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lishman had been seen in this remote district in their memory, I found that Roman coins had been discovered in the neighbourhood, though there are no ancient remains in their village. It is an Albanian colony, and stands high, commanding an extensive view of Apulia, which I had just traversed, and even of the sea beyond, as far as Mons Garganus.
On a hill I saw the village Rapolla, supposed to be the ancient Strapellum ; my road, however, did not lead through it. The volcanic character of the country through which I had been passing is strongly marked, and the city Melfi I found to be built on a hill of lava. Passing through many vineyards, which seemed to flourish in great luxuriance, I entered the city Melfi, containing about nine thousand inhabitants. Like most cities of Italy, its streets are narrow, to protect from the direct rays of the sun; it had at one time been defended by walls, but they are now in a dilapidated state. I was struck by the fine appearance of the cathedral and theatre, which had in early times been the hall, where the oil councils of the Normans, who occupied this part of Italy, were
Whether it existed in Roman times is unknown ; it became, however, the chief city of the Normans when they took possession of Apulia, and here they met, from time to time, to enact laws and transact public business. In 1059, Pope Nicholas II. invested here Robert Guiscard as Duke of Apulia and Calabria. In 1089, Pope Urban II. held here a general council of a hundred and thirteen bishops. The Popes Alexander II. and Pasqual II. also held councils in this city; while the Emperor Frederick II. assembled a diet, and wished to make it the capital of his dominions. You thus see that it was a city in those times of great importance; but all this has passed away. Its public hall has become a theatre, and a portion of the castle is the residence of Prince Doria Pamphili, who has large possessions in the surrounding country.
Its cathedral is a remarkable building, erected in 1155 by Roger Guiscard, King of Sicily, having a richly carved ceiling. The episcopal palace is also a striking object. All this country is subject to earthquakes ; on the 8th of September, 1694, it sustained great damage, and scarcely a year passes without some slight shock.” The vineyards through which I had passed I found to be celebrated for their produce, and I confess that I enjoyed a draught of what they call “moscato” with great zest.
This evening, as Ijogged along, my fatigue was solaced by the longdrawn notes sent forth so sweetly by the nightingales; to me there is a pleasing sadness in the music of this bird, which wraps the soul in Elysium. Others regard the melody as cheerful, but it possibly depends a good deal on the state of our feelings at the moment. Chiabrera (Alcippo, Act I. Sc. 1) speaks of the melody as both sad and jocund:
- Non mai si stanca d’iterar le note,
O gioconde o dogliose,
* On the 14th of August, 1851, this city suffered severely from an earthquake. The cathedral was nearly destroyed; several churches, the college, the military depôt, the bishop’s palace, with a hundred and sixty-three houses, were levelled to the ground. More than a thousand persons lost their lives, though the vibration only lasted about sixty seconds.
“She never tires in reiterating her notes, jocund or sad, delightful to the ear.” It was now necessary to make inquiries respecting Vultur, which towered a few miles from Melfi to a height of upwards of four thousand feet. It had an imposing appearance, being of a conical shape, and rising in a great measure perpendicular from the plain, though I found that it ( could be ascended by a winding path. o Next morning I started at daybreak with a mule, muleteer, and guide, who was recommended by my landlord as acquainted with the mountain. The approach to the foot of the mountain is through vineyards, and as we mounted the slopes on the north side, we saw the river Aufidus winding very beautifully through deep glens finely wooded. The scenery reminded me of what I had seen on the loftier pinnacles of the Apennines, which I had crossed in Calabria. My guide pointed to several large caverns, which had often been the refuge of brigands. At present they had been dispersed. For several hours we passed through the thick forest of Monticchio, and ever and anon, as I was humming the words of
Horace (Od. iii. 4, 9)— •
Me fabulosa Volture in Appulo,
Fatigued with sleep, and youthful toil of play,
When on a mountain’s brow reclin’d I lay
Near to my natal soil, around my head
Matter, be sure, of wonder most profound
To all the gazing habitants around,
Who dwell in Acherontia's airy glades,
By snakes of poison black, and beasts of prey,
That thus, in dewy sleep, unharm'd I lay;
Laurels and myrtle were around me pil’d,
