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Title: Florence and Northern Tuscany with Genoa - With Sixteen Illustrations In Colour By William Parkinson - And Sixteen Other Illustrations, Second Edition
Author: Hutton, Edward, 1875-1969
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Florence and Northern Tuscany with Genoa - With Sixteen Illustrations In Colour By William Parkinson - And Sixteen Other Illustrations, Second Edition" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

    O rosa delle rose, O rosa bella,
    Per te non dormo nè notte nè giorno,
    E sempre penso alla tua faccia bella,
    Alle grazie che hai, faccio ritorno.
    Faccio ritorno alle grazie che hai:
    Ch'io ti lasci, amor mio, non creder mai.



LONDON, 1907, 1908

       *       *       *       *       *



    ROME. (_In preparation_)

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: FROM THE UFFIZI]

       *       *       *       *       *


  I.      GENOA
  II.     ON THE WAY
  VI.     PISA
  X.      FLORENCE







       *       *       *       *       *



The traveller who on his way to Italy passes along the Riviera di
Ponente, through Marseilles, Nice, and Mentone to Ventimiglia, or
crossing the Alps touches Italian soil, though scarcely Italy indeed, at
Turin, on coming to Genoa finds himself really at last in the South, the
true South, of which Genoa la Superba is the gate, her narrow streets,
the various life of her port, her picturesque colour and dirt, her
immense palaces of precious marbles, her oranges and pomegranates and
lemons, her armsful of children, and above all the sun, which lends an
eternal gladness to all these characteristic or delightful things,
telling him at once that the North is far behind, that even Cisalpine
Gaul is crossed and done with, and that here at last by the waves of
that old and great sea is the true Italy, that beloved and ancient land
to which we owe almost everything that is precious and valuable in our
lives, and in which still, if we be young, we may find all our dreams.
What to us are the weary miles of Eastern France if we come by road, the
dreadful tunnels full of despair and filth if we come by rail, now that
we have at last returned to her, or best of all, perhaps, found her for
the first time in the spring at twenty-one or so, like a fair woman
forlorn upon the mountains, the Ariadne of our race who placed in our
hand the golden thread that led us out of the cavern of the savage to
the sunlight and to her. But though, indeed, I think all this may be
clearer to those who come to her in their first youth by the long white
roads with a song on their lips and a dream in their hearts--for the
song is drowned by the iron wheels that doubtless have their own music,
and the dream is apt to escape in the horror of the night imprisoned
with your fellows; still, as we are so quick to assure ourselves, there
are other ways of coming to Italy than on foot: in a motor-car, for
instance, our own modern way, ah! so much better than the train, and
truly almost as good as walking. For there is the start in the early
morning, the sweet fresh air of the fields and the hills, the long halt
at midday at the old inn, or best of all by the roadside, the afternoon
full of serenity, that gradually passes into excitement and eager
expectancy as you approach some unknown town; and every night you sleep
in a new place, and every morning the joy of the wanderer is yours. You
never "find yourself" in any city, having won to it through many
adventures, nor ever are you too far away from the place you lay at on
the night before. And so, as you pass on and on and on, till the road
which at first had entranced you, wearies you, terrifies you,
relentlessly opening before you in a monstrous white vista, and you who
began by thinking little of distance find, as I have done, that only the
roads are endless, even for you too the endless way must stop when it
comes to the sea; and there you have won at last to Italy, at Genoa.

If you come by Ventimiglia, starting early, all the afternoon that white
vision will rise before you like some heavenly city, very pure and full
of light, beckoning you even from a long way off across innumerable and
lovely bays, splendid upon the sea. While if you come from Turin, it is
only at sunset you will see her, suddenly in a cleft of the mountains,
the sun just gilding the Pharos before night comes over the sea,
opening like some great flower full of coolness and fragrance.

It was by sea that John Evelyn came to Genoa after many adventures; and
though we must be content to forego much of the surprise and romance of
an advent such as that, yet for us too there remain many wonderful
things which we may share with him. The waking at dawn, for instance,
for the first time in the South, with the noise in our ears of the bells
of the mules carrying merchandise to and from the ships in the _Porto_;
the sudden delight that we had not felt or realised, weary as we were on
the night before, at finding ourselves really at last in the way of such
things, the shouting of the muleteers, the songs of the sailors getting
their ships in gear for the seas, the blaze of sunlight, the pleasant
heat, the sense of everlasting summer. These things, and so much more
than these, abide for ever; the splendour of that ancient sea, the
gesture of the everlasting mountains, the calmness, joy, and serenity of
the soft sky.

Something like this is what I always feel on coming to that proud city
of palaces, a sort of assurance, a spirit of delight. And in spite of
all Tennyson may have thought to say, for me it is not the North but the
South that is bright "and true and tender." For in the North the sky is
seldom seen and is full of clouds, while here it stretches up to God.
And then, the South has been true to all her ancient faiths and works,
to the Catholic religion, for instance, and to agriculture, the old
labour of the corn and the wine and the oil, while we are gone after
Luther and what he leads to, and, forsaking the fields, have taken to
minding machines.

And so, in some dim way I cannot explain, to come to Italy is like
coming home, as though after a long journey one were to come suddenly
upon one's mistress at a corner of the lane in a shady place.

It is perhaps with some such joy in the heart as this that the fortunate
traveller will come to Genoa the Proud, by the sea, lying on the bosom
of the mountains, whiter than the foam of her waves, the beautiful gate
of Italy.


The history of Genoa, its proud and adventurous story, is almost wholly
a tale of the sea, full of mystery, cruelty, and beauty, a legend of sea
power, a romance of ships. It is a narrative in which sailors, half
merchants, half pirates, adventurers every one, put out from the city
and return laden with all sorts of spoil,--gold from Africa, slaves from
Tunis or Morocco, the booty of the Crusades; with here the vessel of the
Holy Grail bought at a great price, there the stolen dust of a great

This spirit of adventure, which established the power of Genoa in the
East, which crushed Pisa and almost overcame Venice, was held in check
and controlled by the spirit of gain, the dream of the merchant, so that
Columbus, the very genius of adventure almost without an after-thought,
though a Genoese, was not encouraged, was indeed laughed at; and Genoa,
splendid in adventure but working only for gain, unable on this account
to establish any permanent colony, losing gradually all her possessions,
threw to the Spaniard the dominion of the New World, just because she
was not worthy of it. Men have called her Genoa the Proud, and indeed
who, looking on her from the sea or the sea-shore, will ever question
her title?--but the truth is, that she was not proud enough. She trusted
in riches; for her, glory was of no account if gold were not added to
it. If she entered the first Crusade as a Christian, it was really her
one disinterested action; and all the world acknowledged her valour and
her contrivance which won Jerusalem. But in the second Crusade, as in
the next, she no longer thought of glory or of the Tomb of Jesus, she
was intent on money; and since in that stony place but little booty
could be hoped for, she set herself to spoil the Christian, to provide
him at a price with ships, with provender, with the means of realising
his dream, a dream at which she could afford to laugh, secure as she was
in the possession of this world's goods. Then, when in the thirteenth
century those vast multitudes of soldiers, monks, dreamers, beggars,
and adventurers came to her, the port for Palestine, clamouring for
transports, she was sceptical and even scornful of them, but willing to
give them what they demanded, not for the love of God but for a price.
Even that beautiful and mysterious army of children which came to her
from France and Germany in 1212 seeking Jesus, she could hold in
contempt till, weary at last of feeding them, she found the galleys they
demanded, and in the loneliness of the sea betrayed them and sold them
for gold as slaves to the Arabs, so that of the seven thousand boys and
girls led by a lad of thirteen who came at the bidding of a voice to
Genoa, not one ever returned, nor do we hear anything further concerning
them but the rumour of their fate.

Thus Genoa appears to us of old and now, too, as a city of merchants.
She crushed Pisa lest Pisa should become richer than herself; she went
out against the Moors for Castile because of a whisper of the booty; she
sought to overthrow Venice because she competed with her trade in the
East; and to-day if she could she would fill up the harbour of Savona
with stones, as she did in the sixteenth century, because Savona takes
part of her trade from her. What Philip of Spain did for God's sake,
what Visconti did for power, what Cesare Borgia did for glory, Genoa has
done for gold. She is a merchant adventurer. Her true work was the Bank
of St. George. One of the most glorious and splendid cities of Italy,
she is, almost alone in that home of humanism, without a school of art
or a poet or even a philosopher. Her heroes are the great admirals, and
adventurers--Spinola, Doria, Grimaldi, Fieschi, men whose names linger
in many a ruined castle along the coast who of old met piracy with
piracy. Even to-day a Grimaldi spoils Europe at Monaco, as his ancestors
did of old.

One saint certainly of her own stock she may claim, St. Catherine
Adorni, born in 1447. But the Renaissance passed her by, giving her, it
is true, by the hands of an alien, the streets of splendid palaces we
know, but neither churches nor pictures; such paintings as she possesses
being the sixteenth century work of foreigners, Rubens, Vandyck,
Ribera, Sanchez Coello, and maybe Velasquez.

Yet barren though she is in art, at least Genoa has ever been fulfilled
with life. If her aim was riches she attained it, and produced much that
was worth having by the way. Without the appeal of Florence or Siena or
Venice or Rome, she is to-day, when they are passed away into dreams or
have become little more than museums, what she has ever been, a city of
business, the greatest port in the Mediterranean, a city full of various
life,--here a touch of the East, there a whisper of the West, a busy,
brutal, picturesque city, beauty growing up as it does in London,
suddenly for a moment out of the life of the place, not made or
contrived as in Paris or Florence, but naturally, a living thing, shy
and evanescent. Here poverty and riches jostle one another side by side
as they do in life, and are antagonistic and hate one another. Yet
Genoa, alone of all the cities of Italy proper is living to-day, living
the life of to-day, and with all her glorious past she is as much a city
of the twentieth century as of any other period of history. For, while
others have gone after dreams and attained them and passed away, she has
clung to life, and the god of this world was ever hers. She has made to
herself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, and they have remained
faithful to her. Her ports grow and multiply, her trade increases, still
she heaps up riches, and if she cannot tell who shall gather them, at
least she is true to herself and is not dependent on the stranger or the
tourist. The artist, it is said, is something of a daughter of joy, and
in thinking of Florence or Venice, which live on the pleasure of the
stranger, we may find the truth of a saying so obvious. Well, Genoa was
never an artist. She was a leader, a merchant, with fleets, with
argosies, with far-flung companies of adventure. Through her gates
passed the silks and porcelains of the East, the gold of Africa, the
slaves and fair women, the booty and loot of life, the trade of the
world. This is her secret. She is living among the dead, who may or may
not awaken.

If you are surprised in her streets by the greatness of old things, it
is only to find yourself face to face with the new. People, tourists do
not linger in her ways--they pass on to Pisa. Genoa has too little to
show them, and too much. She is not a museum, she is a city, a city of
life and death and the business of the world. You will never love her as
you will love Pisa or Siena or Rome or Florence, or almost any other
city of Italy. We do not love the living as we love the dead. They press
upon us and contend with us, and are beautiful and again ugly and
mediocre and heroic, all between two heart beats; but the dead ask only
our love. Genoa has never asked it, and never will. She is one of us,
her future is hidden from her, and into her mystery none has dared to
look. She is like a symphony of modern music, full of immense gradual
crescendos, gradual diminuendos, unknown to the old masters. Only Rome,
and that but seldom, breathes with her life. But through the music of
her life, so modern, so full of a sort of whining and despair in which
no great resolution or heroic notes ever come, there winds an old-world
melody, softly, softly, full of the sun, full of the sea, that is always
the same, mysterious, ambiguous, full of promises, at her feet.


The gate of Italy, I said in speaking of her, and indeed it is one of
the derivations of her name Genoa,--Janua the gate, founded, as the
fourteenth-century inscription in the Duomo asserts, by Janus, a Trojan
prince skilled in astrology, who, while seeking a healthy and safe place
for his dwelling, sailed by chance into this bay, where was a little
city founded by Janus, King of Italy, a great-grandson of Noah, and
finding the place such as he wished, he gave it his name and his power.
Now, whether the great-grandson of Noah was truly the original founder
of the city, or Janus the Trojan, or another, it is certainly older than
the Christian religion, so that some have thought that Janus, that old
god who once presided at the beginning of all noble things, was the
divine originator of this city also. And remembering the sun that
continually makes Genoa to seem all of precious stone, of moonstone or
alabaster, it seems indeed likely enough, for Janus was worshipped of
old as the sun, he opened the year too, and the first month bears his
name; and while on earth he was the guardian deity of gates, in heaven
he was porter, and his sign was a ship; therefore he may well have taken
to himself the city of ships, the gateway of Italy, Genoa.

And through that gate what beautiful, terrible, and mysterious things
have passed into oblivion; Saints who have perhaps seen the very face of
Jesus; legions strong in the everlasting name of Caesar, that have lost
themselves in the fastnesses of the North; sailors mad with the song of
the sirens. On her quays burned the futile enthusiasm of the Middle Age,
that coveted the Holy City and was overwhelmed in the desert. Through
her streets surged Crusade after Crusade, companies of adventure, lonely
hermits drunken with silence, immense armies of dreamers, the chivalry
of Europe, a host of little children. On her ramparts Columbus dreamed,
and in her seas he fought with the Tunisian galleys before he set sail
westward for El Dorado. And here Andrea Doria beat the Turks and
blockaded his own city and set her free; and S. Catherine Adorni, weary
of the ways of the world, watched the galleons come out of the west, and
prayed to God, and saw the wind over the sea. O beautiful and mysterious
armies, O little children from afar, and thou whose adventurous name
married our world, what cities have you taken, what new love have you
found, what seas have your ships furrowed; whither have you fled away
when Genoa was so fair?

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about the year 50 when St. Nazarus and St. Celsus, fleeing from
the terror of Nero, landed not far away to the east at Albaro, bringing
with them the new religion. A lane leading down to the sea still bears
the name of one of them, and, strangely as we may think, a ruined church
marks the spot crowning the rock above the place, where a Temple of
Venus once stood. Yet perhaps the earliest remnant of old Genoa is to be
found in the Church of S. Sisto in the Via di Prè, standing as it does
on the very stones of a church raised to the Pope and martyr of that
name in 260. In the journey which Pope Sixtus made to Genoa he is said
to have been accompanied by St. Laurence, and it is probable that a
church was built not much later to him also on the site of the Duomo.
However this may be, Genoa appears to have been passionately Christian,
for the first authority we hear of is that of the Bishops, to whom she
seems to have submitted herself enthusiastically, installing them in the
old castello in that the most ancient part of the city around Piazza
Sarzano and S. Maria di Castello. This castello, destroyed in the
quarrels of Guelph and Ghibelline, as some have thought, may be found in
the hall-mark of the silver vessels made here under the Republic. Very
few are the remnants that have come down to us from the time of the
Bishops. An inscription, however, on a house in Via S. Luca close to S.
Siro remains, telling how in the year 580 S. Siro destroyed the serpent
Basilisk. In the church itself a seventeenth-century fresco commemorates
this monstrous deed.

Of the Lombard dominion something more is left to us; the story at least
of the passing of the dust of St. Augustine. It seems that at the
beginning of the sixth century these sacred ashes had been brought from
Africa to Cagliari to save them from the Vandals. For more than two
hundred years they remained at Cagliari, when, the Saracens taking the
place, Luitprand, the Lombard king, remembering S. Ambrogio and Milan,
ransomed them for a great price and had them brought in 725 to Genoa,
where they were shown to the people for many days. Luitprand himself
came to Genoa to meet them and placed them in a silver urn, discovered
at Pavia in 1695, and carried them in state across the Apennines. Some
of the beautiful Lombard towers, such as S. Stefano and S. Agostino,
where the ashes are said to have been exposed, remind us perhaps more
nearly of the Lombard dominion. Then came Charlemagne and his knights
and the great quarrel. But though Genoa now belonged to the Holy Roman
Empire, she was not strong enough to defend herself from the raids of
the Saracens, who in the earlier part of the tenth century burnt the
city and led half the population into captivity.

Perhaps it is to Otho that Genoa owes her first impulse towards
greatness: he gave her a sort of freedom at any rate. And immediately
after his day the Genoese began to make way against the Saracens on the
seas. You may see a relic of some passing victory in the carved Turk's
head on a house at the corner of Via di Prè and Vico dei Macellai. Nor
was this all, for about this time Genoa seized Corsica, that fatal
island which not only never gave her peace, but bred the immortal
soldier who was finally to crush her and to end her life as a free

There follow the Crusades. These splendid follies have much to do with
the wealth and greatness of Genoa. It was from her port that Godfrey de
Bouillon set sail in the _Pomella_ as a pilgrim in 1095. He appears to
have been insulted at the very gate of Jerusalem, or, as some say, at
the door of the Holy Sepulchre. At any rate he returned to Europe, where
Urban II, urged by Peter the Hermit, was already half inclined to
proclaim the First Crusade. Godfrey's story seems to have decided him;
and, indeed, so moving was his tale, that the crowd who heard him cried
out urging the Pope to act, _Dieu le veult_, the famous and fatal cry
that was to lead uncounted thousands to death, and almost to widow
Europe. In Genoa the war was preached furiously and with success by the
Bishops of Gratz and Arles in S. Siro. An army of enthusiasts, monks,
beggars, soldiers, adventurers, and thieves, moved partly by the love of
Christ, partly by love of gain, gathered in Genoa. With them was
Godfrey. They sailed in 1097: they besieged Antioch and took it. Content
it might seem with this success, or fearful in that stony place of
venturing too far from the sea, the Genoese returned, not empty. For on
the way back, storm-bound perhaps in Myra, they sacked a Greek
monastery there, carrying off for their city the dust of St. John
Baptist, which to-day is still in their keeping.

Was it the hope of loot that caused Genoa in 1099 to send even a larger
company to Judaea under the great Guglielmo Embriaco, whose tower to-day
is all that is left of what must once have been a city of towers? Who
knows? He landed with his Genoese at Joppa, burnt his ships as Caesar
did, though doubtless he thought not of it, and marching on Jerusalem
found the Christians still unsuccessful and the Tomb of Christ, as now,
ringed by pagan spears. But the Genoese were not to be denied. If the
valour of Europe was of no avail, the contrivance of the sea, the
cunning of Genoa must bring down Saladin. So they set to work and made a
tower of scaffolding with ropes, with timbers, with spars saved from
their ships. When this was ready, slowly, not without difficulty, surely
not without joy, they hauled and heaved and drove it over the burning
dust, the immense wilderness of stones and refuse that surrounded
Jerusalem. Then they swarmed up with songs, with shouting, and leapt on
to the walls, and over the ramparts into the Holy City, covered with
blood, filled with the fury of battle, wounded, dying, mad with hatred,
to the Tomb of Jesus, the empty sepulchre of God.

Then eight days after came that strange election, when we offered the
throne of Palestine to Godfrey of Bouillon; but he refused to wear a
crown of gold where his Saviour had worn one of thorns, so we proclaimed
him Defender of the Holy Sepulchre.

