Among the various states which have been welded into the modern kingdom of Italy, Naples, though second to others in population and industry, occupies the largest area.* It embraces the whole southern half of the peninsula, and its coast has a development of 993 miles. Formerly the country was better known than any other portion of Italy as Magna Graecia, but now many pasts of it are scarcely known at all.
The Apennines of Naples can hardly be described as a mountain chain. They consist rather of distinct mountain groups joined by transverse ranges, or by elevated saddles. In the first of these groups the serrated crest of the Meta (7,364 feet) rises above the zone of trees, and is separated from the Abruzzos by the deep valley of the Sangro, which flows to the Adriatic. Farther to the south, beyond the valley of Isernia, which gives birth to the Volturno, rise the mountains of the Matese, culminating in the Miletto (6,717 feet), the last bulwark of the Samnites. Other summits, less elevated, but equally steep and imposing, rise near Benevento and Avellino. They abound in savage defiles, in which many a bloody battle has been fought. The valley of the ” Furcae Caudinae,” where the Romans humbled themselves before the Samnites, and made promises which they never meant to keep, may still be recognised on the road from Naples to Benevento. The memory of this event lives in the Caudarola Road, and the village of Forehia d’Arpaia. This mountain region, which might fitly be called after its ancient inhabitants, is connected in the south with a transversal chain, running east and west, and terminating in Cape Campanello, to the south of the Bay of Naples. The beautiful island of Capri, with its white cliffs and caverns flooded by the azure waters of the Mediterranean, lies off this cape.
The eastern slope of the cretaceous mountains of Naples is gentle, and gradually merges in argillaeeous tavolieri. or table-lands, deposited during the Pliocene epoch. The taroliere de la Puglia is, perhaps, the most sterile and dreary portion of Italy. It is cut up into terraces by deep ravines, through which insignificant streams find their way to the Adriatic, and the centres of population must be looked for at the mouths of valleys or along the high-roads. The country itself is a vast solitude, deserted by all except nomad herdsmen. There are no shrubs, and a kind of fennel, which forms the hedges separating the pasturing grounds, is the largest plant to be seen. Hovels, resembling tombs or heaps of stone, rise here and there in the midst of these plains. Fortunately the old feudal customs which prevented the cultivation of these plains, and compelled the mountaineers to keep open wide paths, or tratturi, through their fields for the passage of sheep, have been abolished, and the aspect of the tavoliere improves from year to year.
These tavolieri completely separate the mountains of the peninsula of Gargano the ” spur” of the Italian ” boot “from the system of the Apennines. The northern slopes of these rugged mountains are still clad with forests of beeches and pines, hich supply the best pitch of Italy, and by thickets of carob-trees and other plants, whose flowers are transformed by the bees into delicious honey ; but the very name of the most elevated summitMonte Calvo (5,150 feet), or ” bald mountain “proves that the deplorable destruction of forests has been going on here as in the rest of the peninsula. In former times the recesses of Monte Gargano were held by Saracen pirates, and they defied the Christians there for a long time, in spite of the many sanctuaries w hich had been substituted for the ancient heathen temples. The most famous of these was the church on Monte Sant’ Angelo, at the back of Manfredonia, which was frequently resorted to by the navigator about to leave the shelter of the bay for the dangerous coasts of Dalmatia or the open sea.
The Neapolitan Apennines terminate in the south with the ancient volcano of Monte ‘ ultur (4,356 feet). Farther south the country gradually sinks down into a table-land intersected by deep ravines, which discharge their waters in three directionstowards the Bay of Salerno, the Bay of Taranto, and the Adriatic% The Apennines, far from bifurcating, as show n on old maps, are cut in two by the low saddle of Potenza, and on the peninsula forming the “heel” of Italy only low ridges and terraces are met with.
The peninsula of Calabria, however, is rugged and mountainous. The Apennines, near Lagonegro, again rise above the zone of forests. Monte Polino (7,656 feet) is the highest summit in Naples. The gr up of which it forms the centre occupies the entire width of the peninsula, and along its western coast it forms a wall of cliffs even less accessible than those of Liguria. Towards the south it opens out into wooded valleys, where the inhabitants collect manna, an esteemed medicinal drug. The deep valley of the Crati separates these mountains from the Sila (5,863 feet), which is composed of granites and schists, and still retains its ancient forests, haunted by brigands. The shepherds who pasture their flocks in the clearings of these woods are said to be the descendants of the Saracens, who formerly occupied this ” Country of Rosin,” by which name it was known to the Greeks.
To the south of the isolated Sila the peninsula narrows to a neck of small elevation, where raised beaches attest the successive retreats of the sea. A third mountain mass, of crystalline formation, rises to the south of this depression, its furrowed slopes clad in forests. This is the Aspromonte (6,263 feet), or ” rugged mountain.” Une of its spurs forms the p din-clad promontory of Spartivento, or ” parting of the winds.”
Naples, like Latium, has its volcanic mountains, which form two irregular ranges, one on the continent, the other in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and are, perhaps, conected beneath the sea with the volcanic mountains of the Liparic Islands and Mount Etna. One of these is Mount Vesuvius, the most famous volcano of the world, not because of its height or the terror of its eruptions, but because its history is that of an entire population who have made its lavas their home.
Scarcely have we left the defile of Gaeta and entered upon the par. disiacal Terra di Lavoro than we come upon the first volcano, the Rocca Montilla (3,300 feet), which rises between two calcareous -mountains, one of which is the Massico, whose wines have been sung by Horace. No eruption of this volcano is on record, and a village now occupes its shattered crater. To judge from the streams of lava which surround its trachytic cone, its eruptions must have been formidable. The entire Campania is covered to an uuaseertained depth with ashes ejected from it, and the marine shells found in them prove that the whole of th s region must have been upheaved at a comparatively recent epoch.
