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of rain that fall during the winter season are absorbed. Nature has provided for this, it is believed, by forming large deep cavities, into which the water quickly sinks, and thus furnishes a supply to the wells, from which the inhabitants derive their water. They are found in greatest number where the plains are most extensive, as in the vicinity of Manduria. If this were not the case, the country must have been either a dry desert or one continued marsh. In the neighbourhood of Nardo some marshes are found, but they are dried up in summer, and do not, as is too often the case in Italy, send forth pestilential exhalations. The inhabitants of Manduria, Copertino, and Nardo are often surprised by the appearance of a mirage, or Fata Morgana, such as is sometimes observed at the Straits of Messina. You know that this mirage is an optical deception, by which you imagine that you see a variety of objects in the air, as if they were reflected to you by a looking-glass. These optical deceptions take many varied shapes, and assume the most fantastic forms. Sometimes the eye is surprised by the towers and castles of a strongly fortified city; then the scene suddenly changes, when sheep, cows, and oxen are seen quietly grazing in fertile pastures. In the middle of the fifteenth century, when the country was kept in a constant state of alarm by the Turks, the whole coast from Mount Garganus, the spur of the boot to the Capo di Leuca, was roused at the same hour by the appearance of a large fleet of vessels approaching from the east. So firmly convinced were the inhabitants of its reality, that many fled into the interior, and the magistrates despatched expresses to government to communicate the danger to which they were exposed. These appearances do not continue long, but, like the vapours in which they are seen, are constantly changing their position, and assuming new forms. From this circumstance they are called by the inhabitants Mutate. It is in the early part of the morning that they are generally seen, when the air is perfectly calm, or when the scirocco is beginning to blow. We read in ancient historians of men appearing fighting in the air. I have no doubt that it may be accounted for by some such optical deception as this. I passed through several small villages, where the people were assembled in the public squares, and their curiosity was evidently excited by my appearance. I heard them inquire of my muleteer, “Chi è dove va”—“Who is he, and where is he going?” and when he said to the Madonna di Finibus Terrae, i.e. to the Virgin Mary of the end of the earth (for thus they call the cape), they seemed satisfied that I was going to confess to the Virgin, who is regarded with more than ordinary veneration in this part of the country. It is not unusual for pilgrimages to be made for this purpose. I passed close to a conical-shaped hill, like the barrows that are found in the south of England. It was not less than three hundred feet high, as far as the eye could judge. I understand that there are many of these mounds in this peninsula, and they are called by the inhabitants specole, look-out towers, being composed sometimes of earth, as this one was, and sometimes of stones. I dismounted from my mule, and climbed to the top, from which there was a wide view of the plain, over which I had been passing, and of the sea in all directions. It is level at the top, evidently artificial; but at what period such mounds were erected we have no records to enable us to
decide. They were, no doubt, constructed by a very different race from the present, and it is curious that fabulous history should cause the giants to take refuge here from the wrath of Jupiter. May these mounds not be the workmanship of this pre-historic race? On descending, I stopped a short time to rest the mule at the village of Salve, and on inquiring if they could show any ancient remains in their neighbourhood, one of the most intelligent of the inhabitants took me to an old church in the neighbourhood, called Sta. Maria di Vereto, and there I found some slight remains of ancient buildings. This is, no doubt, the Weretum of Pliny and Ptolemy. As I approached the promontory, cultivation became still more scanty, till at last it entirely ceased, and the bare limestone, rock protruded in all its ugliness. This continued for upwards of two miles, when I reached a small chapel dedicated to the Madonna di Finibus Terrae, and near it a small fort, which was a mere farce, being in a complete state of dilapidation. The old priest who officiated at the altar, and three soldiers, were seated at the door. I saluted them respectfully, and inquired if they were aware of any ancient remains in this vicinity. The Temple of Minerva was, no doubt, erected at this spot, but the only remnant that is found is a single block of pure white marble, which may have been the pedestal of a statue. To the old priest the Madonna possessed much more of interest, and I believe that I scarcely pleased him by my stoical indifference when he unveiled the features of a young girl now occupying the place of the sage Minerva. On the 1st of August her festival is celebrated, when the inhabitants of the adjoining country crowd to do her honour, and confess their sins to the worthy priest. Altogether this was an interesting spot on which I stood, as I consider, from an examination of the coast, that the temple was far more likely to have been situated here than at Castro, where it is usually placed. We must imagine that Virgil had some idea of the geography of this part of Italy when he describes the approach to it by his hero AEneas. It was this spot which Æneas first saw, and he thus describes it (AEneas, iii. 530): Portusque pates.cit Jam propior templumque apparet in arce Minerva.
