained in the documents discovered in 1892 by Professor
R. D. Uhagon in the National Archives in Madrid, and which
refer to Christoforo Colombo, a Genoese, being an " hera
naturel de la Saona, ques una villa 9erca de Genova." I
may add, for the benefit of those who have a taste for
making pilgrimages to old houses, that, facing the Piazza.
Colombo, near the port, is a house in which the discoverer
of America is said to have lived for many years, " meditat-
ing," as a tablet records, " over his future discoveries,"
which included an island in the Atlantic to which, in
memory of Savona, he gave the name of Savoa.

Along the Coast : to Genoa 197

was a poor cooper of Savona who, having
taken to a seafaring life, made a number of
voyages at the beginning of the sixteenth
century which brought him considerable fame.
There is no need to exaggerate his abilities,
as some writers have done ; he was certainly
far from possessing either the spirit or the
gift of divination shown by his great fellow-
townsman, Columbus. But there is no doubt
as to his bravery and skill as a pilot, and his
reputation for these qualities having come
to the ears of Ferdinando Magellan, the
Portuguese navigator and admiral of Charles
V, he was offered the post of head pilot
of an expedition which was being sent out 1o
settle the question of the delimitation of the
possessions of Spain and Portugal, which were
then under dispute. Three other Savonese
were engaged with him : Francesco Scivra,
Gianni, and Agostino da Savona. Magellan's
fleet, which consisted of five caravels, the
Trinidad, the Sant' Antonio, the Conception,
the Victoria, and the Sant' lago, ships of one
hundred to one hundred and fifty tons burden,
left Seville on August 10th, 1519, with a crew of
two hundred and thirty-seven men. Descend-
ing the Guadalquivir (we read in the account of
the voyage, written by Antonio Pigafetta

198 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Vicentin Cavagliere Gerosolimitano), the fleet
stopped at San Lucar to complete its prepara-
tions, and then set sail on a south-western
route. Having passed Cape Verde, the
expedition reached Brazil, and, following the
coast, in the direction of the antarctic pole,
Patagonia, where it was delayed about five
months. The captains of four of the vessels
plotted at this time against Magellan, but the
conspiracy was discovered and two of them
were put to death. The others were landed
in Patagonia. But more serious troubles
were in store for Magellan and his Savonese
pilots. Whilst exploring the coast, the Sant'
I ago was shipwrecked. The crew, however,
was saved. The other ships also ran great
dangers, but finally they reached a narrow
strip of sea, into which the Sant' Antonio and
the Conception advanced. But they turned
back after two days, and the former vessel
secretly set sail for Spain. Magellan was
determined, however, not to abandon the
undertaking, so he pushed forward with his
remaining vessels and, at the end of three
days, during which he and his men were
alternately racked with despair and buoyed
up with hope, sighted the last cape of the
straits to which his name was given. For

Along the Coast : to Genoa 199

the next three months and twenty days the
only land they saw were two small islands
which, since they could find nothing upon
them save birds and trees, they named the
Unfortunate Isles. Having crossed the
equator, the expedition sailed in a west-north-
western direction, and on March 6th, 1521,
discovered a few islands. Then, continuing
towards the west, it met with other islands,
which were christened with the name of San
Lazzaro, but which were afterwards, in
honour of Philip of Austria, the son of
Charles V, named the Philippines. On
April 27th, 1521, the Island of Matan was
discovered, and it was there, in a fight with
the natives, that Magellan was killed. The
command of the fleet was assumed by Gio-
vanni Sebastiano del Cano, and after numerous
adventures the Molucca Isles were sighted.
The return voyage was then made, but the
only vessel to reach home, on September 8th,
1522, after an absence of more than three
years, was the Victoria, and out of the crew
of two hundred and twenty-seven who set
out only eighteen remained. One of the
survivors was Leone Pancaldo, who, welcomed
with great joy by the King of Spain, received
a recompense of 2,000 gold ducats. Charles

200 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

made the condition, however, that he should

say nothing about the discoveries in which

he had assisted, and should pilot no one else

to the new lands a condition which Pancaldo

kept for thirteen years. But in 1535 he

broke his agreement by undertaking a fresh

voyage ; and was drowned near Rio de la Plata.

As in the days of Pancaldo, Savona still

prides itself on its maritime importance. Its

port, truly, is a very busy one : a miniature

Genoa, with its harbour full of ships from

Glasgow, Castellamare, Viareggio, and Sicily,

ladened with coal and wine and oil and

sulphur. Especially is one struck by the fact

that the long arm of England is stretched

out towards it ; that the influence of Great

Britain is felt and appreciated. But for the

occasional mistakes which are made in writing

the King's English, one might imagine from

the innumerable signs in this language which

meet the eye in the quarter near the docks

that one was in an English port. Notices

remind you that this or that firm makes a

" speciality in the fitting of marine engine

pipes"; that here or there "stamps and

money are changed " ; that this parrucchiere

is a Hair Dresser, and that he speaks " Eng-

lisk " ; and that a certain public-house, " The

Along the Coast : to Genoa 201

Queen Alexander/' should be " remembered
for orders and wines of all kinds." The
number of inns and bars which have been
christened with familiar English names is
bewildering, and one asks oneself if all these
"Cardiff Arms," "Queen's Heads," and
" Liverpool Coffee Houses " depend wholly
on the custom of English captains and sailors.
For if so, important indeed must be the trade
relations between Great Britain and Savona.
In the century of Columbus, Savona was
the home of the celebrated Delia Rovere
family, from which sprang two popes, Sixtus IV
and Julius II, numerous cardinals, and at
least two princes. The great Sixtus was born
at Celle Ligure, a few miles from Savona, on
July 21st, 1414, and he was the son of Leon-
ardo Delia Rovere and Luchina Monleone.
Never had man so highly developed a love of
his family as Francesco Delia Rovere. He
created five of his nephews cardinals : Pier
Riario, Giuliano Delia Rovere, Raffaele Riario
Sansone, Marco Vigerio, and Girolamo Basso
Delia Rovere ; and raised two others Leon-
ardo Delia Rovere and Girolamo Riario to
the position of princes. Guiliano Delia Rovere,
the future Julius II, was the son of Raffaele
Delia Rovere and Teodora Manerola, and he

202 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

was born at Albissola, near Savona, on June
22nd, 1443. Great was the rejoicing in
Savona when he was elected Pope.

Julius II had a great affection for his native
town and district, and as a patron of art he
did much towards making Savona a notable
place. The Palazzo Delia Rovere, opposite
the cathedral, was built for him in accordance
with the plans of Sangallo, and he is said to
have intended the building to be the seat of
a sort of university. But it is to the Duomo
that one turns to find the most precious of
the works of art which he commissioned.
This cathedral, which was planned by the
Savonese architect, Orazio Grassi, was begun
in 1589 and completed in 1602, and it con-
tains a large number of works which were in
an older Duomo. The most noteworthy of
these are the magnificently carved choir
stalls, arranged in two semicircular rows, the
upper row consisting of thirty-two and the
lower of twenty-four stalls. The backs of the
upper row are ornamented with pictures of
Christ and the Saints, beautifully carried out
with the sole aid of various coloured woods.
The carving and the marquetry of these stalls
is the work of Anselmo De Fornarigs, a native
of Castelnuovo di Scrivia, who worked there,

Along the Coast : to Genoa 203

in 1500, in collaboration with Elia De Rocchi,
under the patronage of Julius II. Anselmo's
work is to be seen in many parts of Italy,
principally in the Cathedral of Genoa. A
reading-desk and a bishop's chair, also in the
Savona Cathedral, are likewise his. All these
works were carefully restored in the nineteenth
century by Tommaso and Vincenzo Garassini,
two noted Savonese workers in inlaid wood. l
Among other artistic treasures which were
removed from the old to the new cathedral
are a fifteenth century marble pulpit, orna-
mented with bas-reliefs, and a baptismal font,
the former of which is the work of Giovanni
Battista Molinari ; a splendidly carved marble
crucifix of 1530 which stands at the bottom
of the church ; a number of early examples
of Italian painting, including a picture by
Brea, in the chapel on the right on entering
the building ; and numerous valuable

1 Inspired by the work of Anselmo, one of these skilled
artists executed a series of similar panels for the choir-
stalls of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Misericordia.
This famous church, which is reached from Savona by
following the picturesque road that winds along the banks
of the Letimbro torrent for a distance of seven kilometres,
was built in 1600 on the spot where the Virgin is said to
have appeared to a peasant named Botta in 1536. It is
renowned throughout Liguria as a place of pilgrimage,
and nine chapels, containing religious paintings, have been
built alongside the route.

204 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

ecclesiastical ornaments, such as jewelled
crosses, and the crosier which belonged to
Giuliano Delia Rovere.

One has somewhat a feeling of regret, on
looking at some of these works, and especially
the pictures, that when the old Duomo was
abandoned they were not removed to a place
better adapted for displaying their high
artistic qualities. Like all churches, the
Savona Cathedral is extremely ill-lit ; so
that the connoisseur is prevented from
enjoying to the full the exquisite beauty of
these examples of the art of the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries. However, he has
the means whilst at Savona of alleviating
his disappointment. In the Municipal Art
Gallery, in well-lit rooms, are a number of
pictures and other works of art which make
an earnest claim on his attention. One of
the finest is an " Annunziazione," by Giovanni
Masone d'Alessandrio, an artist of the Pied-
montese School of the fifteenth century : a
picture composed of several compartments in
its old carved gilded frame. The top com-
partment represents the Crucifixion ; the
middle one, the principal subject, the Annun-
ciation ; whilst on the side and bottom panels
are pictures of four saints and Christ with His

Along the Coast : to Genoa 205

Apostles. A picture of the Crucifixion, with the
Madonna and St. John, attributed to Andrea
Mantegna (1431-1506), also in its original
gilded frame ; and a San Sebastian, attributed
to Guido Reni, should likewise be mentioned.
Finally, collectors of china should not miss
seeing the three fine eighteenth century vases
of Savona ware, decorated with blue, green,
and yellow paintings by Guidobono.

Savona still retains its old reputation for
the production of artistic pottery. There are
several manufactories in the town and district,
and whilst on our way towards Genoa we
passed one of the most important, that of
Albissola Marina, to which the coast-road
rapidly descends after steeply ascending
inland from Savona.

On reaching Albissola Marina we made a
slight deviation from our route to see the
Palazzo Delia Rovere and its gardens at
Albissola Superiore, but with this exception
we kept our feet well on the main road all the
way to Genoa. Truth to tell, we were eager
to cover the remaining twenty-seven miles and
reach the capital of Liguria, where, before
continuing our journey along the Riviera di
Levante to Spezzia, we hoped to obtain a little
repose and spend a few days in quiet study

206 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

in the University and Municipal Libraries.
Some travellers may accuse us of having
passed over the ground too rapidly, but I do
not think that we missed much of what is
historically interesting. We stopped a while
to gaze on the ancient ruins of Varazze ; we
saw the house at Cogoleto which the inhabit-
ants of that village claim was the birthplace
of Columbus ; 1 we paused on the bridge at
Voltri to look on the Leira torrent, which
supplies the motive-force for some of those
paper-mills which once made the paper used
for the registers of the Archives of London ;
and, before entering by the western gate of La
Superba, we likewise tarried to look up at
the Lanterna and recall its history, which
dates back as far as 1129. 2 The commercial
influence of Genoa is very noticeable as soon
as one reaches Voltri, and a good deal of the

1 In addition to Savona and Genoa and Cogoleto, the
following towns all claim to have been the birthplace of
Columbus : Albissola, Nervi, Finale, Oneglia, Quinto,
Chiavari, Milan, Modena, Pradello, Cuccaro, Cosseria, Calvi
di Corsica, Novara, and Bogliasco.

2 This quadrilateral lighthouse, which is classed as a
national monument, was destroyed in 1512, and rebuilt in
its present form in 1543. It is a little over 69 metres in
height, and its 500 candle-power light, situated 114 metres
above sea level, is visible at a distance of twenty-seven
miles. An extensive view of the city and the two Rivieras
can be obtained from its summit.

Along the Coast : to Genoa


picturesqueness of the coast has been spoilt
by manufactories. There are many iron and
steel works at Sestri Poriente, Cornigliano
Ligure, and San Pier d' Arena, which has been
well called the Manchester of Italy, and this
is a portion of the Riviera which most way-
farers will prefer to pass over as quickly as

The Pancaldo Tower at Savona


The Banco di San Giorgio, Genoa



THE gods willed it that our quarters whilst
in Genoa should be just those which best
accorded with the errand upon which we
were bent. The old city was what we had
in view ; and there we were, thrown into the
very midst of it, enveloped by the very
atmosphere we most desired. Our rooms
were in an eighteenth century palace near
the port : one of those many palaces of
Genoa which have fallen from their high
estate, but which, nevertheless, still retain
that fine air which the architects of the past
managed so well to impart to the houses of
the aristocracy. Everything had been exe-
cuted on a grand plan in this beautiful old
palace. Its marble staircase, ornamented
with columns and a groined ceiling, was
sufficiently broad to allow at least half-a-
dozen people to ascend it abreast ; its landings,
looking on to a little central courtyard, were
spacious, and as though made for pleasant
converse on hot summer days ; whilst its
apartments, with those beautiful painted
ceilings which are a feature of Italian houses,
were lofty and majestic. Two antique marble
busts, standing on pedestals within niches,
adorned the first landing : one representing
Vanity, the other Modesty ; and the first to
be seen on entering was the former, in order
that you might be warned against falling into
this particular sin and turn on to the safer
path indicated by Modestia. On leaving, as
on entering, the house, you were reminded of
your duty in life by a little statuette of the
Virgin, with outstretched open arms, placed
in a niche above an archway, and noticeable
only to those descending the staircase.

The surroundings of this palace were no
less charming than its interior. The principal
fagade faced a little piazza, enclosed by other
ancient houses and the rear of the very old
church of San Pietro a Banchi, built over a
block of small shops, occupied, owing to their
proximity to the Stock Exchange, principally
by stockbrokers and money-changers ; and
the windows of the other fronts, including those
of our own rooms, looked on to the famous
Palazzo San Giorgio, its embattlements, orna-
mented with red painted crosses, and its double-
belled campanile, a portion of the harbour ?
ever crowded with vessels, and one side of the
semicircle of hills which enclose the city.

Surroundings were never better adapted for putting a person of antiquarian tastes into tune.

So, filled with the right spirit, we daily set forth on our rambles, wandering
among the narrow vicoli of the old quarters of the city, tarrying now and then to look up at shrines or bas-reliefs, or else to admire the beauty of the carving of a Renaissance doorway, straying on to quiet piazze, visiting churches and palaces, exploring the courtyards and cloisters of venerable buildings once devoted to ecclesiastical purposes, but now split up into tenements, and, whilst intent on
these delightful relics of the past, endeavouring to realise some of the principal epochs in the history of Genoa.

Our plan of campaign is summed up in a phrase which was used by the Antiquary when
we were talking over this subject of excursions. "Let the stones of Genoa tell her story" and as far as it was possible to read the history of the city in her existing buildings we kept to this excellent programme.

We studied, too, not only the buildings but their inhabitants.

And it is difficult to say which we found the more fascinating object of inquiry.