But the Genoese under Embriaco as before returned home, again not
without spoil. And their captain for his portion claimed the _Catino_,
the famous vessel, fashioned as was thought of a single emerald, truly,
as was believed, the vessel of the Holy Grail, the cup of the Last
Supper, the basin of the Precious Blood. To-day, if you are fortunate,
as you look at it in the Treasury of S. Lorenzo, they tell you it is
only green glass, and was broken by the French who carried it to Paris.
But, indeed, what crime would be too great in order to possess oneself
of such a thing? It was an emerald once, and into it the Prince of Life
had dipped His fingers; Nicodemus had held it in his trembling hands to
catch the very life of God; who knows what saint or angry angel in the
heathen days of Napoleon, foreseeing the future, snatched it away into
heaven, giving us in exchange what we deserved. Surely it was an emerald
once? Is it possible that a Genoese gave up all his spoil for a green
glass, a cracked pipkin, a heathen wash pot, empty, valueless, a
fraud?--I'll not believe it.

Embriaco, however, returned once more to Palestine with his men,
fighting under Godfrey at Cesarea; and again he came home in triumph,
his galleys low with spoil. And indeed, though we hear no more of
Embriaco, by the end of the first Crusade, Genoa had won possessions in
the East,--streets in Jaffa, streets in Jerusalem, whole quarters in
Antioch, Cesarea, Tyre, and Acre, not to speak of an inscription in the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, "Prepotens Genuensium Presidium," which
Godfrey had carved there, while the Pope gave them their cross of St.
George as arms, which, as some say, we got from them.

Strangely as we may think, in the second Crusade, and even in the third,
so disastrous for the Christian arms, Genoa bore no part; no part, that
is, in the fighting, though in the matter of commissariat and shipping
she was not slow to come forward and make a fortune. And indeed, she had
enough to do at home; for Pisa, no less slow to join the Crusades,
became her enemy, jealous of her growing power and of her possession of
Corsica, so that in 1120 war broke out between them, which scarcely
ceased till Pisa was finally beaten on the sea, and the chains of Porto
Pisano were hanging on the Palazzo di S. Giorgio.

Soon, however, Genoa was engaged in a more profitable business, an
affair after her own heart, in which valour was not its own reward,--I
mean, in the expedition in 1147 against the Moors in Spain. Certainly
the Pope, Eugenius III it was, urged them to it, but so they had been
urged to fight against Saladin without arousing enthusiasm. Yet in this
new cause all Genoa was at fever heat. Wherefore? Well, Granada was a
great and wealthy city, whereas Jerusalem was a ruined village. So they
sent thirty thousand men with sixty galleys and one hundred and sixty
transports to Almeria, which after some hard fighting, for your Moor was
never a coward, they took, with a huge booty. In the next year they took
Tortosa, and returned home laden with spoil, silver lamps for the shrine
of St. John Baptist, for instance, and women and slaves.

Still, Genoa had no peace, for we find her making a stout and successful
defence shortly after against Frederic I, the whole city, men, women,
and children, on his approach from Lombardy, building a great wall about
the city in fifty-three days, of which feat Porta S. Andrea remains the
monument. Then followed that pestilence of Guelph and Ghibelline; out of
which rose the names of the great families, robbers, oppressors,
tyrants,--Avvocato, Spinola, Doria, the Ghibellines, with the Guelphs,
Castelli, Fieschi, Grimaldi. Nor was Genoa free of them till the great
Admiral Andrea Doria crushed them for ever. Yet peace of a sort there
was, now and again, in 1189 for instance, when Saladin won back
Jerusalem, and the Guelph nobles volunteered in a body to serve against
him, leaving Genoa to the Ghibellines, who established the foreign
Podestà for the first time to rule the city. But this gave them no
peace, for still the nobles fought together, and if one family became
too powerful, confusion became worse confounded, for Guelph and
Ghibelline joined together to bring it low. Thus in the thirteenth
century you find Ghibelline Doria linked with the Guelph Grimaldi and
Fieschi to break Ghibelline Spinola. The aspect of the city at that time
was certainly very different from the city of to-day, which is mainly of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries where it is not quite modern.
Then each family had its tower, from which it fought or out of which it
issued, making the streets a shambles as it followed the enemy home or
sought him out. The ordinary citizen must have had an anxious time of
it with these bands of idle cut-throats at large. But by the close of
the twelfth century the towers, at any rate, had been destroyed by order
of the Consuls, the only one left being that which we see to-day, Torre
degli Embriachi, left as a monument to a cunning valour. The thirteenth
century saw the domination of the Spinola family, or rather of one
branch of it, the Luccoli Spinola, which as opposed to the old S. Luca
branch seems to have lived nearer the country and the woods, and was
apparently most disastrous for the internal peace of the city; and
indeed, until the Luccoli were beaten and exiled, as happened in the
beginning of the fourteenth century, there could be no peace; truly the
only peace Genoa knew in those days was that of a foreign war, when the
great lords went out against Pisa or Venice.

The Venetian war, unlike that against Pisa, ended disastrously. Its
origin was a question of trade in the East, where the Comneni had given
certain rights to Genoa which on their fall the Venetians refused to
respect. The quarrel came to a head in that cause of so many quarrels,
the island of Crete, for the Marquis of Monferrat had sold it to the
Venetians while he offered it to the Genoese, he himself having received
it as spoil in the fourth Crusade. In this quarrel with Venice, Genoa
certainly at first had the best of it. In 1261, or thereabout, she
founded two colonies at Pera and Caffa, on the Bosphorus and in the
Euxine, thus adding to her empire, which was rather a matter of business
than of dominion. This is illustrated very effectually by the history of
the Bank of St. George, which from this time till its dissolution at the
end of the eighteenth century was, as it were, the heart of Genoa. It
was Guglielmo Boccanegra, the grandfather of a more famous son, who
built the palace which, as we now see it on the quay, is so sad and
ruinous a monument to the independent greatness of the city. And since
its stones were, as it is said, brought from Constantinople, where
Michael Paleologus had given the Genoese the Venetian fortress of
Pancratone, it is really a monument of the hatred of Genoa for Venice
that we see there, the principal door being adorned with three lions'
heads, part of the spoil of that Venetian fortress. This palace, on the
death of Boccanegra, Captain of the People, was used by the city as an
office for the registration of the _compere_ or public loans, which
dated from 1147 and the Moorish expedition. From the time of the
foundation of the Bank the shares were, like our consols, to be bought
and sold and were guaranteed by the city herself, though it was not till
1407 that the loans were consolidated and the Palazzo delle Compere, as
it was called, became the Banco di S. Giorgio. Indeed, though its real
power may be doubted, it administered, in name at any rate, the colonies
of Genoa after the fall of Constantinople.

Of the building itself I speak elsewhere; it is rather to its place in
the story of Genoa that I have wished here to draw attention.

And it was now, indeed, that Genoa reached, perhaps, the zenith of her
power. For in 1284 comes the great victory of Meloria, which laid Pisa
low. Enraged partly at the success of Genoa in the East, partly at her
growing power and general wealth, Pisa, with that extraordinary flaming
and ruthless energy so characteristic of her, determined to dispose of
Genoa once and for all. Nor were the Genoese unwilling to meet her.
Indeed, they urged her to it. The two fleets, bearing some sixty
thousand men, that of Pisa commanded by a Venetian, Andrea Morosini,
that of Genoa by Oberto Doria, met at Meloria, not far from Bocca
d'Arno, when the Pisans were utterly defeated, partly owing to the
treachery of the immortal Count Ugolino, who sailed away without
striking a blow.[1] Yet in spite of her defeat Pisa carried on the war
for four years, when she sued for peace, which, however, she could not
keep, so that in 1290 we find Corrado Doria sailing into the Porto
Pisano, breaking the chain which guarded it, and carrying it back to
Genoa, where part of it hung as a trophy till our own time on the façade
of the Palazzo di S. Giorgio.

Nor were the Genoese content, for soon after this victory we find them,
led by Lamba Doria, utterly beating the Venetians at Curzola, in the
Adriatic, where they took a famous prisoner, Messer Marco Polo, just
returned from Asia. They brought him back to Genoa, where he remained in
prison for nearly two years, and wrote his masterpiece. Whether it was
the influence of so illustrious a captive, or merely the natural
expression of their own splendid and adventurous spirit, about this time
the Doria fitted out two galleys to explore the western seas, and to try
to reach India by way of the sunset. Tedisio Doria and the brothers
Vivaldi with some Franciscans set out on this adventure, and never

With the fourteenth century Genoa for a time threw off the yoke of her
great nobles, Spinola, Doria, Grimaldi, Fieschi. The wave of revolt that
passed over Europe at this time certainly left Genoa freer than she had
ever been. The people had claimed to name their own "Abbate," in
opposition to the Captain of the People. They chose by acclamation
Simone Boccanegra, who, however, seeing that he was to have no power,
refused the office. "If he will not be Abbate," cried a voice in the
crowd, "let him be Doge"; and seeing the enthusiasm of the people, this
great man allowed himself to be borne to S. Siro, where he was crowned
first Doge of Genoa for life. The nobles seem to have been afraid to
interfere, so great was the eagerness of the people. And it was about
this time that the Grimaldi, driven out of Genoa, seized Monaco, which
by the sufferance of Europe they hold to-day. It is true, that for a
time in 1344 the nobles gathered an army and returned to Genoa,
Boccanegra resigning and exiling himself in Pisa; but twelve years later
he was back again, ruling with temperance and wisdom that great city,
which was now queen of the Mediterranean sea.

To follow the fortunes of the Republic one would need to write a book.
It must be sufficient to say here that by the middle of the century war
broke out with Venice, and was at first disastrous for Genoa. Then once
more a Doria, Pagano it was, led her to victory at Sapienza, off the
coast of Greece, where thirty-one Genoese galleys fought thirty-six of
Venice and took them captive. But the nobles were never quiet, always
they plotted the death of the Doge Giovanni da Morta, or Boccanegra. It
was with the latter they were successful in 1363, when they poisoned him
at a banquet in honour of the King of Cyprus--for they had possessed
themselves of a city in that island. Thus the nobles came back into
Genoa, Adorni, Fregosi, Guarchi, Montaldi, this time; lesser men, but
not less disastrous for the liberty of Genoa than the older families. So
they fought among themselves for mastery, till the Adorni, fearing to be
beaten, sold the city to Charles VI of France, who made them his
representative and gave them the government. And all this time the war
with Venice continued. At first it promised success,--at Pola, for
instance, where Luciano Doria was victorious, but at last beaten at
Chioggia, and not knowing where to turn to make terms, the supremacy of
the seas passed from Genoa to Venice, peace coming at last in 1381.

Then the Genoese turned their attention to the affairs of their city. In
the first year of the fifteenth century they rose to throw off the
French yoke. But France was not so easily disposed of. She sent Marshal
Boucicault to rule in Genoa; and he built the Castelletto, which was
destroyed only a few years ago in our father's time. In 1409, however,
Boucicault thought to gain Milan, for Gian Galeazzo Visconti was dead.
In his absence the Genoese rose and threw out the French, preferring
their own tyrants. These, Adorni, Montaldi, Fregosi, fought together
till Tommaso Fregosi, fearing that the others might prove too strong for
him, sold the city to Filippo Maria Visconti, tyrant of Milan. So the
Visconti came to rule in Genoa.

This period, full of the confusion of the petty wars of Italy, while
Sforza was plotting for his dukedom and Malatesta was building his Rocca
in Rimini; while the Pope was a fugitive, and the kingdom of Naples in a
state of anarchy, is famous, so far as Genoa is concerned, for her
victory at sea over King Alfonso of Aragon, pretender against René of
Anjou to the throne of Naples. The Visconti sided with the House of
Anjou, and Genoa, in their power for the moment, fought with them; so
that Biagio Assereto, in command of the Genoese fleet, not only defeated
the Aragonese, but took Alfonso prisoner, together with the King of
Navarre and many nobles. That victory, strangely enough, made an end of
the rule of the Visconti in Genoa. For, seeing his policy led that way,
Filippo Maria Visconti ordered the Genoese to send their illustrious
prisoners to Milan, where he made much of them, fearing now rather the
French than the Spaniards, since the Genoese had disposed of the latter
and so made the French all-powerful. This spoliation, however, enraged
the Genoese, who joined the league of Florence and Venice, deserting
Milan. At the word of Francesco Spinola they rose, in 1436, killed the
Milanese governor outside the Church of S. Siro, and once more declared
a Republic. To little purpose, as it proved, for the feuds betwixt the
great families continued, so that by 1458 we find Pietro Fregosi,
fearing the growing power of the Adorni, and hard pressed by King
Alfonso, who never forgave an injury, handing over Genoa to Charles VIII
of France.

Meantime, in 1453, Constantinople had fallen before Mahomet, and the
colony of Galata was thus lost to Genoa. And though in this sorry
business the Genoese seem to be less blameworthy than the rest of
Christendom--for they with but four galleys defeated the whole Turkish
fleet--Genoa suffered in the loss of Galata more than the rest, a fact
certainly not lost upon Venice and Naples, who refused to move against
the Turk, though the honour of Europe was pledged in that cause. But all
Italy was in a state of confusion. Sforza, that fox who had possessed
himself of the March of Ancona, and had never fought in any cause but
his own, on the death of Visconti had with almost incredible guile
seized Milan. He it was who helped the Genoese to throw out the French,
only to take Genoa for himself. A man of splendid force and confidence,
he ruled wisely, and alone of her rulers up to this time seems to have
been regretted when, in 1466, he died, and was succeeded in the Duchy
of Milan by his son Galeazzo. This man was a tyrant, and ruled like a
barbarian, till his assassination in 1476. There followed a brief space
of liberty in Genoa, liberty endangered every moment by the quarrels of
the nobles, who at last proposed to divide the city among them, and
would have thus destroyed their fatherland, had not Il Moro, Ludovico
Sforza of Milan, intervened and possessed himself of Genoa, which he
held till 1499, when Louis XII of France defeated him, Genoa placing
herself under his protection.

Meanwhile Columbus, that mystical dreamer who might have restored to
Genoa all and more than all she had lost in colonial dominion, was born
and grew up in those narrow streets, and played on the lofty ramparts
and learned the ways of ships. Genoa in her proud confusion heard him
not, so he passed to Salamanca and the Dominicans, and set sail from
Cadiz. Yet he never forgot Genoa, and indeed it is characteristic of
those great men who are without honour in their own country, that they
are ever mindful of her who has rejected them. The beautiful letter
written to the Bank of St. George in 1498 from Seville, as he was about
to set out on what proved to be his last voyage, is witness to this.

"Although my body," he writes, "is here, my heart is always with you.
God has been more bountiful to me than to any one since David's time.
The success of my enterprise is already clear, and would be still more
clear if the Government did not cover it with a veil. I sail again for
the Indies in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, and I return at once;
but as I know I am but mortal, I charge my son Don Diego to pay you
yearly and for ever the tenth part of all my revenue, in order to
lighten the toll on wine and corn. If this tenth part is large you are
welcome to it; if small, believe in my good wish. May the Most Holy
Trinity guard your noble persons and increase the lustre of your
distinguished office."

Such were the last words of Columbus to his native city. You may see his
birthplace, the very house in which he was born, on your left in the
Borgo dei Lanajoli, as you go down from the Porta S. Andrea.

It was in 1499 that Louis of France got possession of Genoa. He held the
city, cowed as it was, till 1507, when, goaded into rebellion by
insufferable wrongs, the people rose and threw out his Frenchmen with
their own nobles, choosing as their Doge Paolo da Novi, a dyer of silk,
one of themselves. Not for long, however, was Paolo to rule in Genoa,
for Louis retook the city, and Paolo, who had fled to Pisa, was captured
as he sailed for Rome, and put to death.

It was now that it came into the mind of Louis, who had learned nothing
from experience, to build another fort like to the Castelletto, to wit
the Briglia, to bridle the city. This he did, yet there lay the bridle
on which he was to be ridden back to France. For the Genoese never
forgave him his threat, which stood before them day by day, so that at
the first opportunity, Julius II, Pope and warrior, helping them, they
rose again, and again the French departed. And in 1515 Louis died, and
Francis I ruled in his stead. Then, the nobles of Genoa quarrelling as
ever among themselves, Fregoso agreed with the French king, who made him
governor of the city. The Adorni, angry at this, made overtures to the
Emperor, Charles V it was, who sent General Pescara and twenty thousand
men to take the city. There followed that most bloody sack, to the cry
of Spain and Adorni, which lives in history and in the hearts of the
Genoese to this day. This happened in 1522, and thereafter Antoniotto
Adorni became Doge as a reward for his treachery.

But already the deliverer was at hand, scarcely to be distinguished at
first from an enemy. Five years were the length of Adorni's rule, and
all that time the French attacked and strove for the city, and in their
ranks fought he who was the deliverer, Andrea Doria, Lord Admiral of
Genoa, the saviour of his country.

Then in 1527 the French got possession of Genoa. Now Filippino Doria,
nephew to the Admiral, had won a victory in the Gulf of Palermo over
the Spanish fleet. But Francis, that brilliant fool, thought nothing of
this service, though he claimed the prisoners for himself, for he liked
the ransom well. Then the Admiral, touched in his pride, threw over the
French cause and joined the Emperor. In 1528 a common action between the
fleet under Doria and the populace within the city once more threw out
the French, and Doria entered Genoa amid the acclamation of the
multitude, knight of the Golden Fleece and Prince of Melfi.

This extraordinary and heroic sailor, born at Oneglia in 1466 or 1468 of
one of the princely houses of Genoa, before 1503 had served under many
Italian lords. It was in 1513 that he first had the command of the fleet
of Genoa, while three years later he defeated the Turks at Pianosa. He
helped Francis into Genoa and he threw him out; while he lived he ruled
the city he had twice subdued, and his glory was hers. Yet truly it
might seem that all Doria did was but to transfer Genoa from the
Spaniard to the Frenchman and back again. In reality, he won her for
himself. He drove the French not only out of Genoa, but out of her
dominion. He filled up the port of Savona with stones, because she had
under French influence sought to rival Genoa. With him Genoa ruled the
sea, and with his death her greatness departed. And he was as liberal as
he was powerful. Charles V knew him, and let him alone. He himself as
Lord of Genoa gave her back her liberties, set up the Senate again,
opened the Golden Book, Il Libro d'Oro, and wrote in it the names of
those who should rule; then he set up a parliament, the Grand Council of
Four Hundred, and the old quarrels were forgotten, and there was peace.

But who could rule the Genoese, greedy as their sea, treacherous as
their winds, proud as their sun, deep as their sky, cruel as their
rocks! If the Admiral had brought the Adorni and the Fregosi low, there
yet remained the Fieschi, old as the Doria, Guelph too, while they had
been Ghibelline.

It is true that the old quarrels were done with, yet strangely enough it
was on the Pope's behalf that the Fieschi plotted against the Doria.
Now, Pope Paul III had been Doria's friend. In 1535 he had for a
remembrance of his love given the Admiral that great sword which still
hangs in S. Matteo. But now, when Andrea's brother, Abbate di San
Fruttuoso came to die, and it was known that he had left the Admiral
much property close to Naples, the Pope, swearing that the estates of an
ecclesiastic necessarily returned to the Church, claimed Andrea's
inheritance. But the Admiral thought differently. Ordering Giannettino,
his nephew, to take the fleet to Civitavecchia, he seized the Pope's
galleys and had them brought to Genoa. Now, when the Genoese saw this
strange capture convoyed into Genoa--so the tale goes--they were afraid,
and crowded round the old Admiral, demanding wherefore he made war on
the Church, and some shouted sacrilege and others profanation, while
others again besought him with tears what it meant. And he answered, so
that all might hear, that it meant that his galleys were stronger than
those of His Holiness.

