May 25th. - As I said last night, we left Foligno betimes in the morning, which was bleak, chill, and very threatening, there being very little blue sky anywhere, and the clouds lying heavily on some of the mountain-ridges. The wind blew sharply right in U - - 's face and mine, as we occupied the coupe, so that there must have been a great deal of the north in it. We drove through a wide plain - the Umbrian valley, I suppose - and soon passed the old town of Spello, just touching its skirts, and wondering how people, who had this rich and convenient plain from which to choose a site, could think of covering a huge island of rock with their dwellings, - for Spello tumbled its crooked and narrow streets down a steep descent, and cannot well have a yard of even space within its walls. It is said to contain some rare treasures of ancient pictorial art.

I do not remember much that we saw on our route. The plains and the lower hillsides seemed fruitful of everything that belongs to Italy, especially the olive and the vine. As usual, there were a great many shrines, and frequently a cross by the wayside. Hitherto it had been merely a plain wooden cross; but now almost every cross was hung with various instruments, represented in wood, apparently symbols of the crucifixion of our Saviour, - the spear, the sponge, the crown of thorns, the hammer, a pair of pincers, and always St. Peter's cock, made a prominent figure, generally perched on the summit of the cross.

From our first start this morning we had seen mists in various quarters, betokening that there was rain in those spots, and now it began to spatter in our own faces, although within the wide extent of our prospect we could see the sunshine falling on portions of the valley. A rainbow, too, shone out, and remained so long visible that it appeared to have made a permanent stain in the sky.

By and by we reached Assisi, which is magnificently situated for pictorial purposes, with a gray castle above it, and a gray wall around it, itself on a mountain, and looking over the great plain which we had been traversing, and through which lay our onward way. We drove through the Piazza Grande to an ancient house a little beyond, where a hospitable old lady receives travellers for a consideration, without exactly keeping an inn.

In the piazza we saw the beautiful front of a temple of Minerva, consisting of several marble pillars, fluted, and with rich capitals supporting a pediment. It was as fine as anything I had seen at Rome, and is now, of course, converted into a Catholic church.

I ought to have said that, instead of driving straight to the old lady's, we alighted at the door of a church near the city gate, and went in to inspect some melancholy frescos, and thence clambered up a narrow street to the cathedral, which has a Gothic front, old enough, but not very impressive. I really remember not a single object that we saw within, but am pretty certain that the interior had been stuccoed and whitewashed. The ecclesiastics of old time did an excellent thing in covering the interiors of their churches with brilliant frescos, thus filling the holy places with saints and angels, and almost with the presence of the Divinity. The modern ecclesiastics do the next best thing in obliterating the wretched remnants of what has had its day and done its office. These frescos might be looked upon as the symbol of the living spirit that made Catholicism a true religion, and glorified it as long as it did live; now the glory and beauty have departed from one and the other.

My wife, U - - , and Miss Shepard now set out with a cicerone to visit the great Franciscan convent, in the church of which are preserved some miraculous specimens, in fresco and in oils, of early Italian art; but as I had no mind to suffer any further in this way, I stayed behind with J - - -and R - - -, who we're equally weary of these things.

After they were gone we took a ramble through the city, but were almost swept away by the violence of the wind, which struggled with me for my hat, and whirled R - - -before it like a feather. The people in the public square seemed much diverted at our predicament, being, I suppose, accustomed to these rude blasts in their mountain-home. However, the wind blew in momentary gusts, and then became more placable till another fit of fury came, and passed as suddenly as before. We walked out of the same gate through which we had entered, - an ancient gate, but recently stuccoed and whitewashed, in wretched contrast to the gray, venerable wall through which it affords ingress, - and I stood gazing at the magnificent prospect of the wide valley beneath. It was so vast that there appeared to be all varieties of weather in it at the same instant; fields of sunshine, tracts of storm, - here the coming tempest, there the departing one. It was a picture of the world on a vast canvas, for there was rural life and city life within the great expanse, and the whole set in a frame of mountains, - the nearest bold and dust-net, with the rocky ledges showing through their sides, the distant ones blue and dim, - so far stretched this broad valley.