The character of the Genoese was long ago summed up by Froissart, and my sojourn among them has been sufficiently long to enable me to discover that to a great
extent his judgment still holds good.

"The people of Genoa," he said, " are generous-hearted and prompt in action. Nobody is capable of going so far as they, nor is ready to accept so many risks as they do."

"In all maritime matters they are more powerful than the Venetians, and the Mussulman fears and respects them more than any other people of the sea."

If you were to ask any true Genoese that is to say, one who has not only been bred and born in Genoa, but is able to trace his family in that city at least a generation to name the finest of the many monuments which his ancestors have raised to the glory of the capital of Liguria, he would, unless I am greatly mistaken, unhesitatingly reply, "II porto."

No one who has read the history of Genova would be surprised at this answer, or,
considering the enormous sacrifices which have been made for the port, would doubt its correctness.

Judging the works of man not merely from the point of view of aesthetics (as we are sometimes so apt to do), but from the broader standpoint of the extent to which
they represent his ideals, the port of Genova the largest in Italy undoubtedly far surpasses in grandeur any of those other monuments of human industry for which this fine city is celebrated.

Whereas its churches and palaces are the result of the work of merely a few individuals, its port is the outcome of centuries of continuous effort on the part of an entire population.

The one thing on which the collective mind has never ceased to be bent ever since the foundation of the city.

Looking at this great port from any of the many points of vantage offered by the semicircle of hills at whose base the city stands, one can well understand the pride with which all classes of Genoese society regard it.

Most eloquent and impressive is the sight of the extensive harbour, with its many moles running out into the sea, its huge warehouses stretching along the docks, and its multitude of vessels of all sizes, from the transatlantic to the row-boat.

But it is when you see it nearer at hand, or, better still, when you inspect it in detail, that you fully comprehend the commercial importance of the port of

It is then that you fully realise the truth of Froissart's words, and can under-
stand the reason for the activity of the Genoese of to-day.

Their grim determination to retain the benefits resulting from centuries of work.

Although Genova, owing to its geographical advantages, manifested a desire to be a naval and commercial power long before the tenth century, the origin of her present maritime greatness may be said to date back to the days when the Norman and Saracen pirates began to make their predatory descents on the coast towns of Liguria.

These attacks had so important an effect from the point of view of her development that it will be well to enumerate them.

********************* STORIA MARTITIMA DI GENOVA

They started in 860 with the capture and destruction of Luni, and were followed up in 918 and 934 by invasions nearer Genova.

But the Saracens on the latter occasion, partly through rough weather, partly owing to the stout resistance of the Genoese, who captured seventeen of their vessels, were obliged to abandon the expedition and return to their quarters in Sicily.

Two years later, however, they returned, and a great engagement was fought in which two thousand Saracens were killed.

Undaunted and strengthened by fresh vessels, the survivors renewed their efforts, and this time they were successful.

Genova was sacked and a large number of citizens were carried off.

The Saracens, however, had yet to face the Genoese fleet, which was away from home
at the time of the attack.

On returning and learning the news, the Genoese set off in pursuit of the enemy, met them off the coast of Sardinia and severely defeated them.

Such were the preliminary skirmishes which preceded the long efforts made by Genoa and her allies to rid the Mediterranean of these dreaded pirates.

The Saracens had strongly established themselves in Spain and Southern Italy, and after their descent on Sardinia, in 1015, under the leadership of Mogehid, the
rinding of a means of putting an end to their incursions became more and more imperative.

The initiative was taken by Benedict VIII, who, in the year following the occupation of Sardinia, sent his legate to Genova and Pisa with an offer of the sovereignty of the island to whosoever would liberate it from the Saracens.

The naval forces of the allied Republics immediately sailed for Sardinia
and defeated Mogehid.

Then, in 1034, they attacked and occupied Bona on the African coast.

And it is probable, too, that at this time the Genoese, partly for love of their faith, but more, I suspect, on account of a desire to crush a commercial rival, began their attacks the prelude of the Crusades on the Mussulmans.

In answer to a further appeal which was made by Pope Victor III, the Genoese, Pisans, Amalfians, and other Italian confederacies entered, in 1087, on a fresh
expedition, occupied Zawila and the Peninsula of Mehdia, between the Gulfs of Ham-
mametand Cabes, killed one hundred thousand Saracens, and forced the Kings of Tripoli and Tunis to pay tribute to the Holy Father.

Prince Temin was forced to pay an indemnity of half a million lire, to liberate all the Italians who had been taken prisoner, and, in addition to other privileges, to grant the Genoese and Pisans freedom from customs duties.

The crushing of the power of the Saracens was but the first step, however, in the march of the Genoese towards commercial supremacy in the Mediterranean.

For these expeditions against the barbarian were partly responsible for the long fratricidal wars which took place between Genova, Pisa, and Venice, each of whom had risen to maritime greatness on the ruins of other powers.

The jealousy between Genova and Pisa dated back to the days of Charlemagne, when the port of the former began to gain ground over that of the latter, but the pretext for the first of the wars between the two Republics was the island of Corsica, which was claimed by the Church as part of the dominion of St. Peter.

Under the instigation of the Pope and Countess Matilda of Corsica, the Pisans took
possession of the island, but were defeated by the Genoese.

Peace was made in 1133, but the war again broke out and was continued, at intervals, until as late as 1290, when the power of the Pisans was definitely destroyed
by Corrado Doria.

The growing commercial importance of Genoa in the East, the result of the prominent part she had taken in the Crusades, was likewise the cause of trouble with Venice.

But war is ever a costly luxury, and the building up of the commercial greatness of
the port of Genova caused a serious drain on the financial resources of the Republic.

The issuing of various loans, guaranteed by the customs and other profits of the State, greatly increased the public debt.

The internal troubles of the Republic, which began about the middle of the twelfth century, made the burden still heavier.

Each of the great families of the city was anxious to hold the reins of office.

The Fieschis and the Grimaldis, the leaders of the Guelf party, were in constant conflict with the Spinolas and the Dorias, the heads of the Ghibelline faction.

First one and then the other was in power.

Fighting in the streets and on the piazze of the city, and treachery in ah 1 its forms were common incidents.

And these disturbances, costly not only in money but in human life, lasted until the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the Republic at last entered on a spell of peace and prosperity.

War and internal strife had, then, led to financial difficulties, and at the opening of the fifteenth century, when the Republic, unable to manage its own affairs, had had recourse to the foreigner, the Banco di San Giorgio began to play its very important part in the history of Genoa.

This extremely interesting building, which was built in 1260 by a monk named Oliviero to serve as a residence for

"Guglielmo Boccanegra",

the captain of the Republic, and his successors, became the headquarters of the representatives of the holders of Government bonds, who had been grouped by Marshal Boucicault, the French Governor, assisted by a council of shareholders, into a body known as the Compere di San Giorgio.

The rate of interest
was fixed at seven per cent., and to a board
of administration appointed by the creditors
the Government conceded for a given number
of years the collection of certain indirect
customs. Up to 1539 the Republic's debt
to the Bank was redeemable, but in that
year, by means of an operation known as the
Magno contralto di consolidazione, it became
perpetual, with the result that the value of
the shares in the Banco di San Giorgio
increased enormously. As shown by Machia-
velli, who refers in his Istorie Florentine 1
to the foundation and work of this institution,
the bank was at one and the same time a
banking establishment, a bank of deposit,
and a farmer of a portion of the revenues of
the State. At the same time it was also a
political body, since the Republic had at
various times conceded territories to it ;
and thus it was that the Banco di San Giorgio
held the sovereignty of Sarzana, Castelnuovo,
Ventimiglia, and other places along the Riviera,
of the Genoese colonies in the Black Sea, and
of the Island of Corsica. The different
branches of this bank were admirably
administered : infinitely better so than the
departments of the Republic, which had more
than once to appeal for its help. The Banco
di San Giorgio was, indeed, a model estab-
lishment, and in visiting it you should not
forget that its methods as a bank were
universally adopted, and that it laid down the
principles which are at the base of all our
modern joint-stock companies. It continued
its work until the Revolution of 1797, when all
its rights and privileges were revoked. The
Palazzo di San Giorgio and its adjoining
buildings then returned to the State. They
are now the headquarters of a new adminis-
tration, the Consorzio Autonomo del Porto,
which has been in operation since 1903, and
the object of which is to carry out various
work connected with the extension and
improvement of the port.

A number of statues, busts, and
commemorative tablets are to be seen in the
corridor, Sala di Festa, and other rooms of
the Palazzo. These, which date from 1453
to the middle of the eighteenth century, are
in memory of those citizens of Genoa who
abandoned their shares in the Banco di San
Giorgio in favour of the Republic. A legacy
of 25,000 lire gave the donator the right to
a tablet, one of 50,000 lire to a bust, and one
of 100,000 lire to a statue : surely very
reasonable charges to those who desired to
be immortalized !

The first of the churches of Genoa which
we visited was San Siro, since it was there
that the people of the city used to assemble in
the Middle Ages and appoint their representatives.

"Guglielmo Boccanegra"

was elected Captain of the People there in 1257, after
the resignation and flight of Filippo Delia
Torre, whose period of office as Podesta had
been marked by gross corruption.


**************Simone Boccanegra*****************,

in 1339, Doge.

But a more picturesque event than either of these
took place in this church, originally the
Cathedral of Genoa and the first residence
of her Archbishops the enrolling of those
wealthy citizens who set out in July, 1097,
on the first Crusade. Genoa played a very
important part in the expeditions to the
East, and whether out of pure love of the
Faith is to be doubted. One of the first in
the field, she took good care to secure an
ample reward for the use of her ships, men,
and money, and whilst others had to be
satisfied with honour and glory, secured
concessions and privileges which gave her a
foremost place in the commerce of the East.
Between 1100 and 1500 the most brilliant
period in her history her colonial expansion
was extraordinary. She obtained dominion
either entirely or partly over Antioch, Mal-
mistra, Solino, Laodicea, Tortosa, Tripoli,
Jaffa, Csesarea, Beirut, Ascalon, Acri, and a
district in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem.
On their way home after the First Crusade,
the Genoese took the town of Mirrea, in Asia
Minor, and finding the ashes of John the
Baptist there, brought them back to Genoa,
where, in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, they
are still venerated. The reliquary in which
they are enclosed is of silver, and it is said
that fifteen years were employed by Teramo
di Danielo, a goldsmith of Porto Maurizio,
and Simone Caldera in fashioning it : a
statement which one can well believe when
we examine the intricate and delicate work
of this masterpiece of the fifteenth century.
The ecclesiastical treasures of the Cathedral
of Genoa are particularly numerous and
valuable. From the historical point of view
one of the most interesting is a hexagonal
basin, with two handles, which was also part
of the booty brought home from Caesarea
and other places by Guglielmo Embriaco.
This catino is said to have been given to
Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and to have
been used by Christ when He ate the paschal
lamb. It was for a long time thought to
be made of emerald, but Napoleon, by
sending it to Paris to be examined by members
of the Institute of France, proved that it
was merely coloured glass. He, therefore,
returned it, shattered into fragments ; natur-
ally much to the disgust of the Genoese, who
were not only given the trouble of putting
it together again, but were also obliged to
confess that one of their pet beliefs had been

The architecture of San Lorenzo, which is
believed to have been built on the ruins of
the house in which St. Lawrence lived when
he arrived in Genoa on his way from Spain
to Rome, displays, owing to the various
alterations which the building has undergone,
three distinct styles.

The Romanesque, the
French Gothic, and the Renaissance.

fagade and tower are constructed of alternate
courses of black and white marble, and the
portal, which, with all the lower part of the
principal front, dates from the thirteenth
century, is adorned with a mass of beautiful
sculpture. San Lorenzo is, from all points
of view, the finest of the thirty-seven churches
of Genoa, yet, curious to say, it was not the
one which moved me most. Its interest was
too exclusively artistic to suit the mood of
a searcher after the stirring, living incidents
of history.

But in the case of San Matteo it was
different. Here was a church and a little
piazza bearing its name, which told us a
definite story. Every one of its stones and
those of the houses forming the other three
sides of the square, might be said to cry the
name of Doria. The church was built by
one of the members of this great family,
Martino Doria, in 1125, and its fagade is
covered with inscriptions recalling some of
the great deeds of the Dorias : a history of
Genoa in little, as it were, so prominent is
their position in the annals of the city.
The great Andrea Doria was responsible for
much of the decoration of San Matteo.
About 1534 he summoned Montorsoli, one
of the pupils of Michael Angelo, to Genoa, and
entrusted him with many commissions for
statues and tombs and altars. In fact, almost
the whole of the sculpture in this church is
the work of Montorsoli and the assistants
whom he brought with him from Florence.
In addition to Andrea, whose sword hangs
above the high altar, many of the Dorias
were buried here, notably Giannettino Doria,
who was assassinated on January 2nd, 1547,
by the partisans of Gian Luigi Fieschi ;
Filippo Doria ; and Giovanni Andrea Doria I.
To the left of the church are the ancient
cloisters of San Matteo, one of those delightful
old-world spots where, cut off from the noise
and bustle of the city, it is so pleasant to
stroll and meditate. Slender columns in
pairs support the roof of this graceful quadri-
lateral, which dates from the beginning of
the fourteenth century ; here and there, let
into the walls, are ancient inscriptions relat-
ing to the Dorias ; near one of the corners
is an ancient sculptured niche, in which there
once stood a statue or was a fountain placed
there ? and on the walls, too, are traces of
one-time beautiful sculpture. . . . But what
are these two huge mutilated statues, the glint
of whose white marble we saw when looking
between the columns on to the little central
garden planted with orange and lemon trees ?
What story do they tell ? Still that of the
Dorias ? . . . Yes ; and its sequel. They
are all that remain of the two fine statues of
Andrea Doria and Gian Andrea Doria one
the work of Montorsoli and the other that of
Taddeo Carlone which stood on either side
of the staircase of the Palazzo Ducale. In
1797, under the influence of the French
Revolution, the Genoese were seized with a
desire to overthrow their old regime and to
obliterate whatever reminded them of their
great aristocratic families : those very things
in which they now take the most pride.
Genoa became, on a small scale, what Paris
was during the fanatical period of the Revo-
lution. Trees of Liberty were planted,
tawdry and extravagant symbolical proces-
sions promenaded through the streets, angry
crowds rushed along calling for vengeance on
the aristocracy, and bands of masons, em-
ployed by the provisional democratic govern-
ment, went from place to place destroying
the coats of arms or any other aristocratic
badges which they could find. One of these
gangs of vandals attacked the Archives and,
carrying off the libra d'oro containing the
names of the leading Genoese families, burnt
it, together with the Doge's sedan-chair, on
the Piazza dell' Acquaverde, then christened
the Piazza della Liberta ; another stormed
the Palazzo Ducale and shattered the statues
of the Dorias.

Many of the Dorias occupied the palaces
facing the Piazza San Matteo, and one of
these houses, faced with alternate courses of
black and yellow marble (a sign, whenever
you see it, that the dwelling is one which
belonged to an aristocratic family), bears- the
following inscription of 1528:

"Senat. Cons. Andreae de Oria, patriae liberatori munus publicum."

The Renaissance doorways of the houses of this square are also especially

It is one's bounden duty, after seeing San Matteo and its cloisters, to visit the Palazzo Doria-Pamphily on the Piazza Principe.