The hills which rise to the south of the Campania cannot boast of the grandeur of the Rocca Monfina, but they have been looked upon from the most remote times as one of the great curiosities of our earth. Standing upon the commanding height of the Camaldoli (518 feet), the Phlegraon Fields lie at our feat. Acquainted as we now are with the far more formidable volcanoes of Java and the Andes, this verdant sea-bound country may not strike us as a region of horrors. But our Graeco-Roman predecessors looked upon it with very different eyes, and being unable to account for the phenomena they witnessed, they ascribed them to the gods. The quaking soil, the flames bursting forth from hidden furnaces, the gaping funnels communicating with unexplored caverns, lakes which disappeared at irregular intervals, and others exhaling deadly gasesall these things left their impress upon ancient mythology and poetry. At the time of Strabo the shores of the Bay of Barae had become the favourite resort of voluptuaries, and sumptuous villas rose upon every promontory ; but the terrors inspired by hidden flames and mysterious caverns had not vet departed. A dreaded oracle was said to have its seat there, guarded by Cimmerians, to whom strangers desirous of consulting the gods had to apply. These troglodyte were doomed never to behold the sun, and only quitted their caverns during the night.
The Phlegraean Fields were likewise supposed to have been the battle-ground of giants struggling for the possession of the fertile plains of the Campania. During the Middle Ages Pozzuoli was looked upon as the spot from which Christ descended into hell.
The number of craters still distinguishable is twenty. If we were to suppose the country to be deprived of its vegetation, its aspect would resemble that of the surface of the moon. Even the city of Naples occupies an ancient crater, the contours of which have become almost obliterated. To the west of it several old craters can still be traced, one of them occupying a promontory of tufa, surmounted by what is called the tomb of Virgil. Passing through the famous grotto of Posiiippo, we find ourselves in the Phlegraean Fiel ls. On our left rises the small conical island of Nisita, its ancient crater invaded by the sea. Farther on we reach the crater known as the Solfatara, the Forum Vulcani of the ancients. Its last eruption took place in 1198, but it still exhales sulphuretted hydrogen. The Park of Astroni lies to the north. The interior slope of its enclosing wall is exceedingly steep, so as to render impossible the escape of the deer and boars which are kept within. The only access is through an artificial breach. Another crater, less regular in shape, is now filled with the bubbling waters of the Lake of Agnano. Near it is the famous Grotto of Dogs, with its spring of carbonic acid. Other springs of gas and sulphurous water rise in the neighbourhood, and to them Pozzuoli is indebted for its name, which is said to mean the ” town of stinks.” The town, in turn, has given its name to the earth known as pozzuolana, which supplies an excellent material for the manufacture of cement.
The coast of the bay of Pozzuoli has undergone repeated changes of level, in proof of which the three columns of the temple of Serapis are usually referred to. At a time anterior to the Romans this temple, together with the beach upon which it stands, sank beneath the waters of the sea, and its columns must have been exposed to their action for many years, perhaps centuries, for up to a height of twenty feet they are covered with tubes of serpulae, and perforated by innumerable holes bored by holadidae. In the course of time it rose again slowly above the waters. This happened, perhaps, in 1538, when the Monte Nuovo sprang into existence. In the short period of four days this new volcano, 490 feet in height, rose above the surrounding plain, and buried the village of Tripergola beneath its ashes. A beach now known as La Starza was formed at the foot of the cliffs, and two sheets of water to the west of Monte Nuevo were cut off from the sea. One of these, the Lago Lucrino, is famous for its oysters; the other is the Lago d’Averno, which Virgil, in conformity with antique legends, described as the entrance to the infernal regions. It occupies an ancient crater, and its pellucid waters abound in fish. There are no exhalations of poisonous gases now, and birds fly over the lake with impunity. Still its vicinity is haunted by the memories of the old pagan mythology. Lake Fusaro is referred to by the ciceroni as the Acheron ; close to it they point out the den of Cerberus ; the sluggish stream of Acqua Morta has been identified with the Cocytus ; Lake Luerino, or rather a spring near it, with the Styx ; and the remains of a subterranean passage which connected the Averno with the sea are pointed out as the whilom grotto of the Sibyl. The inhabitants of Cumae, which was founded by a colony from Chalcis, and the ruins of which still exist on the Mediterranean coast, to the east of Pozzuoli, brought with them the myths of Hellas, and Grecian poetry, which took possession of them, has kept their memory alive.
It is quite proper that this region of Tartarus should have its contrast in Elysian Fields, and this name has actually been bestowed upon a portion of the peninsula of Bake, which formed the chief attraction of the voluptuous Romans, and where Marius, Pompey, Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Agrippina, Nero, and others had their palaces. Many a fearful tragedy has been enacted in these sumptuous buildings. But hardly a trace of there exists now ; nature has resumed possession of the country, and the hills of tufa and volcanoes are the only curiosities of the peninsula. Cape Miseno is one of these old volcanoes, and from its summit may be enjoyed one of the most delightful prospects in the world. The whole of the Bay of Naples” a bit of heaven fallen upon our earth “lies spread out beneath us, and Ischia the joyous, formidable Capri, the promontory of Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius, and the houses and villas of Naples fill up the space bounded by the sea and the distant Apennines.
The island of Procida joins the Phlegraean Fields to the chain of island volcanoes lying off the Bay of Gaeta. Ischia is the most important. of these, and its volcano, the Epomeo (2,520 feet), almost rivals Mount Vesuvius in height. One of its most formidable eruptions occurred in 1302, at a time when Mount Vesuvius was quiescent, but after the latter resumed its activity Ischia remained in repose. Similarly, when the Monte Nuovo was ejected from the earth, the huge volcano went to sleep for no less a period than one hundred and thirty years. Ischia has known no eruption for five centuries and a half, and the gases escaping from its thirty or forty hot springs are now the only signs of volcanic activity.
Ischia has certainly been upheaved during a comparatively recent epoch, for its traehytic lavas rest in many places upon clays and marls containing marine shells of living Mediterranean species. Some of these have been found at a height of nearly 2,000 feet. At the present time the tufa rocks of Ischia, and of the other volcanic islands to the west of it, are being washed away by the sea. Ventotene, the ancient Pandataria, to which the Roman princesses were exiled, is hardly more now than a heap of seoriae. Ponza, likewise a place of exile of the Romans, has been separated by the erosive action of the sea into a number of smaller islands. Its lavas overlie Jurassic rocks, similar in all respects to those of Monte Circello on the coast nearest to it.
Mount Vesuvius (4,100 feet), the pride and dread of the Neapolitans, was like-wise an island during prehistoric times. The marine shells found in the tufa of Monte Somma prove this, and on the east the volcano is still surrounded by plains but little elevated above the sea. Formerly the mountain was covered with verdure to its very summit, but the explosion of A. D. 79 shattered its cone, and the ashes thrown tip into the air shrouded the whole of the country in darkness. Even at Rome the sun, was hidden, and an age of darkness was believed to have set in. When at length the light reappeared, the face of the country was found to have undergone a marvellous change_ The mountain had lost its shape, the fertile fields were hidden by masses of débris, and entire towns had been buried beneath ashes.