Then the Pope, knowing his man, gave way, but forgot it not. So that he
called Gian Luigi Fieschi to him, the head of that family, a Guelph of a
Guelph stock, and put it into his mind to rise against the Admiral, and
to hold Genoa himself under the protection of Francis I. The blow fell
on 1st January 1547. Now, on the day before, the Admiral was unwell and
lay a bed, so that Fieschi waited on him in the most friendly way, and,
as it is said, kissed many times the two lads, grand-nephews of the
Admiral, who played about the room. Not many hours later, the Fieschi
were in the streets rousing the city. Giannettino, nephew to the
Admiral, hearing the tumult, ran to the Porta S. Tommaso to hold it and
enter the city, but that gate was already lost, and he himself soon
dead. Truly, all seemed lost when Fieschi, going to seize the galleys,
slipped from a plank into the water, and his armour drowned him. Then
the House of Doria rallied, and their cry rang through the city; little
by little they thrust back their enemies, they hemmed them in, they
trod them under foot; before dawn all that were left of the Fieschi were
flying to Montobbio, their castle in the mountains. Thus the Admiral
gave peace to Genoa, nor was he content with the exile or death of his
foes, for he destroyed also all their palaces, villas, and castles,
spoiling thus half the city, and making way for the palaces which have
named Genoa the City of Palaces, and which we know to-day. For thirteen
years longer Andrea Doria reigned in Genoa, dying at last in 1560. And
at his death all that might make Genoa so proud departed with him. In
1565 she lost Chios, the last of her possessions in the East, and before
long she lay once more in the hands of foreigners, not to regain her
liberty till in 1860 Italy rose up out of chaos and her sea bore the
Thousand of Garibaldi to Sicily, to Marsala, to free the Kingdom.


As you stand under those strange arcades that run under the houses
facing the port, all that most ancient story of Genoa seems actual,
possible; it is as though in some extraordinarily vivid dream you had
gone back to less uniform days, when the beauty and the ugliness of the
world struggled for mastery, before the overwhelming victory of the
machine had enthroned ugliness and threatened the dominion of the soul
of man. In that shadowy place, where little shops like caverns open on
either side, with here a woman grinding coffee, there a shoe-maker at
his last, yonder a smith making copper pipkins, a sailor buying ropes,
an old woman cheapening apples, everything seems to have stood still
from century to century. There you will surely see the _mantilla_ worn
as in Spain, while the smell of ships, whose masts every now and then
you may see, a whole forest of them, in the harbour, the bells of the
mules, the splendour of the most ancient sun, remind you only of old
things, the long ways of the great sea, the roads and the deserts and
the mountains, the joy that cometh with the morning, so that there at
any rate Genoa is as she ever was, a city of noisy shadowy ways, cool
in the heat, full of life, movement, merchandise, and women.

And as it happens, this shadowy arcade, so close to the hotels (under
which, indeed, you must make your way to reach one of the oldest of
these hostelries, the Hôtel de la Ville), is a place to which the
traveller returns again and again, weary of the garish modernity that
has spoiled so much of the city, far at least from the tram lines that
have made of so many Italian cities a pandemonium. It is from this
characteristic pathway between the little shops that one should set out
to explore Genoa.

Passing along this passage eastward, you soon come to the Bank of St.
George, that black Dogana, built with Venetian stones from
Constantinople, a monument of hatred and perhaps of love,--hatred of the
Venetians, of the Pisans too, for here till our own time hung the iron
chains of Porto Pisano that Corrado Doria took in 1290; and of love,
since it was to preserve Genoa and her dominion that the Banca was
founded. Over the door you may still see remnants of the device the
Guelph Fieschi Pope, Innocent VII, gave to his native city when he came
to see her, the griffin of Genoa strangling the imperial eagle and the
fox of Pisa; while under is the motto, _Griphus ut has agit, sic hostes
Genua frangit_.

It was Guglielmo Boccanegra who built the place, as the inscription
reminds you,--it was his palace. But only the façade landward remains
from his time, with the lions' heads, the great hall and the façade
seaward dating from 1571, eleven years after Doria's death. In the tower
is the old bell which used to summon the Grand Council; it is of
seventeenth-century work, and was presented to the Bank by the Republic
of Holland.[2]

Within, the palace is a ruin, only the Hall of Grand Council being in
any way worth a visit. Here you may see statues of the chief benefactors
of the city from the middle of the fourteenth century to the middle of
the seventeenth. And by a curious device worthy of this city of
merchants, each citizen got a statue according to his gifts. Those who
save 100,000 lire were carved sitting there, while those who gave but
half this were carved standing; less rich and less liberal benefactors
got a bust or a mere commemorative stone, each according to his
liberality, and this (strangely we may think), in a city so religious
that it is dedicated to Madonna, might seem to leave nothing for the
widow with her mite who gave more than they all.

One comes out of that dirty and ruined place, that was once so splendid,
with a regret that modern Italy, which is so eager to build grandiose
banks and every sort of public building, is yet so regardless of old
things that one might fancy her history only began in 1860. Mr. Le
Mesurier, in the interesting book already referred to, has suggested
that this old palace, so full of memories of Genoa's greatness, should
be used by the municipality as a museum for Genoese antiquities. I
should like to raise my voice with his in this cause so worthy of the
city we have loved. Is it still true of her, that though she is proud
she is not proud enough? Is it to be said of her who sped Garibaldi on
his first adventure, that all her old glory is forgotten, that she is
content with mere wealth, a thing after all that she is compelled to
share with the latest American encampment, in which competition she
cannot hope to excel? But she who holds in her hands the dust of St.
John Baptist, who has seen the cup of the Holy Grail, whose sons stormed
Jerusalem and wept beside the Tomb of Jesus, through whose streets the
bitter ashes of Augustine have passed, and in whose heart Columbus was
conceived, and a great Admiral and a great Saint, is worthy of
remembrance. Let her gather the beautiful or curious remnants of her
great days about her now in the day of small things, that out of past
splendour new glory may rise, for she also has ancestors, and, like the
sun, which shall rise to-morrow, has known splendour of old.

As you leave the Banca di S. Giorgio, if you continue on your way you
will come on to the great ramparts, where you may see the sea, and so
you will leave Genoa behind you; but if, returning a little on your way,
you turn into the Piazza Banchi, you will be really in the heart of the
old city, in front of the sixteenth-century Exchange, Loggia dei Banchi,
where Luca Pinelli was crucified for opposing a Fregoso Doge who wished
to sell Livorno to Florence. Passing thence into the street of the
jewellers, Strada degli Orefici, where every sort of silver filigree
work may be found, with coral and amber, you come to Madonna of the
Street Corner, a Virgin and Child, with S. Lo, the patron of all sorts
of smiths, a seventeenth-century work of Piola. These narrow shadowy
ways full of men and women and joyful with children are the delight of
Genoa. There is but little to see, you may think,--little enough but
just life. For Genoa is not a museum: she lives, and the laughter of her
children is the greatest of all the joyful poems of Italy, maybe the
only one that is immortal.

With this thought in your heart (as it is sure to be everywhere in
Italy) you return (as one continually does) to the Arcades, and turning
to the left you follow them till you come to Via S. Lorenzo, in which is
the Duomo all of white and black marble, a jewel with mystery in its
heart, hidden away among the houses of life.

It was built on the site of a church which commemorated the passing of
S. Lorenzo through Genoa. Much of the present church is work of the
twelfth century, such as the side doors and the walls, but the façade
was built early in the fourteenth century, while the tower and the choir
were not finished till 1617. The dome was made by Galeazzo Alessi, the
Perugian who built so much in Genoa, as we shall see later. Possibly the
bas-reliefs strewn on the north wall are work of the Roman period, but
they are not of much interest save to an archeologist.

Within, the church is dark, and this I think is a disappointment, nor is
it very rich or lovely. Some work of Matteo Civitali is still to be seen
in a side chapel on the left, but the only remarkable thing in the
church itself is the chapel of St. John Baptist, into which no woman
may enter, because of the dancing of Salome, daughter of Herodias. There
in a marble urn the ashes of the Messenger have lain for eight
centuries, not without worship, for here have knelt Pope Alexander III,
our own Richard Cordelion, Federigo Barbarossa, Henry IV after Canossa,
Innocent IV, fugitive before Federigo II, Henry VII of Germany, St.
Catherine of Siena, and often too, St. Catherine Adorni, Louis XII of
France, Don John of Austria after Lepanto, and maybe, who knows,
Velasquez of Spain, Vandyck from England, and behind them, all the
misery of Genoa through the centuries, an immense and pitiful company of
men and women crying in the silence to him who had cried in the

Other curious, strange, and wonderful things, too, S. Lorenzo holds for
us in her treasury: a piece of the True Cross set in a cruciform casket
of gold crusted with precious stones, stolen, as most relics have been,
this one from the Venetians in the fourth Crusade, when the Emperor
Baldwin, whom Venice had crowned, sent it as gift to Pope Innocent III
by a Venetian galley, which, caught in a storm, took shelter in Modone
in Hellas, where two Genoese galleys found her and, having looted her,
sent the relic to S. Lorenzo in Genoa magnanimously, as Giustiniani
says. Here also beside this wonder you may see the cup of the Holy
Grail, stolen by the French, who, forced to return it, sent this broken
green glass in place of the perfect emerald they carried away; or maybe,
who knows, it was but glass in the beginning. Yet, indeed, the Genoese
paid a great price for it, thinking it truly the emerald of the Precious
Blood, but they may have deceived themselves in the joy that followed
the winning of the Holy City: though that is not like Genoa. However
this may be, and with relics you are as like to be right as wrong
whatever your opinion, there is but little else worth seeing in S.

As you follow the Via S. Lorenzo upwards, you come presently on your
left to the Piazza Umberto Primo, in which is the Palazzo Ducale, the
ancient palace of the Doges, rebuilt finally in 1777; and at last,
still ascending, you find yourself in the great shapeless Piazza
Deferrari, with its statue to Garibaldi, while at the top of the Via S.
Lorenzo on your right is the Church of S. Ambrogio, built by
Pallavicini, with three pictures, a Guido Reni, the Assumption of the
Virgin, and two Rubens, the Circumcision and S. Ignatius healing a
madman. Not far away (for you turn into Piazza Deferrari and take the
second street to the left, Strada S. Matteo) is the great Doria Church
of S. Matteo, in black and white marble, a sort of mausoleum of the
Doria family. Now, the family of Doria, one of the most ancient in
Genoa, the Spinola clan alone being older, emerges really about 1100,
and takes its rise, we are told, from Arduin, a knight of Narbonne, who,
resting in Genoa on his way to Jerusalem, married Oria, a daughter of
the Genoese house of della Volta. However this may be, in 1125 a certain
Martino Doria founded the Church of S. Matteo, which has since remained
the burial-place and monument of his race. Martino Doria is said to have
become a monk, and to have died in the monastery of S. Fruttuoso at
Portofino, where, too, lie many of the Doria family; but certainly as
early as 1298 S. Matteo became the monument of the Doria greatness, for
Lamba Doria, the victor of Curzola, where he beat the Venetian fleet,
was laid here, as you may see from the inscription on the old
sarcophagus at the foot of the façade of the church to the right. The
façade itself is covered with inscriptions in honour of various members
of the family: first, to Lamba, with an account of the battle. It reads
as follows: "To the glory of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the
year 1298, on Sunday 7 September, this angel was taken in Venetian
waters in the city of Curzola, and in that place was the battle of 76
Genoese galleys with 86 Venetian galleys, of which 84 were taken by the
noble Lord Lamba Doria, then Captain and Admiral of the Commune and of
the People of Genoa, with the men on them, of which he brought back to
Genoa alive as prisoners 7400, along with 18 galleys, and the other 66
he caused to be burnt in the said Venetian waters,--he died at Savona
in 1323."[3] It was in this engagement that Marco Polo was taken
prisoner and brought to Genoa.

The second inscription on this façade refers to the battle of Sapienza,
when in 1354 Pagano Doria beat the Venetians off the coast of Greece. It
reads as follows:[4] "In honour of God and the Blessed Mary. In the
fourth day of November 1354, the noble Lord Pagano Doria with 31 Genoese
galleys, at the Island of Sapienza, fought and took 36 Venetian galleys
and four ships, and led to Genoa 1400 men alive as captives with their

The third inscription deals again with a defeat of the Venetian fleet,
by Luciano Doria in 1379. It reads as follows:[5] "To the glory of God
and the Blessed Mary. In the year 1379, on the 5th day of May, in the
Gulf of the Venetians near Pola, there was a battle of 22 Genoese
galleys with 22 galleys of the Venetians, in which were 4075 men-at-arms
and many other men from Pola; of which galleys 16 were taken with all
that was in them by the noble Lord Luciano Doria, Captain General of the
Commune of Genoa, who in the said battle while fighting valiantly met
his death. The sixteen galleys of the Venetians were conducted into
Genoa with 2407 captive men."

The fourth inscription refers to the earlier victory of Oberto Doria
over the Pisans. It is as follows:[6] "In the name of the Holy Trinity,
in the year of Our Lord 1284, on the 6th day of August, the high and
mighty Lord Oberto Doria, at that time Captain and Admiral of the
Commune and of the Genoese people, triumphed in the Pisan waters over
the Pisans, taking from them 33 galleys with 7 sunk and all the rest put
to flight, and with many dead men left in the waters; and he returned to
Genoa with a great multitude of captives, so that 7272 were placed in
the prisons. There was taken Andrea Morosini of Venice, then Podestà
and Captain General in war of the Commune of Pisa, with the standard of
the Commune, captured by the galleys of Doria and brought to this church
with the seal of the Commune, and there was also taken Loto, the son of
Count Ugolino, and a great part of the Pisan nobility."

The fifth inscription refers to the victory of Filippino Doria, nephew
to the great Admiral over the Spanish galleys in the Gulf of Salerno,
which led Andrea, to the consternation of Genoa, to attack the Pope's
galleys at Civitavecchia.

Within, the church was altered in 1530 by Montorsoli, the Florentine who
was brought from Florence by the Admiral. And there above the high altar
hangs his sword, given him by Pope Paul III, his friend and enemy.
There, too, in the left aisle is the Doria chapel, with a picture of
Andrea and his wife kneeling before our Lord. In the crypt, which was
decorated in stucco by Montorsoli, you may see his tomb.

    Questo è quel Doria, che fa dai Pirati
    Sicuro il vostro mar per tutti i lati.

The beautiful cloister contains the statues of Andrea and Giovandrea,
broken by the people in 1797. Close by is the Doria Palace, given by the
Republic to Andrea when he refused the office of Doge. It is decorated
with the privileged black and white marble, and bears the inscription,
_Senat. Cons. Andreae de Oria Patriae Liberatori Munus Publicium_.

If you return from S. Matteo to the Piazza Deferrari and then follow the
Via Carlo Felice (and without some sort of guidance such as this you are
like to be lost in the maze of the city) on your way to the beautiful
Piazza Fontane Marose, you pass on your left the Palazzo Pallavicini,
empty now of all its treasures.

On your right as you enter this square of palaces is the Palazzo della
Casa, once the Palazzo Spinola, decorated with the black and white
marble, built in the early part of the fifteenth century, in the place
where the old tower of that great family once stood. It is the palace of
the oldest Genoese family, and the statues in the façade represent the
most famous members of the clan, as Oberto, the son of the founder of
this branch of the race, the Luccoli Spinola, Conrado, who ruled the
city in 1206, and Opizino, who married his daughter to Theodore
Paleologus, Emperor of Constantinople, and lived like a king and was
banished in 1309. The palace itself is said to have been built with the
remains of the Fieschi palace which the Senate destroyed in 1336. Beyond
it rise the Palazzo Negrone and the Palazzo Pallavicini, while opposite
the Negrone Palace the Via Nuova, now called Via Garibaldi (for the
Italians have a bad habit of renaming their old streets), opens, a vista
of palaces, where all the greatness and splendour of Genoa rise up
before you in houses of marble, and courtyards musical with fountains,
walls splendid with frescoes, and rooms full of pictures.

Before passing into this street of palaces, however, the traveller
should follow the difficult Salita di S. Caterina, which climbs between
Palazzo della Casa and Palazzo Negrone towards the Acqua Sola, that
lovely garden, passing on his way the old Palazzo Spinola, where many an
old and precious canvas still hangs on the walls, and the spoiled
frescoes of the beautiful portico are fading in the sun.

It is perhaps in the Via Garibaldi, Via Cairoli, and Via Balbi, avenues
of palaces narrow because of the summer sun, bordered on either side by
triumphant slums, that the real Genoa splendid and living may best be
surprised. Here, amid all the grave and yet homely magnificence of the
princes of the State, life, with a brilliance and a misery all its own,
ebbs and flows, and is not to be denied. Between two palaces of marble,
silent, and full maybe of the masterpieces of dead painters, you may
catch sight of the city of the people, a "truogolo" perhaps with a great
fountain in the midst, where the girls and women are washing clothes,
and the children, whole companies of them, play about the doorways,
while above, the houses, and indeed the court itself, are bright with
coloured cloths and linen drying in the wind and the sun. It is a city
like London that you discover, living fiercely and with all its might,
but without the brutality of our more terrible life, where as here
wealth rises up in the midst of poverty, only here wealth is noble and
without the blatancy and self-satisfaction you find in our squares, and
poverty has not lost all its joyfulness, its air of simplicity and
romance, as it has with us.

It is these palaces, so noble and, as one might think, so deserted, that
Galeazzo Alessi built in the sixteenth century for the nobles of Genoa.
And it is his work, whole streets of it, that has named the city the
City of Palaces, as we say, and has given her something of that proud
look which clings to her in her title, La Superba. Yet not altogether
from the magnificence of her old streets has this name come to her, but
in part from the character of her people, and in great measure, too,
from her brave position there between the mountains and the sea, a city
of precious stone in an amphitheatre of noble hills. Nothing that Genoa
could build, steal, or win could even be so splendid as that birthright
of hers, her place among the mountains on the shores of the great sea.

As one enters Via Garibaldi from Piazza Marose down the vistaed street
where a precious strip of the blue sky seems more lovely for the shadowy
way, the first house on the right is Palazzo Cambiaso, built by Alessi,
while on the left, No. 2, is Palazzo Gambaro, which belonged to the
Cambiaso family. No. 3 on the right is Palazzo Parodi, another of
Alessi's works, built in 1567 for Franco Lercaro; No. 4 is Palazzo
Carega; No. 5, Palazzo Spinola, again by Alessi; while Palazzo Giorgio
Doria, No. 6, was also built by him. Here, beside frescoes by the
Genoese Luca Cambiaso, you may find a Vandyck, a portrait of a lady and
a Sussanah by Veronese. In the Palazzo Adorno too, No. 10, the work of
Alessi, you may find several fine pictures, among them three trionfi in
the manner of Botticelli, and a Rubens; while in Palazzo Serra, No. 12,
but you may not enter, there is a fine hall. The Palazzo Municipale,
built by Rocco Lurago at the end of the sixteenth century, has five
frescoes of the life of the Doge Grimaldi, and Paganini's violin, a
Guarnerius, on which Señor Sarasate played not long ago.