Architecturally, there are many better preserved palaces than this in Genoa, and some contain much finer works of art.

The palaces of Genoa are so numerous, and from an architectural point of view so important, that I cannot hope to do more than give the names of the principal ones.

Historically, the palazzo which the Republic presented to Andrea Doria in 1522, takes precedence over them all.

A great part of
this fine palace, which, before it came into
the hands of the Dorias, was occupied by the
Fregosos, is now taken up by apartments and
offices, but the principal portion, containing
what is historically and artistically of value,
has been preserved by the elder branch of
the Doria family, making it quite possible,
with the aid of the beautiful old garden
the periods at which they were built, the names of their
architects or those of the families who had them built,
and their chief features of interest. There are no fewer than
twenty -five of these great buildings, and all might well be
visited by a person of leisure. But a visit to the following
nine is indispensable : Palazzo Ducale, facing the Piazza
Umberto I, begun about the end of the thirteenth century,
in accordance with the plans of Marino Boccanegra, and
completed in the sixteenth century, noted for its statues
and pictures, including one of Andrea Doria refusing the
sovereignty of Genoa ; Palazzo Cataldi, 4 Via Garibaldi,
built about 1560 by Bernardo Castello for Tobia Pallavicini
and containing a number of rather remarkable frescoes ;
Palazzo Spinola, 6 Via Garibaldi, built about the end of
the sixteenth century and decorated with paintings by
Bernardo Castello ; Palazzo Rosso, 18, Via Garibaldi, built
in 1616 by Bartholomeo Bianco and Carradi, presented to
the City of Genoa in 1874 by the Marchese Maria Brignole-
Sale, and containing works of the highest order by Vandyke,
Guido Reni, Veronese, Van Ostade, Tintoretto, and many
other great masters ; Palazzo Bianco, 13 Via Garibaldi,
built in 1565 by Giovanni and Domenico Ponzelli for Nicolo
Grimaldi, and bequeathed to the City by the Duchess
which stretches towards the port, in front
of the courtyard and its terrace, to throw
oneself back to the days of the great admiral.
Whatever may be one's opinion of Andrea
Doria's ability as a statesman and there
are many who blame him for having brought
Genoa under the domination of Spain, no one
denies his bravery and skill as a soldier, his
genuine love of the Republic, his keen
appreciation of the arts, and his gift (by no
means a common quality) of making himself
beloved and respected of the people. He is
Deferrari-Galliera with its contents, which include a large
number of pictures by the great masters, statues and
autograph letters of Andrea Doria, Columbus, Garibaldi,
Mazzini and others ; Palazzo Civico or Doria-Tursi, 9 Via
Garibaldi, built in 1560 for the Grimaldi family by Rocco
Lurago, and noted for its many finely decorated rooms
and their contents, including Paganini's violin and bow,
this celebrated violinist being a Ligurian, and trained by
the Genoese violinist Costa ; Palazzo dell' Universita, 5
Via Balbi, built in 1623 by Bartholomeo Bianco for the
Jesuit Paolo Balbi, and now used as the headquarters of
the University of Genoa ; Palazzo Balbi-Senarega, 4 Via
Balbi, built about the beginning of the seventeenth century
also in accordance with the plans of Bianco, but enlarged
and perfected some time later by Pier Antonio Corradi,
and containing works by Michael Angelo, Reni, Titian,
Vandyke, Guercino, Tintoretto, Holbein, and other masters ;
and the Palazzo Durazzo, 1 Via Balbi, built during the
seventeenth century by Bianco for the Pallavicini family,
and remarkable for its works by Vandyke, Reni, Rubens,
Veronese, Ruysdael, and others.

Certainly by far the most picturesque figure of sixteenth-century Genoa, and the Palazzo Doria-Pamphily enables one to picture him in the prime of his life.

He was under forty when the Palazzo Fregoso was given to him, as a reward for his services to the Republic, and barely half his years had run out.

In the year following that in which he rid Liguria of the French and transferred his
services to Charles V of Spain (1528), he had the building remodelled by Montorsoli and employed Perino del Vaga, a pupil of Raphael who had been exiled from Rome in 1527 and had sought the protection of the Dorias, to decorate the ceilings and corridors with paintings.

The frescoes on the ceiling of the vestibule, representing scenes from Roman history, are his work, as well as those on the ceiling of the marble staircase which leads to a corridor on the first floor of the palace.

It is this gallery, however, which contains the most interesting of Perino del Vaga's much admired works : a series of portraits of the Doges of the Doria family, including one of Andrea himself, who in all his likenesses appears with a beard.

There is a portrait of him in one of the rooms on the first floor which is even more interesting than Vaga's work,

230 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

since it represents the great man, not in
allegorical trappings, but in the character of
an old man fond of his home and his cat.
From the point of view of technique this
picture of Andrea Doria seated in a long-
backed chair facing his pet is far inferior to
the other portrait, but to us it was by far
the more interesting of the two, since it
revealed the domestic and less known side
of the sitter's character. Andrea was a great
lover of animals, and his affection for a
certain large white dog which was presented
to him by Charles V is a matter of history.
There is a picture of this dog, the " Gran
Roedano " as he was called, in the same
room as that in which the one of Andrea
and his cat hangs ; and such was the love
which his master bore him that when he died
he was granted the honour of burial in the
palace gardens at the base of a statue of
Jupiter. The monument which marks the
resting-place of the " Gran Roedano " stands
in a portion of the grounds of the Palazzo
Doria-Pamphily, which is now cut off from
the house by the street and the railway. Many
other works of art are to be seen in the rooms
of the former residence of Andrea Doria, such
as the carved mantelpiece in black stone, a

Rambles in Ancient Genoa 231

table inlaid with marble of various colours, a
bronze door-knocker chiselled by Benvenuto
Cellini, several fine mirrors with carved,
gilded frames, a picture representing the
marriage of Arduino di Beuland with a
member of the Doria family, two exquisite
statuettes of sleeping children in white
marble by Montorsoli, and a crucifix by the
wood-carver Maragliano. In the centre of
the gardens, facing the port, is a fountain
with a figure of Andrea Doria in the role of
Neptune. These gardens, though not as
well kept as they might be, are very charming,
with their shady walks and pieces of sculpture
placed here and there amongst the greenery,
and from a raised terrace a pleasant view of
the port can be obtained a view upon which
the great Doge of Genoa, with his love of
ships and the sea, must often have gazed in
his old age with feelings of mingled regret and

' The way lay through the main streets,
but not through the Strada Nuova, x or the
Strada Balbi, which are the famous streets
of palaces. I never, in my life, was so

1 Now the Via Garibaldi.

232 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

dismayed ! The wonderful novelty of every-
thing, the unusual smells, the unaccountable
filth (though it is reckoned the cleanest of
Italian towns), the disorderly jumbling of
dirty houses, one upon the roof of another ;
the passages more squalid and more close than
any in Saint Giles's, or old Paris : in and out
of which, not vagabonds, but well-dressed
women, with white veils and great fans, were
passing and repassing ; the perfect absence of
resemblance in any dwelling-house, or shop, or
wall, or post, or pillar, to anything one had
ever seen before ; and the disheartening dirt,
discomfort, and decay ; perfectly confounded
me. I fell into a dismal reverie. I am
conscious of a feverish and bewildering vision
of saints and virgins' shrines at the street
corners of great numbers of friars, monks,
and soldiers of vast red curtains, waving in
the doorways of the churches of always
going up hill, and yet seeing every other street
and passage going higher up of fruit-stalls,
with fresh lemons and oranges hanging in
garlands made of vine-leaves of a guard-
house and a drawbridge of some gateways
and vendors of iced water, sitting with little
trays upon the margin of the kennel and
this is all the consciousness I had, until I

Rambles in Ancient Genoa 233

was set down in a rank, dull, weedy courtyard,
attached to a kind of pink jail ; and was told
I lived there." Such were Charles Dickens' s
first impressions of Genoa 1 when, in 1844,
he was being driven from the wharf to
Albaro, the suburb where, bent on a year's
residence in the city, he had engaged a house.
What a change has taken place in Genoa
since then ! The streets are no longer con-
spicuous for their filth, to which Dickens is
ever referring ; nor is the city any more
squalid, or uncomfortable, or decayed than
London or Paris. Even in the days when
Alphonse Karr lived in Genoa the trans-
formation had taken place, for he writes in
his delightful Promenades hors de mon Jardin
of the unusual cleanliness of the thorough-
fares. So clean were they kept by the men
employed by the city to keep a constant eye
on the pulizia pubblica that ladies could allow
their silken skirts to trail along the ground
without fear of them being soiled. Ah ! yes, I
would that the streets of London and Paris
were kept in as good order as the strade of
Genoa (paved with heavy blocks of stone, as
though they were intended, like the Roman
roads, to last for centuries) are to-day.

1 Pictures from Italy.

234 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Since the days of Dickens, Italy has entered
on a new lease of life, and her great cities
have now all the advantages which were
formerly principally confined to the great
European capitals. Magnificent houses, pro-
vided with everything that the most exacting
person, accustomed to the comforts of English
and American homes, could demand, are to
be found in the centre of Genoa or on the
delightful succession of promenades of the
circonvallazione a monte, on the hillside, over-
looking the gray house-tops of the city, the
towers of its many churches, and the harbour.
The Genoese women no longer go about with
great fans, and in the old-fashioned dress
which we used to associate with backward
Italian towns, but wear the smartest of
Parisian dresses and the largest of Parisian
hats. On your way to Albaro to see the
Villa Bagnerello in which the author of
David Copperfield lived for three months
(it is to be found in the Via San Nazaro, and
on the walls of the house is a tablet bearing
the following inscription : "In questa villa
dal prisco rosso delle sue mura Pink Jail
ebbe gradita dimora Carlo Dickens geniale e
profondo rivelatore del sentimento moderno
1844-1894 ") you no longer pass through

Dickens 's " Pink Jail " at Genoa

Rambles in Ancient Genoa 235

streets of squalid houses, but down the broad
Via XX Settembre, past the majestic new
Stock Exchange, built of red granite, in front
of the Piazza Deferrari, past spacious arcades
with marble and granite columns, unequalled
in architectural beauty by those of any other
city I have seen, and under a monumental
bridge which would do honour even to such
a city of fine structures as Paris. Albaro,
too, is no longer what it was. Dickens found
it " mournful and disappointing," and,
judging by his amusing description of the
fleas and the flies and the scorpions with
which he was surrounded, the Villa Bagnerello
can have been anything but " a pleasant
abode." Albaro is now a very agreeable
suburb. It possesses many well-built villas,
with fine gardens ; and the Lido d' Albaro,
where a large place of amusement has been
erected, at the edge of the sea, is a favourite
resort of the Genoese during the carnival
and at all holiday times.

On further acquaintance, Dickens found
that Genoa was a city that " grows upon
you." He confesses that " in the course of
two months, the flitting shapes and shadows
of my dismal entering reverie gradually
resolved themselves into familiar forms and

236 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

substances ; and I already began to think that
when the time should come, a year hence, for
closing the long holiday and turning back to
England, I might part from Genoa with
anything but a glad heart." As soon as his
tenancy of the Pink Jail at Albaro had ceased,
he removed to a house in the Via Peschiera,
near the Via Assarotti, on high ground
above the Acquasola Gardens, a house known
as the Palazzo Peschiere, which, he says,
was then one of the loveliest residences in
Italy. " It stands on a height within the
walls of Genoa," he writes, " but aloof from
the town, surrounded by beautiful gardens
of its own, adorned with statues, vases,
fountains, marble basins, terraces, walks of
orange trees and lemon trees, groves of roses
and carnations. All its apartments are
beautiful in their proportions and decorations ;
but the great hall, some fifty feet in height,
with three large windows at the end, over-
looking the whole town of Genoa, the harbour,
and the neighbouring sea, affords one of the
most fascinating and delightful prospects in
the world. Any house more cheerful and
habitable than the great rooms are, within,
it would be difficult to conceive ; and certainly
nothing more delicious than the scene without,

Rambles in Ancient Genoa 237

in sunshine or in moonlight, could be imagined.
It is more like an enchanted palace in an
Eastern story than a grave and sober dwelling.
How you may wander on, from room to room,
and never tire of the wild fancies on the walls
and ceilings, as bright in their fresh colouring
as if they had been painted yesterday ; or
how one floor, or even the great hall which
opens on eight other rooms, is a spacious
promenade ; or how there are corridors and
bed-chambers above, which we never use and
rarely visit, and scarcely know the way
through ; or how there is a view of a per-
fectly different character on each of the four
sides of the building ; matters little. But
that prospect from the hall is like a vision to
me. I go back to it, in fancy, as I have done
in calm reality a hundred times a day ; and
stand there, looking out, with the sweet
scents of the garden rising up about me, in
a perfect dream of happiness." When, lovers
of Dickens, you go on your pilgrimage to the
palazzo where the great writer lived during
nine of the happiest months of his life, you
will find that the Palace of the Fish-ponds
has not quite as much breathing-space as it
once had, and that it has necessarily somewhat
changed in other ways since 1844. But you

238 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

will understand the enthusiasm with which
he wrote of his home and the old city
stretched out at his feet. Genoa had begun
to exercise her power of fascination over him.
Every one succumbs to her after the first few
weeks. By the time he left Albaro, Dickens
was an avowed lover of the city's narrow
vicoli, in which " you can lose your way
(what a comfort that is, when you are idle !)
twenty times a day, if you like ; and turn up
again under the most unexpected and sur-
prising difficulties " ; he was a confirmed
worshipper of these winding alleys, in which,
at night time, sedan-chairs (let out for hire
in divers places) were " trotted to and fro
in all directions, preceded by bearers of great
lant horns, made of linen stretched upon a
frame ! " What a novelty it would be to
see a sedan-chair in the vicoli of Genoa to-day !
Yet you almost expect to find one waiting
for you outside the door of your palazzo when
you descend its marble staircase to go forth
and explore the ancient city. The atmos-
phere is of the eighteenth century until the
very moment you have put your nose out
at the door. Nowadays, alas ! when the
aristocrat of Genoa deigns to leave the Via
Balbi or the Via Garibaldi, where there is

Rambles in Ancient Genoa 239

space for his carriage and pair, and enter the
narrow lanes in the neighbourhood of San
Matteo or San Siro he has to go upon il
cavallo di San Francesco. The only vehicles
you ever see there now are handcarts. Who
would not prefer, now and then, to meet a
sedan-chair with a pretty Genoese inside ?

There is no lack of pictures queness about
the old streets of Genoa to-day, but, with the
decay of ancient institutions, I suppose one
can hardly account them quite as quaint in
their appearance as they were in the days of
Dickens. But if there are no sedan-chairs
and lanthorn-bearers, the Jesuits who mus-
tered strong in the streets and went " slinking
about, in pairs, like black cats," are also
absent ; so one can count upon at least one
improvement. Priests and monks seem to
have made up the greater part of the popula-
tion sixty years ago, and the repulsive
countenances of these gentry is a point upon
which Dickens insists with a certain amount
of warmth. I am glad that we saw none of
them 'during our sojourn in Genoa. Only
kindly faces stand out in my recollections
of the four pleasant months I lived there :
those of the patient, humble Cappucchini,
who go from shop to shop and from restaurant

240 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

to restaurant begging for the poor, and those
of the richly-dressed ecclesiasts who, just
before Easter, go from house to house blessing
the apartments and their inhabitants. He
who came to our palazzo, preceded by an
aged sacristan, carrying the silver vessel which
holds the holy water, and into which you
drop your offering, made a particularly fine
figure with his rich purple silk vestment, worn
under a white linen and lace surplice, his black
silk stockings and his old-fashioned patent-
leather shoes, with their large silver buckles.