Since that terrible event Mount Vesuvius has vomited lavas and ashes on many occasions. No periodicity has been traced in these outbursts, and the intervals of repose were generally of sufficient duration to enable vegetation to resume its sway. But these eruptions have become more frequent since the seventeenth century, and hardly a decade passes by without one or more of them. Each of them modifies the contours of the mountain, whose great central vent has undergone many changes. The crescent-shaped mass of débris which surrounds the old crater, known as the Atrio del Cavallo, was undoubtedly of loftier height previously to the great outburst, of 79 than it is now. The vicinity of Naples has facilitated a study of the phenomena attending volcanic eruptions, and an observatory, permanently occupied, has been built close to the cone of eruption.
The neighbourhood of Mount Vesuvius, like that of all other volcanoes, abounds in hot and gas springs, but there are no subsidiary craters. The nearest volcano is Monte Vultur (4,356 feet), a regular cone on the eastern slope of the peninsula. Its dimensions are larger than those of Vesuvius, but no eruptions are on record, though a slight escape of carbonic acid is still going on from the two lakes which occupy the bottom of its vast crater. On a line connecting Ischia, Vesuvius, and Monte Vultur, and about half-way between the two latter, we meet with the most abundant carbonic acid spring of Italy. The gas escapes with a hissing noise from the pond of Ansanto, and the ground around the spring is covered with the remains of insects, killed in myriads on coming within the influence of the poisonous air. Near it the Romans erected a temple in honour of Juno the Mephitic.
The disasters resulting from volcanic eruptions are great, no doubt, but they are exceeded by those caused by earthquakes. Some of these are unquestionably caused by a subterranean displacement of lava, and thus, when Vesuvius begins to stir, Torre del Greco and other towns at its foot incur the risk of being buried beneath ashes or destroyed by earthquakes. But the Basilic ata and Calabriathat is to say, the two provinces lying between the volcanic foci of Vesuvius and Etnahave many times been shaken by earthquakes whose origin cannot be traced to volcanic agencies. Out of a thousand earth-quakes recorded in Southern Italy during the last three centuries, nearly all occurred in the provinces named, and they were occasionally attended by the most disastrous results. The earthquake of 183 cost the lies of 10,000 persons at Potenza and its vicinity, but the most disastrous of these events happened in 1785 in Southern Calabria. The first shock, which proceeded from a focus beneath the town of Oppido, in the Aspromonte Mountains, only lasted a hundred seconds, but within that short space of time 109 towns and villages were overthrown, and 32,000 of their inhabitants buried beneath their ruins. Crevasses opened in the ground ; rivers were swallowed up, to reappear again lower down as lakes ; liquid clay flowed clown the hill-slopes like lava, converting fertile fields into unproductive wastes. The commotion of the sea added to these horrors. Many of the inhabitants of Scilla, afraid to remain on the quaking land, fled to their boats, when an enormous muss of rock detached itself from a neighbouring mountain, and, tumbling into the sea, produced a wave which upset the boats and cast their fragments upon the shore. Want of food brought on famine, and typhus, as usual, came in its train.
We are not yet able to predict earthquakes, and can only provide against them by a suitable construction of our dwellings. There exists, hew ever, another cause of misery and depopulation which the Neapolitans might successfully combat, as was done by their ancestors. In the time of the Greeks the swamps along the coast were certainly less extensive than they are now. War, and a return towards barbarism, have caused the rivers to be neglected, and to produce a deterioration in the climate. Baia, a place once famous on account of its healthiness, has become the home of malaria. Sybaris, the tow n of luxury and pleasure, has been supplanted by a fever-plain ” which eats more men than it is able to nourish.” These paludial miasmata, poverty, and ignorance decimate the population of La Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria. Even certain Asiatic diseases, such as elephantiasis and leprosy, ravage the country, which, from its rare fertility and fine climate, ought to be in the enjoyment of the greatest prosperity.
Continental Sicily is indeed a favoured region, and its eastern slopes more especially might be converted into one huge garden, for the rainfall there is abundant. Naples enjoys a semi-tropical climate, and its winter temperature is hardly inferior to the annual mean of London. Snow very rarely falls, and only remains on the tops of the hills for a few weeks.. The vegetation along the coat is of tropical luxuriance. Oranges and lemons bear excellent fruit ; date-palms uplift their fan-shaped leaves, and sometimes bear fruit; the American agave stretches forth its candelabra-like branches; sugar-cane, cotten, and other industrial plants, which elsewhere in Europe are scarcely ever met with outside hothouses, grow in the fields In the forests of Calabria the olive-tree affords as much shade as does the beech with us. Even the bare rocks on the coast yield excellent grapes and garden fruits. Naples, Sicily, Andalusia, and certain districts of Greece and Asia Minor realise our beau idéal of the sub-tropical zone, and only the heaths on the Adriatic slope and the upper valleys of the Apennines remind us that we are still in Central Europe.
This delightful country is inhabited by a people having the most diverse origin. It is now 2,300 years since the Samnites occupied the whole of it from sea to sea. They were more numerous than the Romans, and might have conquered the whole of Italy had there been more cohesion amongst them, and some of that talent for organization which constituted the strength of their adversaries. But they were split into five tribes, each speaking a different dialect; and whilst the Samnites of the hills quarrelled with their kinsmen in the plains, the latter were at enmity with the Hellenized Samnites who lived near the Greek towns on the coast.
The whole of the coast of Southern Italy, from Cumaefounded more than a thousand years before our erato Sipuntum, of which some ruins remain near the modern Manfredonia, was dotted with Greek colonies. In these districts of Southern Italy the bulk of the population is of very different origin from that of other parts of the peninsula. To the north of Monte Gargano, Celtic, Etruscan, and Latin elements preponderate, whilst Hellenes, Pelasgians, and kindred races dominate in the south. Not only did civilised Greeks found their colonies there, but the aboriginal population, the Iapygians, spoke a dialect akin to the Hellenic, and Mommsen may be right when he conjectures that these Iapygians were of the same origin as the modern Albanians.