And now the happy harbour is in view,
And then he goes on to say that there was a noble haven carved in the form of a bow on the eastern side :
Portus ab Euroo fluctu curvatur in arcum,
The land lies open to the raging East;
This spot, where I stood, was the natural site of the temple, a little removed from the shore, and at a considerable height above the sea. I looked down on a natural bay of some size, extending from Point Ristola on the west, to Capo di Leuca on the east. It must afford good shelter to vessels in every direction except the south, and we hear from Thucydides (vi. 30, 44) that the Athenian fleet, B.c. 415, on its way to Sicily, touched at this promontory, known to the Romans as the Japygium, or Salentinum Promontorium. I found that it was approaching the hour when mass was to be performed, and it was, of course, expected that I should attend. I told them that I was an Englishman, and that my principles did not admit of my joining in their form of worship. I would stop, however, till my muleteer performed his religious duties, and would, meanwhile, descend to the shore to admire the works of the great God, whom we both worshipped, though under different external forms. This pleased the old man, who could not but see that I had some tincture of religion, and he said that he would pray I might yet see the error of my ways; to which I replied, that I had been taught in our heretical country that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. I left him to perform mass, and descended to the shore. The chapel is not situated on the cape, but in a kind of hollow with rising ground to the east, trending away to the point of Leuca. The descent was easy, if it had not been for the glare of the white limestone rock, which had at present little appearance of vegetation. It was properly called Leuca, from the Greek word Nevkós, white. The sea came up nearly to the rocks, and, no doubt, when the south wind blew with violence, the waves would dash up against them. I walked leisurely along about a mile, till 1 reached the point which rises several hundred feet nearly perpendicular, and when I rounded the point the coast towards the north became higher. There was no appearance of human habitation, and I fully understood the meaning of Lucan's expression (v. 375):
Secretaque littora Leucae.
It was lovely enough, and within the sea horizon not a vessel was visible. I looked round for the foetid spring which Strabo (vi. p. 281) speaks of as being shown by the inhabitants, who pretended that it arose from the wounds of some of the giants expelled by Hercules from the Phlegraan plains, who had taken refuge here. There was not a particle of water to be seen of any kind; and on asking the old priest, he said that he had never heard of any peculiar spring in this neighbourhood. I climbed with some difficulty to the summit of the point of land, and had an extensive view in all directions, stretching across the entrance of the Bay of Tarentum, to what seemed an indistinct line of mountains in the fardistant Calabria, which must have been in the neighbourhood of Rossano, that land of brigands; and, turning to the other side, I could easily trace the gloomy mountains of Epirus, which I believed to be the Acroceraunian range—infames scopulos Acroceraunia of Horace (Od. i. 3, 20). Knowing Italy only on its western and northern sides, where the Apennines are seen from the sea to rise in the interior to a great height, I had always imagined that Virgil was wrong in using the expression (Æn. iii. 522) humilemque videmus Italiam, “low-lying Italy.” I now, however, acknowledge that he is correct in his epithet, as his hero, striking across the Ionian Sea from the opposite coast, where I observe the lofty peaks of the “infames scopulos Acroceraunia” in Epirus, would be forcibly struck by the contrast of this shore with that which he had left. A few hundred feet cannot be caught by the eye at any great distance. Dante (Inferno, i. 106) says:
Di quell'umile Italia fia salute.
