November 9.-Yesterday morning, before leaving Bologna, we hired a conveyance and rode around the city. It is the only walled city we have seen except Nuremberg, many of whose walls have given way to improvements. We found in Bologna one short break in the wall where a high fence has been substituted. With that exception the wall is complete. So at last we have really been locked within a walled city at night. The finest residences are outside the walls and are beautifully located on the hills. On one of those beautiful hills in Bologna, really the beginning of the Apennines, the Pilgrimage Church (St. Luke) is located. It contains a picture of the Virgin, which, according to tradition, was painted by St. Luke. This church of San Luca on the summit of Monte della Guarda we saw from Bologna, but did not dare attempt the three-mile walk up the steep mountain side to visit it. It is approached by a colonnade of six hundred and thirty-five arches.
While in Bologna, I was much impressed by the evident poverty of the lower grade of people and felt a great pity in my heart for them. I do not wonder now since seeing Verona, Venice and Bologna that these poor Italian people go to America for work. We met beggars everywhere, many of them wearing sandals instead of shoes. We also met finely dressed, handsome, dignified looking officers wearing their graceful circular cloaks, small processions of boys with their teachers, and one long procession of girls all dressed alike. Even their black straw hats were trimmed alike with blue ribbon and blue plumes. At the market in Bologna we saw old, worn-out two-wheeled vehicles of various kinds. Miserable looking donkeys or very scrawny horses were drawing them. Sometimes two or three women or girls would be taking a ride. Oh what sights ! What poverty ! The women were coarse and grimy looking, with loud voices. I failed to see where their homes were. Many of the better class must live over the stores and arcades. I saw no nice looking little homes such as we have in America. It is such a mystery where all those crowds of people came from on Saturday. I was glad to leave Bologna.
On our journey from Bologna to Florence we passed through the remainder of the valley of the Po, our seats on the left side of the car giving us fine views of the Apennines all the way, except when we were going through the forty-five tunnels. A lamp was kept burning in the car until we were near Florence. I was too ill with my cold to go into raptures over the lovely views, but enjoyed every-thing. We passed through Pistoria, where the pistol was invented. The plains of Tuscany (” The Garden of Italy”) interested us. Everything interested us. As we approached Florence the moon rose and the mountains were beautifully illuminated by the western sun. On our arrival, Hotel des Etats Unis (United States Hotel) welcomed us. It was 12 :30 when we left Bologna. We arrived here at 5 :15. Although I was rather homesick in Bologna and felt glad to leave it, I should have been glad to see more of it if my cold had not prevented. It has fine palaces and seventy or more remark-able churches. The University of Bologna, the oldest in Italy, is said to date from the fifth century. In the twelfth century many students from all parts of Europe attended this ancient seat of learning. Learned women taught there and were there first recognized as professors.
November 10.L. lost his way yesterday when walking about Florence. We have moved down to room No. 17. L. called on Mrs. Nesfield at Pension Constantine.
November 12.Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Nesfield and Mrs. Coe called. It is pleasant to meet again these new friends. This morning L. met Mrs. Rhodes on the street ; she took him to her hotel and introduced him to her land-lord. She wishes us to engage board there, but as it is on the river we object. Venice has surfeited us with water for the present.
L. has been out twice today. I feel quite lonely shut up in our room with my Bologna cold. I go down to meals, however, and find some society at the tables.
November 15.L. spent the forenoon looking up seven pensions. We have had difficulty here about a room. We have moved upstairs. The Danish sisters called this afternoon. Yesterday (Sabbath) L. went to a Scotch Presbyterian church.
November 16.-A week since we came here, and this afternoon I have been out for the first time. The sun was so warm that I went with L. to see the roses which he has been telling me abouta beautiful bed of pink roses with a few red ones which are in the public park near the entrance. He took a picture of them. Then a street car carried us three-fourths of the way around the city and back again. We passed the fortress, the triumphal arch, the English cemetery where Mrs. Browning, Theodore Parker, and others are buried, and had fine views of the Arno, of the surrounding hills and of the Apennines. The latter reminded us of our journey from Bologna. Afterwards we called upon the Nesfields, finding only the eldest daughter.
November 17.This afternoon I ventured out again with L. in an omnibus to Piazza della Signoria, the old historic center of the city and now the business center, passing on the way the great Duomo (Cathedral). In this Piazza we saw the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia de’ Lanzi. We walked through the portico of the Uffizi Gallery to the Arno. A man was anxious to sell me a small dog. A lady gave me a persimmon and some small Italian fruit called cerasi marini, or marine cherries. Medlars, another Italian fruit, are on the table here and are not considered eatable until they are dead ripe.