At a subsequent date these southern Italians had to bow down before the Romans, who founded military colonies amongst them, but never succeeded in completely Latinising them. When the Roman Empire fell to pieces the Caesars of Byzantium still maintained themselves for a long time in Southern Italy, and the Greek language again preponderated, but gradually Romance dialects gained the upper hand. The inhabitants returned to a state of barbarism, but they retained to a great extent their language and customs, and even now there are districts in the south which are Italian in appearance rather than in reality, and in eight villages of the Terra d’Otranto the Hellenic dialect of the Peloponnesus is still spoken. Towns like Naples, Nicastro, Taranto, Gallipoli, Monopoli, and others, whilst preserving their sonorous Greek names, have also retained many features which recall the times of Magna Graecia.
Reggiothat is, the ” city of the strait “appears to have retained the use of Greek much longer than any other town, and its patricians, who boasted of being pure Ionians, still spoke the language of their ancestors towards the close of the thirteenth century. In several remote towns of the interior Greek was formerly in common use. The old popular songs of Bova, a small town near the southern extremity of Italy, are in an Ionian dialect more like the language of Xenophon than is modern Greek. Down to a very recent date the peasants near Roccaforte del Greco, Condofuri, and Cardeto spoke Greek, and when they appeared before a magistrate they required an interpreter. At the present day all young people speak Italian ; the old language has been forgotten, but the Greek type remains. The men and women of Cardeto are famous for their beauty, more especially the latter. ” They are Minervas,” we are told by a local historian. Their principal livelihood consists in acting as w et nurses to the children of the citizens of Reggio. The women of Bagnara, between Seilla and Palmi, are likewise of wondrous beauty, but their features are stern, betraying Arab blood, and they are destitute of the noble placidity of the Greek.
It is said that the women of the Hellenic villages of Calabria are still in the habit of executing a sacred dance, which lasts for hours, and resembles the representations we meet with on ancient vases, only they dance before the church instead of the temple, and their ceremonies are blessed by Christian priests. Funerals are accompanied by weeping women, who collect their tears in lachrynratories. Elsewhere; as in the environs of Tarento, the children consecrate the hair of their head to the manes of their ancestors. Old morals, no less than old customs, have been preserved. Woman is still looked upon as an inferior being, and even at Reggio the wives of citizens or noblemen who respect ancient tradition confine themselves to the gynaeceum. They do not visit the theatre, go out but rarely, and when they walk abroad are attended by barefooted servants, and not by their husbands.
In addition to Samnites, Iapygians, and Greeks, who form the bulk of the population of Southern Italy, we meet with Etruscans in the Campania ; Saracens in the peninsula of Gargano, in the Campania, the marina of Reggio, Bagnara, and other coast towns ; Lombards in Benevento, w ho retained their language down to the eleventh century ; Normans, from whom the shepherds on the hills are supposed to be descended ; and Spaniards in several coast towns, especially at Barletta, in Apulia. The Albanians have probably furnished the largest contingent of all the strangers now domiciled in Southern Italy. They are numerous on the whole of the eastern slope of the peninsula, from the promontory of Gargano to the southernmost point of Calabria. One of their clans came to Italy in 1440, but the bulk of them only arrived during the second half of the fifteenth century, after the heroic resistance made by Scanderbeg had been overcome by the Turks. The conquered Skipetars were then compelled to expatriate themselves in order to escape the yoke of the Turks, and they were received with open arms by the Kings of Naples, who granted them .several deserted villages, w hich are now amongst the most flourishing of Southern Italy. The descendants of these Skipetars, who are principally domiciled in the Basilicata and Calabria, rank among the most useful citizens of the country. They take the lead in the intellectual regeneration of the old kingdom of Naples, and were the first to join the liberating army of Garibaldi. Many have become Italianised, but there are still over 80,000 who have neither forgotten their origin nor their language.
The Neapolitans are undoubtedly one of the finest races of Europe. The Calabrians, the mountaineers of Molise, and the peasants of the Basilicata are so well proportioned, erect, supple of limb, and agile, that their low stature, as compared with the races of the North, can hardly be a subject of reproach ; and the nobility and expression of the faces of Neapolitan women fully compensate for the irregularity we frequently meet with. The faces of the children, with their large black eves and well-formed lips, beam with intelligence, but the wretched existence to which too many of them are condemned soon degrades their physiognomy. Supremely ignorant, the Neapolitan is, nevertheless, most admirably gifted by nature. The country which has produced so many great men since the days of Pythagoras is in nowise inferior to any other ; its philosophers, historians, and lawyers have exercised a powerful influence upon the march of human thought ; and the number of great musicians which it has produced is proportionately large.
Still, in many respects, the inhabitants of Southern Italy hold the lowest rank amongst the nations of Europe. Ever since the annihilation of the Greek republican cities the country has been subjected to foreign masters, who have either devastated it or systematically oppressed its inhabitants. With the exception of Amalfi, no other town was granted the privilege of governing itself for any length of time. The very position of the country exposed it to dangers. Placed in the centre of the Mediterranean, it was on the high-road of every pirate or invader, whether Saracen or Norman, Spaniard or Frenchman, and the absence of any natural cohesion between its various districts prevented its population from organizing a united resistance against the attacks of foreign invaders. Southern Italy has not the river basins of Lombardy, Tuscany, Umbria, or Rome ; there exists no centre of gravity, so to say, and the country is split up into separate sections having nothing in common.
The government under which the Neapolitans lived until quite recently was most humiliating. “I do not require my people to think,” said King Ferdinand II. of Naples. Ideas which did not commend themselves to the authorities were punished as crimes, and only mendicity and moral depravity were allowed to flourish. Science was compelled to live in retirement ; history to seek a refuge in the catacombs of archaeology; and literature was corrupt or frivolous. Of the Neapolitans who did not expatriate themselves only a very small number became eminent. Schools were hardly known outside the large towns, and where they did exist they were placed under the supervision of the police. Men able to read and write were looked at askance, and, to escape being accused of belonging to some secret society, they were compelled to turn hypocrites. Old superstitions exist in full force, and the heathen hallucinations of Greeks and Iapygians still survive. The idolatrous Neapolitan casts himself down before the statue of St. Januarius, hut heaps imprecations upon the head of his saint if his miraculous blood does not quickly liquefy. Similar superstitions exist in nearly every town of Naples. Every one of them has its patron saint or deity, who, if he should fail to protect his people, is treated as a common enemy. As recently as 1858 the villagers of Calabria, irritated by a drought, put their venerated saints into prison ; and Barletta, about the same period, had the melancholy honour of being the last town in Europe in which Protestants were burned alive. Such is the fanaticism still met with in the second half of the nineteenth century !
