The plan of these palaces is admirable. They are open to the street, so that all the inner arrangements may be seen. There is the court, surrounded by arcades, the arches of which rest upon columns; the flights of marble steps on each side, leading to the great hall or the principal apartments; and inside the court, the pink daphnes and Tangerine orange frees, surrounded by greenery, with which the splendour of the marble admirably contrasts;--the whole producing a magnificent effect. I remembered that Genoa la superba was one of my father's pet subjects when talking of his first visit to Italy; and now I could confirm all that he had said about the splendour of its palaces.
I do not know of anything more delightful than to grope one's way through a foreign city, especially such a city as Genoa, and come unexpectedly upon some building that one has heard of--that has dimly lived in the mind like a dream--and now to see it realised in fact. It suddenly starts into life, as it were, surrounded by its natural associations. I hate your professional guides and their constant chatter. Much better to come with a mind prepared with some history to fall back upon, and thus be enabled to compare the present with the past, the living with the dead.
I climbed up some of the hills surrounding Genoa--for it is a city of ups and downs. I wandered about the terraced palaces surrounded by orange groves and surveyed the fortified heights by which the place is surrounded. What exquisite bits of scenery there were to sketch; what a rich combination of nature and art! And what a world of colour, with the clear blue sea in the distance! Altogether, that one day at Genoa--though but a succession of glimpses formed a bright spot in my life, that neither time nor distance can dim or tarnish.
I returned to the harbour two hours before the steamer was to leave. To commemorate my visit, I mounted the top of the paddle-box, took out my sketch book, and made a panoramic view of Genoa as seen from the harbour. I did it in pencil at the time, and afterwards filled it up with ink. When the pages of the sketch book had been joined together the panoramic view extended to about eight feet long. The accuracy of the detail, as well as the speed with which the drawing was done, were perhaps rather creditable to the draughtsman--at least so my artistic friends were pleased to tell me. Indeed, many years after, a friend at court desired to submit it to the highest Lady in the land, and, being herself an artist, she expressed herself as highly gratified with the performance.
The next station the steamer touched at was Leghorn. As the vessel was not to start until next day, there was sufficient time for me to run up to Pisa. There I spent a delightful day principally in wandering about that glorious group of buildings situated so near to each other-- the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Campo Santo, and the Campanile or Leaning Tower. What interested me most at the Cathedral was the two bronze lamps suspended at the end of the nave, which suggested to the mind of Galileo the invention of the pendulum. Thousands had seen the lamps swinging before them, but he alone would know "the reason why." The one swung at a different rate as compared with the other, being the result of the chains being hung of different lengths. Hence Galileo's discovery of the principle or Law of the Pendulum. This paved the way for Newton's law of gravitation--one of the grandest laws of the universe.
Some of the finest works of Andrea del Sarto, son of the Tailor, are found here. Indeed, the works of that great painter are little known out of Pisa and Florence. I was reluctant to tear myself away from Pisa; but the Ercolano could not wait, and I was back in good time, and soon under weigh.
The next port we touched at was Civita Vecchia, one of the most dreary places that can be imagined, though at one time an Etruscan city, and afterwards the port of Trajan. I did not land, as there were some difficulties in the way of passports. We steamed on; and next morning when I awoke we were passing the coast of Ischia. We could scarcely see the island for a thick mist had over-spread the sea. Naples was still hidden from our sight, but over the mist I could observe the summit of Vesuvius vomiting forth dense clouds of white smoke. The black summit of the crater appeared floating in the clear blue sky. But the heat of the sun shortly warmed the mist, and it floated away like a curtain.
[Image] Distant view of Vesuvius