It is, however, in Palazzo Rosso, No. 18, possibly a work of Alessi's,
that you may see what these Genoese palaces really are, for the Marchesa
Maria Brignole-Sale, to whom it belonged, presented it to the city in
1874. It is into a vestibule, desolate enough certainly, that you pass
out of the life of the street, and, ascending the great bare staircase,
come at last on the third storey into the picture gallery. There is
after all, but little to see; for, splendid though some of the pictures
may once have been, they are now for the most part ruined. There
remains, however, a Moretto, the portrait of a Physician, and the
portrait of the Marchese Antonio Giulio Brignole-Sale on horseback, the
beautiful work of Vandyck. Looking at this picture and its fellow, the
portrait of the Marchesa, it is with sorrow we remember the fate that
has befallen so many of Vandyck's masterpieces painted in this city. For
either they have been carried away, like the magnificent group of the
Lommellini family to Edinburgh, the Marchesa Brignole with her child to
England, or they have been repainted and spoiled.

It was in 1621, on the 3rd October, that Vandyck, mounted on "the best
horse in Rubens' stables," set out from Antwerp for Italy. After staying
a short while in Brussels, he journeyed without further delay across
France to Genoa. With him came Rubens' friend, Cavaliere Giambattista
Nani. He reached Genoa on 20th November, where his friends of the de
Wael family greeted him.

The city of Genoa, herself without a school of painting, had welcomed
Rubens not long before very gladly, nor had Vandyck any cause to
complain of her ingratitude. He appears to have set himself to paint in
the style of Rubens, choosing similar subjects, at any rate, and thus to
have won for himself, with such work as the Young Bacchantes, now in
Lord Belper's collection, or the Drunken Silenus, now in Brussels, a
reputation but little inferior to his master's. Certainly at this time
his work is very Flemish in character, and apparently it was not till
he had been to Venice, Mantua, and Rome that the influence of Italy and
the Italian masters may be really found in his work. A disciple of
Titian almost from his youth, it is the work of that master which
gradually emancipates him from Flemish barbarism, from a too serious
occupation with detail, the over-emphasis of northern work, the mere
boisterousness, without any real distinction, that too often spoils
Rubens for us, and yet is so easily excused and forgotten in the mere
joy of life everywhere to be found in it. Well, with this shy and
refined mind Italy is able to accomplish her mission; she humanises him,
gives him the Latin sensibility and clarity of mind, the Latin
refinement too, so that we are ready to forget he was Rubens'
country-man, and think of him often enough as an Englishman, endowed as
he was with much of the delicate and lovely genius of so many of our
artists, full of a passionate yet shy strength, that some may think is
the result of continual communion with Latin things, with Italy and
Italian work, Italian verse, Italian painting, on the part of a race not
Latin, but without the immobility, the want of versatility, common to
the Germans, which has robbed them of any great painter since the early
Renaissance, and in politics has left them to be the last people of
Europe to win emancipation.

Much of this enlightening effect that Italy has upon the northerner may
be found in the work of Vandyck on his return to Genoa, really a new
thing in the world, as new as the poetry of Spenser had been, at any
rate, and with much of his gravity and sweet melancholy or pensiveness,
in those magnificent portraits of the Genoese nobility which time and
fools have so sadly misused. And as though to confirm us in this thought
of him, we may see, as it were, the story of his development during this
journey to the south in the sketch-book in the possession of the Duke of
Devonshire. Here, amid any number of sketches, thoughts as it were that
Titian has suggested, or Giorgione evoked, we see the very dawn of all
that we have come to consider as especially his own. We may understand
how the pride and boisterous magnificence of Rubens came to seem a
little insistent a little stupid too, beside Leonardo's Virgin and Child
with St. Anne now in the Louvre, which he notes in Milan, or that Last
Supper which is now but a shadow on the wall of S. Maria delle Grazie.
And above all, we may see how the true splendour of Titian exposes the
ostentation of Rubens, as the sun will make even the greatest fire look
dingy and boastful. Gradually Vandyck, shy and of a quiet, serene
spirit, becomes aware of this, and, led by the immeasurable glory of the
Venetians, slowly escapes from that "Flemish manner" to be master of
himself; so that, after he has painted in the manner of Titian at
Palermo, he returns to Genoa to begin that wonderful series of
masterpieces we all know, in which he has immortalised the tragedy of a
king, the sorrowful beauty, frail and lovely as a violet, of Henrietta
Maria, and the fate of the Princes of England. And though many of the
pictures he painted in Genoa are dispersed, and many spoiled, some few
remain to tell us of his passing. One, a Christ and the Pharisees, is in
the Palazzo Bianco, not far from Palazzo Rosso, on the opposite side of
the Via Garibaldi. But here there is a fine Rubens too; a Gerard David,
very like the altar-piece at Rouen; a good Ruysdael, with some
characteristic Spanish pictures by Zurbaran, Ribera, and Murillo; and
while the Italian pictures are negligible, though some paintings and
drawings of the Genoese school may interest us in passing, it is
characteristic of Genoa that our interest in this collection should be
with the foreign work there.

As you leave Via Garibaldi and pass down Via Cairoli, on your left you
pass Via S. Siro. Turning down this little way, you come almost
immediately to the Church of S. Siro. The present building dates from
the seventeenth century, but the old church, then called Dei Dodici
Apostoli, was the Cathedral of Genoa. It was close by that the blessed
Sirus "drew out the dreadful serpent named Basilisk in the year 550."
What this serpent may really have been no one knows, but Carlone has
painted the scene in fresco in S. Siro.

Returning to Via Cairoli, at the bottom, in Piazza Zecca on your left,
is one of the Balbi palaces; while in Piazza Annunziata, a little
farther on, you come to the beautiful Church of Santissima Annunziata
del Vastato, built by Della Porta in 1587.

Crossing this Piazza, you enter perhaps the most splendid street in
Genoa, Via Balbi, which climbs up at last to the Piazza Acquaverde, the
Statue of Columbus, and the Railway. The first palace on your right is
Palazzo Durazzo-Pallavicini, with a fine picture gallery. Here you may
see two fine Rubens, a portrait of Philip IV of Spain, and a Silenus
with Bacchantes, a great picture of James I of England with his family,
painted by some "imitator" of Vandyck, though who it was in Genoa that
knew both Vandyck and England is not yet clear; a Ribera, a Reni, a
Tintoretto, a Domenichino, and above all else Vandyck's Boy in White
Satin, in the midst of these ruined pictures which certainly once would
have given us joy. The Boy in White Satin is perhaps the loveliest
picture Vandyck left behind him; though it is but partly his after all,
the fruit, the parrot, and the monkey being the work of Snyders.

On the other side of the Via Balbi, almost opposite the Palazzo
Durazzo-Pallavicini, is the Palazzo Balbi, which possesses the loveliest
cortile in Genoa, with an orange garden, and in the Great Hall a fine
gallery of pictures. Here is the Vandyck portrait of Philip II of Spain,
which Velasquez not only used as a model, or at least remembered when he
painted his equestrian Olivarez in the Prado, but which he changed, for
originally it was a portrait of Francesco Maria Balbi, till, as is said,
Velasquez came and painted there the face of Philip II. Certainly
Velasquez may have sketched the picture and used it later, but it seems
unlikely that he would have painted the face of Philip II, whom he had
never seen, though the Genoese at that time might well have asked him to
do so.[7]

As you continue on your way up Via Balbi, you have on your right the
Palazzo dell' Università, with its magnificent staircase built in 1623
by Bartolommeo Bianco. Some statues by Giovanni da Bologna make it worth
a visit, while of old the tomb of Simone Boccanegra, the great Doge,
made such a visit pious and necessary.

Opposite the University is the Palazzo Reale, which once belonged to the
Durazzo family. A crucifixion by Vandyck is perhaps not too spoiled to
be still called his work.

So at last you will come to the Piazza Acquaverde and the Statue of
Columbus, which is altogether dwarfed by the Railway Station. Not far
away to the left, behind this last, you will find the great Palazzo
Doria. It is almost nothing now, but in John Evelyn's day, when
accompanied by that "most courteous marchand called Tornson," he went to
see "the rarities," it was still full of its old splendour. "One of the
greatest palaces here for circuit," he writes, "is that of the Prince
d'Orias, which reaches from the sea to the summit of the mountaines. The
house is most magnificently built without, nor less gloriously furnished
within, having whole tables and bedsteads of massy silver, many of them
sett with achates, onyxes, cornelians, lazulis, pearls, turquizes, and
other precious stones. The pictures and statues are innumerable. To this
palace belong three gardens, the first whereof is beautified with a
terrace supported by pillars of marble; there is a fountaine of eagles,
and one of Neptune, with other sea-gods, all of the purest white marble:
they stand in a most ample basine of the same stone. At the side of this
garden is such an aviary as S^r. Fra. Bacon describes in his _Sermones
Fidelium_ or Essays, wherein grow trees of more than two foote diameter,
besides cypresse, myrtils, lentiscs, and other rare shrubs, which serve
to nestle and pearch all sorts of birds, who have an ayre and place
enough under their ayrie canopy, supported with huge iron worke
stupendious for its fabrick and the charge. The other two gardens are
full of orange trees, citrons, and pomegranates; fountaines, grotts, and
statues; one of the latter is a colossal Jupiter, under which is a
sepulchre of a beloved dog, for the care of which one of this family
receiv'd of the K. of Spayne 500 crownes a yeare during the life of the
faithful animal. The reservoir of water here is a most admirable piece
of art; and so is the grotto over against it."

Close by Palazzo Doria is the Church of S. Giovanni di Prè, with its
English tomb and Lombard tower, and memories of the two Urban popes
Urban V and Urban VI, the first of whom stayed here on his way back to
Rome from the Babylonian captivity, while the other murdered eight of
his Cardinals close by, and threw their bodies into the sea. This is the
quarter of booty, the booty of the Crusaders, and it is in such a place
and in the older part of the town near Piazza Sarzano and in the narrow
ways behind the Exchange that, as I think, Genoa seems most herself, the
port of the Mediterranean, the gate of Italy. Yet what I prefer in Genoa
are her triumphant slums, then the palaces and villas with their
bigness, so impressive for us who came from the North, which seem to be
a remnant of Roman greatness, a vision as it were of solidity and
grandeur. Something of this, it is true, haunts almost every Italian
city; only nowhere but in Genoa can you see so many palaces together,
whole streets of them, huge, overwhelming, and yet beautiful houses,
that often seem deserted, as though they belonged to a greater and more
splendid age than ours.

It is altogether another aspect of these splendid buildings that you see
from the ramparts towards Nervi, from the height of the Via Corsica or
from the hills. From there, with the whole strength and glory of the sea
before you, these palaces, which in the midst of the city are so
indestructible and immortal, seem flowerlike, full of delicate hues,
fragile and almost as though about to fade; you think of hyacinths, of
the blossom of the magnolia, of the fleeting lilac, and the lily that
towers in the moonlight to fall at dawn. Returning to the city in the
twilight with all this passing and fragile glory in your eyes, it is
again another emotion that you receive when, on entering the city, you
find yourself caught in the immense crowd of working people flocking
homewards or to Piazza Deferrari, to the cafés, through the narrow
streets, amid swarms of children, laughing, running, gesticulating or
fighting with one another. From the roofs where they seem to live, from
the high narrow windows, the warren of houses that would be hovels in
the North, but here in the sun are picturesque, women look down lazily
and cry out, with a shrillness peculiar to Genoa, to their friends in
the street. It is a bath of multitude that you are compelled to take,
full of a sort of pungent, invigorating, tonic strength, life crowding
upon you and thrusting itself under your notice without ceremony or
announcement. If on the 2nd November you chance to be in Genoa, you will
find the same insatiable multitude eagerly flocking to the cemetery,
that strange and impossible museum of modern sculpture, where the dead
are multiplied by an endless apparition of crude marble shapes, the
visions of the vulgar hacked out in dazzling, stainless white stone.
What would we not give for such a "document" from the thirteenth century
as this cemetery has come to be of our own time. It is the crude
representation of modern Italian life that you see, realistic, unique,
and precious, but for the most part base and horrible beyond words. All
the disastrous, sensual, covetous meanness, the mere baseness of the
modern world, is expressed there with a naïveté that is, by some
miraculous transfiguration, humorous with all the grim humour of that
thief death, who has gathered these poor souls with the rest because
someone loved them and they were of no account. The husk of the
immortality of the poet and the hero has been thrust upon the mean and
disgusting clay of the stockbroker; the grocer, horribly wrapped in
everlasting marble, has put on ignominy for evermore; while the
plebeian, bewildered by the tyranny of life, crouches over his dead
wife, for ever afraid lest death tap him too on the shoulder. How the
wind whistles among these immortal jests, where the pure stone of the
Carrara hills has been fashioned to the ugliness of the middle classes.
This is the supreme monument not of Genoa only, but of our time. In that
grotesque marble we see our likeness. For there is gathered in
indestructible stone all the fear, ostentation, and vulgar pride of our
brothers. Ah, poor souls! that for a little minute have come into the
world, and are eager not altogether to be forgotten; they too, like the
ancients, have desired immortality, and, seeing the hills, have sought
to establish their mediocrity among them. Therefore, with an obscene and
vulgar gesture, they have set up their own image as well as they could,
and, in a frenzied prayer to an unknown God, seem to ask, now that
everything has fallen away and we can no longer believe in the body,
that they may not be too disgusted with their own clay. Thus in frenzy,
fear, and vanity they have carved the likeness of that which was once
among the gods.


[1] Cf. P. Villari: Primi due Secoli della Storia di Firenze (2^o
Edizione), vol. i. p. 246.

[2] See Le Mesurier, _Genoa: Five Lectures_, Genoa, A. Donath, 1889, a
useful and informing book, to which I am indebted for more than one
curious fact.

[3] See Le Mesurier, _op. cit._ p. 82. Le Mesurier thinks that "this
angel" refers to "the central figure in a bas-relief" above the
inscription and below the right-hand window of the church.

[4] See Le Mesurier, _op. cit._ p. 98.

[5] See Le Mesurier, _op. cit._ p. 107.

[6] See Le Mesurier, _op. cit._ p. 78.

[7] See Justi, _Velasquez and his Times_ (English translation), 1880,
page 315, and Le Mesurier, _op. cit._, page 163.


It was already summer when, one morning, soon after sunrise, I set out
from Genoa for Tuscany. The road to Spezia along the Riviera di Levante,
among the orange groves and the olives, between the mountains and the
sea, is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Forgotten, or for the most
part unused, by the traveller who is the slave of the railway, it has
not the reputation of its only rivals, the Corniche road from Nice to
Mentone, the lovely highway from Castellamare to Sorrento, or the road
between Vietri and Amalfi, where the strange fantastic peaks lead you at
last to the solitary and beautiful desert of Paestum, where Greece seems
to await you entrenched in silence among the wild-flowers. And there,
too, on the road to Tuscany, after the pleasant weariness of the way,
which is so much longer than those others, some fragment of antiquity is
to be the reward of your journey, though nothing so fine as the deserted
holiness of Paestum, only the dust of the white temple of Aphrodite
crowning the western horn of Spezia, where it rises splendid out of the
sea in the sun of Porto Venere.

This forgotten way among the olive gardens on the lower slopes of the
mountains over the sea, seems to me more joyful than any other road in
the world. It leads to Italy. Within the gate where all the world is a
garden, the way climbs among the olives and oranges, fresh with the
fragrance of the sea, the perfume of the blossoms, to the land of
heart's desire, where Pisa lies in the plain under the sorrowful gesture
of mountains like a beautiful mutilated statue, where Arno, parted from
Tiber, is lost in the sea, dowered with the glory of Florence, the
tribute of the hills, the spoil of many streams, the golden kiss of the
sun; while Tuscany, splendid with light and joy, stands neither for God
nor for His enemies, but for man, to whom she has given everything
really without an afterthought, the songs that shall not be forgotten;
the pictures full of youth; and above all Beauty, that on a night in
spring came to her from Greece as it is said among the vineyards, before
the vines had budded. For even as Love came to us from heaven, and was
born in a stable among the careful oxen, where a few poor shepherds
found a Mother with her Child, so Beauty was born in a vineyard in the
earliest dawn, when some young men came upon the hard white precious
body of a goddess, and drew her from the earth, and began to worship
her. Then in their hearts Beauty stirred, as Love did in the hearts of
the shepherds and the kings. Nor was that vision, so full of wisdom (a
vision of birth or resurrection, was it?) less fruitful than that other
so full of Love, when Mary, coming in the twilight of dawn, saw the
angel and heard his voice, and after weeping in the garden, heard Love
Himself call her by name. Well, if the resurrection of God was revealed
in Palestine, it was here among the Tuscan hills that man rose from the
dead and first saw the beauty of the flowers and the mystery of the
hills. Here, too, is holy land if you but knew it, full of old forgotten
gods, out-fashioned deities beside whose shrines, though they be hushed,
you may still hear the prayers of worshippers, the tears of desire, the
laughter of the beloved. For the old gods are not dead. Though they be
forgotten and the voice of Jesus full of sorrowful promises has beguiled
the world, still every morning is Aphrodite new born in the spume of the
sea, and in many an isle forsaken you may catch the notes of Apollo's
lyre, while Dionysus, in the mysterious heat of midday when the
husbandman is sleeping, still steals among the grapes, and Demeter even
yet in the sunset seeks Persephone among the sheaves of corn. If Jesus
wanders in the ways of the city to comfort those who have forgotten the
sun, in the woods the gods are still upon their holy thrones, and their
love constraineth us. Immortal and beloved, how should they pass away,
for, beside their secret places, of old we have hushed our voices, and
children have played with them no less than with Jesus of Nazareth. The
gods pass, only their gifts remain, the sun and the hills and the sea,
but in us they are immortal, not one have we suffered to creep away into

Thus I, thinking of the way, came to Nervi. Now the way from Genoa out
of the Pisan gate to Nervi is none of the pleasantest, being suburb all
the way; but those eight _chilometri_ over and done with, there is
nothing but delight between you and Spezia. Nervi itself, that
surprising place where beauty is all gathered into a nosegay of sea and
seashore, will not keep you long, for the sun is high, and the road is
calling, and the heat to come; moreover, the beautiful headland of
Portofino seems to shut out all Italy from your sight. Once there, you
tell yourself, what may not be seen, the Carrara hills, Spezia perhaps,
even Pisa maybe, miles and miles away, where Arno winds through the
marshes behind the Pineta to the sea. Now, whether or not in your heart
of hearts you hope for Pisa, a white peak of Carrara you certainly hope
to see, and that ... why, that is Tuscany. So you set out, leaving Genoa
and her suburb at last behind you, and, climbing among olive groves,
orange gardens, and flaming oleanders, with here a magnolia heavy with
blossom, there a pomegranate mysterious with fruit and flowers, after
another five miles you come to Recco, a modest, sleepy village, where it
is good to eat and rest. In the afternoon you may very pleasantly take
boat for Camogli, that ancient seafaring place, full of the débris of
the sea, old masts and ropes, here a rusty anchor, there a golden net,
with sailors lying asleep on the parapet of the harbour, and the whole
place full of the soft sea wind, languorous and yet virile withal, the
shady narrow ways, the low archways, the crooked steps pleasant with the
song of the sea, the rhythm of the waters.