Fountain in the Gardens of the Doria Palace, Genoa

Valley of the Bisagno, Genoa



WHEN the heat of summer is at its height, the
great problem with the Genoese, in spite of
their shady vicoli and the thick walls of their
palaces, is how to keep cool, and the moneyed
classes do their best to solve it by fleeing to
the hills. One of their favourite mountain
resorts is Torriglia, a little town full of
ancient memories and situated in a very
picturesque position, at an altitude of over
two thousand feet, near the source of the
Scrivia torrent. Lying at a distance of but
twenty-three miles on the main road to

16 (2230)


242 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Piacenza, it is easily, reached from Genoa,
and no one who comes to this part of Liguria
should think of leaving the district without
visiting it. Though seen at its best when
the Italian sun is shining with its full strength,
Torriglia is at all times of the year, save in
the dead of winter, a most charming place :
one of those nature spots which, since they
are not merely beautiful, but have a story
to tell, long remain in one's memory.

Nature had by no means assumed her
brightest colours when I ascended the
Bisagno valley towards Torriglia ; it was
still the month of March and the slopes of
the hills above the port daily scrutinised
from the window of my room, in the hope
that they would bear the signs of the return
of summer, were as yet but faintly green.
But what a relief it was to leave the city
and once more find myself in the country !
Fascinating though ancient streets may be,
they must ever be regarded, when compared
with hills and dales, in the light in which De
Quincey, with his pathetic cry of " stony-
hearted stepmother ! " looked upon London.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Bisagno
valley is sadly marred by industrialism, it
was, then, a welcome change after my long

A Visit to Torriglia 243

acquaintanceship with the streets of Genoa.
Closing my eyes as much as possible to the
manufactories and works which disfigure
the banks of the torrent fleeing from
Staglieno, that town where the Genoese have
built a cemetery, and where the very streets,
bordered with the workshops and makers of
grave stones, remind you of Death hurrying
on past dusty Doria and Prato, I welcomed
the sight of Presa (which takes its name from
the fact that it is the point on the course of
the Bisagno where the aqueduct of Genoa
receives its principal supply of water ; an
aqueduct, by the by, which one cannot fail
to notice as it winds in and out along the
hillsides on its way towards the city) with
almost a sigh of relief. For here the valley
and the stream begin to assume a more
natural aspect, and the nearer you approach
the Colle della Scoffera, between the valley
of the Bisagno and that of the Scrivia, the more
you realise that, at last, you have passed
beyond the area of the city's influence. The
banks of the stream were here and there
purple with heather, whilst all along the
roadside and in the chestnut groves, where
the wood-cutters were busily at work, were
millions upon millions of primroses. And

244 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

almost all the way to Torriglia, after descend-
ing towards the Scrivia, was the route made
pleasant by these flowers, interspersed, now
and then, by patches of odorous violets.

The position of Torriglia and its ruined
feudal castle has been very admirably des-
cribed by Davide Bertolotti, a traveller who
visited it in 1834, long before the construction
of the fine national road which put it in
touch with civilization. " North of the
Scoffera," he writes, " the waters flow
towards the Adriatic. The aspect of the
country changes. The land begins to show
signs of the heavy plough, whilst on the
slopes looking seawards the only utilisable
implement is the spade or the mattock.
Extensive chestnut groves cover the sides
of the mountain, but more thickly planted
at the bottom of the valley where we pass the
principal confluent of the Scrivia. Passing
another wood and over another mountain,
there appears before one's eyes the natural
amphitheatre in the midst of which the rays
of the setting sun give a final salute to Tor-
riglia. The village lies in the midst of the
greenest of meadows, gladdened by many
rivulets. The ground is a pleasantly alter-
nating succession of little hills and dales.

A Visit to Torriglia 245

The district is enclosed, except on one side,
by a circle of mountains. The beautiful
woods which clothe the mountains on the
east and south form a striking contrast to
the bare crags which frown on the west.
Above Torriglia rise the ruined but proud
remains of the castle which was possessed by
the Fieschis and then by the Dorias. The
bastions surrounding the rock are still
standing. Jts construction was strong and
rude, like the men of the days when it was
built. But detached from these bastions
there rises, like the figure of a Roman
centurion, a strongly-cemented brick tower,
faced with laboriously -squared stones. The
hands which ruined the feudal castle of
Torriglia respected this tower, which dates,
perhaps, from the consular period." l

Though Torriglia is to-day undoubtedly
less primitive than it was when Bertolotti
visited it, it still in many respects retains
its antique appearance. Viewed from the
slopes of its amphitheatre of hills, one can
easily distinguish the older part of the little
town. The irregular, dark gray roofs of the
houses and the painted campanile of the
church the music of whose peal of eight

1 Viaggio nella Liguria Marittima.

246 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

bells is ever echoing down the valley stand
out in striking contrast to the newer buildings
which have sprung up around them. There
is an outer circle of still more modern dwel-
lings, for the most part the villas of well-to-do
Genoese, who have chosen many of the most
delightful spots on the hillsides, overlooking
the valley and the distant purple hills, for
their summer homes and gardens. Three
periods in the development of Torriglia can
thus be read as one stands on the high-lying
ground above the town. But one's eyes ever
return to its nucleus of picturesque cottages,
the green hill which dominates them, and,
perched upon it, above a precipitous rock,
the shattered walls and tower of the fine old
castle, shaped in front like the prow of a

The Castle of Torriglia forms an effective
picture from almost every point of view,
but it is, perhaps, seen at its best from a
pathway, near a little mountain stream,
beneath a small cluster of houses, known as
Torriglia Vecchia, at the head of the valley.
You should go there when the sun is about to
disappear behind the hills, when the shadows
have already begun to creep over the houses
in the hollow, when the eastern side of the

A Visit to Torriglia 247

castetto is a rich, deep purple, and when the
last rays of sunlight are illuminating the
western bastions and transforming the grassy
slopes to a beautiful tender golden green, ere
they and all things are enveloped in the gray
of twilight.

Sitting there one evening, with the Roman
tower standing out against the purple valley,
it seemed to me that neither time nor place
could have been better for recalling the
story of Torriglia and its castle. So let me
advise all wayfarers in the valley of the Scrivia
to choose the close of the day for following
the steep mule-path which leads to Old
Torriglia, and to read this history in little on
some grassy bank of the intermediary slopes
of the mountain.

The earliest known reference to Torriglia
is to be found in a document of 972, in which
the Emperor Ottone II confirmed the grant
of certain lands and castles, including the
curtem de Turrigio, to the celebrated Monas-
tery of San Colombano of Bobbio ; and the
first of its feudal lords who are mentioned in
history are the Malaspinas, who exercised
their rights in the Scrivia and other valleys
in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Among the members of this powerful family

248 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

were several noteworthy men. Alberto
Malaspina, surnamed II Moro, was one of the
oldest trovatori of Italy, and Moroello, the
lord of the valley of the Magra, was the friend
and host of Dante, who refers to him in the
Divine Comedy as follows :

" Reft of the Neri first Pistoia pines ;
Then Florence changeth citizens and laws ;
From Valdimagra, drawn by wrathful Mars,
A vapour rises, wrapt in turbid mists,
And sharp and eager driveth on the storm
With arrowy hurtling o'er Piceno's field,
Whence suddenly the cloud shall burst, and strike
Each helpless Bianco prostrate to the ground." l

This reference to Moroello's victories over
the White faction is put in the mouth of
Vanni Fucci, in the form of a prophecy, but
whether Dante refers to his friend's taking
of Serravalle in 1302, or to the final reduction
of Pistoia, which was the last rallying point
of the Bianchi in Tuscany, is a point which
commentators of La Divina Commedia
have not yet decided. However, the matter

1 Pistoia in pria di Neri si dimagra,
Poi Firenze rinnova genti e modi.
Tragge Marte vapor di Val di Magra
Ch'e di torbidi nuvoli involute ,
E con tempesta impetuosa ed agra
Sopra Campo Picen fia combattuto ;
Ond'ei repente spezzera la nebbia,
Si ch'ogni Bianco ne sara feruto.

(Inf. XXIV, 143-150.)

A Visit to Torriglia 249

is one that does not directly concern Torriglia,
since the lordship of the Scrivia valley, and
probably that of the neighbouring Trebbia,
over which Moroello held jurisdiction, passed,
about the middle of the thirteenth century,
doubtless in 1252, when Nicolo Fieschi, Count
of Lavagna, acquired (as the family records
show) " many properties " in Liguria from
Guglielmo Malaspina, into the hands of the
Fieschis. The Counts of Lavagna, who
held Torriglia for two hundred and fifty years,
claimed descent from the Dukes of Bavaria,
and were one of the most powerful families
of Northern Italy. Many were the celebrated
ecclesiasts and statesmen who sprang from
their house. Two Popes, seventy Cardinals,
more than three hundred Archbishops and
Bishops, and a Marshal of France, in the time
of St. Louis, bore the name of Fieschi.

The Malaspinas and the Fieschis were
united both by marriage and their political
views. Alagia Fieschi, the niece of Otto-
buono Fieschi, who was elected Pope on
July llth, 1276, under the title of Adrian V,
was the wife of Moroello Malaspina ; and the
two families belonged to the Guelf party.
The conflict between the Guelfs and the
Ghibellines, which broke out afresh in 1335

250 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and once more threw Genoa into a state of
disorder, brought Torriglia into considerable
prominence, and for many years to come its
castle played no mean part in the history of
the Republic. Considering that the power
of the Ghibellines had become too strong to
hope of overthrowing it, Giovanni Fieschi,
the son of Carlo, withdrew, in the above-
mentioned year, to his family's mountain
stronghold, where he anxiously waited for
an opportunity to descend upon the city at
the head of his followers. But he did not
live to see a sufficiently favourable moment ;
and it was not, indeed, until 1392, that his
descendant, Antonio, decided upon a decisive
step. Gathering three hundred mountaineers
around him, Antonio, on May 17th of that
year, took up a position on Monte Fascia and
made an attempt to rouse the people of
Genoa against the reigning Duke, Antoniotto
Adorno. It was, however, unsuccessful.
Raffaelo Adorno marched up the valley of
the Bisagno at the head of a strong force of
Ghibellines, invaded the valley of the Scrivia,
and attacked the Castle of Torriglia ; and
though he did not succeed in taking it,
Antonio Fieschi was forced to make peace.
Comparative calm then reigned until 1430,

A Visit to Torriglia 251

but in this year Guelf and Ghibelline were
once more up in arms, and this time the
castello was captured by Nicolo Piccinino, a
captain of the troops of Duke Filippo Maria
Visconti, in whose name Genoa was then
governed. Reoccupied shortly afterwards by
the Fieschis, it was again taken in 1432 by the
Republic of Genoa ; and thus, ever the stake
in the sanguinary game which the rival
factions played for more than two centuries,
it many times passed from one to the other.
From 1478 to 1547 the Fieschis held the
lordship of Torriglia and the valley of the
Scrivia without interruption, but in the
latter year, with the death of Gian Luigi
Fieschi di Sinibaldo, who, according to the
annals of Bonfadio, was born in the castle,
their reign came to an end.

The circumstances under which the
Fieschis lost their feudal rights form one of
the principal pages in the history of Torriglia.
Gian Luigi Fieschi, who was undoubtedly one
of the greatest members of his family, is said
by his biographers to have been a true lover
of liberty, and much better disposed than
his rivals, the Dorias, were to protect the
interests of the Genoese. Whether he was
right or wrong in thinking that the Republic

252 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

needed a liberator, there can be no doubt of
this : that he was a man who commanded
respect on all sides, and of whom even his
opponents could say much good. He pos-
sessed, says one of them, " a great mind, an
acute understanding," and was " one of the
most noteworthy men in Italy, after sovereign
princes," whilst he had been led by the advice
and example of the best teachers and gravest
men "to the study of virtue and honest
actions." Convinced that the Republic was
being ill-governed by the Dorias, Gian Luigi
Fieschi placed himself, in January, 1547, at
the head of the conspiracy to overthrow them.
Andrea Doria's cousin, Giannettino a weak,
presumptuous man, of whom the great
admiral is said to have been anything but
proud was assassinated, some of the prin-
cipal gates of the city were seized by the
conspirators, and they were about to succeed
in their object when an event occurred which
completely ruined their plans. Whilst passing
from one ship to another in the port, Gian
Luigi Fieschi fell into the sea and was
drowned. The plot having failed, and its
head having lost his life, the Senate of Genoa
was disposed to be lenient towards the
conspirators, so a general amnesty was

A Visit to Torriglia 253

granted to the Fieschis and their followers.
But some say through the influence of
Andrea the promise was broken, several
members of the family were executed, others
were banished and their possessions were
seized. 1

A company of Spanish infantry, under
the command of Captain Oriola, proceeded
towards the Colle della Scoffera and, swooping
down upon Torriglia, took possession of the
castle in the name of Charles V. The Em-
peror was, however, only a nominal holder ;
the real owner of the lordship of the valley
of the Scrivia, with that of Carrega, Garbagna,
Grondona, and ten other castles, was the
great Andrea, who promptly raised Torriglia
to the status of a marquisate. On his death,
in 1560, his possessions passed into the hands
of Giovanni Andrea Doria, the son of the
murdered Giannettino. The new Marquis of
Torriglia was evidently much disliked, for we
read in the annals of Roccatagliata that " he
was noted for his arrogance and ill-behaviour
both towards the public and private ac-
quaintances, and was hated and blamed by
his fellow-citizens for his ambition." The
Dorias held Torriglia and its castle until 1797,

1 Schiller founded a historical drama on this conspiracy.

254 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

when the revolutionary party got the upper
hand and destroyed their property. More
fortunate than the Fieschis, the blow, how-
ever, was in no way a serious one, since they
afterwards received full compensation for
the loss of their possessions.

When, in 1797, the Republic of Liguria was
proclaimed in Genoa, and all the neighbouring
feudal lords were called upon to adhere to it,
Torriglia was divided into two parties : the
Democratic and the Aristocratic. Though the
little town had certainly no need to com-
plain of its masters, the revolutionaries
gained the upper hand and carried everything
before them. A tree of liberty was planted
on the square in front of the parish church,
the inhabitants danced around it with shouts
of joy, and a band of young men rushed up
the steep paths towards the castle. On
hearing of the revolutionary rising in Genoa,
the occupants of the castello had fled, leaving
their agent in sole charge. Seized and
brutally ill-treated, the man was driven from
his post. The revolutionaries then shattered
all the locks, unhinged the doors, and,
throwing them down the slopes of the hill,
withdrew without doing further damage.
But when night-time came, bands of thieves

A Visit to Torriglia 255

of whom there were plenty in those turbu-
lent days entered and carried off everything
of value, though not before they had com-
pleted the work of destruction begun on that
sunny June afternoon.