flocks of wood-pigeons were roused from the woods, and passed over my head. It was indeed such a day as Horace describes, and if time had permitted, I could have thrown myself down, and I doubt not that sleep would have visited me, though the Muses would have kept far from my prosaic brain. Oaks, elms, and chesnuts abounded in this part of the mountain, and even the wild vine was not wanting to beautify the Scene. t At last I reached a very striking and wild part of the mountain—a crater of a much more perfect form than that of Vesuvius. Its sides rose
in nearly an unbroken line around, and were covered with old beeches and oaks. It had once been in active operation, but had ceased long before the most ancient historical records that we possess. There are several craters of different sizes, but this is by far the most perfect and striking to the eye. In the largest crater are two small lakes, from which at times issue sulphureous exhalations, like those which rise from Lacus Ampsanctus, which is at no great distance, and is no doubt connected with this ancient volcano. I rested an hour at the monastery of S. Michele, and was kindly received by the Franciscans. My visit must have been quite an event in their monotonous existence. The Superior, who was full of intelligence, said that they felt they were resting on a volcano that might break out at any moment, as Vesuvius had done eighteen hundred years ago, but they put their trust in a higher Being, and felt secure. They had frequent admonitions by slight shocks; it was, however, many years since they had suffered severely. He maintained that the appearance of the lakes gave warning of what was likely to happen, as they became more turbulent, and threw out exhalations more largely, before a severe shock took place. He said that there were more than a dozen cones scattered over the surface; but what is very curious, no appearance of any extensive stream of lava. To my eye the lava had much more of a basaltic structure than what I had been accustomed to see round the base of Vesuvius. The earth has, indeed, strange humours; now here, now there, she puts forth her tremendous powers. Beneath the purest sky we find the most treacherous soil, and people talk here of earthquakes much as we do of wind and weather. I had now to determine whether I should climb the highest peak, called “Il Pizzuto di Melfi.” The view would have been magnificent from the pinnacle if the air had been clear, which I found at this season of the year was seldom the case, as the heat raised a haze, which prevents the eye from reaching the distant horizon. The mere boast of having put my foot on the highest point of Mons Vultur had no temptation for me. It rises to a height of four thousand three hundred and fifty-seven feet; but, gazing on its conical peak, Ibade adieu to the monks, and descended again towards Melfi, very much in the same way I had mounted. There are said to be wild boars in these forests. I saw none of them. I hurried on to Melfi, and, getting my passport in order, started for Ascoli, the ancient Asculum Appulum, about twelve miles distant. I passed the Ponte Sta. Venere, rather a curious saint, an old bridge, not in a good state of repair, spanning the river Aufidus, which runs below over a rocky bottom, and continues to be a mere mountain torrent. This is the Ad Pontem Aufidi of the Itinerary of Antoninus, eighteen miles from Venusia, on the Appian Way, which an inscription, found close by, shows to have been repaired by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius about A.D. 180. This country, however, is subject to severe shocks of earthquakes, and the ancient bridge of Aurelius must have long since disappeared. The country seems to be favourable to the vine, as all volcanic soils are, and I passed many vineyards. The wine is strong, and requires, it is said, to be watered to make it palatable. If they were accustomed to our port they would not think so. The Italians are a sober race. I cannot say that I have seen a drunken man, or even one much elated with wine, except the coast-guard at Trebisacce, and I am ashamed to say that I caused my brother to sin by over-indulgence. I was not sorry when I reached Asculum, a little before sunset, and found it of respectable size, on a rising ground, where the Apennines are beginning to descend into the plains of Apulia. The locanda was passable; but after my night at Palazzo, you will believe that I am easily pleased. There are always plenty of churches, but no dissenting meeting-houses, as with us. I heard of Greeks at Melfi and Barile; they were now of the Romish Church, whatever they were originally, and I was amused to hear one of the priests say that some old bishop, whom he named, had gently brought them over. I should like to have heard of their conversion from themselves. It was here that the great battle between Pyrrhus and the Romans was fought B.c. 279 (Flor. i. 18; Plut. Pyrr. 21). They believe it to have been fought in the plain beneath, where swords and pieces of armour are said to have been found. The ancient city was not on the site of the modern Ascoli, but a little way below it, amidst vineyards, where I saw the foundations of ancient edifices, and here sepulchral inscriptions and fragments of columns have been discovered.