In the cool of the afternoon you leave Camogli and climb by the byways
to Ruta, whence you may see all the Gulf of Genoa, with the proud city
herself in the lap of the mountains, and there, yes, far away, you may
see the stainless peaks of Tuscany, whiter than snow, shining in the
quiet afternoon; and nearer, but still far away, the crest of the horn
of Spezia, with the ruined church of Porto Venere--a church or a temple,
is it?--on the headland beside the island of Palmaria. Beside you are
the sea and the hills, two everlasting things, with here an old villa,
beautiful with many autumns, in a grove of cypress, ilex, and myrtle,
those three holy trees that mark death, mystery, and love; while far
down on the seashore where the foam is whitest, stands a little ruined
chapel in which the gulls cry all day long. But your heart turns ever
toward Italy yonder--towards the hills of marble. Will one ever reach
them, those far-away pure peaks immaculate in silence, like a thought of
God in the loneliness of the mountains? Far away below you lies Rapallo
in the crook of the bay among the oleanders and vines. It is there you
must sleep, far away still from those visionary peaks, which yet will in
some strange way give you a sense of security, as though a legion of
bright angels, ghosts in the pale night (for they fade away in the
twilight), invisible to other men, were on guard to keep you from all
harm. Somehow it is always into a dreamless sleep one falls in Rapallo,
that beautiful and guarded place behind Portofino, where the sea is like
a lake, so still it is, and all the flowers of the world seem to have
run for shelter. It is as though one had seen the Holy City, and though
it was still far off, it was enough, one was content.

[Illustration: ON THE ROAD]

Rapallo itself, as you find on your first morning, is beautiful, chiefly
by reason of its sea-girt tower. The old castle is a prison, and the
town itself, full of modern hotels, is yet brisk with trade in oil and
lace; but it is not these things that will hold you there, but that
sea-tower and the joy of the woods and gardens. And then there are some
surprising things not far away. Portofino, for instance, with its great
pine and the ilex woods, its terraced walk and the sea, not the lake of
Rapallo, but the sea itself, full of strength and wisdom. Then there
is San Fruttuoso, with its convent among the palm trees by the seashore,
whither the Doria are still brought by sea for burial. Here they lie,
generation on generation, of the race which loved the sea; almost
coffined in the deep, for the waves break upon the floor of the crypt
that holds them. They could not lie more fitly than on the shore of this
sea they won and held for Genoa. San Fruttuoso is difficult to reach
save by sea. In the summer the path from Portofino is pleasant enough,
but at any other time it is almost impassable. And indeed the voyage by
boat from Rapallo to Portofino, and thence to San Fruttuoso, should be
chosen, for the beauty of the coast, which, as I think, can nowhere be
seen so well and so easily as here. Then, in returning to Portofino, the
road along the coast should be followed through Cervara, where Guido,
the friend of Petrarch and founder of the convent, lies buried, where
Francis I, prisoner of Charles V, was wind-bound, to S. Margherita, the
sister-town of Rapallo, and thence through S. Michele di Pagana, where
you may see a spoiled Vandyck, to Rapallo. Who may speak of all the
splendid valleys and gardens that lie along this shore, for they are
gardens within a garden, and where all the world is so fair it is not of
any private pleasaunce that one thinks, but of the hills and the
wild-flowers and the sea, the garden of God.

And if the road, so far, from Genoa beggars description, so that I have
thought to leave it almost without a word, what can I hope to say of the
way from Rapallo to Chiavari? Starting early, perhaps in the company of
a peasant who is returning to his farm among the olives, you climb, in
the genial heat, among the lower slopes between the great hills and the
sea, along terraces of olives, through a whole long day of sunshine,
with the song of the cicale ever in your ears, the mysterious
long-drawn-out melody of the _rispetti_ of the peasant girls reaching
you ever. And then from the stillness among the olives, where the shade
is delicate and fragile, of silver and gold, and the streams creep
softly down to the sea, the evening will come as you pass along the
winding ways of Chiavari, for in the golden weather one is minded to go
softly. So in the twilight pursuing your way you follow the beautiful
road to Sestri-Levante, where again you are within sound of the sea that
breaks on the one side on a rocky and lofty shore, and on the other
creeps softly into a flat beach, the town itself rising on the
promontory between these two bays. There, under the headland among the
woods, you may find a chapel of black and white marble, surely the haunt
of Stella Maris, who has usurped the place of Aphrodite.

Many days might be spent among the woods of Sestri, but the road calls
from the mountains, and it is ever of Tuscany that you think as you set
out at last, leaving the sea behind you for the hills, climbing into the
Passo di Bracco, that, as it seems, alone divides you from the land you
seek. It is a far journey from Sestri to Spezia, but with a good horse,
in spite of the hill, you may cover it in a single long day from sunrise
to sunset. The climb begins almost at once, and continues really for
some eighteen miles, till Baracchino and the Osteria Baracca are
reached, in a desolate region of mountains that stretch away for ever,
billow on billow. Then you descend only to mount again through the
woods, till evening finds you at La Foce, the last height before Spezia;
and suddenly at a turning of the way the sunset flames before you,
staining all the sea with colour, and there lies Tuscany, those fragile,
stainless peaks of Carrara faintly glowing in the evening sun purple and
blue and gold, with here a flush as of dawn, there the heart of the
sunset. And all before you lies the sea, with Spezia and the great ships
in its arms; while yonder, like a jewel on the cusp of a horn, Porto
Venere shines; and farther still, Lerici in the shadow of the hills
washed by the sea, stained by the blood of the sunset, its great castle
seeming like some splendid ship in the midst of the waters. From the
bleak height of La Foce, whence all the woods seem to have run down to
the shore, slowly one by one the lights of the city appear like great
golden night flowers; soon they are answered from the bay, where the
ships lie solemnly, sleepily at anchor, and at last the great light of
the Pharos throws its warning over sea and seashore; and gathering in
the distance on the far horizon, the night splendid with blue and gold,
overwhelms the world, bringing coolness and as it were a sort of
reconciliation. So it is quite dark when, weary, at last you find
yourself in Spezia at the foot of the Tuscan hills.

Spezia is a modern city which has obliterated the more ancient
fortresses, whose ruins still guard the two promontories of her gulf.
The chief naval station in Italy, she has crowned all the heights and
islands with forts, and in many a little creek hidden away, you
continually come upon warships, naval schools, hospitals, and such,
while in her streets the sailors and soldiers mingle together, giving
the town a curiously modern character, for indeed there is little else
to call your attention. The beautiful bay which lies between Porto
Venere and Lerici behind the line of islands, that are really
fortifications, is, in spite of every violation, a spectacle of
extraordinary beauty, and in the old days--not so long ago, after
all--when the woods came down to the sea, and Spezia was a tiny village,
less even than Lerici is to-day, it must have been one of the loveliest
and quietest places in the world. Shut out from Italy by the range of
hills that runs in a semicircle from horn to horn of her bay, in those
days there were just sun and woods and sea, with a few half pagan
peasants and fishermen to break the immense silence. And, as it seems to
me, by reason of some magic which still haunts this mysterious seashore,
it is ever that world half pagan that you seek, leaving Spezia very
gladly every morning for San Terenzo and Lerici for Porto Venere and the
enchanted coast.

Leaving Spezia very early in the morning, there is nothing more
delightful than the voyage across the land-locked bay, past the
beautiful headlands and secret coves, to San Terenzo and Lerici. If you
leave the steamer at San Terenzo, you may walk along a sort of seawall,
built out of the cliff and boulders of the shore, round more than one
little promontory, to Lerici, whose castle seems to guard the Tuscan
sea. Walking thus along the shore, you pass the Villa Magni, Shelley's
house, standing, not as it used to do, up out of the sea, for the road
has been built really in the waves; but in many ways the same still, for
instance with the broad balcony on the first storey, which pleased
Shelley so much; and though a second storey has been added since, and
even the name of the house changed, a piece of vandalism common enough
in Italy to-day, where, since they do not even spare their own
traditions and ancient landmarks, it would be folly to expect them to
preserve ours, still you may visit the rooms in which he lived with
Mary, and where he told Claire of the death of Allegra.

The house stands facing the sea in the deepest part of the bay, nearer
to San Terenzo than to Lerici. Both Trelawney and Williams had been
searching all the spring for a summer villa for the Shelleys, who, a
little weary perhaps of Byron's world, had determined to leave Pisa and
to spend the summer on the Gulf of Spezia. Byron was about to establish
himself just beyond Livorno, on the slopes of Montenero, in a huge and
rambling old villa with eighteenth century frescoes on the walls, and a
tangled park and garden running down to the dusty Livorno highway. The
place to-day is a little dilapidated, and its statues broken, but in the
summer months it becomes the paradise of a school of girls, a fact which
I think might have pleased Byron.

However, the Shelleys were thinking of no such faded splendour as Villa
Dupoy for their summer retreat. "Shelley had no pride or vanity to
provide for," says Trelawney, "yet we had the greatest difficulty in
finding any house in which the humblest civilised family could exist.

"On the shores of this superb bay, only surpassed in its natural beauty
and capability by that of Naples, so effectually had tyranny paralysed
the energies and enterprise of man, that the only indication of human
habitation was a few most miserable fishing villages scattered along the
margin of the bay. Near its centre, between the villages of San Terenzo
and Lerici, we came upon a lonely and abandoned building called the
Villa Magni, though it looked more like a boat or bathing house than a
place to live in. It consisted of a terrace or ground-floor unpaved, and
used for storing boat-gear and fishing-tackle, and of a single storey
over it, divided into a hall or saloon and four small rooms which had
once been white-washed; there was one chimney for cooking. This place we
thought the Shelleys might put up with for the summer. The only good
thing about it was a verandah facing the sea, and almost over it. So we
sought the owner and made arrangements, dependent on Shelley's approval,
for taking it for six months."

Shelley at once decided to accept the offer of this house, though it was
unfurnished. Mary and Claire presently set out for Spezia, Shelley
remaining in Pisa to manage the removal of the furniture. He reached
Lerici on 28th April, writing, immediately on his arrival, to Mary in

_April 28, 1822_.

"DEAREST MARY,--I am this moment arrived at Lerici, where I am
necessarily detained waiting the furniture, which left Pisa last night
at midnight; and as the sea has been calm and the wind fair, may expect
them every moment.... Now to business--Is the Magni House taken? if not
pray occupy yourself instantly in finishing the affair, even if you are
obliged to go to Sarzana, and send a messenger to me to tell me of your
success. I, of course, cannot leave Lerici, to which place the boats
(for we were obliged to take two) are directed. But _you_ can come over
in the same boat that brings this letter, and return in the evening.

"I ought to say that I do not think there is accommodation for you all
at this inn; and that even if there were, you would be better off at
Spezia; but if the Magni House is taken, then there is no possible
reason why you should not take a row over in the boat that will bring
this, but don't keep the men long. I am anxious to hear from you on
every account.--Ever yours, S."

Shelley's fears as to the accommodation of Lerici were by no means
without foundation. Within the last two years a decent inn has been open
there in the summer, but before that the primitive and not very clean
hostelry in which, as I suppose, Shelley lodged, was all that awaited
the traveller.[8] It was not for long, however, that Shelley was left in
doubt about the house. Villa Magni became his, and, after much trouble
with the furniture, for the officials put the customs duty at £300
sterling, they were allowed to bring it ashore, the harbour-master
agreeing to consider Villa Magni "as a sort of depôt, until further
leave came from the Genoese Government."

It was here that, very soon after they had taken possession of the
house, Claire learned from Shelley's lips of the death of her child, and
on 21st May set out for Florence. A few evenings later, Shelley, walking
with Williams on the terrace, and observing the effect of the moonshine
on the water, grasped Williams, as he says, "violently by the arm and
stared steadfastly on the white surf that broke upon the beach at our
feet. Observing him sensibly affected, I demanded of him if he were in
pain; but he only answered by saying, 'There it is again--there!' He
recovered after some time, and declared that he saw, as plainly as he
then saw me, a naked child (Allegra) rise from the sea and clap its
hands as in joy, smiling at him." Was this a premonition of his own
death, a hint, as it were, that in such a place one like Shelley might
well hope for from the gods? Certainly that shore was pagan enough.
Sometimes on moonlight nights, in the hot weather, the half savage
natives of San Terenzo would dance among the waves, singing in chorus;
while Mrs. Shelley tells us that the beauty of the woods made her "weep
and shudder." So strong and vehement was her dread that she preferred to
go out in the boat which she feared, rather than to walk among the paths
and alleys of the trees hung with vines, or in the mysterious silence of
the olives.

Thus began that happy last summer of Shelley's life. Day by day, he,
with Trelawney and Williams, watched for that fatal plaything, the
little boat _Ariel_, which Trelawney had drawn in her actual dimensions
for him on the sands of Arno, while he, with a map of the Mediterranean
spread before him, sitting in this imaginary ship, had already made
wonderful voyages. And one day as he paced the terrace with Williams,
they saw her round the headland of Porto Venere. Twenty-eight feet long
by eight she was: built in Genoa from an English model that Williams,
who had been a sailor, had brought with him. Without a deck,
schooner-rigged, it took, says Trelawney, "two tons of iron ballast to
bring her down to her bearings, and then she was very crank in a breeze,
though not deficient in beam." Truly Shelley was no seaman. "You will do
no good with Shelley," Trelawney told Williams, "until you heave his
books and papers overboard, shear the wisps of hair that hang over his
eyes, and plunge his arms up to the elbows in a tar bucket." But he
said, "I can read and steer at the same time." Read and steer! But
indeed it was on this very bay, and almost certainly in the _Ariel_,
that he wrote those perfect lines: "She left me at the silent time."

It was here too, in Lerici, that Shelley wrote "The Triumph of Life,"
that splendid fragment in _terza rima_, which is like a pageant suddenly
broken by the advent of Death: that ends with the immortal question--

    "Then, what is life? I cried,"

which was for ever to remain unanswered, for he had gone, as he said,
"to solve the great mystery." Well, the story is an old one, I shall not
tell it again; only here in the bay of Lerici, with his words in my
ears, his house before me, and the very terrace where he worked, the
ghost of that sorrowful and splendid spirit seems to wander even yet.
What was it that haunted this shore, full of foreboding, prophesying

It was to meet Leigh Hunt that Shelley set out on 1st July with Williams
in the _Ariel_ for Leghorn. For weeks the sky had been cloudless, full
of the mysterious light, which is, as it seems to me, the most beautiful
and the most splendid thing in the world. In all the churches and by the
roadsides they were praying for rain. Shelley had been in Pisa with Hunt
showing him that most lovely of all cathedrals, and, listening to the
organ there, he had been led to agree that a truly divine religion might
even yet be established if Love were really made the principle of it
instead of Faith. On the afternoon following that serene day at Pisa, he
set sail for Lerici from Leghorn with Williams and the boy Charles
Vivian. Trelawney was on the _Bolivar_, Byron's yacht, at the time, and
saw them start. His Genoese mate, watching too, turned to him and said,
"They should have sailed this morning at three or four instead of now;
they are standing too much inshore; the current will set them there."
Trelawney answered, "They will soon have the land-breeze." "Maybe,"
continued the mate, "she will soon have too much breeze; that gaff
topsail is foolish in a boat with no deck and no sailor on board." Then,
pointing to the south-west,--"Look at those black lines and the dirty
rags hanging on them out of the sky--they are a warning; look at the
smoke on the water; the devil is brewing mischief." Then the mist which
had hung all day in the offing swallowed the _Ariel_ for ever.

It was not until many days after this, Trelawney tells us, "that my
worst fears were confirmed. Two bodies were found on the shore--one near
Viareggio, which I went and examined. The face and hands and parts of
the body not protected by the dress were fleshless. The tall, slight
figure, the jacket, the volume of Aeschylus in one pocket, and Keats'
poems[9] in the other, doubled back, as if the reader, in the act of
reading, had hastily thrust it away, were all too familiar to me to
leave a doubt in my mind that this mutilated corpse was any other than

A certain light has been thrown on the manner in which Shelley and his
friend met their death in a letter which Mr. Eyre wrote to the _Times_
in 1875.[10] Trelawney had always believed that the Livorno sailors knew
more than they cared to tell of that tragedy. For one thing, he had seen
an English oar in one of their boats just after the storm; for another
the laws were such in Tuscany, that had a fishing-boat gone to the
rescue of the _Ariel_ and brought off the poet and his companions, she
would with her crew have been sent into quarantine for fear of cholera.
It is not, however, to the Duchy of Tuscany that Shelley owes his death,
but to the cupidity of the Tuscan sailors, one of them having confessed
to the crime of running down the boat, seeing her in danger, in the hope
of finding gold on "the milord Inglese." There seems but little reason
for doubting this story, which Vincent Eyre communicated to the _Times_
in 1875: Trelawney eagerly accepts it, and though Dr. Garnett and
Professor Dowden politely forbear to accuse the Italians, such crimes
appear to have been sufficiently common in those days to confirm us,
however reluctantly, in this explanation. Thus died perhaps the greatest
lyric poet that even England had ever borne, an exile, and yet not an
exile, for he died in Italy, the fatherland of us all. Ah! "'tis Death
is dead, not he," for in the west wind you may hear his song, and in the
tender night his rare mysterious music; when the skylark sings it is as
it were his melody, and in the clouds you may find something of the
refreshment of his spirit.

    "Nothing of him that doth fade
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange."


[8] For the identity of this inn see Leigh Hunt, _Autobiography_.
Constable, 1903, vol. ii. p. 123.

[9] The Keats was doubled open at the "Lamia."

[10] _Trelawney Records_. Pickering, 1878, pp. 197-200, accepts this
story, as clearing up what for fifty years had been a mystery to him.


It is perhaps a more joyful day that may be spent at Porto Venere, the
little harbour on the northern shores of the gulf. Starting early you
come, still before the sea is altogether subject to the sun, to a little
bay of blue clear still water flanked by gardens of vines, of agaves and
olives. Here, in silence save for the lapping of the water, the early
song of the cicale, the far-away notes of a reed blown by a boy in the
shadow by the sea, you land, and, following the path by the hillside,
come suddenly on the little port with its few fishing-boats and litter
of ropes and nets, above which rises the little town, house piled on
house, from the ruined church rising high, sheer out of the sea to the
church of marble that crowns the hill. Before you stands the gate of
Porto Venere, a little Eastern in its dilapidation, its colour of faded
gold, its tower, and broken battlement. Passing under the ancient arch
past a shrine of Madonna, you enter the long shadowy street, where red
and green vegetables and fruits, purple grapes, and honey-coloured
_nespoli_ and yellow oranges are piled in the cool doorways, and the old
women sit knitting behind their stalls. Climbing thus between the houses
under that vivid strip of soft blue sky, the dazzling rosy beauty of the
ruined ramparts suddenly bursts upon you, and beyond and above them the
golden ruined church, and farther still, the glistening shining
splendour of the sea and the sun that has suddenly blotted out the soft
sky. A flight of broken steps leads to a ruined wall, along which you
pass to the old church, or temple is it, you ask yourself, so fair it
looks, and without the humility of a Christian building. To your
right, across a tossing strip of blue water, full of green and gold,
rises the island of Palmaria, and beyond that two other smaller islands,
Tisso and Tissetto, while to your left lies the whole splendid coast
shouting with waves, laughing in the sunshine and the wind of early
morning, and all before you spreads the sea. As I stood leaning on the
ruined wall looking on all this miracle of joy, a little child, who had
hidden among the wind-blown cornflowers and golden broom on the slope of
the cliffs, slowly crept towards me with many hesitations and shy
peerings; then, no longer afraid, almost naked as he was, he ran to me
and took my hand.

[Illustration: PORTO VENERE.


"Will the Signore see the church?" said he, pulling me that way.

The Signore was willing. Thus it was, hand in hand with Eros, that I
mounted the broken steps of the tower of Venus, his mother.