One of the great superstitions of the Neapolitans refers to the ” ° evil eye.” The unfortunate being who happens to have a nose like a battle-axe and large round eyes is looked upon as a jettatore, and is avoided as a fatal being. If by any evil chance his glance happens to fall upon any unfortunate person, it is considered necessary to counteract it by the influence of an amulet resembling the fascinum of the ancients, or by some other means no less potent. Coral amulets are looked upon as most efficient, and many who pretend not to believe in their virtues are the first to make use of them. The peasants of Calabria wear an image of their patron saint upon the chest, and shield their cattle and houses by means of the images of saints or household gods. At Reggio a cactus may be seen near the door or on the balcony of every house, which has been placed there to keep off evil influences, and is universally known as l’albero del mal’ occhio (the tree of the evil eye).
Next to superstition, the great scourge of Southern Italy is brigandage. The very name of Calabria conjures up in our imagination picturesque brigands armed with carbines. Unfortunately this Calabrian brigand is no myth, invented to serve the purposes of the stage. Ile really exists, and neither the severity of the laws put in motion against him nor political changes have brought about his extermination. On many occaaions, after a successful hunt for brigands had been carried on, the authorities felicitated themselves upon having rid the country of this scourge, but it regularly revived.
In Sardinia and Corsica the peasant takes up arms from a desire for vengeance, but in Calabria from poverty. Feudalism, though abolished in name, still flourishes in that country. Nearly the whole of the soil belongs to a few great land-owners, and the peasant, or cafore, is condemned to a life of ill-remunerated toil. In years of plenty, when the rye, chestnuts, and wine suffice for the wants of his family, he works without grumbling, but in years of dearth brigandage flourishes. The brigand, or gualano, looks upon the feudal lord as the common enemy, steals his cattle, sets fire to his house, and even takes him prisoner, releasing him only on payment of a heavy ransom. Some of these bandits become veritable wild beasts, thirsting after blood; but, as long as they confine themselves to avenging wrongs, they may count upon the complicity of all other peasants. The herdsmen of the mountains supply them with milk and food, furnish them with information, and mislead the carabiniers sent in pursuit of them. All the poor are leagued in their favour, and refuse to bear witness against them. Moreover, most of these Neapolitan bandits, conscientious in their own way, are extremely pious. They swear by the Virgin or some patron saint, to whom they promise a portion of their booty, and religiously place the share promised upon the altar. Not content with wearing amulets all over the body to turn aside bullets, they are said sometimes to place a consecrated wafer in an incision they make in their hand, in the belief that this will render deadly their own bullets.
The fearful poverty of the Smith Italian peasantry has led to another practice, even worse than brigandage. Foreign speculators, Christians as well as Jews, travel the country, and particularly the Basilicata, in order to purchase children, whom their poverty-stricken parents are ready to part with for a trifle. The more intelligent and prettier the child, the greater the likelihood of its passing into the hands of these dealers in human flesh. The latter are threatened with the penalties of the law, but custom and ignoble accomplices enable them to evade them, and to carry their living merchandise to France, England, Germany, and even America, where the children are converted into acrobats, street musicians, or simple mendicants. The chances of this shameful commerce have been carefully calculated, and the losses arising from deaths and the cost of travelling are more than covered by the earnings of the children. Viggiano, a small town of the Basilicata, is more especially haunted by these traffickers, for its inhabitants possess a natural gift for music.
Voluntary emigration is on the increase, and if it were not for the obstructions placed in the way of young men liable to the conscription, certain districts would become rapidly depopulated in favour of South America. Only the poorest peasants remain behind. This emigration influences in a large measure the customs of the country, and, conjointly with railways and factories, will no doubt bring about an assimilation of Southern Italy to the rest of the peninsula. Brigandage and the traffic in children will doubtless disappear, but the proletarianism of manufacturing towns is likely to be substituted for them.
For the present Naples is almost exclusively an agricultural country. The tavolieri of Puglia, and the hills which command them, remain for the most part a pastoral country, but the greater portion of the productive area of Naples is under cultivation. As in the time of the Romans, cereals, with oil and wine, form the principal produce ; but, in addition to these, tobacco, cotton, madder, and several other plants used in manufactures, are grown. With some care these pro-ducts might attain a rare degree of excellence. Even now the oil of the Puglia competes successfully with that of Nice, and the wines grown on the scoriae of Mount Vesuvius enjoy their ancient celebrity, the Falernian of Horace, grown in the Phlegraen Fields, disputing the pre-eminence with the Lachrymae Christi of Vesuvius and the white wine of Capri.
The agricultural products of Naples are almost exclusively derived from the coast region, and commerce is principally carried on in coasting vessels. The interior is sterile to a great extent, and there are no metalliferous veins to attract population.
Southern Italy has no natural centre, and, as its life has at all times been eccentric and maritime, it is but natural that all the large towns should have sprung up on the coast. Two thousand years ago, when Greece was a civilised country and Western Europe sunk in barbarism, the most important towns lay on the Ionian Sea facing the east. But, when Rome became the mistress of the world, Magna Graecia, vas forced to face about, and Naples became the successor of Sybaris and Tarentum. This position of vantage it has retained even to the present day, when Western Europe has become the focus of civilisation. The wave of history has passed over Tarentum and Sybaris, and whilst the fine port of the former is now deserted, the latter, at one time the largest city of all Italy, has entirely disappeared.
Naples, the “new town ” of the Cumaeans, has for centuries been the most populous town of Italy, and even now the number of its inhabitants is double that of Rome. In the days of Strati() Naples was a large town. Greeks who had made money by teaching or otherwise, and who desired to end their days in peaceful repose, used to retire to that beautiful town, where Greek manners pre-dominated, and the climate resembled that of their native country. Many Romans followed their example, and Naples, together with the numerous smaller towns dotting the shores of its magnificent bay, thus became a place of’ repose and pleasure. At the present day it attracts men of leisure from every part of the world, who revel in its beauties and enjoy the noisy gaiety of its inhabitants” masters in the art of shouting,” as Alfieri called them. The prospect from the heights of Capodimonte and the other hills surrounding the immense city is full of beauty : promontories jut out into the blue waters, islands of the most varied colours are scattered over the bay, shining towns stretch along the foot of verdant hills, and vessels ride upon the waves. Looking inland, we behold the grey summit of Vesuvius, which, lurid at night, and always threatening, imparts a modicum of danger to the voluptuous picture.