November 18.We have been this afternoon to Porta Romanaone of the old wooden gates of the city. On the way we passed over the famous Ponte Vecchio. The carriage way is lined on both sides by shops which have been occupied by goldsmiths and jewelers since the 16th century. This most ancient bridge in Florence reminds us strongly of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. We passed the Pitti Royal Pal-ace which contains the Pitti Gallery of Paintings. We saw very perfect portions of the old city wall, designed by Michael Angelo, which is built of stone. On one side of the Porta Romana is a long strip of this massive wall which I explored to the end while L. rested. On the other side is a very large private garden belonging to the Torrigiani family. It contains a curious high tower with a spiral staircase to the top:
November 19.Neither of us have been out this after-noon. I have been thinking about Venice today and longing to visit it again. There is a sadness about leaving all these places. We feel sure that we shall never see them again. Venice, beautiful, wonderful Venice ! How much I would like to visit it once more. It was hard to be ill during the last few days. I longed for one more look at St. Mark’s church and wished much to visit the island of Murano and the cemetery. Goodbye, goodbye to the “proud queen of the Adriatic.”
November 20.-We rode to the cathedral this afternoon. How plain and bare the interior seemed after having seen so many rich and gorgeous churches in other cities. The exterior, quite different from anything we have seen, is composed of marbles of different colors, white, green and red, beautifully arranged. It has many statues, bas reliefs, and three beautiful mosaic pictures, one above each of the three entrances. Although smaller than the mosaics in the facade of St. Mark’s, Venice, they are beautiful. The stained glass windows, the most of them long and narrow, are attractive in design and coloring. A variety of coats of arms are carved on the facade. Fourteen years were spent in constructing the great dome of this cathedral, which is without supports or scaffolding. The interior of the dome is covered with beautiful frescoes. The doors, one of bronze and two of brown wood, are very richly carved. While there we at-tended a part of a service.
November 21.-We received today a call from the Russian lady from near Odessa.
November 22.-We have had a clear, bright day for our delightful trip to Piazzale Michaelangelo. We left here at 12:50. An omnibus, horse tram and steam tram carried us up a winding track to this high spot, which gave us a grand and beautiful view of Florence, of the surrounding hills and mountains and of the river Arno. The sun lighted up the beautiful Apennines. Some of the nearer mountains are built upon to their very tops. It was windy and I sought shelter for a while in a cafe where I enjoyed a cup of coffee and we ate what remained of our lunch. A large cat came into the room and was a comfort when I was left there alone in the cold. (L. had gone to take pictures.) Afterwards I walked about with L. and we enjoyed the view, the flowers, the salmon roses on a high wall below us, and the hillsides covered with olive trees. Leaves were falling from many of the trees, which are nearly bare; others are green and fresh. L. says:
“What a view it was and what a day to take it in.” In the center of the Piazzale is a bronze reproduction of Michael Angelo’s David and his four reclining statues, Day, Night, Morning and Dawn. L. photographed this group and took five other pictures. We looked up to the two churches, San Miniato and San Salvatore, but did not ascend the hill.
November 24.-Yesterday was another lovely day and we took advantage of the clear air and bright sunshine to go to Fiesole. It was a beautiful ride into the country by electric car from Piazza Cavour. After leaving San Domenico, the road winds gradually up the steep ascent. We passed pretty villas. Soon there were fine views of the hills and of the city of Florence. We looked up at the high, steep summit and it hardly seemed that we could ascend by tram, but this was accomplished by a series of curves from which we looked down upon the winding road already passed over, with its high, massive walls. Above us, below us and all around us were olive orchards. When we reached the top we found ourselves in a broad square in the centre of which was displayed a collection of fans and baskets, made of the straw for which the place is noted. Women swarmed around us begging me to buy. I went into an olive orchard and broke off a twig. We walked along outside of a portion of the old Etruscan wall, and saw the immense stones with which it was built, the remains of an old Roman theatre, the arches and remains of a Roman bath recently excavated, and pink roses resembling our wild rose. On our re-turn we took the electric tram again and had most beautiful views of the Apennines and of the city on our way down. The sun was setting as we took our last look. Fiesole, once a rich, beautiful Etruscan city, has only a large square and a few narrow lanes and houses. It is so ancient that its origin is unknown.
We have visited the Uffizi Gallery. We found cold rooms and were obliged to glance hastily at many of the paintings but lingered over The Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, The Descent of Christ into Limbo, Raphael’s portrait painted by himself and others. This afternoon we have seen the Piazza Victor Emmanuel which contains a large equestrian statue of that king. The buildings, including the archway entrance, are new and fine. There are some specimens of old buildings on this Piazza such as were torn down to give way to the new. On the way we passed the Strozzi Palace, an ancient and massive stone building. On each of the four corners is an artistic lantern. We went into the central court, into photograph stores, and again into the Duomo where a service was being held, and afterwards into the Campanile and into the Baptistery. Whenever we ride into the country, we notice so many of the tall, slender evergreens (cypress trees) which are important features of the landscapes. We have seen nearly everywhere, since leaving London, the red roofs of semi-circular tile. L. has made a drawing of them in my journal.