How may I describe the wonder of that place? For at last, he before, I
following, though he still held my hand, we came out of the stairway on
to a platform on the top of the tower surrounded by a broken battlement.
It was as though I had suddenly entered the last hiding-place of
Aphrodite herself. On the floor sat an old and lame man sharpening a
scythe, and beside him a little child lay among the broken corn that was
strewn over the whole platform. Where the battlements had once frowned,
now stood sheaves of smiling corn, golden and nodding in the wind and
the sun. Suddenly the lad who had led me hither seized the flail and
began to beat the corn and stalks strewn over the floor, while the old
man, quavering a little, sang a long-drawn-out gay melody, and the
little girl beat her tiny hands in time to the work and the music. Then,
unheard, into this miracle came a young woman,--ah, was it not
Persephone,--slim as an osier in the shadow, walking like a bright
peacock straight above herself, climbing the steps, and her hands were
on her hips and on her black head was a sheaf of corn. Then she breathed
deep, gazed over the blue sea, and set her burden down with its fellows
on the parapet, smiling and beating her hands at the little girl.

Porto Venere rises out of the sea like Tintagel--but a classic sea, a
sea covered with broken blossoms. It was evening when I returned again
to the Temple of Venus The moon was like a sickle of silver, far away
the waves fawned along the shore as though to call the nymphs from the
woods; the sun was set; out of the east night was coming. In the great
caves, full of coolness and mystery, the Tritons seemed to be playing
with sea monsters, while from far away I thought I heard the lamentable
voice of Ariadne weeping for Theseus. Ah no, they are not dead, the
beautiful, fair gods. Here, in the temple of Aphrodite, on the threshold
of Italy, I will lift up my heart. Though the songs we made are dead and
the dances forgotten, though the statues are broken, the temples
destroyed, still in my heart there is a song and in my blood a murmur as
of dancing, and I will carve new statues and rebuild the temples every
day. For I have loved you, O Gods, in the forests and on the mountains
and by the seashore. I, too, am fashioned out of the red earth, and all
the sea is in my heart, and my lover is the wind. As the rivers sing of
the sea, so will I sing till I find you. As the mountains wait for the
sun, so will I wait in the night of the city.

For my joy, and my lord the sun, I give you thanks, that he is splendid
and strong and beautiful beyond beauty. For the sea and all mysterious
things I give you thanks, that I have understood and am reconciled with
them. For the earth when the sun is set, for the earth when the sun is
risen, for the valleys and the hills, for the flowers and the trees, I
give you thanks, that I am one with them always and out of them was I
made. For the wind of morning, for the wind of evening, for the tender
night, for the growing day, take, then, my thanks, O Gods, for the
cypress, for the ilex, for the olive on the road to Italy in the sunset
and the summer.


It was very early in the morning when I came into Tuscany. Leaving
Spezia overnight, I had slept at Lerici, and, waking in the earliest
still dawn, I had set out over the hills, hoping to cross the Macra
before breakfast.

In this tremulous and joyful hour, full of the profound gravity of youth
hesitating on the threshold of life, the day rose out of the sea; so, a
lily opening in a garden while we sleep transfigures it with its joy.

As I climbed the winding hill among the olives, while still a cool
twilight hung about the streets of Lerici, the sun stood up over the
sea, awakening it to the whole long day of love to come. Far away in the
early light, over a sea mysterious of blue and silver and full of
ecstasy, the coast curved with infinite beauty into the golden crest of
Porto Venere. Spezia, like a broken flower, seemed deserted on the
seashore, and Lerici itself, far below me, waking at morning, watched
the sleeping ships, the deep breathing of the sea, the shy and yet proud
gesture of the day.

Then as I crossed the ridge of the hill and began to follow the road
downward towards Tuscany between the still olives, where as yet the
world had not seen the sun, suddenly all that beautiful world, about to
be so splendid, was hidden from me, and instead I saw the delta of a
great river, the uplifted peaks of the marble mountains, and there was

Past Arcola, that triumphal arch of the middle age, built on high like a
city on an aqueduct, I went into the plain; then far away in the
growing day I saw the ancient strongholds of the hills, the fortresses
of the Malaspina, the castles of the Lunigiana, the eyries of the eagles
of old time. There they lay before me on the hills like _le grandi
ombre_ of which Dante speaks, Castelnuovo di Magra, Fosdinovo of the
Malaspina, Niccola over the woods. Then at a turning of the way at the
foot of the hills I had traversed, under that long and lofty bridge that
has known so well the hasty footstep of the fugitive, flowed Magra.

    ... Macra, che, per cammin corto
    Lo genovese parte dal Toscano.

Thus with Dante's verses in my mouth I came into Tuscany.

Now the way from Macra to Sarzana lies straight across that great delta
which hides behind the eastern horn of the Gulf of Spezia. At the Macra
bridge you meet the old road from Genoa to Pisa, and entering Tuscany
thus, Sarzana is the first Tuscan city you will see. Luna Nova the
Romans called the place, for it was built to replace the older city
close to the sea, the ruins of which you may still find beside the road
on the way southward, but of Roman days there is nothing left in the new

It was a fortress of Castruccio Castracani, the birthplace of a great
Pope. Of Castruccio, that intolerant great man, I shall speak later, in
Lucca, for that was the rose in his shield. Here I wish only to remind
the reader who wanders among the ruins of his great castle, that
Castracani took Sarzana by force and held it against any; and perhaps to
recall the words of Machiavelli, where he tells us that the capture of
Sarzana was a feat of daring done to impress the Lucchesi with the
splendour of their liberated tyrant. For when the citizens had freed him
from the prison of Uguccione della Faggiuola, who had seized the
government of Lucca, Castruccio, finding himself accompanied by a great
number of his friends, which encouraged him, and by the whole body of
the people, which flattered his ambition, caused himself to be chosen
Captain-General of all their forces for a twelvemonth; and resolving to
perform some eminent action that might justify their choice, he
undertook the reduction of several places which had revolted following
the example of Uguccione. Having for this purpose entered into strict
alliance with the city of Pisa, she sent him supplies, and he marched
with them to besiege Sarzana; but the place being very strong, before he
could carry it, he was obliged to build a fortress as near it as he
could. This new fort in two months' time rendered him master of the
whole country, and is the same fort that at this day is called
Sarzanella, repaired since and much enlarged by the Florentines.
Supported by the credit of so glorious an exploit, he reduced Massa,
Carrara, and Lavenza very easily: he seized likewise upon the whole
country of Lunigiana ... so that, full of glory, he returned to Lucca,
where the people thronged to meet him, and received him with all
possible demonstrations of joy.

It is, however, rather as the home of Nicholas V, I think, that Sarzana
appeals to us to-day, than as the stronghold of Castruccio. The tyrant
held so many places, as we shall see, his prowess is everywhere, but
Tommaso Parentucelli is like to be forgotten, for his glory is not
written in sword-cuts or in any violated city, but in the forgotten
pages of the humanists, the beautiful life of Vespasiano da Bisticci.
And was not Nicholas V. the first of the Renaissance Popes, the
librarian of Cosimo de' Medici, the tutor of the sons of Rinaldo degli
Albizzi and of Palla Strozzi? Certainly his great glory was the care he
had of learning and the arts: he made Rome once more the capital of the
world, he began the Vatican, and the basilica of S. Pietro, yet he was
not content till he should have transformed the whole city into order
and beauty. In him the enthusiasm and impulse of the Renaissance are
simple and full of freshness. Finding Rome still the city of the
Emperors and their superstition, he made it the city of man. He was the
friend of Alberti, the Patron of all men of learning and poets. "Greece
has not fallen," said Filelfo, in remembering him, "but seems to have
migrated to Italy, which of old was called Magna Graecia." Yet Tommaso
Parentucelli[11] was sprung of poor parent and even though they may have
been _nobili_ as Manetti tells us, _De nobili Parentucellorum
progenie_,[12] that certainly was of but little assistance to him in his

"Maestro Tomaso da Serezano," says Vespasiano the serene bookseller of
Florence, with something of Walton's charm--"Maestro Tomaso da Serezano,
who was afterwards Pope Nicholas V, was born at Pisa of humble parents.
Later on account of discord in that city, his father was imprisoned, so
that he went to Sarzana, and there gave to his little son in his tender
years lessons in grammar, which, through the excellence of his
understanding, he quickly learned. His father died, however, when he who
was to come to such eminence was but nine years old, leaving two sons,
our Maestro Tomaso, and Maestro Filippo, who later was Cardinal of
Bologna. Now Maestro Tomaso fell sick at that time, and his mother,
seeing him thus ailing, being a widow and having all her great hope in
her sons, was in the greatest anxiety and sorrow, and prayed God
unweariedly to spare her little son. Thus intent in prayer, hoping that
he would not die, she fell asleep about dawn, when One called to her and
said: 'Andreola (for that was her name), doubt nothing that thy son
shall live.' And it seemed in her vision that she saw her son in a
bishop's robe, and One said to her that he would be Pope. Waking then
from this dream, immediately she went to her little son and found him
already better, and to all those in the house she told the vision she
had had. Now, when the child was well, because of the steadfast hope
which the vision had given her, she at once begged him to pursue his
studies; which he did, so that when he was sixteen he had a very good
knowledge of grammar and the Latin tongue, and began to work at logic,
in order later to come at philosophy and theology. Then he left Sarzana
and went to Bologna, so that he might the better pursue his studies in
every faculty. At Bologna he studied in logic and in philosophy with
great success. In a short time he became learned in all the seven
Liberal Arts. Staying at Bologna still he was eighteen, and Master of
Arts, lacking money, it was necessary for him to go to Sarzana to his
mother, who had remarried, in order to have money to furnish his
expenses. She was poor and her husband not very rich, and then Tomaso
was not his son, but a stepson: he could not obtain money from them.
Determined to follow his studies, he thought to go to Florence, the
mother of studies and every virtue at that time. So he went thither, and
found Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, a most exceptional man, who carried
him off to instruct his sons, giving him a good salary as a young man of
great virtue. At the end of a year Messer Rinaldo left Florence, and
Maestro Tomaso wishing to remain in the city, he arranged for him to
enter the service of Messer Palla di Nofri Strozzi; and from him he had
a very good salary. At the end of another year he had gained so much
from these two citizens that he had enough to return to Bologna to his
studies, though in Florence he had not lost his time, for he read in
every faculty."

Such were the early years of one of the most cultured and princely of
the Popes. Born in 1398, he was himself one of the sons of the early
Renaissance. Not altogether without pedantry, he yet by his learning, by
his patronage of scholars and artists (and indeed he was perhaps the
first Pope who preferred them to monks and friars), secured for the
Renaissance the allegiance of the Church. He died in a moment of
misfortune for Europe in 1455, just after the fall of Constantinople,
being succeeded on the throne of Christendom by Pius II, Pius Aeneas as
he called himself in a moment of enthusiasm, one of the most human of
all those men of the world who have become the vicegerent of Jesus.
Nicholas V was not a man of the world, he was a scholar, full of the
enthusiasm of his day. As a statesman, while he pacified Italy, he saw
Byzantium fall into the hands of the barbarians. He was a Pagan in whom
there was no guile. His enthusiasm was rather for Apollo and the Muses
than for Jesus and the Saints. With a simplicity touching and
delightful, he watched Sigismondo Malatesta build his temple at Rimini,
and was his friend and loved him well. Pius II, with all his love of
nature and the classics, though his own life was full of unfortunate
secrets and his pride and vanity truly Sienese, could not look on
unmoved while Malatesta built a temple to the old gods in the States of
the Church. But then Pius had not lived all the long years of his youth
at Luna Nova. Who can tell what half-forgotten deity may have found
Maestro Tomaso asleep in the woods, that magician Virgil in his
hands,--for on this coast the gods wander even yet,--and, creeping
behind him, finding him so fair, may have kissed him on the ears, as the
snakes kissed Cassandra when she lay asleep at noon in Troy of old.
Certainly their habitations, their old places may still be found. We are
not so far from Porto Venere, and then on the highway towards Massa, not
long after you have come out of the beautiful avenue of plane trees,
itself like some great temple, through which the road leaves Sarzana,
you come upon the little city of Luna, or the bright fragments of it,
among the sand of what must once have been the seashore, with here a
fold of the old amphitheatre, there the curve of the circus, while
scattered on the grass softer than sleep, you may find perhaps the
carved name of a goddess, the empty pedestal of a statue.

Lying there on a summer day in the everlasting quietness, unbroken even
by a wandering wind or the ripple of a stream, some inkling of that old
Roman life, always at its best in such country places as this, comes to
you, yes, from the time when Juno was yet a little maid among the mossy
fountains and the noise of the brooks. Tacitus in his _Agricola_, that
consoling book, tells us of those homes of a refined and severe
simplicity in Frejus and Como, but it is to Rutilius, with his strange
gift of impressionism, you must go for a glimpse of Luna. In his
perfect verses[13] we may see the place as he found it when, gliding
swiftly on the waves, perhaps on a day like this, he came to those walls
of glistening marble, which got their name from the planet that borrows
her light from the sun, her brother. The country itself furnished those
stones which shamed with their whiteness the laughing lilies, while
their polished surface with its veins threw forth shining rays. For this
is a land rich in marbles which defy, sure of their victory, the virgin
whiteness of the snow itself.

Well, there is but little left of that shining city, and yet, as I lay
dreaming in the grass-grown theatre, it seemed to be a festal day, and
there among the excited and noisy throng of holiday-makers, just for a
moment I caught sight of the aediles in their white tunics, and then,
far away, the terrified face of a little child, frightened at the
hideous masks of the actors. Then, the performance over, I followed home
some simple old centurion was it?--who, returned from the wars on the
far frontier, had given the city a shady walk and that shrine of
Neptune. We came at last to a country house of "pale red and yellow
marble," half farm, half villa, lying away from the white road at the
point where it begins to decline somewhat sharply to the marshland
below. It is close to the sea. Large enough for all requirements, and
not expensive to keep in repair, my host explains. At its entrance is a
modest but beautiful hall; then come the cloisters, which are rounded
into the likeness of the letter D, and these enclose a small and pretty
courtyard. These cloisters, I am told, are a fine refuge in a storm, for
they are protected by windows and deep over-hanging eaves. Facing the
cloisters is a cheerful inner court, then the dining-room towards the
seashore, fine enough for anyone, as my host asserts, and when the
south-west wind is blowing the room is just scattered by the spray of
the spent waves. On all sides are folding doors, or windows quite as
large as doors, so that from two sides and the front you command a
prospect of three seas as it were; while at the back, as he shows me,
one can see through the inner court to the woods or the distant hills.
Just then the young mistress of the place comes to greet me, bidden by
my host her father, and in a moment I see the nobility of this life,
full of pure and honourable things, together with a certain simplicity
and sweetness. Seeing my admiration, my host speaks of his daughter, of
her love for him, of her delight in his speeches,--for he is of
authority in the city,--of how on such occasions she will sit screened
from the audience by a curtain, drinking in what people say to his
credit. He smiles as he tells me this, adding she has a sharp wit, is
wonderfully economical, and loves him well; and indeed she is worthy of
him, and doubtless, as he says, of her grandfather. Then my proud old
centurion leads me down the alleys of his garden full of figs and
mulberries, with roses and a few violets, till in the perfect stillness
of this retreat we come to the seashore, and there lies the white city
of Luna glistening in the sun. As I take my leave, reluctantly, for, I
would stay longer, my hostess is so sweet, my host so charming, I catch
sight of the name of the villa cut into the rosy marble of the gates:
"Ad Vigilias Albas" I read, and then and then ... Why, what is this? I
must have fallen asleep in that old theatre among the débris and the
fine grass. Ad Vigilias Albas--"White Nights," nights not of quite blank
forgetfulness, certainly. But it is with the ancestors of Marius I seem
to have been talking in the old city of Luna, that in his day had
already passed away.[14]

It was sunset when I found myself at the door of the Inn in Sarzana.


[11] Even the name is uncertain. In the Duomo here, in Cappella di S.
Tommaso, you may find his mother's grave, on which she is called
Andreola dei Calandrini. His uncle, however, is called J.P.
Parentucelli. In two Bulls of Felix V he is called Thomas de
Calandrinis; cf. Mansi, xxxi. 190.

[12] Muratori, _Rer. Ital. Scrip._, III. ii. 107.

[13] Sed deverticulo fuimus fortasse loquaces:
     Carmine propositum jam repetamus iter.
     Advehimur celeri candentia moenia lapsu:
     Nominis est auctor sole corusca soror.
     Indigenis superat ridentia lilia saxis,
     Et levi radiat picta nitore silex.
     Dives marmoribus tellus, quae luce coloris
     Provocat intactas luxuriosa nives.

[14] You may see the place to-day--but it is of plaster now--as Pater
describes it.--_Marius the Epicurian_, vol. i. 20.


And truly it is into a city of marble that you come, when, following the
dusty road full of the ruts of the bullock-wagons, past Avenza, that
little city with a great castle of Castruccio Castracani, after climbing
into the gorge where the bullocks, a dozen of them it may be, yoked to a
single dray, take all the way, you enter the cold streets of Carrara,
that are always full of the sound of falling water. And strangely
enough, as one may think, in this far-away place, so close to the
mountains as to be littered by their débris, it is an impression of
business and of life that you receive beyond anything of the sort to be
found in Spezia. Not a beautiful city certainly, Carrara has a little
the aspect of an encampment, an encampment that has somehow become
permanent, where everything has been built in a hurry, as it were, of
the most precious and permanent material. So that, while the houses are
of marble, they seem to be with but few exceptions mere shanties without
beauty of any sort, that were built yesterday for shelter, and to-morrow
will be destroyed. It is true that the Church of S. Andrea is a building
of the thirteenth century, in the Gothic manner, with a fine façade and
sculptures of a certain merit, but it fails to impress itself on the
town, which is altogether alien from it, modern for the most part in the
vulgar way of our time, when ornament is a caprice of the rich and
merely ostentatious, the many living, without beauty or light, in
barracks or huts of a brutal and hideous uniformity.

It was a Sunday evening when I came to Carrara; all that world of
labouring men and women was in the streets; in the piazza a band played;
close to the hotel, in a tent set up for the occasion, a particularly
atrocious collection of brass instruments were being blown with might
and main to attract the populace to a marionette performance. The whole
world seemed dizzy with noise. After dinner I went out into the streets
among the people, but it was not any joy I found there, only a mere
brutal cessation from toil, in which amid noise and confusion, the
labourer sought to forget his labour. More and more as I went among them
it seemed to me that the mountains had brutalised those who won from
them their snowy treasure. In all Carrara and the valley of Torano I saw
no beautiful or distinguished faces,--the women were without sweetness,
the men a mere gang of workmen. Now, common as this is in any
manufacturing city of the North, it is very uncommon in Italy, where
humanity has not been injured and enslaved by machinery as it has with
us. You may generally find beauty, sweetness, or wisdom in the faces of
a Tuscan crowd in any place. Only here you will see the man who has
become just the fellow-labourer of the ox.