I was in no great hurry to start this morning, as I had a short journey before me to Foggia, the capital of the province, which I knew to be a modern town, and I therefore remained several hours at Ascoli, conversing with an intelligent man respecting the system of pasturage which prevails here. I am on the point of entering the Tavoliere of Apulia, a vast level plain belonging principally to the crown, of about eighty Italian square miles, nearly one hundred English, which has from the earliest ages been used only for pasturage. It is a treeless flat, as I found it, which is parched in summer, but during the winter the rains bring up luxuriant herbage. These northern plains of Apulia, called “Puglia piana,” “level Apulia,” differ from the southern, called “Puglia petrosa,” “stony Apulia,” from a broad chain of rocky hills, the character of which I saw at Minervino a few days ago. The northern part is described by Strabo (vi. p. 284) as of great fertility, and I found from my friend that it has not degenerated, furnishing abundant pasture for horses and sheep; respecting the wool of the latter, Pliny (viii. 73, 1) says that it exceeds all others in fineness. At the present moment not an animal is to be seen, as they have all been driven to the mountains of Samnium; for the winter they descend and pasture in this part of Apulia. This custom, which is, indeed, compulsory from the nature of the soil, must always have existed. Varro (R. R. ii. 1), who was born B.c. 116, alludes to it as the common practice in his time, and during the later ages of the Roman empire a tax was levied on all cattle and sheep thus migrating. The owners made a declaration (professio) of the number of head to the publicanus or farmer of the “scriptura,” and on these the tax was paid. It was called scriptura, because each man must register the number of beasts that he sent upon the public pastures. This was one of the earliest of the revenues of the Roman state after it began to make conquests, and the custom still continues. This has always been
the grazing-ground of the Neapolitan dominions, and lest the capital should run short of butchers' meat, and the just proportion between cattle-breeding and tillage be destroyed, every species of tillage has been forbidden. The ground is let to graziers for six years for depasturing cattle, and for that purpose alone. The French in 1806 introduced extensive changes, declaring farms held under the crown to be freeholds of those who were in possession of them, and the occupants of lands assigned to them for grazing were declared owners of such lands on payment to the crown of a certain rent, which was fixed according to the number of their flocks, and was redeemable at will. I find, however, from this gentleman, who has been a sufferer, that the Bourbons on their return re-established the old system, by taking the land from those who had been in full possession of it for ten years, and by forbidding the ploughing up or planting any part of the land without the express permission of the crown. The collection of the taxes, bringing about sixty thousand pounds a year, is entrusted to a magistrate called Direttore del Tavoliere. Leaving Ascoli, I began to descend into a level and uninteresting plain. The eye was seldom relieved by trees, and the sameness of thq country became tiresome, more so as the sun shone upon me in uncloudee splendour. There was not a breath of air, and yet the feet of my mule threw up clouds of dust. My umbrella, indeed, prevented the rays from striking directly upon me, but the fatigue of holding it was almost more than my strength was equal to. The scarcity of water, arising from the calcareous nature of the soil, was very striking, and I could not but recal to my recollection the “Pauper aquae Daunus” of Horace (Carm. iii. 30, 1 l), and his “Siticulosae Apuliae,” “thirsty Apulia” (Epod. 3, 16). I reached Foggia, where I found a tolerable inn, though I was unable to procure a private apartment for myself, even though I offered to pay for all the beds it might contain. I have a great horror at sleeping in the same apartment with strangers; here, however, I had no alternative, as my companions had arrived before me. As soon as I had refreshed myself, I went out to examine the town, which had every appearance of being in a flourishing condition. Most of the houses were small, but some were handsome, and had more air of comfort about them than I have generally met. The cathedral had a strange, patched appearance, which arose from its having been partly destroyed by an earthquake in 1731, and the upper part of it has been rebuilt in a different style. Foggia is the staple market for corn and wool, and the corn vaults—“fosse”—are extensive, extending under the streets and squares. It has a population of about twenty thousand. The inhabitants have lately erected a handsome theatre, which I visited in the evening, and saw it numerously attended. During the evening I took an opportunity of paying my respects to the governor of the province, Cavaliere St. Angelo, who is a cousin of the Prince of Satriano, whose letters of introduction have been so useful, and was received with much kindness. He regretted that his house was full at this moment, from the chief judge and his family having arrived from Naples, but he offered every assistance in his power. I told him how I had been treated by Cito in the neighbouring province, and how much annoyance my passport was giving me. Without the slightest solicitation on my part he