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Italian Journeys   By: (1837-1920)

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W.D. Howells

1867 and 1895


The Road to Rome from Venice: I. Leaving Venice 9 II. From Padua to Ferrara 10 III. The Picturesque, the Improbable, and the Pathetic in Ferrara 14 IV. Through Bologna to Genoa 43 V. Up and Down Genoa 52 VI. By Sea from Genoa to Naples 65 VII. Certain Things in Naples 75 VIII. A Day in Pompeii 89 IX. A Half hour at Herculaneum 106 X. Capri and Capriotes 116 XI. The Protestant Ragged Schools at Naples 136 XII. Between Rome and Naples 147 XIII. Roman Pearls 151

Forza Maggiore 178

At Padua 196

A Pilgrimage to Petrarch's House at Arquà 216

A Visit to the Cimbri 235

Minor Travels: I. Pisa 251 II. The Ferrara Road 259 III. Trieste 264 IV. Bassano 274 V. Possagno, Canova's Birthplace 280 VI. Como 285

Stopping at Vicenza, Verona, and Parma 293

Ducal Mantua 321




We did not know, when we started from home in Venice, on the 8th of November, 1864, that we had taken the longest road to Rome. We thought that of all the proverbial paths to the Eternal City that leading to Padua, and thence through Ferrara and Bologna to Florence, and so down the sea shore from Leghorn to Civita Vecchia, was the best, the briefest, and the cheapest. Who could have dreamed that this path, so wisely and carefully chosen, would lead us to Genoa, conduct us on shipboard, toss us four dizzy days and nights, and set us down, void, battered, and bewildered, in Naples? Luckily,

"The moving accident is not my trade,"

for there are events of this journey (now happily at an end) which, if I recounted them with unsparing sincerity, would forever deter the reader from taking any road to Rome.

Though, indeed, what is Rome, after all, when you come to it?



As far as to Ferrara there was no sign of deviation from the direct line in our road, and the company was well enough. We had a Swiss family in the car with us to Padua, and they told us how they were going home to their mountains from Russia, where they had spent nineteen years of their lives. They were mother and father and only daughter and the last, without ever having seen her ancestral country, was so Swiss in her yet childish beauty, that she filled the morning twilight with vague images of glacial height, blue lake, snug chalet, and whatever else of picturesque there is in paint and print about Switzerland. Of course, as the light grew brighter these images melted away, and left only a little frost upon the window pane.

The mother was restively anxious at nearing her country, and told us every thing of its loveliness and happiness. Nineteen years of absence had not robbed it of the poorest charm, and I hope that seeing it again took nothing from it. We said how glad we should be if we were as near America as she was to Switzerland. "America!" she screamed; "you come from America! Dear God, the world is wide the world is wide!" The thought was so paralyzing that it silenced the fat little lady for a moment, and gave her husband time to express his sympathy with us in our war, which he understood perfectly well. He trusted that the revolution to perpetuate slavery must fail, and he hoped that the war would soon end, for it made cotton very dear... Continue reading book >>

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