November 25.-Our Thanksgiving day in America; L. and I here in this strange land where they never have a Thanksgiving day! Much of the time I have a homesick feeling, due largely to my anxiety about L. whose health is very frail. (He is resting on the lounge now). However, as I said to him this morning, we have good reason to be thankful that we are alive and as well as we are. We have visited this afternoon Piazza d’Azelio, the center of the new part of Florence. Nearly filling the whole Piazza are fine trees, shrubs and flower beds, including a salvia bed bordered by marigolds, beautiful pink roses, ageratums, geraniums, heliotropes, nasturtiums, and pampas grass in blossom. Two shrubs were filled with white, trumpet-shaped blossoms. Farther on beautiful salmon roses were climbing over a high wall. The square is surrounded by large, fine residences. We saw the front and rear of the handsome Jewish synagogue. An Italian merry-go-round was rather interesting. Through the closed gates of the English cemetery we saw a profusion of roses and rosebuds trained on a high wall.
November 26.-There is snow in the air. L. says “the greatest sight we have seen yet.” It is cold and windy. I have been housed all day.
November 27.Another cold day, but not windy. I have been with L. to the central market, which is in a large, new building. We saw strange, interesting fishes there, and other sea creatures. People who were selling things were not so loud and coarse and grimy as they were in Bologna. L. has taken four picturesthree of scenes near the market and one of a policeman who wore a hat resembling those worn by Napoleon I. All of them carry swords. After L took the second scene a crowd of people gathered about us and tried to see the picture in the finder. L. stood for his picture with his kodak case over his shoulder and a palm tree for a back-ground. In one of the outdoor market scenes a woman was frying slices of mush and rolls of sausage on a peculiar stove, the whole top of which was a frying pan. It was so cold that I was glad to stand by the stove where the woman was cooking and warm myself. People bought slices of fried mush to eat. Near by a man was cooking something over a smaller stovea red liquid which, when put into the frying pan, turned to a dark brown and formed a cake the size of the pan and about the thickness of our griddle cakes. This man wanted us to take his picture. In San Lorenzo Church we again met the two Danish sisters.
November 29.It is rainy and the wind gives us a smoky stove. I have not ventured out this afternoon and L. only on an errand.
In the Pitti Gallery we found ten of Raphael’s paintingsamong others his Madonna of the Chair and Madonna of the Grand Duke. We were delighted with Murillo’s Madonna, Titian’s La Bella, his Magdalene and also many of Andrea del Sarto’s paintings, as well as Fra Bartolomeo’s Pieta.
In the Monastery of San Marco, now called a Museum, we saw the rooms once occupied by Fra Angelico. A guide conducted us through the rooms and cells made beautiful by his frescoes. As each cell contains only one small window we used the guide’s reflector in looking at the frescoes. We are told that this good monk never began a painting without prayer. The library has beautifully illuminated manuscript books, the labor of the monks and nuns. The three cells of Savanarola and relics of him were shown us. He was Prior of this Monastery and preached in the church connected with it. Here he was taken prisoner. In the Piazza della Signoria where we so often go, he was strangled and burned. A piece of the scaffolding on which he was hung was among the relics. The San Marco Piazza on which the monastery stands attracted me because of the beautiful little park which is mostly filled with a variety of palm trees. L. has been this morning with his kodak pictures to a photographer to have them developed but returned with the remark that he “went on a fool’s errand. The man was not in.” We are looking forward with eagerness to these pictures. No putty is around the glass in windows here. At night we close the inside shutters for warmth. We take our breakfast in our room; our lunch is at one and our dinner at seven.
November 30.-Among the guests in this hotel are a Russian lady with three interesting children; an English Admiral and his wife ; a young man from England who is studying art; a Mrs. Rivers, a young and blooming bride from America whose husband, an army officer, is with her; a Mrs. Karmine who sits next to me at table and speaks English, French, Italian and Russian; and an Italian Marquis with his wife and their three little boys, who already speak Italian, French and English. The Marquis de Castelthomond, although born in Italy, descends from the House of Stuart, exiled from England when James II was dethroned. He received his title from the Pope. The Marchioness belongs to a family of high rank in England. In the evening while standing in the reception room I was surprised and much pleased by some kind words of Admiral Perry about the Americans. This was because of some remarks that were made to me by the Marquis and a Canadian lady that were derogatory to the Americans. Among other things the Marquis said (referring to L. and myself) : “You are all right. You belong to the better class of Americans. You are a charming woman, but the Americans hate the English and flaunt their flags over here!” The Admiral affirmed warmly that from his acquaintance with both Englishmen and Americans the remarks were without foundation. He expressed his own admiration for Americans and for what they have accomplished during the past three hundred years. I was surprised to find that the Marquis disliked Americans. They sit opposite us at the table and have been quite sociable and friendly.