When I had looked long enough, - no, not long enough, for it would take a great while to read that page, - we returned within the gate, and we clambered up, past the cathedral and into the narrow streets above it. The aspect of everything was immeasurably old; a thousand years would be but a middle age for one of those houses, built so massively with huge stones and solid arches, that I do not see how they are ever to tumble down, or to be less fit for human habitation than they are now. The streets crept between them, and beneath arched passages, and up and down steps of stone or ancient brick, for it would be altogether impossible for a carriage to ascend above the Grand Piazza, though possibly a donkey or a chairman's mule might find foothold. The city seems like a stony growth out of the hillside, or a fossilized city, - so old and singular it is, without enough life and juiciness in it to be susceptible of decay. An earthquake is the only chance of its ever being ruined, beyond its present ruin. Nothing is more strange than to think that this now dead city - dead, as regards the purposes for which men live nowadays - was, centuries ago, the seat and birthplace almost of art, the only art in which the beautiful part of the human mind then developed itself. How came that flower to grow among these wild mountains? I do not conceive, however, that the people of Assisi were ever much more enlightened or cultivated on the side of art than they are at present. The ecclesiastics were then the only patrons; and the flower grew here because there was a great ecclesiastical garden in which it was sheltered and fostered. But it is very curious to think of Assisi, a school of art within, and mountain and wilderness without.

My wife and the rest of the party returned from the convent before noon, delighted with what they had seen, as I was delighted not to have seen it. We ate our dejeuner, and resumed our journey, passing beneath the great convent, after emerging from the gate opposite to that of our entrance. The edifice made a very good spectacle, being of great extent, and standing on a double row of high and narrow arches, on which it is built up from the declivity of the hill.

We soon reached the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, which is a modern structure, and very spacious, built in place of one destroyed by an earthquake. It is a fine church, opening out a magnificent space in its nave and aisles; and beneath the great dome stands the small old chapel, with its rude stone walls, in which St. Francis founded his order. This chapel and the dome appear to have been the only portions of the ancient church that were not destroyed by the earthquake. The dwelling of St. Francis is said to be also preserved within the church; but we did not see it, unless it were a little dark closet into which we squeezed to see some frescos by La Spagna. It had an old wooden door, of which U - - picked off a little bit of a chip, to serve as a relic. There is a fresco in the church, on the pediment of the chapel, by Overbeck, representing the Assumption of the Virgin. It did not strike me as wonderfully fine. The other pictures, of which there were many, were modern, and of no great merit.

We pursued our way, and came, by and by, to the foot of the high hill on which stands Perugia, and which is so long and steep that Gaetano took a yoke of oxen to aid his horses in the ascent. We all, except my wife, walked a part of the way up, and I myself, with J - - -for my companion, kept on even to the city gate, - a distance, I should think, of two or three miles, at least. The lower part of the road was on the edge of the hill, with a narrow valley on our left; and as the sun had now broken out, its verdure and fertility, its foliage and cultivation, shone forth in miraculous beauty, as green as England, as bright as only Italy. Perugia appeared above us, crowning a mighty hill, the most picturesque of cities; and the higher we ascended, the more the view opened before us, as we looked back on the course that we had traversed, and saw the wide valley, sweeping down and spreading out, bounded afar by mountains, and sleeping in sun and shadow. No language nor any art of the pencil can give an idea of the scene. When God expressed himself in the landscape to mankind, he did not intend that it should be translated into any tongue save his own immediate one. J - - -meanwhile, whose heart is now wholly in snail-shells, was rummaging for them among the stones and hedges by the roadside; yet, doubtless, enjoyed the prospect more than he knew. The coach lagged far behind us, and when it came up, we entered the gate, where a soldier appeared, and demanded my passport. We drove to the Grand Hotel de France, which is near the gate, and two fine little boys ran beside the carriage, well dressed and well looking enough to have been a gentleman's sons, but claiming Gaetano for their father. He is an inhabitant of Perugia, and has therefore reached his own home, though we are still little more than midway to our journey's end.