Reading the chronicles of Torriglia one
judges that it must have been rather a lawless
little place before the opening of the road
from Genoa to Piacenza. Early in the
nineteenth century the neighbouring moun-
tains were infested with bands of robbers, and
it was no uncommon thing to hear of peasant-
farmers, whilst returning from the weekly
village market with their earnings, being
made to stand and deliver. Even in the
days when Bertolotti visited the valley of
the Scrivia, its inhabitants were not par-
ticularly noted either for their love of order
or intelligence.

But Torriglia has made enormous strides
since 1834. She has been made to under-
stand the benefits of civilization, has become
one of the pleasantest little mountain resorts
in the whole world, and is ever ready to give
a hearty welcome to anyone who comes to
admire the natural beauties with which she
is surrounded. Even so early in the year as
when I visited Torriglia, the valley of the Scrivia

256 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and that of the Trebbia, which was covered
with millions of purple and white crocuses,
formed pictures of great loveliness. The
clear, exhilarating mountain air impelled me
to cover mile after mile for the sheer love of
action, and more than once sorely tempted
me to start the long climb to Monte Antola,
where, at an altitude of nearly five thousand
feet, there is a particularly rich flora of
medicinal and other plants.


San Fruttuoso from the Sea



" THERE is nothing in Italy more beautiful
to me than the coast road between Genoa
and Spezzia," wrote Dickens in his Pictures
from Italy if and no sooner had we turned
our backs on the great seaport, but not
without a tinge of regret, than it became
evident that his appreciation of the Riviera
di Levante still holds good. San Martino
d'Albaro, Sturla, and Quarto al Mare, the
first localities to which the traveller along
the Cornice comes, and the last-named
famous as the place where Garibaldi, on

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258 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

May 5th, 1860, embarked for Sicily with the
Thousand of Marseilles, are a little too near
the city not to have felt its influence, but
once you have passed beyond Quinto al Mare
and reached Nervi, the coast scenery is every
bit as fresh as in the days when this fine
road was the sole means of travelling along
the Ligurian littoral.

The fact that our German cousins are in
complete possession of Nervi is itself a high
recommendation. Wherever they hibernate,
there you may be certain to find the most
perfect of natural conditions. Sheltered
from the north winds by Monti Moro and
Giugo, Nervi is a second San Remo. The
mildness of its temperature, its luxurious
gardens, and the beauty of its orange and
lemon groves make it one of the most
desirable spots of the eastern Riviera. It
would be difficult to find a place better
suited for passing a quiet, healthful holiday.
Appreciating its advantages to the full, the
Germans gather there in large numbers every
winter, and find, ready to their hand, every-
thing which the most exacting invalid or
tourist could demand. The innumerable
hotels and pensions which have sprung up on
the sunny slopes of the hills are all modelled

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 259

to meet the requirements of German visitors,
and the shops, with their notices in German,
give one the same impression. Both the
Antiquary and I were quick to observe this
striking feature of Nervi, and the singular
fewness of my countrymen and country-
women. It appears, from what my friend
tells me, that we English do not care to
congregate in any large numbers where the
Germans pitch their tents, and that as
though the sight of a Teutonic face pre-
vented us from appreciating the beauties of
Nature and the sound of a Teutonic tongue
marred the music of the sea we are apt to
flee at the very approach of our enterprising
cousins. And as we are often the first to
discover these Italian and other resorts, we
are thus, owing to our unconquerable
prejudices, relinquishing our hold on
some of the most delectable places in the

Nervi and its neighbouring suburb, Capo-
lungo, have no sooner been passed than the
true character of the country through which
you are to travel is suddenly revealed. For
a considerable part of the way to the Penin-
sula of Portofino, whose mighty wooded mass
projects far into the sea in the distance, the

260 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

road winds high above the rocky coast,
enabling you, every now and then, to obtain
some of the most exquisite views that the
Mediterranean has to offer. The ceaseless
fretting of the waves far below your feet, the
white sails of feluccas slowly moving hither
and thither over the blue expanse of water,
the rugged coast line gradually fading into
the distance, so that you rather divine than
see its fine sweep at the base of the great
peninsula, the dim patches of white and red
which indicate where the fishing villages are
situated ; the olive groves and pine woods
which border the white route ; and especially
the rich colouring which everything assumes
in the morning sunlight all these are things
which make your j ourney to Monte Portofino
a constant joy.

The portion of the littoral which lies
between Nervi and the Peninsula of Portofino
is celebrated for its mariners. For time out
of mind, all the villages and little towns which
are to be seen scattered along the coast?
Bogliasco, Pieve di Sori, Sori, Recco, and
Camogli have produced men whose bravery
and experience in sea-craft have carried the
renown of the land of Columbus to the four
corners of the world. The name of Biagio

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 261

Assereto, a celebrated admiral of the fifteenth
century who was born at Recco, may be new
to some readers ; but who has not heard of
Nicoloso da Recco, who, on behalf of the
King of Portugal, discovered and described
the Canaries in 1341 ? Who has not heard,
too, of the captains of Camogli ?

Camogli is a town which never fails to
fascinate the traveller. Dickens, whilst on
his way to Spezzia, made a point of leaving
the main road and descending the long
slope of the hill into its narrow, ancient streets,
and the description he gives shows how
much the place delighted him. "It is a
perfect miniature of a primitive seafaring
town," he says ; " the saltest, roughest,
most piratical little place that ever was seen.
Great rusty iron rings and mooring-chains,
capstans, and fragments of old masts and
spars, choke up the way ; hard, rough-
weather boats, and seamen's clothing, flutter
in the little harbour or are drawn out on the
sunny stones to dry ; on the parapet of the
rude pier, a few amphibious-looking fellows
lie asleep, with their legs dangling over the
wall, as though earth or water were all one to
them, and if they slipped in, they would float
away, dozing comfortably among the fishes."

262 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Camogli struck us as being a little brisker
than these words would seem to indicate, as
though competition, resulting from steam
navigation, had awakened it from its former
easy-going ways. We saw no one asleep on
the pier, but several groups of bearded,
bronze-faced sea-captains, talking with great
animation. I wondered whether the topic
of their conversation was the respective merits
of steamship and sailing vessel ; for it appears
that the coming into general use of the former
has struck the shipowners of Camogli a
terrible blow. Some decided to move with
the times, but others remained faithful to
the old-fashioned methods, and even as late
as 1886 Camogli possessed three hundred
and forty-eight sailing vessels, representing
a tonnage of 165,217. Her captains still
number, according to a recent census, nearly
eight hundred.

The little harbour of Camogli is certainly
one of the most picturesque I have ever seen.
One of its sides is formed by a tongue of
land which projects into the sea and on the
rocky point of which the church is built : a
church, in the construction of which, thanks
to the financial aid of the devout mariners of
Camogli, there has been an unsparing use of





Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 263

marble and gilding, and whose interior, as in
the days when the author of David Copper-
field stepped within, is still " bright with
trophies of the sea, and votive offerings, in
commemoration of escape from storm and
shipwreck." The molo runs almost at right
angles to this miniature peninsula, and from
its extreme point one can get a delightful
view of the porto, crowded with boats and
old-fashioned fishing-smacks, and with a back-
ground of tall, weather-beaten houses and
green hillside. Owing to the very small
building space at the base of the Peninsula
of Portofino, all the houses of Camogli are
unusually high, many of them being seven and
eight storeys, and a few of them even ten.
The faded reds and browns and yellows of
the fronts of these buildings, from whose
windows the many-coloured garments of
seamen are ever suspended to dry, form a
delightful piece of colouring ; and if some
artist, in search of a new sketching-ground,
were to ask me to recommend one to him, I
do not know whether I should not advise
him to go to Camogli.

We spent the best part of a day at Camogli,
and stayed there overnight, and both my
friend and I felt that, had time permitted,

264 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

we could very profitably have made a much
longer sojourn there. It was impossible,
however, to linger in all the agreeable spots
to which we came ; at that rate we should
not have finished our journey under at least
a year. All the time, too, we were conscious
that Monte Portofino, the topmost point
(1,830 feet) of the grand peninsula, which
seems to rise almost perpendicularly from the
sea, was beckoning to us. So, early one
morning, we climbed back to the main road,
passed through a gallery which traverses the
hill, scrambled on to a mule-path which
branches off to the left immediately on
leaving it, and began our long ascent of the
hill. The narrow way, whose stones are
worn smooth and hollow by the feet of
generations of passengers, winds along the
upper ridge of the peninsula, and, as it
gradually rises, amidst sparsely- wooded slopes,
strewn with rocks, you begin to be able to
form an idea of the wonderful views which
are to reward your climb. The tall houses
of Camogli and the tower of its church rise
majestically from the edge of the sea below :
a confused mass of subdued colours, like those
of a water-colour by Turner, hemmed in
between the green of the olive-groves and the

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 265

slightly ruffled blue expanse of the Mediter-
ranean ; beyond and far into the distance,
almost as far as Genoa, you can distinguish
many of the little places through which you
have passed ; with the green counterforts
of the Appenines rising above them and the
gray peaks of those far-away mountains dimly
visible against the sky. As you continue to
rise, this panoramic view becomes still more
imposing ; and at last you reach a point
where, on turning your face to the left, you
see the long stretch of coast on the other side
of the peninsula. Down there on the shore
is S. Margherita Ligure, a little beyond is
Rapallo and its beautiful gulf, and stretching
away into the distance towards Spezzia, until
sea and land and sky melt into one, are the
innumerable little bays and creeks of the
rocky littoral. They say and I can well
believe them that there are no finer views
in the whole of Europe than those which are
to be obtained from the Peninsula of Porto-
fino. From the summit of the mountain you
can see, on the one hand, as far as Capo
Berta, near Diano Marina, and, on the other,
to the Isola del Tino, in the Gulf of Spezzia,
and, on looking seawards, if the atmosphere
be exceptionally clear, it is possible to

266 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

distinguish the dim forms of Corsica and other
islands of the Tuscan archipelago.

For the first time since we had climbed the
mountains of Liguria together, the Anti-
quary's local knowledge failed him : we lost
our way on Monte Portofino, and for fully an
hour and a half wandered aimlessly about
amidst its maritime pines and arbutus trees.
But with so many paths to choose from,
there is little wonder that we went astray.
At last, after descending into I know not how
many deep clefts in the rocky peninsula, we
decided, as the day was still young, to retrace
our footsteps to the point where we had first
seen the double view of the Riviera, and to
proceed to our next destination SanFruttuoso
by an easier and better-known route.

This level mountain pathway skirts the
eastern side of the peninsula, and soon
divides into two branches : the one to the
left leading to Portofino and the other, on
the right, down the deep cleft in the peninsula
at the base of which stands San Fruttuoso
and the celebrated Monastery of Capo di
Monte. The latter way descends with great
abruptness, crossing and recrossing the bed
of the torrent, amidst the pines and the
arbutus bushes, and it was not long ere

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 267

we came to the region of the olives and within
sight of the little group of buildings which
form the remote fishing village of San

This foot-wide pathway, zig-zagging down
the gorge, is the sole means of communication
with the outside world apart from the broad
but not always safe highway of the sea
which the inhabitants of San Fruttuoso
possess. But their needs are small ; they
can afford to remain cut off from civilization,
have no necessity to make more than occa-
sional visits to the markets where they
dispose of the result of their work. Fishing
and the making of ropes and cables are the
only occupations of the people of Capo di
Monte. Fish they find in great abundance
at their very doors, and the material for
their ropes they find growing in large quanti-
ties on the slopes of the peninsula. As we
stumbled into San Fruttuoso on that sunny
afternoon, we found an old man and a
woman, assisted by some boys, busily occu-
pied on a primitive rope- walk, making cables
with the tough fibres of the grass which they
call lisca, but whose scientific name is
Ampelodesmus tenax.

San Fruttuoso, its monastery and church,

268 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and a tall tower which was built as a protec-
tion against the Saracens (all, save the tower,
tightly wedged within a narrow, rocky space
at the very edge of the sea) are of great
antiquity. The abbey is mentioned in a
document of 904, when Adelagia, wife of the
Emperor Ottone II and daughter of Rodolfo,
King of Burgundy, presented the district of
Portofino and the greater part of the moun-
tain of Capo di Monte, to the occupants of
the monastery, then under the rule of the
Abbot Madalberto. After being for long
years in the hands of the Benedictines, the
patronage passed, in the thirteenth century,
to the Dorias. The tower, which rises high
above the abbey and its adjoining buildings,
was built to the order of Andrea Doria (as
is shown by a bull of Julius III, dated
1550, approving of his project) to protect
the monastery and the tombs of his ancestors,
whose bones had for centuries rested in a
small crypt near its miniature cloister. In
this charming crypt, which is built of black
and white stone, with a triple row of little
columns, in pairs, supporting its gothic arches,
are many inscriptions to the Dorias, including
one to the memory of Egidio Doria, who
fought against the Pisans in 1284, and

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 269

commanded the fleet of the King of Sicily in
1299, and who was buried at San Fruttuoso
on September 22nd, 1305. That there was
great need of Andrea's tower we already know.
The whole of the littoral of Liguria was for-
merly, owing to the incursions of the Barbary
pirates who infested the Mediterranean, in
continual fear. These were old acquaintances
of Andrea Doria. During his military career
he had frequently had to fight against them
as they themselves knew to their cost for
he had defeated their powerful fleet at
Pianosa. Many of the outlooks and defences
built along the coast of Liguria were decorated
with frescoes, and those of the San Fruttuoso
tower the coat of arms of the House of Doria
and various warlike trophies painted in red
on a yellow ground are fairly well preserved.
This tower was strongly defended with loop-
holes, and on the side facing the mountain
there was a drawbridge. On the sides facing
the sea there were also openings for artillery.
At the entrance to the bay, on high ground,
Andrea also placed a watch-tower (the ruins
of which can still be seen), so that the approach
of any suspicious-looking vessels could be
observed and rapidly reported. Both these
towers were built during the ten years which

270 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

intervened between the date of the Papal
bull and that of Andrea's death, and it is
said that, thanks to their protection, the
monastery, which had become almost aban-
doned through fear of the Saracens, had a
new lease of life. And it is indeed a fact
that after this time the list of the Abbots of
San Fruttuoso contains the names of many
members of the House of Doria.

Having once descended to San Fruttuoso
we decided that we would not leave it except
by water. We had had enough of mountain
paths for one day. So at one of the cottages
we found an experienced boatman, who
rejoiced in the name of Salvatore, and were
rowed round the peninsula to Portofmo.
Once out of the little harbour, the sea was
none too smooth, calm though it had looked
from the top of the mountain, and our cockle-
shell of a boat was played with by the waves
in a manner which would have been alarming
had it been in less skilful hands. But
Salvatore had managed a boat in those
dangerous waters ever since he was a boy of
ten : he knew the currents to be avoided, and
how to round all the difficult points with the
least expenditure of labour and a modicum
of risk, and thus, after three-quarters of an

Along the Coast : to Monte Portofino 271

hour's work with the oars, beneath the tower-
ing cliffs of the peninsula and amidst flocks
of screaming sea-gulls, bent on fishing
expeditions, he brought us safely into the still
waters of the sheltered harbour of Portofino.

