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when a foreigner is asked, which he thinks the finest city, Paris or London ? the moment Paris is mentioned, the Louvre, and that striking part which is situated between the Pont Royal and Pont Neuf, presents itself to his imagination. He can recollect no part of London equal in magnificence to this ; and, ten to one, if he decides directly, it will be in favour of Paris : but if he takes a little more time, and compares the two capitals, street by street, square by square, and bridge with bridge, he will probably be of a different opinion. The number of inhabitants in Florence is calculated by some at eighty thousand. The streets, squares, and fronts of the palaces are adorned with a great number of statues; some of them by the best modern masters, Michael Angelo, Bandinelli, Donatello, Giovanni di Bologna, Benvenuto Cellini, and others. A taste for the arts must be kept alive, independent almost of any other encouragement, in a city where so many specimens are continually before
the eyes of the inhabitants.
There are towns in Europe where statues, exposed night and day within the reach of the common people, would run a greater risque of being disfigured and mutilated; here they are as safe as if they were shut up in the Creat Duke's gallery.
Florence has been equally distinguished by a spirit for commerce and for the fine arts; two things which are not always united. Some of the Florentine merchants formerly were men of vast wealth, and lived in a most magnificent manner. One of them, about the middle of the fifteenth century, built that noble fabric, which, from the name of its founder, is still called The Palazzo Pitti. The man was ruined by the prodigious expence of this building, which was immediately purchased by the Medici family, and has continued, ever fince, to be the residence of the Sovereigns. The gardens belonging to this palace are pn the declivity of an eminence. On the
fummit there is a kind of fort called Belvedere. From this, and from some of the higher walks, you have a complete view of the city of Florence, and the beauteous vale of Arno, in the middle of which it stands. The prospect is bounded on every side by an amphitheatre of fertile hills, adorned with country-houses and gardens. In ng part of Italy, that I have seen, are there so many villas, belonging to private persons, as in the neighbourhood of this city; the habitations of the peasants, likewise, feem much more neat and commodious. The country all around is divided into small farms, with a neat farm-house on each. Tuscany produces a considerable quantity of corn, as well as excellent wine, and great quantities of folk.
The peasants have ą look of health and contentment: the natural beauty of the Italian countenance not being disgraced by dirt, or deformed by misery, the wonen in this country seem handsomer, and are, in reality, more blooming, than in other parts of Italy.
When at work, or when they bring their goods to market, their hair is confined by a filk net, which is also much worn at Naples; but on holidays they dress in a very picturesque manner. They do not wear gowns, but a kind of jacket without sleeves. They have no other covering for the upper part of the arm but their shift sleeves, which are tied with ribband. Their petticoats are generally of a scarlet colour. They wear ear-rings and necklaces. Their hair is adjusted in a becoming manner, and adorned with flowers. Above one ear they fix a little straw hat; and on the whole have a more gay, smart, coquetish air, than any country-girls I ever saw.
Churches, and palaces, and statues, are no doubt ornamental to a city; and the Princes are praise-worthy who have taken pains to rear and collect them ; but the greatest of all ornaments are cheerful, happy, living countenances. The taste is not general ; but, I thank God, I know some
people people who, to a perfect knowledge and unaffected love of the fine arts, join a paffion for a collection of this kind, who cannot, without uneasiness, see one face in a different style, and whose lives and fortunes are employed in smoothing the corrosions of penury and misfortune, and restoring the original air of satisfaction and cheerfulness to the human countenance.