The Neapolitans are indeed a happy people, if such a term may be applied to any fraction of mankind. They know how to enjoy the gifts of nature, and are content, if need be, with very little. Naturally intelligent, they are equal to any enter-prise; but, as they hate work, they soon give up what they have begun, and make sport of their want of success. Travellers were formerly fond of describing that curions type, the lazzarone, the idle man of pleasure, who, enveloped in a rag, slept on the beach or in the porch of a church, and disdained to work after he had earned the pittance sufficing for his simple wants. There still remain a few representatives of this type, but the material exigencies of our time have absorbed the majority of these idle tatterdemalions, and converted them into labourers. Others have succumbed to disease, for they knew nothing of sanitary laws, and dwelt in damp cellars, or bassi, beneath the palaces of the wealthy. Naples contributes her fair share towards the industrial products of the peninsula. The principal articles manufactured are macaroni and other farinaceous pastes, cloth, silks known as gros de Naples, glass, china, musical instruments, artificial flowers, ornaments, and everything entering into the daily consumption of a large city. Its workers in coral are famous for their skill ; and Sorrento, near Naples, supplies the much-prized workboxes, jewel cases, and other articles carved in palm-wood. The ship-yards of Castellamare di Stabia are more busy than any others in Italy, those of Genoa and Spezia alone excepted. The sailors of the bay are equal to the Ligurians in seamanship, ami surpass them as fishermen. The inhabitants of Torre del Greco, who engage in coral-fishing, are well acquainted with the submarine topography of the coasts of Sardinia, Sicily, and Barbary, and the least movement of the air or water reveals phenomena to them which remain hidden to all other eves. They own about 400 fishing-boats, which depart in a body, and their return after a successful season presents a spectacle which even Italy but rarely affords.
Naples, with its magnificent bay, and the fertile tracts of the Campania and the Terra di Lavoro near it, could hardly fail to become a great commercial city, and if it holds an inferior rank in that respect to Genoa, this is owing to its not being placed upon a great high-road of international commerce. The country depending upon it is of comparatively small extent; only a single line of rails crosses the Apennines ; and travellers who follow the mountain road to Taranto are not, even now, quite safe from brigands. The foreign commerce of the city is carried on principally with England and France, and the coasting trade is comparatively of great importance the thirteenth century, it is one of the oldest of Italy, but has had its periods of disgraceful decay. To a recent period, when archaeology and numismatics were the only sciences not suspected of revolutionary tendencies, it was a place of intellectual corruption, but its regeneration has been brought about with marvellous rapidity. The young Neapolitans now study science with a zest sharpened by abstinence ; and, if the rather gushing eloquence of the South could he trusted, Naples has become the greatest seat of learning in the world. Thus much is certain, that the 2,000 students of the university will give a great impulse to the ” march of ideas.”
Naples possesses an admirable museum of antiquities, open to all the world, and, more precious still, the ruins of Pozzuoli, Rains, and Cumae,and catacombs no less interesting than are those of Rome and, above everything else, the Roman city of Pompeii, which has been excavated from the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, beneath which it lay buried for seventeen centuries. It is not merely a City of the Dead, with its streets and tombs, temples, markets, and amphitheatres, which these excavations have restored to us, but they have likewise given its an insight into the life of a provincial Roman city. When we gaze upon inscriptions on walls and waxed tablets, at work interrupted, at mummified corpses in the attitude of flight, we almost feel as if we had been present at the catastrophe which overwhelmed the town. No other buried city ever presented us with so striking a contrast between the tumult of life and the stillness of death. In spite of a hundred years of excavation, only one-half of the city has yet been revealed to us. Herculaneum is buried beneath a layer of lava sixty feet in thickness, upon which the houses of Resina, Portici, and other suburbs of Naples have been built, and but very few of its mysteries have been revealed to us. Of Stabia, which lies hidden beneath the town of Castellamare, close to the beach, we know hardly anything.
Numerous populous towns cluster around Naples, rivalling it in beauty. To the south, on the shores of the bay, are Portici, Resina, Torre del Greco, Torre dell’ Annunziata, Castellamare, and sweet Sorrento, with its delicious climate, its delightful villas and olive groves. Off Cape Campanella, facing the volcanic islands of Ischia and Procida, at the other extremity of the bay, rise the bold cliffs of Capri, full of’ the memories of hideous Tiberius, the Timberio of the natives. Another bay opens to the south of that barren mass of limestone, its entrance guarded by the islets of the Sirens, who sought in vain to cast their spell over sage Ulysses. This bay is hardly inferior in beauty to that of Naples ; its shores are equally fertile, but neither of the three cities, Paestum, Amalfi, and Salerno, which successively gave a name to it, has retained its importance for any length of time. Amalfi, the powerful commercial republic of the Middle ages, whose code was accepted by all maritime nations, is almost deserted now, and only shelters a few fishing-smacks within its rocky creek. In a delightful valley near it stands the old Moorish city of Ravello, almost as rich as Palermo in architectural monuments. Salerno is much more favourably situated than Amalfi, for the road of the Campania debouches upon it. The town is said to have been founded by a son of Noah, and when the Normans occupied the country in the eleventh century they made it their capital. But its ancient splendours have gone. Its university, at one time the representative of Arab science, and the most famous in Europe for Its medical faculty, has made no sign for ages, and Salerno has now no claim whatever to the title of ” Hippocratic town.” It aspires, however, to rise into importance through commerce and industry, and a breakwater and p ers might convert it into a formidable rival of Naples. The inhabitants are fond of repeating a local proverb
When Salerno a port doth obtain That of Naples will be inane.”
Paestum, or Posidonia, the ancient mistress of the bay, stood to the south-east of Salerno. It was founded by the Sv barites on the ruins of a more ancient town of the Tyrrhenians. The Boman poets sang this ” city of roses ” on account of its cool springs, shady walks, and mild climate. It was destroyed by the Saracens in 915, and its ruins, though amongst the most interesting of all Italy, dating as they do from a period anterior to that of Rome, were known only to shepherds and brigands up to the middle of last century. Its three temples, the most important of which was dedicated to Neptune, or Poseidon, are amongst the most imposing of continental Italy, their effect being heightened by the solitude which surrounds them and the waves which wash their foundations. The traveller, however, cannot afford to remain for any length of time within their vicinity, for the site of the ruins is surrounded by marshes, the exhalations from which sadly interfere with the excavations going on.