The crypt at San Fruttuoso

Santa Margherita, near Rapallo



ON the eastern side of the extreme point of
the Peninsula of Portofino is a narrow,
curved creek, which Nature would seem to
have taken under her special protection.
Though the sea may beat with all its fury
against the promontory's conglomerate cliffs,
the strength of its waves is almost spent ere
they break upon the little semicircular beach
of this favoured cove. The cold winds which
sometimes blow from the mountains are
powerless, too, to harm it, since it is enclosed,


Portofino and Neighbourhood 273

on one side by the thickly-wooded ridge of
the peninsula, and on its two other sides by
high hills, densely clad with olives. Within
this remarkably sheltered spot lies Portofino,
with its houses arranged in curves along the
quays and in front of its narrow lido as
snug and as sunny a little port as ever a
mariner could desire, and so picturesque
that I know not where you would find a

A row of multi-coloured boats are drawn
up on to the beach, in front of which is a
little piazza, planted with acacias. On one
side of this square are the porticoes (indis-
pensable to every Italian town) where the
lace-makers, during the hot days of summer,
sit plying their bobbins with marvellous
rapidity, and the old boatmen seek shade and
repose. Then comes the graceful curve of
the narrower of the two quays, bordered by
houses with pink and yellow facades and
green shutters. Seen from an open space
opposite the church of San Giorgio, which
stands on the high ground of the peninsula,
overlooking, on the one hand, the harbour,
and on the other, the open sea, this piazza,
and above it the green hillside, these portici,
these fishermen's houses, bathed in sunlight,

18 (2230)

274 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

and their reflections in the usually still
water of the harbour, form a picture of
incomparable beauty.

Landscape beauty is not limited, however,
to this one little nook of the peninsula of
Portofino. If you follow the pathways which
wind up and down among the olives that
cover the hills on all sides, you cannot fail
to discover many charming and unexpected
points of view. There is one walk which is
obligatory. It takes you, skirting the
grounds of the Castle of Portofino and the
gardens of the fine villas which occupy all
the most favourable positions on the sheltered
side of the peninsula, to the far end of the
promontory. There, high above the sea a
lovely turquoise blue, save where it churns
itself into foam against the base of the cliffs
you have, in one direction, an uninterrupted
vista of water and sky, in another a view of
the distant Bay of Rapallo, with the dark
forms of maritime pines overhanging the sea
in the foreground, and in the distance the
hills above the coast, which throughout the
day, owing to varying effects of light, is ever
changing in aspect. The poet and the painter
could find no more ideal spot than this pine-
clad point to sit and watch the rising and

Portofino and Neighbourhood 275

setting of the sun, the marvellous cloud-
effects which make the sky a never- tiring pic-
ture from morning until night, and the curious
changes which are wrought by light and
shadow on the surface of the sea.

Though Portofino possesses a castello, with
stout towers of decidedly warlike aspect, I
can hardly picture it as a scene of strife. Has
its quiet ever been disturbed by war's alarms ?
... I know not ; and I shall not seek to
discover if its history has been one of battle-
cries and bloodshed. Let us think of it as
solely a place of gentle deeds, a spot off the
beaten track which has escaped the turmoil
of history, a welcome haven of refuge ; as it
was, indeed, to Maria de' Medici, when rough
weather whilst on her way to France to
marry Henry IV obliged her to put into
the port and stop several days there.

The fact that Portofino is a great centre
for the making of lace emphasises this idea
of its gentleness. The women and girls of
the entire district, including S. Margherita
and Rapallo, devote themselves to this indus-
try, but it is at Portofino that you see it
carried on on the most extensive scale.
This artistic occupation adds in no small
measure to the picturesqueness of the village.

276 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Under the arches of the porticoes and at many
of the street doors the workers from little
girls of six to wrinkled dames of seventy
sit in front of the three-legged stands which
support the pillows on which their work is
produced, and on all sides you hear the click
of their wooden bobbins. To an uninitiated
onlooker, the dexterity of the more accom-
plished workers seems magical : he marvels
at the rapidity with which the bobbins fly from
side to side of the complicated pattern, at
the unerring exactitude with which just the
right ones are selected, and wonders that the
innumerable threads never become entangled
amidst such a forest of pins. During the
season for visitors, the streets are hung with
lace ; stalls, bearing every article of feminine
adornment that can be made on a tombola, are
erected on the piazza and at all the points
where prospective buyers are likely to pass ;
so that how to get by without stopping to
admire and purchase becomes a most difficult
problem. The fair young lace-makers invite
you with such pleasant smiles and in so sweet
a voice " merely to look " that it seems
unmannerly to hasten away without accepting
the invitation, and when you find that the
price of their beautiful work is less than would

Portofino and Neighbourhood 277

satisfy the most unskilled of city toilers, you
rarely resist the temptation to buy lace
collars and handkerchiefs for your friends
across the seas.

Three principal kinds of lace are now made
at Portofino : antique, Byzantine, and
Venetian. The first original Portofino point
somewhat resembles torchon in appearance,
and is very effective when employed for large
pieces, such as scarves, blouses, coats, and
table-covers. Byzantine, which is rather
closer in design, has a characteristic raised
knot which distinguishes it from any other
lace of the neighbourhood ; whilst Venetian,
as its name implies, recalls the well-known
Venetian point. It is a charming pattern of
complicated scrolls united by fine bars, and
is equally suitable for an entire lace coat or
a delicate lace handkerchief. Of the three,
it is much the longest to execute, and is a
pattern which only the older and more
experienced workers seem able to undertake.
The little children of Portofino make much
narrow edging and insertion, all partaking
somewhat of the character of torchon, and
a good deal of guipure, largely employed for
the trimming of household linen, is also
produced by young girls.

278 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

Portofino is the terminus of a very good
road which winds along the coast to Rapallo
by way of Santa Margherita Ligure, passing
many points of exceptional beauty and
historic interest. With a rocky hillside above
and precipitous descents into the sea below,
you quickly come within sight of the little
bay and castle of Paraggi, which, standing on
an eminence above the sea, has been trans-
formed by its fortunate owner into a most
charming villa. The road cuts through the
rock at the base of this residence, passes
beneath the wooded heights on which the
Convent of Cervara is built, and then gradu-
ally descends to Santa Margherita. The
Convent of Cervara was founded in 1324 by
Guido Scetten, Archbishop of Genoa, and is
noteworthy as having been the temporary
resting-place of two distinguished persons :
Pope Gregory XI, in 1376, whilst on his way
from Avignon to Rome, and Francis I, who
was imprisoned there in 1525, after the Battle
of Pavia. It was formerly occupied by
Benedictine monks, but is now inhabited by
some of the Carthusians who were forced to
leave La Grande Chartreuse, in France.
Between Santa Margherita and Rapallo there
are again some steep ascents and descents,

Lace-makers, Portofino

Portofino and Neighbourhood 279

past roadside shrines, rocky cliffs with pine-
trees overhanging the sea, and hillsides
covered with olives, amidst whose gray-green
foliage there rises, here and there, the tall
and slender dark green forms of cypresses.
At Pagana, a little below the level of the road,
stands the church of San Michele, which is
worth visiting on account of a picture by
Vandyck representing the Crucifixion. As
so often happens when works of art are
entrusted to the care of ecclesiastical authori-
ties, this painting has been shamefully ill-
treated : it has been burnt in parts by altar
candles, and, when I saw it, was disfigured by
spots of grease. It bears traces, too, of
having been restored by an unskilled hand.
However, the work is decidedly interesting,
especially when we know that its history can
be traced back to the days when Vandyck
visited and worked in these parts.

Either Santa Margherita or Rapallo will be
found to be an excellent centre for excursions
in this part of Liguria. Both are well-shel-
tered resorts, on the shores of most agreeable
gulfs, and the fact that they are crowded,
during the season, with tourists and con-
valescents testifies not only to their interest
but also to their climatic advantages. Eleven

280 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

years ago Rapallo was almost entirely English,
but German visitors now predominate, and
the demand for accommodation, as shown by
the building of fresh villas and hotels, is ever
on the increase.

Santa Margherita was the birthplace of
the celebrated wood-carver Maragliano, and
in the church of San Giacomo di Corte, on
the hillside above the town, is an exquisite
example of his work : a statue of the Madonna
with six cupids at her feet, three on the right
and three on the left. She is represented
on a throne, her arms outspread, and her face
and eyes, full of tenderness, raised towards
heaven. This masterpiece is stored away
for the greater part of the year within a glazed
recess, high up in a side chapel ; but once
a year on Good Friday it is brought forth
and carried through the sunny streets of
Santa Margherita. Its beauty can then be
admired, though one's pleasure in looking on
Maragliano' s work is somewhat marred by
the strings of paltry silver hearts which are
suspended from the Virgin's hands a
hideous addition which the sculptor
undoubtedly never foresaw.

There is another piece of sculpture which
every one who goes to this little coast town

Portofino and Neighbourhood 281

should see. It likewise represents the
Madonna, but carved in stone, and with a
child upon her knee a work of the Byzantine
period, very primitive in execution, yet
wonderfully life-like. Time and the stones of
the mischievous small boys of Santa Mar-
gherita have much damaged this curious work
in parts, so the space in which it stands, at
the angle of a wall near a chapel, above the
ruins of an ancient fort, has been carefully
enclosed with stout wire-netting.

The principal occupation of the women and
girls of Santa Margherita is the making of
lace ; whilst that of the men' from about
the end of May to the beginning of October-
is coral fishing. The greater part of the
male population set sail in the former month
for the coasts of Sardinia and Barbary, and
often return with valuable cargoes on board
their little vessels, known as coralline. But
their work is extremely fatiguing, since it is
continued, with only brief intervals for rest,
throughout both the night and the day.
The apparatus for coral fishing consists of a
strong windlass placed at the stern of the
vessel and furnished with a long rope, at the
end of which is a heavy wooden cross, with
an attachment of particularly stout nets.

282 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

This cross is sunk to the bottom of the sea
by means of a large stone ; the signal to start
is given by the owner of the boat ; and, as it
slowly travels along, either by means of its
sails or its oars, branches of coral are detached
from the coral-banks by the nets and become
entangled in the meshes. When the master
of the vessel considers that the " catch " is
sufficiently good, he gives orders for the boat
to stop, and the nets are carefully drawn to
the surface. This part of the work of the
coral fishers is often a long and arduous
operation, for the nets are often sunk to a
depth of more than two hundred metres.
On the coral being landed it is superficially
cleaned, and then packed in the boxes in
which it is sent to Genoa, where a speciality
is made of polishing and mounting it.

The streets of Rapallo have now almost
entirely lost that primitive picturesqueness
which was once their characteristic. The
only really interesting portion of the old
town that remains is an ancient gateway
and shrine, at the end of a street leading on
to the promenade. But facing the Langan, as
the little port is called, there is a very fine
thirteenth century castle, which was built
to protect the town against the Saracens,


Portofino and Neighbourhood 283

who here, as elsewhere, were very trouble-
some up to as late as the middle of the
sixteenth century. On the night of the
6th of July, 1549, Dragutte and his fierce
followers suddenly landed on the beach, took
the castle by storm, sacked the houses of the
entire district, and carried off a large number
of prisoners. Near the mouth of the Bogo
torrent, on the outskirts of the town, there
is also another monument of the past : an
arch of a Roman bridge. So these two
antiquities to a certain extent make up for
the modernness of Rapallo.

Rapallo's principal feature consists of its
natural beauties. Many delightful walks can
be made in the district. Two, in particular,
are to be recommended. The first, which
will take you a little over half-an-hour, is
to the ruins of the Gothic monastery of the
Val di Cristo, near the village of Sant' Anna.
This monastery, whose chief architectural
interest lies in its ivy-covered tower, and
which is now surrounded by cottages and
farms, dates from 1204. It was first inhabited
by sisters of the Cistercian Order, then by
those of Clarisse, and was suppressed in the
sixteenth century. But the longer excursion
to the sanctuary church of Montallegro (it

284 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

will take a good walker nearly two hours) is
by far the more interesting. This sanctuary,
standing at a height of over eighteen hundred
feet to the north-east of Rapallo, was founded
in 1557, and, as in the case of similar places
of pilgrimage, the miraculous picture and
holy spring play their part in its history.
There are, however, two versions of the story,
consequently its effect is somewhat spoiled.
It was neither the church nor its story,
however, which took us up the long,
winding mule-path which leads to the
Sanctuary of Montallegro these were but
the pretext for getting on to the mountains
to admire the views of Rapallo and the
Tigulian Gulf. Both the route and the views
which it affords are, indeed, exceedingly
picturesque. At its lower level, it winds past
the luxurious gardens of many fine villas
past olive trees and cypresses past the
beautiful little chapel of San Bartholomeo,
and rustic cottages with bee gardens, the hives
of one of which were made, we noticed, out
of logs of wood. As it reaches higher ground,
it passes through ancient oak-groves : mag-
nificent old trees with gnarled trunks and
twisted branches, through the foliage of
which, when you stop to look back, you see

Portofino and Neighbourhood 285

Rapallo stretched out on its fertile plain,
beyond the distant houses of Santa Mar-
gherita, with the white sails of its fishing-
boats in the bay, and, still further in the
distance, the dim outline of the Peninsula of

The Castle of Rapallo

The River Entella



THE Antiquary, almost all the way from
Rapallo to Sestri Levante, quoted Dante.
The Divine Comedy, he said, was the best
of all guide books to this portion of the coast ;
the rocky cliffs, rising high above the sea,
their narrow, dangerous paths, which few
could follow without trembling, and in
striking contrast to these the lovely banks
of the placid Entella were the best of all
commentaries on the work of the great poet.
His duty as a Ligurian, proud of his province
and proud of the fact that Dante had found
inspiration there, was to proclaim these


At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 287

truths, in the hope that travellers would be
induced to study their Divina Commedia in
this new and important light.

Intra Siestri e Chiaveri si adima

Una fiumana bella, e'del suo nome

Lo titol del mio sangue fa sua cima, 1

cited my friend, as we stepped along the road,
and the caressing manner in which he lingered
on the words showed how much he loved his
national poet. This " beautiful river," flow-
ing between Sestri and Chiaveri, was the
Lavagna, or, as it is also called, the Entella,
and the family which took its title from it was
that of the Fieschis, the powerful Counts of
Lavagna, who ruled over this part of Liguria
during the Middle Ages, and with whom
Dante's friend, Moroello Malaspina, was con-
nected by marriage. The passage occurs in
Canto XIX of the Purgatory ; that in which
the poet describes his ascent with Virgil to
the fifth cornice, where the sin of avarice is
cleansed, and where he finds Pope Adrian V
(Cardinal Ottobuono Fieschi), who addresses
him on the subject of his covetousness and
his conversion, and, in addition to speaking

1 "... the name

And title of my lineage, from that stream
That 'twixt Chiaveri and Sestri draws
His limpid waters through the lowly glen.

(Gary's translation.)