I understood this better when, about four o'clock on the next morning, I
went in the company of a lame youth into the quarries themselves. There
are some half-dozen of them, glens of marble that lead you into the
heart of the mountains, valleys without shade, full of a brutal
coldness, an intolerable heat, a dazzling light, a darkness that may be
felt. Torano, that little town you come upon at the very threshold of
the quarries, is like a town of the Middle Age, full of stones and
refuse and narrow ways that end in a blind nothingness, and low houses
without glass in the windows, and dogs and cats and animals of all
sorts, goats and chickens and pigs, among which the people live. Thus
busy with the frightful labour among the stones in the heart of the
mountains, where no green thing has ever grown or even a bird built her
nest, where in summer the sun looks down like some enormous moloch, and
in winter the frost and the cold scourge them to their labour in the
horrid ghostly twilight, the people work. The roads are mere tracks
among the blocks and hills of broken marble, yellow, black, and white
stones, that are hauled on enormous trolleys by a line of bullocks in
which you may often find a horse or a pony. Staggering along this way of
torture, sweating, groaning, rebelling, under the whips and curses and
kicks of the labourers, who either sit cursing on the wagon among the
marble, or, armed with great whips, slash and cut at the poor capering,
patient brutes, the oxen drag these immense wagons over the sharp
boulders and dazzling rocks, grinding them in pieces, cutting themselves
with sharp stones, pulling as though to break their hearts under the
tyranny of the stones, not less helpless and insensate than they. Here
and there you may see an armed sentry, as though in command of a gang of
convicts, here and there an official of some society for the protection
of animals, but he is quite useless. Whether he be armed to quell a
rebellion or to put the injured animals out of their pain, I know not.
In any case, he is a sign of the state of life in these valleys of
marble. Out of this insensate hell come the impossible statues that grin
about our cities. Here, cut by the most hideous machinery with a noise
like the shrieking of iron on iron, the mantelpieces and washstands of
every jerry-built house and obscene emporium of machine-made furniture
are sawn out of the rock. There is no joy in this labour, and the
savage, harsh yell of the machines drowns any song that of old might
have lightened the toil. Blasted out of the mountains by slaves, some
13,000 of them, dragged by tortured and groaning animals, the marble
that might have built a Parthenon is sold to the manufacturer to
decorate the houses of the middle classes, the studios of the
incompetent, the streets of our trumpery cities. Do you wonder why
Carrara has never produced a sculptor? The answer is here in the
quarries that, having dehumanised man, have themselves become obscene.
The frightful leprous glare of crude whiteness that shines in every
cemetery in Europe marks only the dead; the material has in some
strange way lost its beauty, and with the loss of beauty in the material
the art of sculpture has been lost. These thousands of slaves who are
hewing away the mountains are ludicrous and ridiculous in their
brutality and absurdity. They have sacrificed their humanity for no end.
The quarries are worked for money, not for art. The stone is cut not
that Rodin may make a splendid statue, but that some company may earn a
dividend. As you climb higher and higher, past quarry after quarry, it
is a sense of slavery and death that you feel. Everywhere there is
struggle, rebellion, cruelty; everywhere you see men, bound by ropes,
slung over the dazzling face of the cliffs, hacking at the mountains
with huge iron pikes, or straining to crash down a boulder for the ox
wagons. As you get higher an anxious and disastrous silence surrounds
you, the violated spirit of the mountains that has yielded itself only
to the love of Michelangelo seems to be about to overwhelm you in some
frightful tragedy. In the shadowless cool light of early morning, these
pallid valleys, horrid with noise of struggle and terror, the snorting
of a horse, the bellow of a bullock in pain, seem like some fantastic
dream of a new Inferno; but when at last the enormous sun has risen over
the mountains, and flooded the glens with furious heat, it is as though
you walked in some delirium, a shining world full of white fire dancing
in agony around you. You stumble along, sometimes waiting till a wagon
and twelve oxen have been beaten and thrust past you on the ascent,
sometimes driven half mad by the booming of the dynamite, here threading
an icy tunnel, there on the edge of a precipice, almost fainting in the
heat, listening madly to the sound of water far below. Then, as you
return through the sinister town of Torano with its sickening sights and
smells, you come into the pandemonium of the workshops, where nothing
has a being but the shriek of the rusty saws drenched with water, driven
by machinery, cutting the marble into uniform slabs to line urinals or
pave a closet. At last, in a sort of despair, overwhelmed with heat and
noise, you reach your inn, and though it be midday in July, you seize
your small baggage and set out where the difficult road leads out of
this spoiled valley to the olives and the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was midday when, in spite of the sun, I set out up the long hill that
leads to La Foce and Massa from Carrara. It is a road that turns
continually on itself, climbing always, among the olive woods and
chestnuts, where the girls sing as they herd the goats, and the pleasant
murmur of the summer, the song of the cicale, the wind of the hills,
cleanse your heart of the horror of Carrara. Climbing thus at peace with
yourself for a long hour, you come suddenly to La Foce, a sort of ridge
or pass between the loftier hills, whence you may see the long-hidden
sea, and Montignoso, that old Lombard castle still fierce above the
olive woods, and Massa itself, Massa Ducale, a lofty precipitous city
crowned by an old fortress. Who may describe the beauty of the way under
the far-away peaks of marble, splendid in their rugged gesture, their
immortal perfection and indifference! And indeed, from La Foce all the
noise and cruelty of that life in the quarries at Carrara is forgotten.
As you begin to descend by the beautiful road that winds along the sides
of the hills, the burden of those immense quarries, echoing with cries
of distress inarticulate and pitiful, falls away from one. Here is Italy
herself, fair as a goddess, delicate as a woman, forlorn upon the
mountains. Everywhere in the quiet afternoon songs come to you from the
shady woods, from the hillsides and the streams. Something of the
simplicity and joy of a life we have only known in our hearts is
expressed in every fold of the mountains, olive clad and terraced with
walks and vines, where the husbandman labours till evening and the corn
is ripe or reaping, and the sound of the flute dances like a fountain in
the shade. And so, when at evening you enter the noble city of Massa,
among the women sitting at their doors sewing or knitting in the sunset,
while the children, whole crowds of them, play in the narrow streets,
their laughter echoing among the old houses as the sun dances in a
narrow valley, or you pass among the girls who walk together in a
nosegay, arm in arm, or the young men who lounge together in a crowd
against the houses watching them, there is joy in your heart, because
this is life, simple and frank and full of hope, without an afterthought
or a single hesitation of doubt or fear.

There is little to be seen at Massa that is not just the natural beauty
of the place, set like a flower among the woods, that climb up to the
marble peaks. Not without a certain interest you come upon the
Prefettura, which once was the summer castle of Elisa Baciocchi,
Napoleon's sister, who as a gift from him held Lucca, and was much
beloved, from 1805 to 1814. And joyful as the country is under that
impartial sun, before that wide and ancient sea, among her quiet woods
and broken shrines, it is not without a kind of hesitation and shame
almost that you learn that the great fortress which crowns the city is
now a prison in which are many half-witted unhappy folk, who in this
transitory life have left the common way. It is strange that in so many
lands the prison is so often in a place of the greatest beauty. At
Tarragona, far away over the sea looking towards Italy, the hospital of
those who have for one cause or another fallen by the way is set by the
sea-shore, almost at the feet of the waves, so that in a storm the
momentary foam from those restless, free waters must often be scattered
about the courtyard, where those who have injured us, and whom in our
wisdom we have deprived of the world, are permitted to walk. It is much
the same in Tangier, where the horrid gaol, always full of groans and
the torture of the bastinado, is in the dip of the Kasbah, where it
joins the European city with nothing really between it and the Atlantic.
In Massa these prisoners and captives can see the sea and the great
mountains, and must often hear the piping of those who wander freely in
the woods. Even in Italy, it seems, where the criminal is beginning to
be understood as a sick person, they have not yet contrived to banish
the older method of treatment: as who should say, you are ill and
fainting with anaemia, come let me bleed you.

It is at Massa that on your way south you come again into the highroad
from Genoa to Pisa, for while, having left it at Spezia, you found it
again at Sarzana, it was a by-road that led you to Carrara and again to
Massa Ducale. Now, though the way you seek be the highway of the
pilgrims, it is none the better as a road for that. For the wagons
bringing marble to the cities by the way have spoiled it altogether, so
that you find it ground with ruts six inches deep and smothered in dust;
therefore, if you come by carriage, and still more if you be _en
automobile_, it is necessary to go warily. On foot nothing matters but
the dust, and if you start early from Massa that will not annoy you, for
in the early morning, for some reason of the gods, the dust lies on the
highway undisturbed, while by ten o'clock the air is full of it. It is a
bad road then all the way to Pietrasanta, but most wonderful and lovely
nevertheless. For the most part the sea is hidden from you, for you are
in truth on the sea-shore, though far enough from the waves, a land of
fields and cucumbers coming between road and water. Swinging along in
the dawn, you soon pass that old castle of Montignoso, crumbling on its
high rock, built by the Lombard Agilulf to hold the road to Italy. Then
not without surprise you pass quite under an old Albergo which crosses
the way, where certainly of old the people of Massa took toll of the
Tuscans, and the Tuscans taxed all who came into their country. Then the
road winds through a gorge beside a river, and at last between delicious
woods of olives full of silver and golden shade most pleasant in the
heat, past Seravezza in the hills, you come to the little pink and white
town of Pietrasanta under the woods, at noon.

Pietrasanta is set at the foot of the Hills of Paradise, littered with
marble, planted with figs and oleanders, full of the sun. For hours you
may climb among the olives on the hills, terraced for vines, shimmering
in the heat; and resting there, watch the sleepy sea lost in a silver
mist, the mysterious blue hills, listening to the songs of the maidens
in the gardens. Thus watching the summer pass by, caught by her beauty,
lying on an old wall beautiful with lichen and the colours of many
autumns, suddenly you may be startled by the stealthy, unconcerned
approach of a great snake three feet long at least, winding along the
gully by the roadside. Half fascinated and altogether fearful, you watch
her pass by till she disappears bit by bit in an incredibly small
fissure in the vineyard wall, leaving you breathless. Or all day long
you will lie under the olives waiting for the coolness of evening,
listening to the sound of everlasting summer, the piping of a shepherd,
the little lovely song of a girl, the lament of the cicale. Then
returning to Pietrasanta, you will sit in the evening perhaps in the
Piazza there, quite surrounded by the old walls, with its mediaeval air,
its lovely Municipio and fine old Gothic churches. Here you may watch
all the city, the man and his wife and children, the young girls
laughing together, conscious of the shy admiration of the youth of the
place; and you will be struck by the beauty of these people, peasants
and workmen, their open, frank faces, their grace and strength, their
unconcerned delight in themselves, their air of distinction too, coming
to them from a long line of ancestors who have lived with the earth, the
mountains, and the sea.

Then in the early morning, perhaps, you will enter S. Martino and hear
the early Mass, where there are still so many worshippers, and then,
lingering after the service, you will admire the pulpit, carved really
by one of those youths whose frankness and grace surprised you in the
Piazza on the night before--Stagio Stagi, a native of this place, a fine
artist whose work continually meets you in Pietrasanta. Indeed, in the
choir of the church there are some candelabra by him, and an altar,
built, as it is said, out of two confessional boxes. In the Baptistery
close by are some bronzes, said to be the work of Donatello, and some
excellent sculptures by Stagio; while, as though to bear out the hidden
paganism, some dim memory of the old gods, that certainly haunts this
shrine, the font is an old Roman _tazza_, carved with Tritons and
Neptune among the waves; but over it now stands another supposed work of
Donatello, S. Giovanni Battista, reconciled, as we may hope, with those
whose worship he has usurped.

The façade of S. Martino is of the fourteenth century, as is that of S.
Agostino, its neighbour, where you may find another altar by Stagio.

Then it may be at evening you seek the sea-shore, that mysterious,
forlorn coast where the waves break almost with a caress. It was here,
or not far away, somewhere between this little wonderful city and
Viareggio, then certainly a mere village, that Shelley's body was
burned, as Trelawney records.[15] "The lovely and grand scenery that
surrounded us," he says, "so exactly harmonised with Shelley's genius,
that I could imagine his spirit soaring over us.... Not a human dwelling
was in sight.... I got a furnace made at Leghorn of iron bars and strong
sheet-iron supported on a stand, and laid in a stock of fuel and such
things as were said to be used by Shelley's much-loved Hellenes on their
funeral pyres.... At ten on the following morning, Captain S. and
myself, accompanied by several officers of the town, proceeded in our
boat down the small river which runs through Via Reggio (and forms its
harbour for coasting vessels) to the sea.[16] Keeping along the beach
towards Massa, we landed at about a mile from Via Reggio, at the foot of
the grave; the place was noted by three wand-like reeds stuck in the
sand in a parallel line from high to low-water mark. Doubting the
authenticity of such pyramids, we moved the sand in the line indicated,
but without success. I then got five or six men with spades to dig
transverse lines. In the meanwhile Lord Byron's carriage with Mr. Leigh
Hunt arrived, accompanied by a party of dragoons and the chief officers
of the town. In about an hour, and when almost in despair, I was
paralysed with the sharp and thrilling noise a spade made in coming in
direct contact with the skull. We now carefully removed the sand. This
grave was even nearer the sea than the other [Williams's], and although
not more than two feet deep, a quantity of the salt water oozed in.

"... We have built a much larger pile to-day, having previously been
deceived as to the immense quantity of wood necessary to consume a body
in the unconfined atmosphere." Mr. Shelley had been reading the poems of
"Lamia" and "Isabella" by Keats, as the volume was found turned back
open in his pocket; so sudden was the squall. The fragments being now
collected and placed in the furnace here fired, and the flames ascended
to the height of the lofty pines near us. We again gathered round, and
repeated, as far as we could remember, the ancient rites and ceremonies
used on similar occasions. Lord B. wished to have preserved the skull,
which was strikingly beautiful in its form. It was very small and very
thin, and fell to pieces on attempting to remove it.

"Notwithstanding the enormous fire, we had ample time e'er it was
consumed to contemplate the singular beauty and romantic wildness of the
scenery and objects around us. Via Reggio, the only seaport of the Duchy
of Lucca, built and encompassed by an almost boundless expanse of deep,
dark sand, is situated in the centre of a broad belt of firs, cedars,
pines, and evergreen oaks, which covers a considerable extent of
country, extending along the shore from Pisa to Massa. The bay of Spezia
was on our right, and Leghorn on our left, at almost equal distances,
with their headlands projecting far into the sea, and forming this whole
space of interval into a deep and dangerous gulf. A current setting in
strong, with a N.W. gale, a vessel embayed here was in a most perilous
situation; and consequently wrecks were numerous: the water is likewise
very shoal, and the breakers extend a long way from the shore. In the
centre of this bay my friends were wrecked, and their bodies tossed
about--Captain Williams seven, and Mr. Shelley nine days, e'er they were
found. Before us was a most extensive view of the Mediterranean, with
the isles of Gorgona, Caprera, Elba, and Corsica in sight. All around
us was a wilderness of barren soil with stunted trees, moulded into
grotesque and fantastic forms by the cutting S.W. gales. At short and
equal distances along the coast stood high, square, antique-looking
towers, with flagstaff's on the turrets, used to keep a look-out at sea
and enforce the quarantine laws. In the background was the long line of
the Italian Alps.

"... After the fire was kindled ... more wine was poured over Shelley's
dead body than he had consumed during his life. This, with the oil and
salt, made the yellow flames glisten and quiver.... The only portions
that were not consumed were some fragments of bones, the jaw and the
skull; but what surprised us all was that the heart remained entire. In
snatching this relic from the fiery furnace my hand was severely burnt;
and had anyone seen me do the act I should have been put in quarantine."
Shelley's ashes were taken to Rome, and buried in the English cemetery
there, a place he loved, that is perhaps the most beautiful of the
beautiful graveyards of Italy.

Of Viareggio itself there is little to be said. It is a town by the
seaside, full in summer of holiday-making Tuscans from Florence and the
cities round about. A pretty place enough, it possesses an unique
market-place covered in by ancient twisted plane trees, where the old
women chaffer with the cooks and contadine. But nothing, as it seems to
me, and certainly not so modern a place as Viareggio, will keep you long
from Pisa. Even on the dusty way from Pietrasanta, at every turn of the
road one has half expected to see the leaning tower and the Duomo. And
it is really with an indescribable impatience you spend the night in
Viareggio. Starting at dawn, still without a glimpse of Pisa, you enter
the Pineta before the sun, that lovely, green, cool forest full of
silver shadows, with every here and there a little farm for the pine
cones, about which they are heaped in great banks. Coming out of this
wood on the dusty road in the golden heat, between fields of cucumbers,
you meet market carts and contadini returning from the city. Then you
cross the Serchio in the early light, still and mysterious as a river
out of Malory. And at last, suddenly, like a mirage, the towers of Pisa
rise before you, faint and beautiful as in a dream. As you turn to look
behind you at the world you are leaving, you find that the mountains,
those marvellous Apuan Alps with their fragile peaks, have been lost in
the distance and the sky; and so, with half a regret, full of expectancy
and excitement nevertheless, you quicken your pace, and even in the heat
set out quickly for the white city before you,--Pisa, once lord of the
sea, the first great city of Tuscany.


[15] I no longer believe it is possible to be certain of the place. At
any rate, all the guide-books, Baedeker, Murray, and Hare, are wrong,
though not so far out as that gentleman who, having assured us that
Boccaccio was a "little priest," and that Petrarch, Poliziano, Lorenzo,
and Pulci were of no account as poets, remarks that Shelley's body was
found at Lerici, and that he was burned close by.

[16] See Carmichael, _The Old Road_, etc., pp. 183-202.



To enter Pisa by the Porta Nuova, coming at once into the Piazza del
Duomo, is as though at midday, on the highway, one had turned aside into
a secret meadow full of a strange silence and dazzling light, where have
been abandoned among the wild flowers the statues of the gods. For the
Piazza is just that--a meadow scattered with daisies, among which, as
though forgotten, stand unbroken a Cathedral, a Baptistery, a Tower, and
a Cemetery, all of marble, separate and yet one in the consummate beauty
of their grouping. And as though weary of the silence and the light, the
tower has leaned towards the flowers, which may fade and pass away. So
amid the desolation of the Acropolis must the statues of the Parthenon
have looked from the hills and the sea, with something of this abandoned
splendour, this dazzling solitude, this mysterious calm silence,
satisfied and serene.

Wherever you may be in Pisa, you cannot escape from the mysterious
influence of those marvellous ghosts that haunt the verge of the city,
that corner apart where the wind is white on the grass, and the shadows
steal slowly through the day. The life of the world is far away on the
other side of the city; here is only beauty and peace.