Numerous towns and villages are dotted over the champaign country separating Mount Vesuvius from the foot-hills of the Apennines. Starting front Vietri, a suburb of Salerno on the banks of a narrow ravine, we ascend to Cara, a favourite summer retreat, abounding in shade-trees. Near it is a monastery famous amongst antiquaries on account of its ancient parchments and diplomas. On descending to the plain of the Sarno we pass Nocera, a country residence of the ancient Ionians; Pagani, still situated within the region of woods ; Angri, which manufactures yarns from cotton grown in its environs ; and Scafati, more industrious still. Near it may be seen the ruins of Pompeii, the town of Torre dell’ Annunziata, and, on the southern slope of Vesuvius, the houses of Bosco Tre Case and Bosco Retie. There are savants who believe they can trace in the veins of the inhabitants of Nocera and the neighbourhood the Arab and Berber blood of the 20,000 Saracens who were settled here by the Emperor Frederick II.
The valley of the Sarno, above Nocera, is densely peopled as far as the foot of the Apennines, and another chain of villages extends northwards to the town of Avellino, the fields of which are enclosed by hedges of filbert-trees (arelland in Italian), and which is important on account of its intermediary position between the mountains and the plain. The population, however, is densest in that portion of the Campania known as the ” Happy ” (Felice), which extends between Vesuvius and Monte Vergine. Sarno, named after the river, though far away from it, abounds in cereals, vines, fruit, and vegetables, and manufactures cotton stuffs and raw silk. Palma stands in the midst of fertile fields ; Ottajano, the town of Octavius, on the lower slope of the Somma of Vesuvius, is famous for its wines ; Nola, where Augustus died, and which gave birth to Giordano Bruno, has fertile fields, but is better known through the fine Greek vases found in its ruins, and on account of the remains of an amphitheatre built of marble, and of greater size than that of Capua.
Famous Capua, the ancient metropolis of’ the Campania, at one time the rival of Rome, with half a million inhabitants dwelling within its walls, has been completely stripped of its former splendours. Its name is applied now to a sullen fortress on the Volturno, the Casilinum of the Romans ; and Santa Maria, which is the representative of the veritable Capua, offers no ” delights ” other than those of a large village. In its environs, however, may still be seen the ruins of a fine amphi-theatre, a triumphal arch, and other remains of a vast city. Caserta, the ” town of pleasure ” of the modern Campania, lies farther to the south. It boasts of a large palace, shady parks, and vast gardens ornamented with statues and fountains, and was the Versailles of the Neapolitan Bourbons. An aqueduct supplies it with water from a distance of twenty-five miles, and crosses the valley near Maddaloni by means of a magnificent bridge, built about the middle of last century by Vanvitelli, and one of the masterpieces of modern architecture.
The great Roman highway bifurcates to the north of Capua and the Volturno. One branch turns towards the coast; the other, along which a railway has been built, skirts the volcano of been Monfina, follows the valley of the Garigliano and of its tributary the Sacco as far as the eastern foot of the volcano of Latium, and then descends into the Campagna of Rome. Historically the coast road is the more famous of the two. It first passes close to Sessa, the ancient city of the Aurunci, whose acropolis stood in the crater of tho Rocca Monfina. It then turns towards the coast, and having crossed the Garigliano near its mouth, where it is bounded by insalubrious marshes, it penetrates the defile of Mola di Gaeta, officially called Formia, in memory of ancient Formiae, where Cicero lived and died. Travellers coming from Rome first look down from this spot upon the beauties of the Campania, and see stretched out before them the Bay of Gaeta, with the volcanic islands of Ponza, Ventotene, and Ischia in the distance. Gaeta, a fortress which guards this gateway to the Neapolitan paradise, is built on the summit of Monte Orlando, occupying a small peninsula attached to the mainland by an isthmus only 300 yards in width. The port of Gaeta is well sheltered against westerly and northerly winds, and is much frequented by coasting vessels and fishing-smacks ; but Gaeta itself is better known as a fortress. It was here the kingdom of the Two Sicilies was put an end to by the surrender of Francis II. in 1861.
Towns of some importance are likewise met with on following the eastern road from Naples to Rome. The most considerable amongst them is San Germano, the name of which has recently been changed into Casino, in honour of the famous monastery of that name occupying a terrace to the west of the town, and affording a glorious prospect of hills and valleys. This monastery was founded in the sixth century by St.Benedict, or Bennet, and its rules have been accepted throughout the Eastern Church. No body of men has ever exercised a greater influence upon the history of Catholicism than the so Benedictine monks of Monte Casino. At the height of its power the order held vast estates throughout Italy, and many popes and thousands of Church dignitaries have been furnished from its ranks. The library of Monte Casino is one of the most valuable in Europe, and the services formerly rendered to science by the Benedictines have saved this monastery from disestablishment, a favour likewise extended to the monastery of La Cava and the Certosa of Pavia.
There are but few towns of importance in the mountain region of Naples. Arpino, the ancient Arpinum, the birthplace of Cicero and Marius, with cyclopean walls built by Saturn, is the most populous place in the upper valley of the Liri, to the south of the mountains of Mantese. Benevento occupies a central position on the Calore, the principal tributary of the Volturno, and several roads diverge from it. The ancient name of this place was Malerentum, but in spite of its change of name the town has frequently suffered from sieges and earthquakes, and of all the great edifices of its past there now remains only a fine triumphal arch erected in honour of Trajan. The city walls, nearly four miles in circumference, have for the most part been constructed from the fragments of ancient monuments.
Ariano, to the east of Benevento, and also in the basin of the Volturno, is built upon three hills commanding a magnificent prospect, extending from the often snow-clad Matese Mountains to the cone of the Vultur. It lies on the rail-road connecting Naples with Foggia and the Adriatic, and carries on a considerable trade. Campobasso, the capital of Molise, is likewise an important commercial intermediary, though still without a railway.