The Church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), built by monks and sometimes called the Pantheon of Florence, we have visited this afternoon. Over the three doors are bas-reliefs and statuary. The interior, remarkable for its monuments and for its finely carved pulpit with bas-reliefs, contains a spiral staircase which is within the pillar to which the pulpit is attached and leads to it. Here in this church Michael Angelo is entombed. Much to the disappointment of the Florentines the ashes of Dante are not entombed here, but the church contains monuments of both these men and of many other great Italians. It has beautiful stained glass windows, oil paintings and time-worn frescoes with a ceiling of plain wood. The brick pavement (floor) contains two hundred and seventy-six sepulchral slabs. Unfortunately some notable names have been erased from these slabs which have been continually walked over so many years.
The Piazza Santa Croce on which the church stands has a monument of “the divine poet” placed there in 1865 to mark the six hundredth anniversary of his birth. Owing to the strange position of the figure it has been jestingly spoken of as “the statue of Dante who jumps a ditch.”
We walked among the cloisters of the adjoining monastery. In the walls are inlaid coats of arms. Curious epitaphs and paintings are on the walls and on the marble slabs on which we walked. Many Franciscan monks are buried there. After leaving the monastery we went into a rubber store, and afterwards into the great Duomo again, where they were having a service. We enjoy the churches. This afternoon we have seen two more. San Lorenzo first. In this Basilica, built on the site of one still more ancient, a service was in progress. We saw the remarkable singing gallery of white and colored marbles and rock crystal, and the two curious pulpits without stairs. When these pulpits are used, temporary stairs are placed at each one. Back of the high altar are fine old frescoes and in the Sacristy are paintings by Carlo Dolci. The painting by Cimabue, father of Italian painting, we of course felt interested in. In this church the funeral service of Michael Angelo was held. He died in Rome at the age of eighty-nine. The front of the church is rude and unfinished. Afterwards we went into the cloisters and into the Spanish Chapel which is splendidly decorated with frescoes. In one of these allegorical frescoes dogs are attacking wolves and overcoming themthe wolves illustrating the pagans and the dogs the Dominican monks.
Next the church of Santa Maria Novella. This is considered one of the most interesting churches in Florence. On entering the first thing to notice is the Madonna by Cimabue. This old painting is of course not above criticism, but it is most interesting to see. The Madonna, holding the child Jesus in her arms, sits enthroned, guarded on each side by three angels. The facade of this church, a combination of different styles of architecture, is faced with black and white marble. The Piazza S. Maria Novella, on which the church stands, used long ago for chariot races, has two grey marble obelisks in the center which served as goals. It has always been used for various kinds of festivals. Preaching services were formerly held here.
Many of the beautiful gardens in Florence are hidden by high solid walls. Through the iron bars of a fence we saw a short tree or shrub (Acuba Japonica) with glossy green leaves and bunches of bright red berries, much more beautiful than our mountain ash, and quite different. We see many green trees here, containing bunches of blue berries. On our way from the church of Santa Maria Novella, we looked into the large windows of the statuary stores as we went along, and saw a multitude of marble statues of various sizes and subjectsserious and amusing. Afterwards we went into a store which was like a gallery of lovely paintings. There were fine specimens of rare paintings, among them Fra Angelico’s celebrated Madonna and Angels, painted on wood like the original; price, $300.00. L. has been again to a photographer to have his films developed.
December 2.L. took cold yesterday, but we went this morning to the flower market, held in a large open stone loggia, built in 1547-51, that nearly fills the square Mercato Nuovo. There were chrysanthemums, salmon roses, pink roses, primroses, colored pampas grass, beautiful white flower pansies, violets, oxeye daisies, amaryllises, callas, aspidistras, (name unknown) the Acuba Japonica and other plants. The fountain on this square, a bronze boar, is a copy of the marble one in the Uffizi Gallery. In an open meat shop opposite the flower market, we saw chickens roasting on a revolving iron frame, and little birds that had been roasted, placed alternately with pieces of bread on an iron rod. On our return, after leaving the omnibus, we went into a studio of sculpture close by where they were carving statues from the rough blocks of marblesome were near completion, others just begun. A model of a group of musicians was there and near by was the yet untouched block of marble from which the group was to be carved. There is always something to see. There are new buildings being erected here of the same style of architecture as the old, which is massive and plaina strong contrast to the rich and delicate carvings in Venice.
The Marquis said to L. one day: “A real, true Roman is almost divine. The Italians you have in America are not true Italians; they go from Naples and other seaports.” The small donkeys amuse us-some not larger than a good-sized dog.
