Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

of age, some portions of it are still beautiful. Among the paintings is an “Assumption,” by Titian; and of the monuments, one to the poet De Cesuris and one to Pope Lucius III., who was buried here when he died in 1185. There are several other fine churches here, but we did not take time to visit them all. Portions of the old walls and some of the old gateways of the city still stand as interesting relics of the old times; and we can go in no street or square here that we do not see more or less to attract our special attention. The river Adige, spanned by several fine bridges, runs rapidly through the city, the streets of which are liable to be sometimes overflowed by the rushing floods from the Alps, which now loom up near us covered with snow.

CHAPTER XXXV.

“ There is a glorious city in the sea,

The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates. The path lies o'er the sea,
Invisible; and from the land we went,
As to a floating city — steering in,
And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently — by many a dome,
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
The statues ranged along an azure sky;
By many a pile in more than Eastern pride,
Of all the evidence of merchant kings;
The fronts of some, though Time had shattered them,
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As though the wealth within them had run o'er.”

[ocr errors]

CHIS IS VENICE; but when Rogers wrote this

description the city was not approached by a railway. Now, on the western side, one of the main small islands of the city is connected with the mainland by the railroad from Padua and Verona - the distance from the shore about two miles by a bridge built on over two hundred arches across the lagoons which surround the city on all sides. We were safely landed on this little island at half past three on the afternoon of the 8th of November, having come in about four hours from Verona, our last stopping place. Officers of the customs were on

nd to make the least possible examination of our luggage, and other officials in uniform handed us tickets for whichever conveyance-gondola or omnibus boat — we might choose to convey us to our hotel. Being a party of five, we chose an omnibus,

which, although built in the same form, is considerably larger than the gondola, and has a more spacious cabin at the stern. For a charge of one and a half lira (thirty cents) each, we were rowed with our light luggage along the Grand Canal and through the narrow winding streets for half an hour or more to the Victoria Hotel, where we concluded to stop. As in the case of all buildings here rising up from the sea, the steps of the hotel extend into the water, and we disembarked upon them directly from the boat. Along some portions of the Grand Canal, which winds through the city, there is a quay of good width, mostly, we understand, of modern date; and this is a great improvement, inasmuch as it serves not only as a protection to the buildings, which everywhere have a rusty appearance from the action of the salt water upon them, but it also affords an agreeable promenade.

Mr. Rogers' description of the city as he saw it is true to life. An American traveler calling on him in London, in 1852, three years before his death, took occasion, in the course of their conversation, to say that Mr. Rogers' volume of poems had been his constant companion in his travels, when the latter at once spoke of his residence on the continent with Lord Byron, and quoted part of his own lines on Venice. “Byron," said he, “repeated them to me one morning as we sailed up the Grand Canal, telling me they were very fine, and written, he believed, by Southey, forgetting that the real author was by his side.

The city is compact, and the land streets, lanes, and alleys are so narrow, generally not over four or five feet in width, while many are much narrower; and the one hundred and forty-seven canals,

only wide enough usually to allow gondolas to pass one another, are likewise so confined that one here feels as though he were in a wilderness. Madame de Staël made this observation: “A sentiment of sadness seizes the imagination on entering the city. You take leave of vegetation -- not even a fly is to be seen; all animals are banished, and man alone remains to struggle against the sea.

Silence is profound in this place, whose streets are canals, and the noise of the oars is the only interruption to this silence. It is not the country, since not a tree is to be seen here; it is not a city, since one hears here not the least movement; it is not even a vessel, since one advances not.” She adds: “You find persons here who have never been from one quarter of the city to another, who have never seen St. Mark's square, and to whom the sight of a horse would be a veritable marvel. These black gondolas, which glide upon the canals, resemble coffins or cradles -- the last and first habitation of man. In the evening one sees only the reflection of the lanterns in the gondolas, whose black color prevents their being descried. One might say that these were shadows gliding in the water guided by a small star." We have translated these remarks from a French volume of "Corinne" before us, because they give, in the main, a vivid description of this wonderful “city in the sea' as it struck us on the occasion of our present visit, and as it appeared to the writer when here for a day in 1867. We are not able, however, either to confirm or deny the statement that there were no flies in Venice, although we can conceive of no good reason why they should not exist there, as well as in any other city. As regards horses, it is doubtless true that none were seen there in Madame de Staël's

to pass.

time, as the number now there does not exceed a dozen, and these are kept on a small island laid out as a riding park, which we visited, at the extreme eastern end of the city. In this park there are clusters of trees, and there may be seen here and there one, in the city; but generally one beholds only a wilderness of houses closely packed. One may walk over the three hundred and seventy-eight bridges to almost any part of the city; but to a stranger, as we have observed before, it is like being in a maze, so numerous and irregular are the streets and lanes, many of which are arched ways under the second stories of houses, and only just wide enough for two

By “spotting” corner shops and signboards we soon learned the way to Piazzo San Marco, the great central point of the city. It is in form oblong, about five hundred and seventy-five by one hundred and eighty-five feet, with an open space, called the Piazzetta, (little square,) leading to the quay on the east side. The celebrated Church of St. Mark faces the eastern end of the square, and next to it stands the Palace of the Doges, facing the same way and extending along the Piazzetta to the quay, presenting also a beautiful front toward the sea. Here, on either side of the Piazzetta, is a splendid granite column --one bearing the “Winged Lion of St. Mark, the emblem of the tutelary Saint of Venice, the other surmounted by St. Theodore on a crocodile, the patron of the ancient Republic, placed there in 1326.” The gondoliers have their headquarters here. Nearly opposite to St. Mark's is the campanile of that Church, a square tower three hundred and twenty-two feet in height, and affording a magnificent view of the city, country, and Adriatic sea for many miles around. This tower is probably one of

« ÎnapoiContinuați »