288 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

of the Lavagna, refers to his niece, the wife
of Moroello Malaspina, in the following
words :

I have on earth a kinswoman ; her name
Alagia, worthy in herself, so ill
Example of our house corrupt her not :
And she is all remaineth of me there. x

We spent many hours on the banks of the
Entella, reading and discussing Dante (for
the Antiquary was never without his pocket
edition of the poet), trying to realise what the
places and scenes through which we were
passing were like in his day, and recalling the
history of the Fieschis. This picturesque
river, which forms the boundary line between
Chiavari and Lavagna, is formed by the union
of three streams : the torrent of the Lavagna
valley, which flows for a distance of twenty
kilometres ; the Sturla, which descends from
the Borsonasco and other groups of moun-
tains ; and the little Graveglia. The juncture
takes place near Carasco, and thence the
Entella, along a broad and fairly flat bed,
bordered by trees, which are charmingly
reflected in its clear waters, proceeds almost

1 " Nepote a io di la ch'a nome Alagia,

Buona da se, pur che la nostra casa
Non faccia lei per esemplo malvagia ;
E questa sola di la m'e rimasa.

At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 289

in a straight line towards the sea. It can
have changed little in its aspect since the
days when Dante gazed upon its simple and
touching beauties. In some respects, too,
both Chiavari and Lavagna are the same as
they were in the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries. The latter takes its name from
the slate quarries which abound at Monte
San Giacomo, in the neighbourhood. These
quarries, which provide work for quite five
hundred hands, including nearly two hundred
women, who, in groups of four to six, carry
the heavy slabs of stone upon their heads^
not only from the stone-yards facing the beach
down to the boats, but all the way from where
the slate is extracted, are known among the
people of the district as chiappe a word
which Dante uses in the Divine Comedy, a
striking proof of the fact that he was
acquainted with even purely local details.

Walking along the left bank of the river
towards the Ponte della Maddalena, we were
not long in coming to the little village of San
Salvatore, lying on the slope of a hill. A
little away from the houses, and on fairly
high ground, we found two splendid reminders
of Dante and the Fieschis : a Gothic basilica,

and, separated from it by a little grass-grown

19 (2230)

290 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

piazza, the remains of a thirteenth century
palace, with a fa$ade of white marble and
Lavagna stone, arranged alternately. The
church has a magnificent rose window, a
tower with most exquisitely carved windows,
and its striped front clearly denotes its
aristocratic origin. Above the doorway if
memory speaks truly its history is recorded.
It was founded in 1244 by the great Pope
Innocent IV, who, as we know, was a
Fieschi, and was completed in 1252 by his
nephew, Cardinal Ottobuono, who, twenty-
four years later, was himself to become
" Rome's pastor," and discover that until
then he was, as Dante makes him say,
a soul in misery ?

.... alienate
From God, and covetous of all earthly things.

The house facing the church is part of one
of the numerous residences which the mem-
bers of this great family built in this district.
The Counts of Lavagna had jurisdiction in
the Middle Ages over all the places along the
coast from Sestri to Rapallo, and as far
into the mountains as Varese Ligure. Above
San Salvatore stood their Castle of Caloso,
and until 1198, when, in consequence of
having broken their agreements with the

At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 291

Genoese, they were forced to cede Lavagna
to the Commune, they were the sole masters
on the banks of the Entella. They con-
tinued to prosper, however, until 1547, the
year in which Gian Luigi Fieschi undertook
his unfortunate conspiracy against the
Republic. The decadence of the family,
which became divided into two branches
the Fieschis of Lavagna, and those of
Savignoni dates from that time.

Sestri Levante, the first place which Dante
deemed worthy of mention after he had left
the Valdimagra, stands in a beautiful situation
on the plain at the mouth of the Gromolo
torrent and on the narrow strip of land which
joins this fertile district of orange groves and
vineyards to the rocky, mountainous pro-
montory known as the Isola. x With its
pink, white, and lemon-coloured houses fol-
lowing the graceful bend of the sandy beach ;
its multicoloured fishing-boats arranged in a
line along the sands ; its beautiful public
garden, containing palms, yuccas, magnolias,

1 The natural beauties of Sestri Levante were especially
admired by Byron and the German poet Paul Heyse.
The latter, who visited Sestri for the first time in 1862,
writes most enthusiastically of the Villa Piuma and the
Isola, where he was happy to find a brother poet in the
person of Monsignore Vincenzo Podesta.

292 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

oleanders, and pepper-trees, Sestri is a place,
either during the winter or the summer season,
for a fairly prolonged sojourn. The character
of the coast scenery is similar to that in the
neighbourhood of Rapallo and Portofino.
Of the numerous beautiful walks which can
be made in the district, there are two which
every visitor considers it a primary duty to
take ere he or she has been there many
hours. One is to the grounds of the Villa
Piuma, situated on the highest part of the
Isola, around the base of the ruins of the
castle which the Republic of Genoa built
there in 1134, with the consent of the monks
of San Fruttuoso, who held rights over this
portion of the promontory ; the other is
along a mule-path which starts from the
main street of the town and, following the
coast to the east, reaches a point, high above
the sea and clad with maritime pines, where
a fine view of the Isola and the distant coast-
line, as far as the Peninsula of Portofino, can
be obtained.

On reaching Sestri, our way no longer lay
along the carriage road to Spezzia. Though
this would have been the more direct route
to the point where our travels in Liguria
were to end, we decided, since it passed

At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 293

through a rather deserted district, to proceed
inland to Varese Ligure, over the Colle di
Velva (1,635 feet), thence to Borgotaro, by
way of the Colle di Centocroci (3,160 feet),
and to descend to Spezzia by the valleys of
the Taro and the Magra. The deviation is
one which can be recommended not only to
the lover of mountain scenery, but also to
the geologist and mineralogist, who will find
many things to interest them in these valleys.
The serpentine formation of the rocks can
be admirably studied there, as well as to the
east of Sestri Levante, and whilst on your
way to Varese you pass through the district
of the copper mines of the Eastern Riviera.
These mines the Libiola, the Gallinaria, the
Bargone, and others produced, in 1903,
7,621 tons of copper, valued at nearly 13,000.
Some of the ore is smelted at the works
of the Societa Ligure Ramifera at Bargonasco,
at the confluence of the Petronia and Bargone
torrents, about four miles from Sestri Levante.
There are also manganese mines at Tre
Monti and Gambatesa ; and in the Valle-
grande ravine, near Bargonasco, in an
abandoned gallery, the rare mineral called
datolite has been found.

Ere reaching the Colle di Velva, where you

294 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

begin to descend into the valley of the Vara,
you pass three picturesque mountain villages
Castiglione Chiavarese, Missano, and Velva
each sunning itself on the slope of a hill.
But there is no special inducement to linger
by the way. The historical interest which is
centred in Varese Ligure makes you keen to
cover the thirty-three kilometres of winding
roadway that separates it from the coast ;
and, as you will find, it is a wise plan to have
as much time as possible to spend at this
half-way-house between Sestri and Borgotaro.
Varese, which as a summer resort (its
altitude is a little over a thousand feet) bears
the same relation to Sestri as Torriglia does
to Genoa, is a very ancient town on the
banks of the Vara. It was formerly one of
the strongholds of the Fieschis, and as such
was strongly fortified with walls, moats, and
a castle. The last named, which was built
by a celebrated condottiere named Nicolo
Piccinino in 1440, is all that now remains of
these defences. The old town was circular
in form, with the castle, in all probability,
in the centre, and some of the houses and a
portion of the circular portici of this mediaeval
borgo y which was governed by its own statutes,
are still standing behind the two ruined


At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 295

towers of the castello. There is also a very
old and picturesque bridge over the Vara,
and at one end let into the wall, is a bas-
relief which is, perhaps, the oldest thing in
Varese. This curious carving an example of
very early Christian art bears a rude repre-
sentation of five human figures. Those in
the centre are clearly meant to be Mary and
Christ, since the head of the former is sur-
mounted by a crown, whilst a dove, the Holy
Ghost, is flying towards her ; the Crucifixion
is represented on the right, and the figure
next to the Virgin is probably meant to be
Joseph. But I am at a loss to say who is
indicated by the remaining figure, with what
appears to be a scythe suspended over his
head, unless this symbol represents Death ?
Opposite the castle is a building which few
visitors to Varese Ligure fail to visit, though
it is neither art nor architecture which
attracts them there. It is a church with
two fine bell-towers and a very high cupola
the church of the nuns of San Filippo Neri,
an order following the rules of Saint Augus-
tine. Ignorant of the strict regulations which
govern the lives of the inmates of this monas-
tery, I sought to inspect that part of the
establishment where, for the benefit of the

296 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

poor of the district, these holy women carry
on a very interesting industry : that of
drying mushrooms and making confectionery.
But I found that this was impossible ; no
human being, save a priest to hear confessions
and a doctor to give medical advice, ever puts
his or her foot across the threshold of those
sacred precincts. You can enter a little
vestibule and talk with one of the nuns who
stands behind a revolving apparatus with
shelves, but look upon her face you cannot ;
you can step into an adjoining waiting-room
and sample the confectionery, which will be
brought to you by an attendant, who herself
has never seen any of the sisters of this
convent ; and if you are satisfied with their
wares, you can give your order and shortly
receive, at the above-named revolving counter,
a neatly made up parcel of sweetmeats, made
of almond paste and fashioned in the form
of fruit, flowers, and fishes, each with its
appropriate colouring. Similarly, you can
purchase samples of the dried fungi which
the nuns of San Filippo Neri export to all
parts of the world. But there your powers
end, for once these women have taken their
final vows, after having paid the entrance fee
of 3,000 lire and spent their year's novitiate,

At Sestri Levante and Varese Ligure 297

they are invisible to all save the two
people I have named. Some fifty years ago,
this community of sisters possessed a capital
of 30,908 lire, producing an income of 1,431
lire. Both must now be very much larger,
so the poor of Varese Ligure and neighbour-
hood may consider themselves extremely
fortunate. Though it is difficult to obtain
any definite information, it is said that
these Augustinian nuns live very happy and
healthy lives, and when, from the slopes of
the surrounding hills, one looks down upon
their beautiful and extensive garden, whose
produce they also sell, one can readily
believe it.

The Colle di Centocroci, or Hill of the
Hundred Crosses, over which you have to
pass when travelling from Varese to Borgo-
taro, is over three thousand feet in height.
Situated between the valley of the Vara and
that of the Taro, it forms a pass of the
Apennines which was formerly the sole com-
mercial route between the Principality of
Parma and the sea. The ancient Parmesan
custom-house, now transformed into an inn
where comfortable accommodation can be
obtained during the summer months, is still
there to remind us of this period. The name

298 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

of the Colle, too, carries our minds back to
the days when thousands of bales of mer-
chandise were annually transported on the
backs of mules over this hill into Liguria.
According to local tradition, a band of
robbers, disguised as monks, used to attack
and murder the muleteers, or other travellers,
and from the large number of crosses which
were raised on the mountain to the memory
of these victims it ultimately took its name.

Early Christian art at Varese Ligure

The Bay of Spezzia from the hill above Portovenere



BORGOTARO is an ancient, fortified town on
the left bank of the River Taro. It was once
a feudal possession of the Fieschi family,
who struck money there, and, like many
another old place off the beaten track, it still
retains that ineffable charm which we associate


300 Wanderings on the Italian Riviera

with strongholds in the hills, picturesque
castles, and powerful families. Facing the
town's little piazza is the castle, now the
town hall, making a fine show with its
painted front. Near by, on the same square,
is a monument in honour of the visit of
Elizabeth Farnese in 1714, when she passed
through Borgotaro on her way to Spain to
become the wife of Philip V. And in the
main street is a fine old mansion, with
imposing stucco ornamentations, and the
arms of the Farnesi and Bourbons. But no
one goes to Borgotaro specially to see these
antiquities. Travellers who find their way
there look at them merely en passant, gene-
rally whilst making the town a centre and
an excellent centre it is for excursions into
the mountains.

To us, Borgotaro was but a stopping place
on our way to the valley of the Magra, which,
since it marks the eastern limits of Liguria,
we proposed to follow nearly as far as the
sea. We made our first acquaintance with
the famous stream at Pontremoli, which we
reached after a good four hours' tramp.
Rising in Monte Orsaro, the Magra, in its
course of forty-seven miles to Cape Corvo,
assumes the most noble proportions, and I

From Borgotaro to Spezzia and Beyond 301

know no pleasanter occupation than to follow
such a river from source to debouchure, and
to note its gradual growth and ever-increasing
diversity of landscape. We saw some of the
principal mountain torrents which mingle
with its waters : the Verde at Pontremoli,
the Capra at Scorcetoli, the Bagnone at
Villafranca in Lunigiana, and the Aulella at
Aulla. In summer its broad bed is so dry
that the thrifty people of Pontremoli convert
a portion into kitchen gardens. It is a case
of first come, first served, and each small-
holder encloses his square of land with a
roughly-constructed wall of boulders. But
when winter and the rainy season comes, the
Magra demands ample elbow-room, and
everything is quickly swept away.

Castles and ancient buildings are numerous
in the historic valley of the Magra. There is
an interesting castello at Pontremoli, now
partly occupied by the inhabitants of that
remarkably picturesque town, and at SS.
Annunziata, a suburb, a fine church and
convent, built in 1471, and formerly occupied
by Agostinian monks. This is another of
the districts, by the by, which is associated
with Dante ; not many miles away is Mulazzo,
where the Malaspinas received the poet after
his banishment from Florence in 1306. l
Mulazzo and Villafranca in Lunigiana were
two of the favourite places of residence of the
Malaspinas, and at the latter place one of
their castles is still standing. The district is
still inhabited by descendants of this noble
house, but their power has long since departed,
and you find them now working as millers,
carpenters, and common labourers. There is
also an ancient castle at Terrarossa, and
another, known as La Brunella, at Aulla,
which dates from 1543.

Spezzia is the great naval base of northern
Italy. Militarism is the dominant note of its
streets, its incomparable harbour, and the
surrounding circle of hills. Its gardens and
shady avenues are ever crowded with smartly-
dressed officers and blue-jackets. Pyramids
of shells are on the quays, and long rows of
torpedo boats are moored alongside. Out in
the bay blue-gray ironclads ride at anchor
and are continually reminding you that noth-
ing would be easier than to crush you out of

(1 See Canto VIII of Purgatory, in which Conrad Malaspina predicts Dante's future banishment. The Divina
Commddia contains other references to members of this
great family who " once were mighty in Valdimagra " :
to Alagia de' Fieschi Malaspina, Purgatory XIX ; and to
Moroello Malaspina, Inferno XXIV.
existence. As you pass in row boat or
steamer, on one of your inoffensive excursions
in search of the picturesque, there is a sudden
flash from one of the big guns pointed, as
it happens, straight towards you- the sea-
birds wheel away with terrified screams, the
echoes are awakened, and you bless your
stars that only blank cartridge is being used.
A grim circle of forts, constructed in 1888, are
visible on the high hills, and there is hardly
a creek which has not been provided with
bastions and cannon.