Our hotel proves, thus far, to be the best that we have yet met with. We are only in the outskirts of Perugia; the bulk of the city, where the most interesting churches and the public edifices are situated, being far above us on the hill. My wife, U - - , Miss Shepard, and R - - -streamed forth immediately, and saw a church; but J - - -, who hates them, and I remained behind; and, for my part, I added several pages to this volume of scribble.

This morning was as bright as morning could be, even in Italy, and in this transparent mountain atmosphere. We at first declined the services of a cicerone, and went out in the hopes of finding our way to whatever we wished to see, by our own instincts. This proved to be a mistaken hope, however; and we wandered about the upper city, much persecuted by a shabby old man who wished to guide us; so, at last, Miss Shepard went back in quest of the cicerone at the hotel, and, meanwhile, we climbed to the summit of the hill of Perugia, and, leaning over a wall, looked forth upon a most magnificent view of mountain and valley, terminating in some peaks, lofty and dim, which surely must be the Apennines. There again a young man accosted us, offering to guide us to the Cambio or Exchange; and as this was one of the places which we especially wished to see, we accepted his services. By the by, I ought to have mentioned that we had already entered a church (San Luigi, I believe), the interior of which we found very impressive, dim with the light of stained and painted windows, insomuch that it at first seemed almost dark, and we could only see the bright twinkling of the tapers at the shrines; but, after a few minutes, we discerned the tall octagonal pillars of the nave, marble, and supporting a beautiful roof of crossed arches. The church was neither Gothic nor classic, but a mixture of both, and most likely barbarous; yet it had a grand effect in its tinted twilight, and convinced me more than ever how desirable it is that religious edifices should have painted windows.

The door of the Cambio proved to be one that we had passed several times, while seeking for it, and was very near the church just mentioned, which fronts on one side of the same piazza. We were received by an old gentleman, who appeared to be a public officer, and found ourselves in a small room, wainscoted with beautifully carved oak, roofed with a coved ceiling, painted with symbols of the planets, and arabesqued in rich designs by Raphael, and lined with splendid frescos of subjects, scriptural and historical, by Perugino. When the room was in its first glory, I can conceive that the world had not elsewhere to show, within so small a space, such magnificence and beauty as were then displayed here. Even now, I enjoyed (to the best of my belief, for we can never feel sure that we are not bamboozling ourselves in such matters) some real pleasure in what I saw; and especially seemed to feel, after all these ages, the old painter's devout sentiment still breathing forth from the religious pictures, the work of a hand that had so long been dust.

When we had looked long at these, the old gentleman led us into a chapel, of the same size as the former room, and built in the same fashion, wainscoted likewise with old oak. The walls were also frescoed, entirely frescoed, and retained more of their original brightness than those we had already seen, although the pictures were the production of a somewhat inferior hand, a pupil of Perugino. They seemed to be very striking, however, not the less so, that one of them provoked an unseasonable smile. It was the decapitation of John the Baptist; and this holy personage was represented as still on his knees, with his hands clasped in prayer, although the executioner was already depositing the head in a charger, and the blood was spouting from the headless trunk, directly, as it were, into the face of the spectator.