The commercial towns on the Adriatic slope of the Apennines are of greater importance thin those to the east. Foggia, on the Tavoglieri di Puglia, upon which converge four railways and several high-roads, is a great mart for provisions, and in importance and wealth, though not in population, is the second city of Naples. Several smaller towns surround it like satellites, such as San Severo, Cerignola, and Lucera, which became wealthy in the thirteenth century, when the Saracens, exiled from Sicily by Frederick II., settled here. Foggia, however, and its sister cities, in spite of the proximity of the Bay of Manfredonia, have no direct outlet to the sea, for the coast for a distance of thirty miles, from Manfredonia to the mouth of the Otranto, is fringed by insalubrious lagoons and marshes. The reclamation of these is absolutely necessary to enable Southern Italy to develop its great natural resources. The largest of these lagoons or marshes, that of Sali, has been reduced to the extent of one-half by the alluvium conveyed into it by the rivers Carapella and Ofanto, but as long as the new land remains uncultivated deadly miasmata will not cease. At the eastern extremity of this marsh stood the ancient city of Salapia.
At the extremity of the peninsula of Gargano, to the north of these marshes, are the harbours of Manfredonia and Vieste, very favourably situated for sailing vessels compelled by stress of weather to put into port. The first harbour to the south of the marshes is Barletta, near which is the ” Field of Blood,” recalling the battle of Cannae. Barletta exports cereals, wines, oil, and fruit, partly grown on the old feudal estates near the inland towns of Andria, Corata, and Ruvo. The latter, the ancient Rubi, has yielded a rich harvest of antiquities of’ every kind. The other coast towns to the south-cast of Barletta areTrani, which carried on a considerable Levant trade towards the close of the Middle Ages ; Bisceglia ; Molfetta ; Bari, the most p Talons town on the Adriatic slope of Naples ; and Monopoli, all of which are much frequented by coasting vessels. Tasano, near Mouopoli, occupies the site of the ancient port of Gnatia, and, like Rubi, has well repaid the search for archeological remains.
Brindisi, at the northern extremity of the peninsula of Otranto, in the time of the Romans and during the Crusades, was one of the great stations on the route from Western Europe to the East, and is likely again to occupy that position. It lies at the very entrance to the Adriatic. Its roadstead is excellent, and its harbour one of the best on the Mediterranean. The entrance is narrow, and was formerly choked up with the remains of wrecks and mud, but is now practicable for steamers of the largest size. The two arms of the harbour bear some resemblance to the antlers of a stag, and to this circumstance the town is indebted for its name, which is of Messapian origin, and means ” antler-shaped.” Brindisi has recently become the European terminus of the overland route to India, and many new buildings have risen in honour of this event, which it was expected would convert the town into all emporium of’ Eastern trade. These expectations have not been realised. Several thousand hurried travellers pass that way every year, but Marseilles, Genoa, and Trieste have lost none of their importance as commercial ports in consequence. Moreover, when the Turkish railways are completed, the position now held by Brindisi will most likely be transferred to Saloniki or Constantinople.”
Taranto, on the gulf of the same name, is making an effort, like its neighbour Brindisi, to revive its ancient commercial activity. Its harbour, the Piecolo Mare, or “little sea,” is deep and perfectly sheltered, and its roadstead, or Mare Grande, is fairly protected by two outlying islands against the surge. As at Spezia, springs of fresh water, known as Citro and Citrello, rise from the bottom of the harbour as well as in the roadstead. The geographical position of Taranto enables it successfully to compete with Bari and the other ports of the Adriatic for the commerce of inland towns like Matera, Gravina, and Altamura, and it appears to be destined to become the great emporium for the Ionian trade. No other town of Italy offers equal facilities for the construction of a port, but the two channels, one natural and the other artificial, which join the two ” seas” have become choked, and only small craft are now able to reach the harbour. Modern Taranto is a small town, with narrow streets, built to the east of the (-reek city of Tarentum, on the limestone rock hounded by the two channels. Its commerce has been slowly increasing since the opening of the railway, its industry being limited to fishing, oyster-dredging, and the manufacture of bay-salt ; and the Tarantese enjoy the reputation of being the most indolent people in Italy. The heaps of shells on the beach no longer supply the purple for which the town was formerly famous; but the inhabitants still make use of the byssus of a bivalve in the manufacture of very strong gloves.
The only towns of any importance in the peninsula stretching southwards from Brindisi and Taranto are Lecco and Gallipoli, the former surrounded by cotton plantations, the latterthe Kallipolis, or ” beautiful city,” of the Greekspicturesquely perched on an islet attached by a bridge to the mainland. The surrounding country, owing to the want of moisture, is comparatively barren.
The western peninsula of Naples is far better irrigated than that of Otranto, but this advantage is counterbalanced to a large extent by the mountainous nature of the country, and by its frequent earthquakes. Potenza, a town at the very neck of this peninsula, half-way between the Gulf of Taranto and the Bay of Salerno, most happily situated as a place of commerce, has repeatedly been destroyed by earthquakes, and its inhabitants have only ventured to rebuild it in a temporary manner.
The famous old cities of Calabria, such as Metapontum and lleraclea, have ceased to exist. Sybaris the powerful, with walls six miles in circumference, and suburbs extending for eight miles along the Crati, is now covered with alluvium and shrubs” its very ruins have perished.” The city of the Locri, to the south of Gerace, which existed until the tenth century, when it was destroyed by the Saracens, has at least retained ruins of its walls, temples, and other buildings.
The only one of these old cities still in existence is Cotrone, the ancient Crotona, the ” gateway to the granary of Calabria.” In travelling along the coasts of Greater Greece we feel astonished at the few ruins of a past which exercised so powerful an influence upon the history of mankind.
The existing towns of Calabria cannot compare in importance with those of a past age. Rossano, near the site of Sybaris, is the small capital of a district, and is visited only by coasters. Cosenza, in the beautiful valley of the Crati, at the foot of the wooded Sila, keeps up its communications with Naples and Messina through the harbour of Paola. Catanzaro exports its oil, silk, and fruit either by way of the Bay of Squillace, on the allures of which Hannibal once pitched his camp, or through Pizzo, a small port at the southern extremity of the Bay of Santa Eufemia. Reggio, nestling in groves of lemon and orange trees at the foot of the Aspromnoute, is the most important town of Calabria. It stands on the narrow strait separating the mainland from the island of Sicily, and could not fail to absorb some of the commerce passing through that central gateway of the Mediterranean. Messina and Reggio mutually complement each other, and the prosperity of the one must result in that of the sister city.