Notwithstanding this blemish, which did
not exist in the days when Byron and Shelley
sojourned in the district, Spezzia is a very
brisk and pleasant little town. As a centre for
excursions into the country it could not be
improved upon. One of our most memor-
able outings was to the Cinque Terre : Monte-
rosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola,
and Riomaggiore, five ancient villages pent
in between the sea and the rocky coast which
in the twelfth century were banded together
and gained a reputation for robbing anyone
who passed that way. With their castles,
steep, crooked streets, and terraced, vine -clad
hill-sides, they are ideal spots for the painter
and photographer. All are celebrated
for their wines, especially Riomaggiore
which produces a vino bianco of exquisite
bouquet, and Corniglia, whose vino vernaccia
is mentioned both by Boccaccio and Dante. 1
Portovenere, a village in a magnificent
position on the western point of the gulf, and
separated from the Isle of Palmaria by a
narrow strip of water, is reached either by
road or steamer. No visitor to Spezzia ever
fails to feast his or her eyes on the beauties
of ancient Portus Veneris. Tall, irregular,
weather-beaten houses rise high above the
sea. On the hill above stands the ruins of a
twelfth century castle, and here and there,
in the village and on the hill-side, are the
remains of the fortifications which defended
the place when, as an inscription over the
entrance tells us (" Colonia Januensium
1113"), it was a Genoese colony. Porto-
venere and Palmaria are celebrated for a
very beautiful marble, generally black, veined
with yellow, and known as Portoro. The

("Ebbe la Santa Chiesa in le sue braccia:
Dal Torso fu, e purga per digiuno
L'anguille di Bolsena e la vernaccia."
---- Purgatorio, Canto XXIV, 22-24.)

Had keep of the Church ; he was of Tours,
And purges by wan abstinence away
Bolsena 's eels and cups of muscadel.
marble quarries here are the only important
ones in the whole of Liguria, and are, therefore,
well worth seeing. Those of Palmaria are
the most convenient to visit, since they can
be seen whilst making an excursion by boat
to the Caverna dei Colombi, a sea-swept
cavern on the island where human bones
and utensils of the stone age have been found.
There is another cavern, or grotto, at Porto-
venere, which the small boys of the place
are very eager to point out to English visitors
as the spot where Byron landed when he
swam over from Lerici. But we were not
to be tempted by their offers as guides, for
we knew that, though the poet undoubtedly
frequented Portovenere, there was no
foundation for this legend.

On leaving Spezzia I took the steamer, in
company with my friend, to Lerici. As the
little vessel slowed down and entered the
harbour, the Antiquary was ready with an
appropriate quotation from his favourite poet.

The most remote,

Most wild, untrodden path, in all the tract
'Twixt Lerici and Turbia, were to this
A ladder easy and open of access, x


"Tra Lerici e Turbia, la piu diserta,
La piu romita via e une scala,
Verso di quella, agevole ed aperta."
----- Purgatorio, III, 49-51.

sings Dante, in describing the steepness of
the mountain of Purgatory, at the foot of
which he and Virgil halt, ere a troop of
spirits show them the easiest ascent.

But we have no need to go to the Divina
Commedia to prove the antiquity of Lerici.
Without going back as far as Hercules, who,
according to an ancient legend, was its
founder, it is evident that Lerici and its
picturesque castle, perched on a little head-
land, at whose base the village nestles, were
of importance long before Dante's day. Old
though the present castle is and it was
founded by the Genoese some time between
1174 and 1241 it was preceded by a still
older one, owned by the .Malaspinas. Count-
ing for much in the balance as a military
position, it was much coveted, during the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by the
rival powers of Genoa and Pisa. Between
1241 and 1256 it was in the hands of the
Pisans, who considerably strengthened the
work of their predecessors. But they were
not content with this victory alone : they
insulted the Genoese and their other enemies,
the people of Portovenere and Lucca, by
carving the following lines between two of
the towers :

Scopa boca al Zenoese
Crepacuore al Portovenerese
Strappa borsello al Lucchese

an inscription which, perhaps, would have
been hardly noteworthy but for the fact that
it was the first one in the common tongue to
be inscribed on marble. The Genoese, how-
ever, had their revenge ; they recaptured the
castle, considerably added to it, and, later,
made the Pisans pay dearly for their insolence.
From 1477 to 1562 it was in the possession
of the Officio di San Giorgio. l

But these historical memories were, in my
case, at any rate, a little overshadowed by
other recollections. Whilst lending an ear to
the tale which was spun from my friend's
well-stored mind, and admiring the charming
picture formed by the castle, the tall, har-
moniously coloured houses stretched along
the quays, and the reflections of the sailing
boats in the still waters of the harbour, I
could not forget that, at but a short distance
away, on the other side of the little bay which
the castles of Lerici and San Terenzo guarded
so well in former days, was an attraction
which to an Englishman made the strongest
of appeals. Who, indeed, could fail to be
drawn towards the Casa Magni and to be
moved by the story of the last days of
Shelley ? What story, in the whole range
of modern literature, is more touching or
more dramatic ?

The Casa Magni, which the inhabitants of San Terenzo now call the Villa Maccarani, is one of the first houses to which you come on
walking along the coast from Lerici. With
the exception of one or two unimportant
architectural details, and a few changes
which time has wrought in its surroundings, l
the Casa Magni bears the same appearance
to-day as on that 1st of May, 1822, when
Mary Shelley, the poet, and their friends took

(1 Comparison between a modern photograph of the house
and Captain D. Roberts' sketch, published in E. J. Tre-
lawny's Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron
(Edward Moxon, 1858) make the architectural changes
clear. As to its changed surroundings, my authority is
Mantegazza, who, in his description of the original appear-
ance of the building, refers to it as " une casa antica, rozza,
coi piedi nel mare e colle spalle difese da un monte sempre
verde di pini e di lecci " " a rude and ancient house, with
its feet in the sea and its back defended by a hill, which
was ever green with pines and oaks." This well-known
Italian writer, who did much towards making Shelley's
greatness known to his countrymen, was, I understand,
the one who composed the inscription on the white marble
tablet which is fixed above the entrance to the Casa Magni'
an inscription which speaks of the portico being formerly
within " the ancient shade of a green oak."
possession of it. The green oak which shaded
its portico has disappeared and, through the
making of the coast road, its base is no longer
precipitous to the sea. But its broad terrace
or verandah, with five arches in front and
one at each end a terrace running the whole
length of the house is the same as when
Trelawny and Williams chose it as. a summer
residence for the Shelleys. The windows of
Mary's and Shelley's rooms looked out, and
still look out, upon this terrace, on to which,
says Professor Dowden in his Life of Shelley,
"an occupant of the dining-hall could step
out and in a moment stand in the presence
of a landscape and sea view of unimaginable
loveliness." The Casa Magni then consisted
of a ground floor and one storey. " Two stair-
cases, one public, the other intended for a
private staircase, led to the large dining-hall,
off which to the rear was Mrs. Williams's bed-
room ; while the seaward rooms, occupied by
Mary and Shelley, faced each other on oppo-
site sides of the central hall." l Judging by
Trelawny 's account of his visit to the house
after the tragedy, it can have been anything
but a prepossessing residence when the tenants
took possession. " I arrived early at Lerici/'
(1 Dowden, loc. cit.)
he says, " and determined to sleep there, and
finish my journey to Genoa on the following
day. In the evening I walked to the Villa
Magni. . . I walked in. Shelley's shattered
skiff . . . was still there : in that little flat-
bottomed boat he had written many beautiful
things :

'Our boat is asleep on Serchio's stream,
The sails are furled like thoughts in a dream ..."

And here it was, sleeping still on the mud floor,
with its mast and oars broken. I mounted
the stairs, or rather ladder, into the dining-
room they had lived in. . . . As I surveyed its
splatchy-walls, broken floor, cracked ceiling,
and poverty-struck appearance, while I noted
the loneliness of the situation, and remem-
bered the fury of the waves that in blowing
weather lashed its walls, I did not marvel at
Mrs. Shelley's and Mrs. Williams' s groans on
first entering it, nor that it had required all
Ned Williams' s persuasive powers to induce
them to stop there. We men had only looked
at the sea and scenery, and would have been
satisfied with a tent. But women look to a
house as their empire. Ladies without a
drawing-room are like pictures without
frames or birds without feathers ; knowing
this, they set to work with a will, and trans-
formed it into a very pleasant abode." 1 In
spite, however, of Mary Shelley's efforts to
make the place homely, her mind was far
from being at ease. " My nerves were wound
up to the utmost irritation, and the sense of
misfortune hung over my spirits," she wrote
to Mrs. Gisborne. " No words can tell you
how I hated our house and the country about
it. Shelley reproached me with this. His
health was good, and the place was quite
after his own heart. What could I answer ?
That the people were wild and hateful ; that
though the country was beautiful, yet I
liked a more countrified place, and that there
was great difficulty in living ; that all our
Tuscans would leave us, and that the very
jargon of these Genoese was disgusting."
Shelley's enthusiasm for the divine bay of
Spezzia, where he spent his time " reading
Spanish dramas, and sailing, and listening to
the most enchanting music," 2 blinded his
eyes to the manifest defects- of the Casa
Magni, Yet he himself was not unaffected
at times by the sense of tragedy which
seemed to hover over the house from the very

(1 Trelawny, loc. cit.)

(2 Letter to Horatio Smith, dated Lerici, June 29, 1822)

first. Only a few days after entering into
occupation, the poet, seizing Williams by
the arm, had a vision of a naked child (Allegra,
the daughter of Claire Clairmont) rising from
the sea and clapping its hands. In the
midst of his boyish delight at the newly-
acquired sailing-boat, the Don Juan, which,
when tried in the bay, passed the smaller
craft "as a comet might pass the dullest
planet of the heavens," x thoughts of death and
the means of avoiding " needless suffering "
were often uppermost in his mind. He
wrote to Trelawny asking him to have the
" great kindness " to procure a small quantity
of prussic acid, adding, " I need not tell you
I have no intention of suicide at present, but
I confess it would be a comfort to me to hold in
my possession that golden key to the chamber
of perpetual rest." 2 Mary's illness at last
resulted in Shelley's delicate nerves being
completely shattered, so that his sleep was
troubled by the most horrible visions the
invasion of the Casa Magni by the sea, the
fall of the house, the occupants' lacerated
bodies, and a vision of himself strangling his
beloved one.

(1 Letter to Trelawny, dated Lerici, May 16, 1822)
(2 Letter from Lerici, dated June 18, 1822)

As we stood, with the sound of the sea in
our ears, and read the inscription l on the
marble tablet above the entrance to the Casa
Magni, relating how " in July, 1822, Mary
Godwin and Jane Williams had waited with
tearful anxiety for Percy Bysshe Shelley,
who, whilst sailing from Leghorn in his frail
boat, had been borne to the silence of the
Elysian islands," how vividly every detail of
the tragedy in which that house had played
its part came home to us ! With the aid of
Trelawny's Recollections, and the fuller,
more accurate, information which, since the
publication of that work, has been brought
to light by Guido Biagi, 2 and other searchers, 3
the picture of the poet's life at San Terenzo
was complete in every particular. We could
imagine we were witnesses of Shelley's and
Williams' s enthusiasm on the arrival of the

(It runs as follows, and a little to the right was sus-
pended a wreath of laurels :

"Da questo portico in cui si abbateva 1'antica ombra di un leccio, il luglio del MDCCXXII Mary Godwin e Jane Williams attesero con lagrimanto ansia


che da Liverno su fragil legno veleggiando era approdato per improvisa fortuna ai
silenzii de le isole elisei. O benedette spiagge, ove 1'amore. la liberta, i sogni non hanno catene!"

("Gli ultimi Giorni di P. B. Shelley". G. Cioelli, Florence, 1892).

Don Juan ; we could see them testing her
capabilities, and the poet taking his first
lessons in seamanship. The two friends
" were hardly ever out of her, and talked
of the Mediterranean as a lake too confined
and tranquil to exhibit her sea-going excel-
lence. They longed to be on the broad
Atlantic, scudding under bare poles in a
heavy sou'wester, with plenty of sea room." 1
There they were, practising in front of the
house, whilst Mary and Mrs. Williams looked
on from their terrace. The poet, with his
beloved Plato in his hand, was trying to
read and steer at the same time ; and as
the boat, in consequence, became unmanage-
able, Williams was rating him for his neglect
and inattention to orders. 2 A few days
having elapsed, Shelley had become more
skilful. They ventured, now, to take the
Don Juan towards the point on which stands
the Castle of Lerici. Becoming still bolder,
they waved a farewell to their wives and
sailed away to the Punta del Corvo, or to
the Isle of Palmaria and Portovenere, or to
Spezzia, which was then a place of little
importance. And thus did Shelley, under
Williams' s guidance, serve his apprenticeship
to the element which was so soon to claim
him as its own.

It was not without warning that Shelley,
on that stormy 8th of July, when he and
Williams and a sailor boy set sail from
Leghorn in answer to a letter from Mrs.
Shelley, recalling them to the Casa Magni,
went to his death. Many a time, as an old
priest of San Terenzo, named De Marchis,
related to Mantegazza, did the sailors of the
district warn the poet not to venture out in
the Don Juan when the Mediterranean was
in a treacherous mood. 1 But, in the same
spirit which prompted him never to learn to
swim, he took no heed of advice. Surely no
one was ever more indifferent to death than
he ; no man more fearless. It is possible
that even up to his last moment he was
wholly careless as to his perilous position.
For was not a copy of Keats' s Hyperion,
" doubled back, as if the reader, in the act of
reading had hastily thrust it aside," found
in his breast pocket when Trelawny discovered
the poet's mutilated remains near Viareggio?

Trelawny, by the by, is not very clear in his indications
as to the place where Shelley's body was burnt, and there is
every reason to believe that, in his description of the ceremony,
I know not the history of the Casa Magni
immediately after the disaster. But if Tre-
lawny's story of its deserted state be correct
and he speaks of the ground-floor having
neither door nor window it must then have
fallen upon evil days. Later, when Shelley's
genius began to be more fully realised, and
the house became a place of pilgrimage, a
change for the better took place. From
1845 to 1878 it was occupied by Colonel Cross,
and in 1855 repairs were undertaken. The
road, which now prevents the sea from
dashing, as in former days, against its
verandah, was constructed in 1888. On the
occasion of our visit in 1910 the Casa Magni
gave us the impression of being in a neglected
condition. But not long did it remain so,
for on January 4th, 1911, it came into the
possession of a lover of letters, Signer Alberto
Civita, of Florence, who immediately saw to
the necessary repairs being done. He has
faithfully maintained, as he informs me, the
decorative lines of the facade and the large

he sacrificed truth for the sake of dramatic effect. Guido
Biagi (loc. cit.) has succeeded, after a searching inquiry,
in settling this disputed point in literary history. He
proves that the poet's remains were cremated on that
part of the shore which lies between the Vittorio Emanuele
naval hospital and the Pineta, or pine-wood, and at a spot
about two hundred and fifty yards from the sea.
terrace, as well as the disposition of the
rooms on the first floor those occupied by
the poet consequently nothing has been
altered in the general aspect of this historic

Apart from a certain feeling of sadness which cannot fail to result from a visit to
the Casa Magni and the recollection of Shelley's pathetic story, San Terenzo remains
fixed in my mind as a place of melancholy.

For it was there that I parted from my friend.

We had travelled so long together along the highways and by-ways of Liguria,
and had spent so many joyous hours in each other's company, that the idea of the in-
evitable parting never really came home to us until the day of that literary pilgrimage.

At last, however, the separation had to be faced.

It was imperative that the Antiquary should return to his curiosity shop at San

We said farewell on the little landing-stage at San Terenzo, where my good friend
took the steamer back to Spezzia and the railway.

Not until the boat was well out of sight did I turn to go.

Then it was that I fully realised the break had come and with what little heart it had left me to continue journeying alone.

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