Chapter XVII. Venice to Bologna.

In place of spending several days at Venice, as I now think I should have, I left already in the afternoon at 3:35 o'clock, and reached Bologna that evening. It required between 6 and 7 minutes to cross the bridge, over two miles long, which connects Venice with the land. The water is not deep, and most of this bridge is a mere bank of earth running into the sea. It was on account of my being disgusted at the general unpretending appearance of Venice, that I left her so soon. Among the objects of interest that I saw between Venice and Bologna, was a herd of a hundred deer on a hill-side, and the merry bells of stage-teams jingling like our sleigh-bells, but which may be heard in Italy and Switzerland all the year round. When I observed in my Satchel Guide that Bologna has two leaning towers, one of them nearly 300 feet high leaning 4 feet, and the other about half that height and leaning 8 feet, I determined to go and see them. They are massive but plain brick structures, and it is difficult to decide which way the higher one leans. The inclination of the lower one, however, is decided, but presents nothing striking or threatening in its appearance. I felt afraid that the Leaning Tower of Pisa might possibly also fail to present anything that was remarkable or imposing to the beholder when I would come to see it once, just as a thousand and one other objects do which antiquity and poetry have rendered sacred and famous; and I walked away with down-cast countenance and took passage for Firenze (Florence).


The Cathedral, (Il Duomo), begun in 1298, is 554 feet long; and 334 feet through the transepts. The nave is 152 feet high; the cupola is 138 feet in diameter or about the same as that of St. Peter's in Rome, for which it also served Michael Angelo as a model.

Close by the cathedral is Giotto's Campanile, 300 feet high, the most beautiful of all the towers that I have seen in Europe. The square blocks of many colored marble with which its four sides are coated, produce a richness of effect that is indescribable. Decorated from top to bottom with all manner of statues and architectural ornamentations, "it is like a toy of ivory, which some ingenious and pious monk might have spent his life-time in adorning with sculptural designs and figures of saints; and when it was finished, seeing it so beautiful, he prayed that it might be miraculously magnified from the size of one foot to that of three hundred." The view of this superb structure in connection with the grand edifice (the Cathedral) to which it belongs, opens so suddenly upon the visitor, that he will never forget what feelings of joy and surprise he experienced on making the last turn around the corner, when these splendid edifices leaped upon him so unexpectedly in all their beauty and magesty.

The church of Santa Croce, whose foundation was laid in 1294, is "the Pantheon of Tuscany." It contains the tomb of Michael Angelo, and magnificent monuments of Dante, of Alfiero, of Macchiavelli, of Galileo and of many others of less fame.

The houses in which were born Michael Angelo, Dante, Amerigo Vespucci, Macchiavelli and Galileo may be found and identified by the memorial tablets which mark them.

Piazza della Signoria is the business as well as the historic center of Florence. Here stands the old capitol of the republic, begun in 1298. It was afterwards the residence of Cosmo I. Near this palace is a magnificent fountain of the time of Cosmo I. I cannot tell positively, now, whether the sculpture and architecture of Florence is so much richer than what I saw elsewhere in Europe, or whether the enchanting beauty of sculpturesque and architectural master-strokes at the Cathedral, the Campanile, St. Croce, and the Fountain and Palace in this magnificent square, may not have thrown me into the condition of one in a dream; but I certainly felt all the time that I spent in Florence like one in another world, where scenes of fascinating beauty were surrounding me on every side, and feelings of ecstatic delight precluding me from any but a dream-like enjoyment of the scenery around. I was without any acquaintance or companion the whole day, which in connection with the fact that I was thousands of miles away from the familiar scenes of home, where every object that I contemplated was new and different from what I was wont to see, could not fail to make me feel like one in a dream. I went along the Portico degli Uffizi adorned with throngs of statues of celebrated Tuscans, and into the famous Uffizi Gallery, founded by the Medici, and one of the most precious collections in the world. In the Tribune, the inner sanctuary of the great temple of art ("the richest room in all the world, a heart that draws all hearts to it") I saw the Venus de Medici, the Dancing Faun, the Apollino, the Wrestlers, and other masterpieces of ancient sculpture; also, among the paintings, some of the best works of Raphael, Angelo, Titian and others. I must however admit that the out-door scenery of Florence charmed me more than what I saw in its world renowned museum. It seems to me, that Raphael and M. Angelo deserve more praise for the inventive genius which they evinced in translating bible stories and poetical imagery into pictures, than for their mechanical execution. To such as understand anything about paintings, it will seem very absurd, of course, that I should presume to criticise the paintings of these great masters, but they must admit that a hundred of those who roam the world and come to see the works of the masters, are ignorant of painting and sculpture, as I am, to half a dozen that are able to criticise them from the standpoint of one who is himself an artist. The "hundred" unskilled in the fine arts, have as great a desire to know how they will likely be affected by the sight of those works as the half dozen artists are; permit me to speak to the "hundred!" It is true that the paintings of Raphael and Angelo may have faded, but, whatever they may have been when they were first hung to the wall, they now look pale, shady and inferior in artistic execution to many of those of Rubens and of the masters of the Dutch school in general; that is, if we consider nature as the standard and copying it as the only criterion of a master's talents. But for inventive originality of conception, the Dutch masters are no rivals even, certainly not, of the Italians.

