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We overheard them give their order in Italian. In a few minutes Gusty went over to them and asked if they could tell her the name of the popular Italian dessert. They replied as nearly as she could understand, “Zabyoni.” It is made of the yolks of eggs beaten into hot Marsala wine, and is delicious, Gusty thinks. The ladies told Gusty they had been motoring in out-of-the way places in Austria, and strongly advised us not to try it, as neither hotels nor roads are good. In fact, are very bad, and the people not kindly. Before leaving, we drove by the cathedral and the Casa di Petrarca (the house of Petrarch), where the great Italian poet was born.
We motored on, passing through several old towns, coming to one perched on the top of a high hill. Apparently there was no way around it, so we climbed the hill. On reaching the piazza, or public square, we found ourselves in the center of the little old village of Montepulciano, and we could see no way of getting farther. It was their weekly holiday and all the village people were out, clad in their best array.
Seeing our perplexity, they crowded near us, endeavoring to help. We finally said:
"Orvieto." And they understood, pointing to the same road we had come up, and then motioning around the base of the hill, saying repeatedly, "Orvieto.”
We nodded our thanks and proceeded to retrace our drive. Reaching the base of the hill, we found the continuation of our road as directed, and once more were on the way. Gaston was quite disgusted at the loss of time. We finally succeeded in reaching Orvieto, and then commenced another climb, as Orvieto is also one of the many hill towns in Italy.
It was almost dark when we reached there. It was once fortified and part of the wall still remains. On arriving, we soon found the Palace Hotel, once called the White Eagle, and were soon comfortably located. We had a fine dinner and Gusty had some of the noted Orvieto wine. We slept well that night after our strenuous day.
Monday, September 19. Gusty and I made an early start, and ordered a carriage for a drive. We grew tired of waiting for it, and walked on, leaving word for it to come to the cathedral for us, as we had been told it was only a few minutes' walk from the hotel. We found it four or five blocks away. Being a hot morning, and having on heavy coats, this walk was not conducive of comfort. The carriage reached the cathedral before we did, as we had stopped on the way to buy postcards and bright-colored shawls, which the peasant women wear on their heads.
We were warm, so decided to take our drive first, getting into the carriage. The driver took us to the wall, and we went out on one of the battlements, where we had a fine view of the plains. Then we drove to a beautiful park, which is over an old fort. I sat down under a tree, while Gusty went to see an old well. She said, on returning, it was not worth the walk. We drove round the town for a half-hour, then went to the cathedral. On getting out here, we told our driver to wait for us. Fortunately, I took all of my little packages with me as I left the carriage, and we were hardly out of it before he drove away like a flash. Gusty called, but he either did not or would not hear. We went into the cathedral, which is very handsome, considered even more so than St. Mark's, Venice; but I could not see it. It is built in quite a different style from that of St. Mark's, being the Italian gothic. It has alternate layers of black and white stone. The facade is one mass of sculptures and gorgeously-colored mosaics. In the interior of one of the side chapels, called Cappella Nuova (new chapel), is beautifully decorated with frescoes of the last judgment and figures of the apostles and prophets by Fra Angelica and Signorelli, another of the famous Italian artists.
We left the cathedral, and walked to the hotel, as our driver had not returned. I was provoked and told Gusty not to pay for the full time charged. We found Gaston waiting and were soon seated, our luggage put in place, and we descended from Orvieto down a winding road till we reached the level plateau, having fine views all the way of the old town we had just left. We passed around Lake Volseme, which is almost circular and is in the mouth of an extinct volcano. Its shores are bleak and bare.
We reached Viterbo, stopping for lunceon at the Grand Hotel, just inside the gates. This is another old town, with its walls and gates still standing.
After luncheon we took the young son of the proprietor as a guide and drove through the town. Motoring down the main street, through the large piazza, we saw the Palazzo Municipale (town hall), which has a handsome entrance. Then on through the town to another large piazza. In this stands an old palace, called the Palazzo Vescovile, now almost in ruins and quite picturesque. It was in this place that several of the popes of the thirteenth century were elected. Adjoining the palace is the cathedral. We were shown through by an old Italian woman, very talkative, but we could not understand one word she said. On our way back we passed through narrow streets, having piazza's in nearly every one.
Saw a very pretty fountain.
We wanted to go out to the Villa Laute, the summer home of the Duchess of Laute, an American woman. Our drive, however, occupied a longer time than we anticipated, so we returned to the hotel and, tipping our little guide, left Viterbo by the same gate we had entered. We followed the winding road for a long distance, finally turning into the one leading to Rome.
We commenced climbing the slope of Mons Ciminio almost at once. It was quite warm and Gaston had to make frequent stops to fill the tank. He had filled it before we started, but when nearly at the top of the hill I saw him looking anxiously around and knew he was looking for water, but could see none. He put in some grease, and we went on to the top. Even then we had quite a little drive before we saw water, which was way down at the very foot of the hill. Gaston had to make two trips before the tank was filled.
We saw Rome some time before we reached it, as it can be seen a long distance, the country being flat and the city itself built on many hills. We arrived about 6 o'clock, and it was getting dark. We entered by the Porta del Popolo, passing through the Piazza del Popolo. Here is one of the many obelisks brought from Egypt. We passed many beautiful fountains. From the piazza we turned into the Corso, one of the main thoroughfares of the city. At this hour it presented an animated scene. We had a little difficulty in finding our hotel, and Gusty was fearful she had forgotten its location. She had not, however, and we drove to Hotel Quirinale.
Tuesday, September 20. Gusty and I went to the office and made some inquiries about sightseeing, and was told the day was a legal holiday and nearly every place was closed, it being the aniversary of the capture of Rome by the Italian troops, September 20, 1870;