December 4.Yesterday and today L. and I have been shopping together, although L.’s cold is severe. We have made some purchases, among other things a church cap for L. to wear in the cold churches and art galleries. After shopping in the rain we went into the great Duomo for a short time and afterwards to the church of San Michelelargely to see the beautiful shrine by Orcagna, which we looked at by the light of a candle held by the guide. Even in the dark place it occupies we could see, although not satisfactorily, the fineness and beauty of the carving and were astonished that such marvelous work could be done in marble. We did not wonder that fourteen years were spent in completing this great work of art. It contains a so-called miraculous image of the Virgin. This costly and elegant shrine was built with the presents given to this Madonna during the plague of 1348.
On our way to the stores we walked to the Palazzo Riccardi, formerly occupied by the Medici (Dukes) of Florence. This palace, the Palazzo Stozzi, the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio are considered the finest of the old pal-aces. The tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is higher than any other building in Florence, is a wonderful piece of architecture.
As we sit eating our breakfast in our room each morning I look through the window down into a garden. Over a wall I can see lovely salmon roses climbing on a balcony. They tell me that roses bloom here until January. Yesterday L. got his developed films (forty-four in all) and looked them over with Miss Shepherd.
December 5.Today I walked alone on the Lung’ Arno, a broad street by the river Arno which divides the town into two portions. Boys were fishing there with nets, and offered me fish from a pail. I walked to Piazza Manin. In the centre of the square is a bronze statue erected in honor of Daniele Manin. Here I went into the church of Ognissanti, attended a part of a service and looked about the church. The organ was being played and three priests were officiating at an altar. Two of them were throwing incense during the service. The Lung’ Arno was thronged with men, women and children. Very handsome equipages were on the street, containing stylish, fine looking people. Through an iron fence I looked into a beautiful garden where there were white flowers, scarlet geraniums, a yucca in bloom, and the same beautiful green tree with bright red berries.
December 6.-In the Academy of Ancient and Modern Art the first thing we saw was Michael Angelo’s David, which the great sculptor shaped from a spoiled block of marble that had been thrown aside as worthless. Vasari says that “this work surpasses all ancient and modern statues now known.” He praises “the miracle-worker who raised the dead spoiled block to new life.” The gigantic statue of the youthful David stands ready to slay the giant. The left hand, upraised, holds the sling, the closed right hand at his side contains the hidden pebble. The next moment it will do its deadly work. In this gallery we found Fra Angelico’s Madonna and Child and his remarkable painting of the Last Judgment. This fine gallery ranks next in excellence to the Uffizi and Pitti galleries.
Every evening we have vocal music in the street below us. A man with a fine voice sings, accompanied by a guitar.
December 7.-We have had a glorious day for our trip to San Miniato. Again we found ourselves on the Piazzale Michaelangelo, and again we enjoyed clear, lovely views of Florence, the hills and snow-tipped Apennines. On reaching the Piazzale Michaelangelo a grand panoroma was before us. From the terrace we looked down upon the city of Florence with the river Arno winding its way through. The first time we were there I was obliged to seek shelter from the wind, but today I could stand on the terrace and enjoy to my heart’s content this never-to-be-forgotten picture. We sat on a mosaic seat and ate our lunch in the warm sunshine.
L. said he never enjoyed a lunch more in his life. Close by us a yucca was in budjust ready to open its blossomsand roses were on a wall quite near us. Then we did what we were unable to do when we were here on November 22we climbed the hill to San Miniato. There we visited the cemetery and the two churches, San Salvatore and San Miniato, and tried to visit the Franciscan monastery adjoining the church of San Salvatorea famous old church. At the door of the monastery a monk kindly informed me by signs that I could not be admitted. We find that unless a monastery is suppressed or dying out, women are not allowed to enter it. L. would not go without me; I felt sorry. The church of San Miniato, in the Tuscan Romanesque style, has a facade of marbles in different colors.
We looked with much interest at Fiesole which is as high on one side of the city as San Miniato is on the other. As we stood on the highest point in the cemetery Florence seemed to be surrounded by mountains although in some places the view was interrupted. On leaving the Piazzale we rode in a carriage on the famous Via Colli from San Miniato to Porta Romana. There were fine views and beautiful villas on the way.
December 8.This is a holiday herethe Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The stores are all closed and business is suspended. This afternoon we have been into the Church of the SS. Annunziatathe most fashionable church in Florence. It is overloaded with ornamentation, gilding and many heavy silver lamps, frescoes and oil paintings. A handsome chapel contains a veiled “miraculous image of the Virgin” which is seldom seen. A service was begun but there was no music and we left for home. Before that we had attended a part of a very showy service in the Duomo and afterwards a part of another service in the Foundling Hospital Chapel just back of the Duomo. Arcades lead to the Hospital building. Between the arches are medallions with swathed infants of various forms and expressions which are charming and attract much attention. On our way home in the omnibus we passed crowds of people. We saw many roses yesterday at San Miniato and when we were walking down the hill to find a carriage.