Need I repeat that wherever one finds such a rich store of art as in Florence, there too will he find ladies and gentlemen of beauty, culture and refinement? The same fascinating forms and features which characterize the men and women of Turin and Milan, are also met with here, but they comprise a much smaller proportion of the whole population. It is fair to presume, however, that a large proportion of those which I saw in Florence were natives of distant parts of the globe, which streamed thither, by the thousand, to see that charming city. One can nowhere see more intelligent company than in such a place as Florence; but how the most symmetrical and best looking people of all other countries contrast with Italian beauties, none but those few who ever go thither will ever learn to form the least conception of. It has become my duty, however, to record the fact, that the most favored of all countries when they sail into the society of the fair daughters of sunny Italy cast a shadow about them, as we may fancy any human would when coming into the company of the beautiful angels of a heavenly Paradise. Go reader, if you cannot visit Italy personally, and see what the poets say about these people, and believe every word they can say in favor of their charms.


From Florence I went to Pisa with the special object of seeing the famous Leaning Tower (1174-1350). It is circular, having 15 pillars in the wall of the first story and 30 in each of the six succeeding ones. On top of these, is another one (the eighth) much smaller than the rest, and probably built upon it after the tower had reached the amount of inclination which it now has. The entire structure is 187 feet high, and 173 feet 9 inches in circumference (according to my own measurement). The walls are from 5 to 7 feet thick. There is a peal of bells at the top, the heaviest weighing 6 tons. Nothing is more evident than that this tower assumed its leaning position by accident. It is probable that this structure, which is the finest in Italy except Giotto's Campanile at Florence, was originally designed to be a very high one, (perhaps 300 feet). It is likely that the foundation did not give way until at the seventh story, and that after it came to a stand-still again, they capped it off abruptly by the odd little story which we now see at the top of it. The inclination amounts to about 13 feet. There is a circular pavement around it about 10 feet wide, which has the same angle of inclination that the tower itself has. It is sunk 3 feet into the ground on one side and 8 feet on the other side. Upon careful examination and measurement I discovered that the diameter of the basin thus formed is to the height of the tower, as the inclination of pavement constituting the floor of the basin is to the amount of inclination of the tower.

Let it be remembered, that this tower is not an independent structure, but that it stands near the east end of the Cathedral, as the elegant campanile at Florence stands near the cathedral of that city.

The Cathedral.

The Cathedral (1063-1118) is 311 feet long, 106 feet wide, and the nave 109 feet high. The great bronze lamp which gave Galileo the hint of the pendulum, still hangs in its nave.

The Baptistry (1153-1278) stands a little distance from the west end of the Cathedral. It is about 120 feet in diameter and its dome is 180 feet high. Peabody considers it "the most faultlessly and exquisitely beautiful building" he ever saw.

These three most elegant buildings, the Cathedral, the Baptistry and the Campanile or Leaning Tower, are a unite in architectural beauty and design, and for effect in external appearance are scarcely outvied by anything that I have seen of the kind in all Italy. No one will feel sorry for having traveled a hundred miles to see the "Leaning Tower," and the traveler will observe with pleasure and satisfaction that its two companions are even more elegant than itself.

On Tuesday noon, September 15th, I left Pisa for Rome. It was continually

Getting Warmer,

as I progressed southward. At London I had received information that I must by no means go to Rome before October, as I might not be able to endure the intense heat of summer in central Italy.

The tourist must not always believe all that is said. Though it is not so pleasant to visit Rome in July or August, as later in the season, still it is quite as safe, if one takes the necessary precautions against fever. No one should eat much meat in Italy and Egypt. I lived upon milk, bread and fruit principally, and dressed in flannel; and as a consequence, never experienced much inconvenience from any source - not from heat even. At Rome I used an umbrella during the middle of the day, and in Egypt all of the day, but with that to protect me from the effect of the direct rays of the sun, I could get along tolerably well.

At Milan a young friend had cautioned me to be careful at Rome, as persons were often murdered there in broad daylight! I was not at all alarmed by that remark, because I had previously received similarly reports in regard to the morality of other cities, and had discovered that they were unfounded. As our train was sweeping on toward Rome, I apprehended little danger, therefore, from these sources, and after having formed the acquaintance of a certain Frenchman, the professor of mathematics of the University of Brest, who could speak a very little English, I began to have brighter hopes in regard to my visit to Rome.