May 30th. - We started at six o'clock, and left the one ugly street of Passignano, before many of the beggars were awake. Immediately in the vicinity of the village there is very little space between the lake in front and the ridge of hills in the rear; but the plain widened as we drove onward, so that the lake was scarcely to be seen, or often quite hidden among the intervening trees, although we could still discern the summits of the mountains that rise far beyond its shores. The country was fertile, presenting, on each side of the road, vines trained on fig-trees; wheat-fields and olives, in greater abundance than any other product. On our right, with a considerable width of plain between, was the bending ridge of hills that shut in the Roman army, by its close approach to the lake at Passignano. In perhaps half all hour's drive, we reached the little bridge that throws its arch over the Sanguinetto, and alighted there. The stream has but about a yard's width of water; and its whole course, between the hills and the lake, might well have been reddened and swollen with the blood of the multitude of slain Romans. Its name put me in mind of the Bloody Brook at Deerfield, where a company of Massachusetts men were massacred by the Indians.
The Sanguinetto flows over a bed of pebbles; and J - - -crept under the bridge, and got one of them for a memorial, while U - - , Miss Shepard, and R - - -plucked some olive twigs and oak leaves, and made them into wreaths together, - symbols of victory and peace. The tower, which is traditionally named after Hannibal, is seen on a height that makes part of the line of enclosing hills. It is a large, old castle, apparently of the Middle Ages, with a square front, and a battlemented sweep of wall. The town of Torres (its name, I think), where Hannibal's main army is supposed to have lain while the Romans came through the pass, was in full view; and I could understand the plan of the battle better than any system of military operations which I have hitherto tried to fathom. Both last night and to-day, I found myself stirred more sensibly than I expected by the influences of this scene. The old battle-field is still fertile in thoughts and emotions, though it is so many ages since the blood spilt there has ceased to make the grass and flowers grow more luxuriantly. I doubt whether I should feel so much on the field of Saratoga or Monmouth; but these old classic battle-fields belong to the whole world, and each man feels as if his own forefathers fought them. Mine, by the by, if they fought them at all, must have been on the side of Hannibal; for, certainly, I sympathized with him, and exulted in the defeat of the Romans on their own soil. They excite much the same emotion of general hostility that the English do. Byron has written some very fine stanzas on the battle-field, - not so good as others that he has written on classical scenes and subjects, yet wonderfully impressing his own perception of the subject on the reader. Whenever he has to deal with a statue, a ruin, a battle-field, he pounces upon the topic like a vulture, and tears out its heart in a twinkling, so that there is nothing more to be said.
If I mistake not, our passport was examined by the papal officers at the last custom-house in the pontifical territory, before we traversed the path through which the Roman army marched to its destruction. Lake Thrasymene, of which we took our last view, is not deep set among the hills, but is bordered by long ridges, with loftier mountains receding into the distance. It is not to be compared to Windermere or Loch Lomond for beauty, nor with Lake Champlain and many a smaller lake in my own country, none of which, I hope, will ever become so historically interesting as this famous spot. A few miles onward our passport was countersigned at the Tuscan custom-house, and our luggage permitted to pass without examination on payment of a fee of nine or ten pauls, besides two pauls to the porters. There appears to be no concealment on the part of the officials in thus waiving the exercise of their duty, and I rather imagine that the thing is recognized and permitted by their superiors. At all events, it is very convenient for the traveller.
We saw Cortona, sitting, like so many other cities in this region, on its hill, and arrived about noon at Arezzo, which also stretches up a high hillside, and is surrounded, as they all are, by its walls or the remains of one, with a fortified gate across every entrance.
I remember one little village, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Clitumnus, which we entered by one gateway, and, in the course of two minutes at the utmost, left by the opposite one, so diminutive was this walled town. Everything hereabouts bears traces of times when war was the prevalent condition, and peace only a rare gleam of sunshine.
At Arezzo we have put up at the Hotel Royal, which has the appearance of a grand old house, and proves to be a tolerable inn enough. After lunch, we wandered forth to see the town, which did not greatly interest me after Perugia, being much more modern and less picturesque in its aspect. We went to the cathedral, - a Gothic edifice, but not of striking exterior. As the doors were closed, and not to be opened till three o'clock, we seated ourselves under the trees, on a high, grassy space surrounded and intersected with gravel-walks, - a public promenade, in short, near the cathedral; and after resting ourselves here we went in search of Petrarch's house, which Murray mentions as being in this neighborhood. We inquired of several people, who knew nothing about the matter; one woman misdirected us, out of mere fun, I believe, for she afterwards met us and asked how we had succeeded. But finally, through - - - 's enterprise and perseverance, we found the spot, not a stone's-throw from where we had been sitting.