December 9.This morning there were April-like showers. This afternoon we visited the Pitti (Royal) Palace which contains the Pitti Gallery. The splendidly decorated rooms are filled with rich and costly furniture. The dining rooms, the reception rooms and the bed rooms occupied by the King and Queen when they visit Florence are all lovely. One room contains silver and gold plate and precious jewels. Some of the walls are covered with embroidered silk of very delicate colors. There were beautiful stone floors of various descriptions and floors inlaid with wood. From the palace we passed through the entrance to the Boboli Gar-den which is on the slope of a high hill. We ascended many stone steps, going up higher and higher until we reached a point where a fine view could be obtained. There are walks with tall evergreens on each side and very high hedges. Back of these are large trees making a high, green wall. There are beautiful terraces and many statues and vases, a wonderful grotto with four unfinished statues by Michael Angelo ; a fountain, an Egyptian obelisk brought from Rome and a very large and ancient basin of grey granite. In the basin of Neptune there were fishes of different sizes and colors, but mostly red fishes, many of them mottled with black. They had found attractive food and were crowding about it. Vehicles here turn to the left, as in London.
December 11.Yesterday was a delightful day”a red-letter day,” L. calls it. At 8:55 in the morning we started for Pisa. Our journey was delightful. The clear air and bright sun lighted up the hills and snow-capped mountains, making the Italian landscape beautiful. The cypress trees and other evergreens with round, green tops ; the trees that had lost their leaves, leaving the red tops; the mountain shadows, the cloud shadows resting on the white summits and green hills combined to give us charming views all the way. We passed through the valley of the Arno, and through the Tuscany garden. Ancient towns were high up on the mountain-like hills and down on the lower hills and hillsides. There were monstrous cacti and yellow flowers near by.
Four things we were told must be seen at Pisa : the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Campo Santo and the Leaning Tower. To the Piazza del Duomo then we went to see these four remarkable structures, all of white marble and harmonizing with each other. The cathedral, in the form of a Roman cross, has a large elliptical dome over the center. The facade, ornamented with columns and arches and open galleries, is crowned by three statues. Double rows of pillars extend the whole length of the interior. A staircase belonging to one of the pulpits, the steps old and worn, is wonder-fully and finely carved. The altar and canopy of solid silver blackened by age are in the left transept. Galileo’s lamp (a great bronze chandelier) hangs near the center of the church. L. did not have the pleasure of swinging it although he set one near it in motion. Paintings of the twelfth century (six by Andrea del Sarto) adorn the walls of this cathedral. St. Agnes and the Lamb will be especially re-membered. L. considers the noted hexagonal pulpit, upheld by seven columns, the finest he ever saw. On this pulpit of translucent marble the following reliefs are wonderfully and elaborately carved : The Annunciation and Nativity, with figures of six sheep ; The Adoration of the Magi, with figures of three horses; Presentation of Jesus in the Temple; The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment; figures of the apostles, and allegorical figures.
The Baptistery (exterior), an elegant circular building, is adorned with columns and arches and statuary and much besides. The cone-like dome is surmounted by a statue. This building has a remarkable echo. A man sounded some loud musical notes. Then I tried. L. wishes me to write that our guide said to him, “A beautiful voice.”
The Campo Santo encloses the cemetery which contains fifty-three shiploads of earth brought from Mt. Calvary. Flowers were given me from plants grown in this earth.
The great corridors which enclose this “Holy Ground” are made beautiful with sculptures and paintings and contain numerous monumentsmany of them fine works of art. They contain also Greek, Roman and Etruscan sarcophagi and other remains, and two immense harbor chains captured in war and given back after five centuriesone by the Florentines, the other by the Genoese. The walls are covered with old frescoes, the most famous being The Last Judgment, and others by Orcagna. There is also an ancient map of the world on which, of course, America does not appear.
The Campanile, or Leaning Tower, we did not ascend. It is round and has eight stories ; in the highest story are seven bells, one of which we saw ringing. We ate our lunch in the warm sunshine, sitting on the steps of one of the cathedral doors. On our way back to the station we rode about the city. We saw the old walls of the city, high, built of stone and well preserved. We rode through one of the open gates. Close by the Arno is the chapel of Santa Maria della Spina, built in 1230. I saw three orange trees with beautiful fruit. The driver allowed me to stand on the carriage seat and look down into the garden, which is enclosed by high walls. Our journey home was pleasant and restful. It became dark, but we could see the Arno by moonlight. When we reached Florence we found a crowd of people and many carriages with lamps, the drivers calling lustily for passengers. L. said it “seemed as though all creation had come to Florence.” We threaded our way through the streets to our hotel, and were in season for dinner at seven o’clock.
