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CHAPTER X.

PONTINE MARSHES-NAPLES, AND THE NEAPOLITANS-SOR

RENTO AND CASTELLA MARE-ISCHIA, AND ITS MINERAL SPRINGS-PALERMO-MALTA, AND ITS CLIMATE.

The most frequented road from Rome to Naples traverses the Campagna, intersected by long lines of aqueducts as far as the hills near Albano, between which and L’Arricia the country is picturesque. Beyond Velletri, it is carried in a straight line through the Pontine marshes; a great part of the way along the bank of the canal into which the water is drained. Throughout this distance, not a habitation is to be seen except the half-way post station, and scarcely a living being,

Save the herdsman and his herd,
Savage alike.”

and an occasional wayfarer along the road. The marshes are bounded on the east by the chain of Apennines, on the acclivities of which are two or three towns (formerly the resort of banditti), and by Terracina on the south. The Circean promontory is seen for a considerable distance, and is the only striking object to attract the attention. Terracina is situate on the shore, at the base of a bold and precipitous rock, washed by the sea, and where the marshes terminate. It was also formerly celebrated in the annals of brigandage; but those days are gone, and travelling is now as safe in Italy as in other civilized states of Europe, the governments having pretty effectually put a stop to the system of highway robbery, as it was formerly methodically pursued; and, when any thing of the kind now takes place, the idea and plan generally arise à l'improviste among some of the peasantry or idlers in the towns, if they think a favourable opportunity presents itself. As, however, a reward and pardon are generally offered to those who will give up their accomplices into the hands of justice, the perpetrators are almost always discovered. The couriers and diligences in Modena, the Romagna, and some other parts of Northern Italy, which are not quite so safe, are, however, still escorted by a dragoon riding on each side of the carriage.

The aspect of the few people seen at the post stations of the Pontine marshes, and of the towns at their extremity, is much less unhealthy than some years ago; the malaria not having been so destructive since the improved drainage, by which many parts are now rendered capable of cultivation.

Shortly after leaving Terracina, the traveller enters the Neapolitan territory, passing the custom-house at Fondi, which, as well as Itrï, is a miserable town, where many of the male inhabitants, covered with ragged cloaks, stand idling in the streets, and looking as if they regretted the bon vieux temps, when some of their ancestors could levy forced contributions with

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comparative impunity. Between Itri and Mola di Gaeta, the scenery is highly interesting. From this town, delightfully situate on the shore, a fine view may be enjoyed of the bay, with Vesuvius

“ Che fa col foco
Chiara la notte, il dì di fumo oscuro."

Hence the country is level and extremely fertile, being termed the Campagna Felice. Having passed through Capua, which, whatever might have been its attractions in the days of Hannibal (whose soldiers, we are told, were so captivated thereby, that they passed many months in slothful luxury), certainly does not at present offer very strong inducements for a prolonged sojourna long suburb is traversed, and the traveller drives to the quarter where strangers most do congregate, at the extremity of the Strada Toledo, which divides the city into two portions, extending from Capo di Monte southwards to the Capo dell’ Uovo, a distance of near a league.

Naples has a south-eastern aspect. There are five principal entrances; that by the Bridge de la Madeleine, not far from the sea, is the most striking. Between it and the town is an extensive space, along which handsome buildings have latterly been erected, forming a fine approach.

Continuous with the Porta Capuana is the Poggio Reale, a wide road ornamented with trees and fountains. The third entrance, del Campo, leads to the place appropriated to military exercises, whence a beautiful sea and land prospect is enjoyed. On the north is the grand entrance by Capo di Monte, passing the royal palace. On the western side, the grotto of Posilipo forms the chief entrance, opening upon the Mergellina. “Descending the smiling hill of Posilipo," says Valery, “shaded and decorated by festoons of vines, and the graceful umbelliferous pine, we reach the shore of the Mergellina, a charming spot, so happily sheltered that it only loses its foliage one month in the year. The fishermen, remarkable for the beauty of their antique shapes, are also interesting on account of their laborious peaceful life, their domestic existence, their wellgotten wealth; they seem the virtuous troglodytes of the Neapolitan people." *

Naples is second only to Paris in the amount of its population; the crowded and bustling aspect of its streets contrasts strongly with the tranquillity of Rome. The author of a popular work gives the following account of the street population :—“The noise of Naples is enough to drive a nervous man mad. It would be difficult to imagine the eternal bustle and worry of the streets: the people bawling and roaring at each other in all directions; beggars soliciting your charity with one hand, while with the other they pick your

* This writer appears to have fallen into a considerable error in one respect, which it is surprising was not corrected by his English translator. He says, “Naples, the third city of Europe for population, has fewer foundlings by far than London or Paris, as may be seen from the following comparison :-At London, where there are 44,000 births, there are 20,000 infants exposed.-At Paris, with 29,000 births, there are 10,000 infants exposed.—At Naples, with 15,000 births, 2,000 infants exposed. Hence we find that the infants exposed amount in London to nearly half the births.” The truth is, there are proportionately fewer foundlings in London than in any continental city—2,000 would be a much more likely number than 20,000.

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pocket of your handkerchief; the carriages cutting their way through the crowd, with which the streets are thronged, with a fearful rapidity. It requires the patience of Job to carry on any dealings with the people, who are a most unconscionable set. Every bargain is a battle, and it seems to be an established rule to ask on all occasions three times as much as is just.”

The city is seen to great advantage from the water; the line of white buildings extending for miles along the shore, and rising one above another on the acclivity of the hill, the summit of which is crowned with the Castle of St. Elmo; the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida in the bay, with Cape Misenum on one side, Vesuvius and the coast of Sorrento on the otherare generally acknowledged to form one of the finest prospects in Europe. Most of the houses are lofty, and the streets narrow, of which the inhabitants experience the advantage in hot weather. With the exception of the Largo del Castello, in which are the palace and the theatre of St. Carlos, and of the space in front of the handsome new church, St. Giovanni e Paulo, built after the design of the Pantheon, there are no spacious squares or places. The parts fronting the bay, where strangers mostly reside, are the Santa Lucia, Chiatamone, Chiaja, and Strada Vittoria. The Public Garden of the Villa Reale extends along the Chiaja, between the houses and the sea, and is prettily laid out with shrubs and parterres of flowers, among which wind several shady walks, of which, however, there is a great

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Diary of an Invalid.

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