While we were in the outer room, the cicerone who first offered his services at the hotel had come in; so we paid our chance guide, and expected him to take his leave. It is characteristic of this idle country, however, that if you once speak to a person, or connect yourself with him by the slightest possible tie, you will hardly get rid of him by anything short of main force. He still lingered in the room, and was still there when I came away; for, having had as many pictures as I could digest, I left my wife and U - - with the cicerone, and set out on a ramble with J - - -. We plunged from the upper city down through some of the strangest passages that ever were called streets; some of them, indeed, being arched all over, and, going down into the unknown darkness, looked like caverns; and we followed one of them doubtfully, till it opened out upon the light. The houses on each side were divided only by a pace or two, and communicated with one another, here and there, by arched passages. They looked very ancient, and may have been inhabited by Etruscan princes, judging from the massiveness of some of the foundation stones. The present inhabitants, nevertheless, are by no means princely, - shabby men, and the careworn wives and mothers of the people, - one of whom was guiding a child in leading-strings through these antique alleys, where hundreds of generations have trod before those little feet. Finally we came out through a gateway, the same gateway at which we entered last night.

I ought to have mentioned, in the narrative of yesterday, that we crossed the Tiber shortly before reaching Perugia, already a broad and rapid stream, and already distinguished by the same turbid and mud-puddly quality of water that we see in it at Rome. I think it will never be so disagreeable to me hereafter, now that I find this turbidness to be its native color, and not (like that of the Thames) accruing from city sewers or any impurities of the lowlands.

As I now remember, the small Chapel of Santa Maria degl' Angeli seems to have been originally the house of St. Francis.

May 29th. - This morning we visited the Church of the Dominicans, where we saw some quaint pictures by Fra Angelico, with a good deal of religious sincerity in them; also a picture of St. Columba by Perugino, which unquestionably is very good. To confess the truth, I took more interest in a fair Gothic monument, in white marble, of Pope Benedict XII., representing him reclining under a canopy, while two angels draw aside the curtain, the canopy being supported by twisted columns, richly ornamented. I like this overflow and gratuity of device with which Gothic sculpture works out its designs, after seeing so much of the simplicity of classic art in marble.

We then tried to find the Church of San Pietro in Martire, but without success, although every person of whom we inquired immediately attached himself or herself to us, and could hardly be got rid of by any efforts on our part. Nobody seemed to know the church we wished for, but all directed us to another Church of San Pietro, which contains nothing of interest; whereas the right church is supposed to contain a celebrated picture by Perugino.

Finally, we ascended the hill and the city proper of Perugia (for our hotel is in one of the suburbs), and J - - -and I set out on a ramble about the city. It was market-day, and the principal piazza, with the neighboring streets, was crowded with people. . . . .

The best part of Perugia, that in which the grand piazzas and the principal public edifices stand, seems to be a nearly level plateau on the summit of the hill; but it is of no very great extent, and the streets rapidly run downward on either side. J - - -and I followed one of these descending streets, and were led a long way by it, till we at last emerged from one of the gates of the city, and had another view of the mountains and valleys, the fertile and sunny wilderness in which this ancient civilization stands.

On the right of the gate there was a rude country-path, partly overgrown with grass, bordered by a hedge on one side, and on the other by the gray city wall, at the base of which the track kept onward. We followed it, hoping that it would lead us to some other gate by which we might re-enter the city; but it soon grew so indistinct and broken, that it was evidently on the point of melting into somebody's olive-orchard or wheat-fields or vineyards, all of which lay on the other side of the hedge; and a kindly old woman of whom I inquired told me (if I rightly understood her Italian) that I should find no further passage in that direction. So we turned back, much broiled in the hot sun, and only now and then relieved by the shadow of an angle or a tower.

A lame beggar-man sat by the gate, and as we passed him J - - -gave him two baiocchi (which he himself had begged of me to buy an orange with), and was loaded with the pauper's prayers and benedictions as we entered the city. A great many blessings can be bought for very little money anywhere in Italy; and whether they avail anything or no, it is pleasant to see that the beggars have gratitude enough to bestow them in such abundance.

Of all beggars I think a little fellow, who rode beside our carriage on a stick, his bare feet scampering merrily, while he managed his steed with one hand, and held out the other for charity, howling piteously the while, amused me most.