While we were walking about Pisa this afternoon we saw, not far from the station, a beautiful parrot with red, green, blue, yellow and black feathers. He was not in a cage and was not fastened, but stood on a shelf above us with a small tin cup by his side. People were standing near him at a lunch stand. I gave him a piece of orange which pleased him. At first he ate it from one of his claws as he held it, but afterwards from his cup.
December 11.-We both remained indoors during the forenoon. In the afternoon we made our second visit to the Uffizi gallery where, especially in the Tribune, is a wonderful collection of masterpieces of old sculpture and admirable paintings. We saw the more than four hundred gems and precious stones formerly belonging to the Medici, and also twelve cases of cameos, ancient and modern. In the two rooms containing portraits of artists painted by them-selves, we noticed among many others, those of Raphael, Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Andrea del Sarto and Rubens. The walls are crowded, being covered to the top. Fra Angelico’s Madonna with the Twelve Angels, each with a musical instrument, we loved best and looked at longest. Copies of these famous angels on wood are to be seen in nearly all the stores. This pious monk truly blessed the world when he left in it this angelic work. After leaving the gallery we went into the chapel of the Misericordia. We saw the biers in which the sick are carried to the hospital by these Brethren of Mercy, as they call themselves. The King of Italy is an honorary member of the Misericordia. The members belong to every class of society. The boots, showing beneath the robe, sometimes reveal the rank of the wearer. Large, heavy boots of a workman are often seen next to the fine ones of a man of wealth. They also carry the dead to their burial, their faces concealed by the black hood which belongs to the long black robes they wear, except that in the hood are two holes for the eyes. We attended a part of a funeral service L. brought home with him twenty prints from films and the pocket thermometer I gave him. Then we looked in stores and spent some time in selecting photographs.
December 12.-A fog this forenoonthe first we have seen here although there has been much rainy, misty weather.
Having visited San Lorenzo Church, its library and cloisters, we next visited its Medici Chapel, which is close by in the rear. This Mausoleum for the Medici dukes or princes is a large, lofty room, ninety-four feet in diameter and two hundred feet high. It is octagonal in form, with a dome. The walls are “lined throughout with lapis lazuli, jasper, onyx, and other precious stones.” Monuments surround the interior. Golden crowns ornamented by jewels rest on cushions above the tombs. The interior of the dome, beautifully frescoed, illustrates sixteen Bible scenes. The new Sacristy chapel (on our left), designed by Michael Angelo, we entered next. This chapel also contains monuments of the Medici dukes and much beautiful statuary, but the walls are simple and unadorned. On each side of the walls we found one of Michael Angelo’s immortal works of sculpture.
From the new Sacristy we went again into San Lorenzo Church, passing through a noisy street market that seemed little like Sunday. In the church they were having mass with fine music and a full-toned organ. We noticed again the famous carved pulpits from which Savanarola preached the last Sunday before his execution. In this church were the funerals of the Medici family, who once ruled Florence, and as I have said before, the splendid funeral of Michael Angelo (1563) though he was buried in the church of Santa Croce. Then we went to the SS. Annunziata Church where there was another mass and more fine music. Then to the Archaeological Museum where we saw an astonishing display of tapestry largely illustrating Bible scenesParadise,. David and Bathsheba, History of Esther, Samson and Deli lah, and other Biblical scenes. The Etruscan exhibit is most interesting because of the great number and variety of carved stone urns for the ashes of the dead. A double stone door of a tomb can still be turned in its stone sockets. An immense round stone urn is there about five feet across, but most curious of all is a stone sarcophagus with a recumbent statue of a lady at her toilet with a round stone mirror in her hand. In the Egyptian section we were most interested in a wooden chariot found at Thebes as early as 1400 B. C. It is slenderly built with a basket-work floor where the charioteer stood ages ago. This is said to be the only one of its kind known to exist. It is wholly of wood. In the afternoon we went across the Arno to Church del Car-mine where we saw twelve wall frescoes in a side chapel, mostly by Masaccio. “Raphael studied these frescoes and copied them seven times.”
We walked past the disused old market to see where the low classes of Florence make their homes. Then to the Church of Santo Spirito where Luther preached when on his way to Rome. In the body of the church are the choir and high altar which are rich if not artistic and cost one hundred and forty thousand dollars. The choir has a screen of marble and bronze. The high altar is richly ornamented with bronze statuettes and mosaics. In each of the thirty-eight chapels in this church there is usually something worthy of notice. Many of the old paintings are most interesting to study. L. picked a magnolia leaf in the Piazza S. Spirito.
We returned by Trinity Bridge and the crowded, aristocratic Lung’ Arno, which was filled with people on foot and in carriages, as is usual there about 4 o’clock on Sun-day afternoons.
We felt that we were overdoing yesterday and almost breaking the Sabbath, but it seemed necessary to crowd much into the day as we are expecting soon to leave this interesting city.