“In his might safety shall arise to low-lying Italy,” though I believe he is here referring to the plains of the Po. I hastened back to the chapel, and was not sorry to have my face once more turned to the north, as every step would be bringing me nearer home. My supper last night was not of the most substantial kind, and I had not yet broken my fast this morning, so that you may imagine that I inquired anxiously where I could find an albergo. I could not get even a glass of wine at this inhospitable spot, and the water was tepid. The nearest village was Gagliano, four miles distant, and you may judge my dismay on reaching it to be told that there was no albergo, though the curate sold wine. This was good news so far, as it was likely to be excellent, if it had not turned out that he was performing service at the church, and it seemed as if I were going to be destroyed by thirst and hunger. While I was debating within myself what steps I should take, my muleteer, who knew that his food depended on my success, found an old woman, who undertook to procure wine from the curate, and offered, at the same time, to get something to eat if I would be satisfied with her poor fare. It was no time to be dainty when I was famishing, and I thankfully accepted her offer. While she was preparing an omelette, I walked to the public square to witness a solemn procession which was on the point of issuing from the church. It was crowded with the inhabitants. In the costume of the women there was nothing remarkable; the men wore a coarse blue jacket, and the conicalshaped hat of the south of Italy. From the church issued four silk flags, attended each by a select body of peasantry; then the priests with the host, surrounded by twenty of the Guardia Urbana; the magistrates followed, and then the men and women. When they arrived in the middle of the little square the host was elevated, when all within sight fell on their knees. I had placed myself in such a position that I might neither offend their feelings by an open disrespect to their ceremonies, nor compromise myself by honouring that which I believed to be a foolish superstition. I have seen some of our countrymen place themselves in a conspicuous position, that they might in this way show more clearly their opinion of the folly of whatever ceremony they might be witnessing. This does not accord with what I consider right. In passing through a foreign country merely to gratify our curiosity, we are bound to respect the prejudices of the people; and if we cannot look on their superstitious observances without lifting up our testimony, we had better stay at home. After remaining a short time at this village I proceeded forward towards Castro, where I meant to pass the night. This part of the country is studded with villages, and is much better cultivated than what I had passed during the earlier hours of the day. The heat was now over, and in the public squares the inhabitants had assembled to enjoy the coolness of the breeze. They seemed a fine race, though much less muscular than the Calabrese. As the sun was approaching the horizon I began to look anxiously for the village of Castro, towards which I had guided myself by inquiries of the different peasants I had met. My muleteer was quite ignorant of the topography of this part of the country. My map placed it on the coast; and though we had seen no one for the last six miles, I was sure that we could be at no great distance from it; but half an hour more would shroud it in darkness, and I should have the pleasure of bivouacking under the open canopy of heaven, as it would be impossible to thread our way back six miles to the last village we had passed. The path along which we were proceeding led us to the commencement of a ravine, and on turning a corner of a hill a ruined castle or fortress appeared, at the distance of a quarter of a mile. Here, therefore, I determined to remain for the night, or rather I had no alternative ; and I thought it not unlikely that I might find some apartment less ruinous than the rest in which I should be able to shelter myself from the heavy dews of the night. The path led us down to the ravine, but we could see no path by which the mule could ascend to the castle; and, as I knew that another quarter of an hour would render every object indistinct, I directed the muleteer to remain where he was, and scrambled up the face of the hill to the foot of the wall, which I began hastily to perambulate in search of some ingress. On turning one of the projections I came suddenly on a priest, who was as much startled at my appearance as I was surprised to see him. I found that this ruin was actually Castro, and having received some directions respecting the path which the mule ought to pursue, I soon rejoined him. I found that there was a syndic, to whom the priest offered to conduct me. The village had at one time been of considerable size; but a visit of the Turks about a century ago nearly destroyed it, and since that time it has remained in its present dilapidated state. The walls are completely in ruins, and few of the houses are in a habitable state. It now contains about one hundred inhabitants, and is never likely to recover. We passed along the foot of its walls till we reached its ruined gateway, where we met a middle-aged man, who was introduced to me as Don Tommaso, the syndic. He was without shoes and stockings, and his clothes were in as dilapidated a state as the city, whose supreme magistrate he was. He could find me no lodgings, but the priest came forward and offered to accommodate me with an apartment—he was the true Samaritan. I inquired for a grotto in the vicinity—Zinzenusa—about which much has been said. The
priest assured me that he knew it; and as I was aware that torches or
lamps must be employed in examining it, I thought it advisable to set about it immediately. It was now quite dark. This was of no consequence, as the grotto would be dark at any time; so the priest, having procured everything necessary, I accompanied him down a steep declivity to the sea, and having embarked in a small boat, we rowed along a rocky coast for upwards of a mile. We reached the entrance, but advancing a few yards I found that a gulf extended between me and the interior, and that I must grope along the face of a rock rendered slippery by the constant dropping of water. I was aware that this grotto had been supposed by some to be the Temple of Minerva, spoken of by Virgil, and