December 14,-This is the anniversary of the death of L.’s dear mother and also of my own precious mother. Yesterday afternoon we visited the Buonarroti Gallery. This house was purchased by Michael Angelo for his nephew, Leonard. Leonard’s son, a poet, assisted by an-other man, “decorated it in honor of his great ancestor. In 1858 it was left to the city of Florence for a public museum.” The four rooms contain different portraits of Michael Angelo, a bronze bust, a statue, wall scenes illustrating Michael Angelo’s life, some clay models of his, and many designs, drawings and souvenirs. Afterwards we went again to the Palazzo Vecchio on the Piazza della Signoria.
This capitol of the old republic and afterwards the palatial residence of Cosimo I, is now a municipal building. I have already said the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio rises higher (308 feet) than any other building in Florence. From the summit a grand view of the city and surroundings is to be obtained. In the tower is the prison where Savanarola was incarcerated before his execution. Up two flights of stairs is the wedding room where civil marriages are performed. We first went into the hall which contains the marble statue of Savanorola holding a cross in his upraised hand, and then through a vestibule to the Hall of the Two Hundred. There we were present at a meeting of the city council. The ceilings and walls are adorned with paintings. Afterwards we went upstairs and into a few other rooms. The exterior of the building is of rough, grey stone.
December 15.Yesterday afternoon we went to the Royal Stables (Mews) and saw about twenty horses and a fine collection of ancient carriages as well as one used by the present King and Queen, and a lovely little coach in which the Prince of Naples rides; also his baby carriage. We saw the funeral coach of Victor Emmanuel II, the three carriages which belonged to him and the handsome harnesses which he usedsome of crimson velvet highly ornamented with metal, others of light blue material decorated with metal.
Afterwards we went to the Boboli Garden. We had bet-ter views of it this time, entering from the opposite side. There was a surprising display of statues and a round lake with an island in the centre. The avenue, as we walked up the hill, was lined with statuary and high trees and hedges. We saw orange trees against a wall where I picked a leaf. On reaching the highest point we saw the mountains and a part of the city and came out of the Garden by the Amphitheatre and the Pitti Palace (named Pitti for the founder) and saw again the house where Mr. and Mrs. Browning livedCasa Guidi. A tablet is on the house.
This afternoon was given to the Bargello or National Museum and the little chapel in the palace. Some of the Medici once lived there and used this chapel. This great palace has a history. It is one of the most important buildings in the city. A colonnade surrounds the court of the palace and in the interior, around the colonnade, are statues by celebrated sculptors. In the court is the splendid stair-case, the walls of which are decorated with coats of arms.
L. is delighted with his little thermometer. He has just written on the back : “From dear wifie. Florence, Italy, December 13, 1897.”
Before visiting the National Museum we stepped into the church of the Badia nearly opposite the Bargello palace. A service was begun (mass) while we were there. The pretty interior impressed us at once. Before entering the church we noticed in the handsome corridor with columns two chapels, and in the church the beautiful altar and exquisite wood carvings of the choir. Above the altar is a fine painting of the Virgin followed by angels visiting St. Bernard. It is said that nearly all the figures in this painting are real portraits.
December 16.-This is the first sunny day since the lovely one in Pisa. It has been cloudy and warm with some rain. There has been no cold weather since the early part of our stay here and only once have we experienced the Tramontana winds. There is much that I wish to remember about this lovely city. From the Piazza della Signoria which we have visited many times omnibuses start for various parts of the city. On the southeast corner of the square stands the ancient Palazzo Vecchio with its remarkable tower. In the center of the Piazza is the fine equestrian statue of Cosimo I. Close by is the fountain of Neptune with its horses and chariots, and near it the lion on a pedestal and the statue of Hercules. Facing the palace is the beautiful Loggia de’ Lanzi with its three large arcades. Steps lead to the platform of this open structure where, sheltered by the roof, is a fine collection of statuary. This loggia was built to give the people a place of shelter during elections and when other public business was carried on. The bell which called them still hangs in the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. On the Piazza Signoria they gathered in crowds to listen to public proclamations. A long, narrow street is lined on both sides by open porticoes. Above these porticoes is the Uffizi Gallery in the Palazzo degli Uffizia palace of great size which is filled with untold treasures.
Every night at our hotel there is singing, accompanied by a guitar, and other music. The beautiful salmon roses I can still see from our little breakfast table in room No. 29, which we have occupied since the first week of our stay in Florence. I have a strong desire to remain here longer. Before leaving I should be glad to see more of the paintings and statuary. I would like to go again to those beautiful heights, Fiesole and San Miniato. Everything that we have seen I would like to see again, but we must tear ourselves away from this most interesting city. We must say good-bye with many regrets. Five weeks and four days sojourn here. Our hotel is on Via Montebello.