If you come into the Piazza, as most travellers do, from the Lung' Arno,
as you turn into the Via S. Maria or out of the Borgo into the beautiful
Piazza dei Cavalieri, gradually as you pass on your way life hesitates
and at last deserts you. In the Via S. Maria, for instance, that winds
like a stream from the Duomo towards Arno, at first all is gay with the
memory and noise of the river, the dance of the sun and the wind. Then
you pass a church; some shadow seems to glide across the way, and it is
almost in dismay you glance up at the silent palaces, the colour of
pearl, barred and empty; and then looking down see the great paved way
where your footsteps make an echo; while there amid the great slabs of
granite the grass is peeping. It is generally out of such a shadowy
street as this that one comes into the dazzling Piazza del Duomo. But
indeed, all Pisa is like that. You pass from church to church, from one
deserted Piazza to another, and everywhere you disturb some shadow, some
silence is broken, some secret seems to be hid. The presence of those
marvellous abandoned things in the far corner of the city is felt in
every byway, in every alley, in every forgotten court. "Amid the
desolation of a city" this splendour is immortal, this glory is not


"Varie sono le opinioni degli Scrittori circa l'edificazione di Pisa,"
says Tronci in his _Annali Pisani_, published at Livorno in the
seventeenth century. "Various are the opinions of writers as to the
building of Pisa, but all agree that it was founded by the Greeks. Cato
in his _Fragment_, and Dionysius Halicarnassus in the first book of his
_History_, affirm that the founders were the Pisi Alfei Pelasgi, who had
for their captain the King Pelops, as Pliny says in his _Natural
History_ (lib. 5), and Solinus too, as though it were indubitable: who
does not know that Pisa was from Pelops?" Certainly Pisa is very old,
and whether or no King Pelops, as Pliny thought, founded the city, the
Romans thought her as old as Troy. In 225 B.C. she was an Etruscan city,
and the friend of Rome; in Strabo's day she was but two miles from
the sea; Caesar's time she became a Roman military station; while in 4
A.D. we read that the disturbances at the elections were so serious that
she was left without magistrates. That fact in itself seems to bring the
city before our eyes: it is so strangely characteristic of her later

[Illustration: PISA


But in spite of her enormous antiquity, there are very few left of her
Etruscan and Roman days, the remains of some Roman Thermae, Bagni di
Nerone near the Porta Lucca being, indeed, all that we may claim, save
the urns and sarcophagi scattered in the Campo Santo, from the great
days of Rome. The glory of Pisa is the end of the Middle Age and the
early dawn of the Renaissance. There, amid all the hurly-burly and
terror of invasion and civil wars, she shines like a beacon beside the
sea, proud, brave, and full of hope, almost the only city not altogether
enslaved in a country in the grip of the barbarian, almost overwhelmed
by the Lombards. And indeed, she was one of the first cities of Italy to
fling off the Lombard yoke. Favoured by her position on the shores of
the Tyrrhenian Sea, yet not so near the coast as to invite piracy, she
waged incessant war on Greek and Saracen. Lombardy, heavy with conquest,
fearful for her prize, which was Italy, was compelled to encourage the
growth of the naval cities. It was on the sea that the future of Pisa
lay, like the glory of the sun that in its splendour and pride passes
away too soon.

Already in the ninth century we hear of her prowess at Salerno, while in
the tenth, having possessed herself of her own government under consuls,
she sent a fleet to help the Emperor Otho II in Sicily. Fighting without
respite or rest, continually victorious, never downhearted, she had
opened the weary story of the civil strife of Italy with a war against
Lucca, in the year 1004.[17] It was the first outburst of that hatred
in her heart which in the end was to destroy her for she died of a
poverty of love.

In 1005, still with her fleet engaged in Sicilian waters, the Arab
pirates fell upon her, and, forcing the harbour, sacked a whole quarter
of the city. For the time Pisa could do little against the foes of
Europe, but in 1016 she allied herself with that city which proved at
last to be her deadliest foe, Genoa the Proud, and the united fleets
swept down on Sardinia for vengeance. It was this victorious expedition
that aroused the hatred of the Pisans for Genoa, a jealousy that was
only extinguished when at last Pisa was crushed at Meloria.

Many were the attempts of the Arabs to regain Sardinia, but Pisa was not
to be deceived. Coasting along the African shore, her fleet took Bona
and threatened Carthage. Yet in 1050 the Arabs of Morocco and Spain
stole the island from her, only Cagliari holding out under the nobles
for the mother city. There was more than the loss of Sardinia at stake,
for with the victory of the Arabs the highway of the sea was no longer
secure, the existence of Pisa, and not of Pisa only, was threatened. So
we find Genoa once more standing beside Pisa in the fight of Europe. The
fleets again were combined, this time under the command of a Pisan, one
Gualduccio, a plebeian. He sailed for Cagliari, landed his men, and
engaged the enemy on the beach. The Arabs were led by the King Mogahid,
Rè Musetto, as the Italians called him. He was over eighty years old at
the time, and though still full of cunning valour, attacked by the
fleets in front and the garrison in the rear, his army was defeated and
put to flight. He himself, fleeing on horseback, was wounded in two
places, and falling was captured; and they took him in chains to Pisa,
where he died. Thus Sardinia once more fell into the hands of Europe,
and the island, divided in fiefs under the rule of Pisa,[18] was held
and governed by her.

But Pisa was not yet done with the Arab. She stood for Europe. In 1063
she fought at Palermo, returning laden with booty. It was then, after
much discussion in the Senate,[19] sending an embassy to the Pope and
another to "Rè Henrico di Germania," that she decided to employ this
spoil in building the Duomo, in the place where the old Church of S.
Reparata stood, and more anciently the Baths of Hadrian, the Emperor.
The temple, Tronci tells us,[20] was dedicated to the Magnificent Queen
of the Universe, Mary, ever Virgin, most worthy Mother of God, Advocate
of sinners. It was begun in 1064, and many years, as Tronci says, were
consumed in the building of it.[21] The pillars--and there are
many--were brought by the Pisans from Africa, from Egypt, from
Jerusalem, from Sardinia, and other far lands.

At this time Pisa was divided into four parts, called _Quartieri_. The
first was called _Ponte_, the ensign of which was a rosy Gonfalon; the
second, _di Mezzo_, which had a standard with seven yellow stripes on a
red field; the third, _Foriporta_, which had a white gate in a rosy
field; and the fourth, _Chinsica_ with a white cross in a red field.[22]

Nor was the Duomo the only building that the Pisans undertook about this
time. Eight years later, the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli, called
to-day S. Pierino, was built on a spot where of old "there was a temple
of the Gentiles" dedicated to Apollo; that, when the Pisans received
the faith of Jesus Christ, they gave to St. Peter, the Prince of the
Apostles. This church appears to have been consecrated by the great
Archbishop Peter on 30th August 1119.

These two churches, and especially the Duomo, still perhaps the most
wonderful church in Italy, prove the greatness of the civilisation of
Pisa at this time. She was then a self-governed city, owing allegiance,
it is true, to the Marquisate of Tuscany, but with consuls of her own.
Since she was so warlike, the nobles naturally had a large part in her
affairs. In the Crusade of 1099 the Pisans were late, as the Genoese
never ceased to remind them,--to come late, in Genoa, being spoken of as
"_Come l'ajuto di Pisa_"; and, indeed, like the Genoese, the Pisans
thought as much of their own commercial advantage in these Holy Wars as
of the Tomb of Jesus. In 1100 they returned from Jerusalem, their
merchants having gained, _una loggia, una contrada, un fondaco e una
chiesa_ for their nation in Constantinople, with many other fiscal
benefits. Nor were they forgetful of their Duomo, for they came home
with much spoil, bringing the bodies of the Saints Nicodemus the Prince
of the Pharisees, Gamaliel the master of St. Paul, and Abibone, one of
the seventy-two disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.[23]

Encouraged by their success, not long afterwards, they, in their
invincible confidence and force, decided to undertake another
enterprise. Urged thereto by their Archbishop Peter, they set out,
partly for glory, partly in the hope of spoil to free the thousands of
Christians held captive by the Arabs in the Balearic islands. The fleet
sailed on the 6th August 1114, the Feast of S. Sisto, the anniversary of
other victories. There were, it seems, some three hundred ships of
diverse strength; and every sort of person, old and young, took part in
this adventure. Going astray, they first landed in Catalonia and did
much damage; then, "acknowledging their unfortunate mistake," they found
the island, where, under Archbishop Peter and the Pope's gonfalone,
they were entirely successful. They released the captives, and, amid the
immense spoil, they brought away the son of the Moorish king, whom later
they baptized in Pisa and sent back to the Moors. The Pisan dead were,
however, very many. At first they thought to load a ship with the slain
and bring them home again; but this was not found possible. Sailing at
last for Marseilles, they buried them there in the Badia di S. Vittore,
later bringing the monks to Pisa.

Now, while the glory of Pisa shone thus upon the waters far away, the
Lucchesi thought to seize Pisa herself, deprived of her manhood. But the
Florentines, who at this time were friends with Pisa, since their
commerce depended upon the Porto Pisano, sent a company to guard the
city, encamping some two miles off; for since so much loot lay to hand,
to wit, Pisa herself, the Florentine captains feared lest they might not
be able to hold their men. And, indeed, one of their number entered the
city intent on the spoil, but was taken, and they judged him worthy only
of death. But the Pisans, not to be outdone in honour, refused to allow
him to be executed in their territory; then the Florentines bought a
plot of ground near the camp, and killed him there. When the fleet
returned and heard this, they determined to send Florence a present to
show their gratitude. Now, among the spoil were some bronze gates and
two rosy pillars of porphyry, very precious. Then they besought the
Florentines to choose one of these, the gates or the pillars, as a gift.
And Florence chose the pillars, which stand to-day beside the eastern
gate of the Baptistery in that city. But on the way to Florence they
encountered the Mugnone in flood, and were thrown down and broken there.
Hence the Florentines, that scornful and suspicious folk, swore that the
Pisans had cracked their gifts themselves with fire before sending them,
that Florence might not possess things so fair.

Other jealousies, too, arose out of the success of Pisa, though
indirectly. For the Genoese, never content that she should have the
overlordship of Sardinia, were still more disturbed when Pope Gelasius
II., that Pisan, gave Corsica to Pisa, so that about 1125[24] they made
war on her. The war lasted many years, till Innocent II, being Pope and
come to Pisa, made peace, giving the Genoese certain rights in Corsica.
About this time S. Bernard was in Pisa, where in 1134 Innocent II held a
General Council; not for long, however, for in the same year he set out
for Milan to reconcile that Church with Rome.

Her quarrel with Genoa was scarcely finished when Pisa found herself at
war with the Normans in Southern Italy, defending heroically the city of
Naples and utterly destroying Amalfi, the wonderful republic of the
South.[25] Certainly the might of Pisa was great; her supremacy was
unquestionable from Lerici to Piombino, but behind her hills Lucca was
on watch, not far away Florence her friend as yet, held the valley of
the Arno, while Genoa on the sea dogged her steps between the
continents. Thus Pisa stood in the middle of the twelfth century the
strongest and most warlike city in Tuscany, full of ambition and the
love of beauty and glory. For it was now in 1152 that she began to build
the Baptistery, and in 1174 the famous Campanile, a group of buildings
with the Duomo unrivalled in the world.

Meanwhile the Great Countess of Tuscany had died in 1115; more and more
Italy became divided against itself, and by the end of the century
Guelph and Ghibelline, commune and noble, were tearing her in pieces.
Tuscany, really little more than a group of communes devoted to trade,
with the great feudatories ever in the offing, without any real unity,
slowly became the stronghold of the Guelphs. Only Pisa,[26] glorying in
the strength of the sea and the splendour of war, was Ghibelline, with
Siena on her sunny hills. Now, having won Sardinia for herself, her
nobles there established were, as was their manner everywhere,
continually at feud. The Church, thinking to make Pisan sovereignty less
secure, supported the weaker. Already Innocent III had, following this
plan, called on the Pisans to withdraw their claim to the island. And it
was a Pisan noble, Visconti, who, marrying into one of the island
families related to Gregory IX, recognised the Papal suzerainty. Thus
this family in Pisa became Guelph. But the other nobles, among whom was
the Gherardesca family, threw their weight on the other side, and so
Pisa, who had ever leaned that way, became staunchly Ghibelline.[27]

The quarrel with Florence was certain sooner or later, for Florence was
growing in strength and riches; she would not for ever be content to let
Pisa hold her sea-gate, taking toll of all that passed in and out. It
was in 1222 that the first war broke out with the White Lily. Any excuse
was good enough; the bone of contention appears to have been a lap-dog
belonging to one of the Ambassadors[28]. Pisa was beaten. In 1259,
nevertheless, she turned on the Genoese and drove them down the seas.
But the death of Frederic in 1250 was the true end of the Ghibelline
cause in Italy.

What then did Pisa look like in these the days of her great power and
prosperity? She was a city, we may think, of narrow shadowy streets like
the Via delle Belle Torri, full of refuse and garbage too, for then, as
now in the remoter places, the household slops were simply hurled out of
the windows with a mere _guarda_! called from an upper window. And to
the horror of less fortunate cities, these streets were full of "Pagans,
Turks, Libyans, Parthians, and foul Chaldeans, with their incense,
pearls, and jewels." Yet though so good a Guelph as Donizo, the
biographer of the great Countess, can express his horror of these
"Gentiles," Genoa, too, must have been in much the same case; but then
Genoa was Guelph, and Pisa Ghibelline. Yet then, as to-day in that quiet
far corner of the city, in a meadow sprinkled with daisies, the great
white Duomo stood a silent witness to the splendour of the noblest
republic in Tuscany.

But her day was too soon over. In 1254, Florence and Lucca met and
defeated her. The Guelphs had won. In Pisa we find the government
reformed, elders appointed, a senate, a great council, and Podestà, a
Captain of the People. It seemed as though Pisa herself was about to
become Guelph, or at any rate to fling out her nobles. But in many a
distant colony the nobles ruled, undisturbed by the disaster at home.
And then, almost before she had set her house in order, the splendid
victory of Monteaperto threw the Guelphs into confusion, and the banners
of Pisa once more flew wide and far. But the fatal cause of the Empire
was doomed; Manfred fell at Benevento, and Corradino was defeated at
Tagliacozzo by Charles of Anjou, who, not content with victory, expelled
the Pisan merchants from his ports. There was left to her the sea.

Now Ugolino della Gherardesca, of the great family which had been
especially enraged by the conduct of Visconti, married his sister to one
of that family reigning at Gallura in Sardinia. This man, the judge of
Gallura, as he was called, had come to live in Pisa. The Pisans looked
with much suspicion on this alliance, and exiled first the Visconti and
later Ugolino himself, with all the other Guelphs. Ugolino went to
Lucca, and with her help in 1276 overcame his native city and forced her
to receive again the exiles. Then the merchandise of Florence passed
freely through her port, Lucca regained her fortresses, and Pisa herself
fell into the possession of Ugolino.

Nevertheless, without a thought of fear, looking ever seaward, she
awaited the Genoese attack, certain that it would come, since she was
divided within her gates. It was to be a fight to the death. During the
year 1282 the Genoese were driven back from the mouth of the Arno, the
Pisans were driven from Genoa, and scattered and spoiled by a storm.
These were but skirmishes; the fight was yet to come. In Genoa they
built a hundred and fifty ships of war; the Pisans, too, were straining
every nerve. Then came a running fight off Sardinia, in which the Pisans
had the worse of it, losing eight galleys and fifteen hundred men. Yet
they were not disheartened. They made Alberto Morosini, a Venetian,
their Podestà, and with him as Admirals were Count Ugolino della
Gherardesca and Andreotto Saracini. When the treasury was empty the
nobles gave their fortunes for the public cause. We hear of one family
giving eleven ships of war, others gave six, others less, as they were
able. At midsummer 1284 more than a hundred galleys sailed to Genoa, and
in scorn shot arrows of silver into the great harbour. But the Genoese
were not yet prepared. They were ready a few days later, however, when
the watchers by Arno "descried a hundred and seven sail" making for the
Porto. Then Pisa thrust forth her ships. With songs and with
thanksgiving the Archbishop Ubaldino, at the head of all the clergy of
the city, flung the Pisan standard out on the wind. It was night when
the fleet was lost to sight in the offing. In that night there came to
the Genoese thirty ships by way of reinforcement unknown to the Pisans.
These they hid behind the island of Meloria. At dawn the battle broke.
In many squadrons the ships flung themselves on one another, and for
long the victory hung in the balance. The Pisans had already grappled
for boarding, the battle was yet to win, when the Genoese reinforcements
sailed out from the island straight for the Pisan Admirals. The battle
was over. Flight--it was all that was left for Pisa. Ugolino himself was
said to have given the signal.

There fell that day five thousand Pisans, with eleven thousand captured,
and twenty-eight galleys lost to Genoa. There was no family in Pisa but
mourned its dead: for six months on every side nothing was heard but
lamentations and mourning. If you would see Pisa, it was said, you must
go to Genoa.

Pisa had lost the sea. In Tuscany she stood with Arezzo facing the
Guelph League. She elected Ugolino her Captain-General.[29] A man of the
greatest force and ability, he was ambitious rather for himself than for
Pisa. Having many Guelph friends, his business was to beat Genoa and the
Guelph League. He succeeded in part. He bribed Florence with certain
strongholds to leave the League, and he expelled the Ghibellines from
Pisa. Then he offered Genoa Castro in Sardinia as ransom for the Pisan
prisoners; but they sent word to the Council that they would not accept
their freedom at the price of the humiliation of their city. Such were
the Pisans. And, indeed, they threatened that if at such a price they
were set free, they would return only to punish those who had thought
such treason. Ugolino for his part cared not.[30] He proceeded to bribe
Lucca with other strongholds. In the city all was confusion. Ugolino was
turned out of the Dictatorship, he became Captain of the People. Not for
long, however, for soon he contrived to make himself tyrant again.

Now the Genoese, seeing they were like to get nothing out of their
prisoners by this, were anxious for a money ransom. But Ugolino, fearing
those brave men, broke the truce with Genoa, urging certain pirates of
Sardinia to attack the Genoese; and, in order to make sure of this,
while he himself went to his castle in the country, he arranged with
Ruggieri dei Ubaldini, the Archbishop, to expel the Guelphs, among them
his own nephew, from Pisa. The plot succeeded; but Pisa desired that the
Archbishop should for the future divide the power with Ugolino. To this
Ugolino would not agree, and in a rage he slew the nephew of the
Archbishop. Meanwhile, Ugolino's nephew, Nino Visconti, was plotting
with him to return. This came to the ears of Ruggieri, who called the
Ghibellines to arms, and at last succeeded in capturing Ugolino and his
family, after days of fighting. Well had Marco Lombardo, that "wise and
valiant man of affairs," told him, "The wrath of God is the only thing
lacking to you."

"Of a truth," says Villani, the old Florentine Chronicler,--"of a truth
the wrath of God soon came upon him, as it pleased God, because of his
treacheries and crimes; for when the Archbishop of Pisa and his
followers had succeeded in driving out Nino and his party, by the
counsel and treachery of Count Ugolino the forces of the Guelphs were
diminished; and then the Archbishop took counsel how to betray Count
Ugolino; and in a sudden uproar of the people he was attacked and
assaulted at the palace, the Archbishop giving the people to understand
that he had betrayed Pisa, and given up their fortresses to the
Florentines and the Lucchesi; and, being without any defence, the people
having turned against him, he surrendered himself prisoner; and at the
said assault one of his bastard sons and one of his grandsons were
slain, and Count Ugolino was taken and two of his sons and three
grandsons, his son's children, and they were put in prison; and his
household and followers, the Visconti and Ubizinghi, Guatini and all the
other Guelph houses, were driven out of Pisa. Thus was the traitor
betrayed by the traitor.... In the said year 1288, in the said month of
March ... the Pisans chose for their captain Count Guido of Montefeltro,
giving him wide jurisdiction and lordship; and he passed the boundaries
of Piedmont, within which he was confined by his terms of surrender to
the Church, and came to Pisa; for which thing he and his sons and family
and all the commonwealth of Pisa were excommunicated by the Church of
Rome, as rebels and enemies against Holy Church. And when the said Count
was come to Pisa ... the Pisans, which had put in prison Count Ugolino
and his two sons, and two sons of Count Guelpho his son ... in the tower
on the Piazza degli Anziani, caused the door of the said tower to be
locked and the keys thrown into Arno, and refused to the said prisoners
any food, which in a few days died there of hunger. And albeit first the
said Count demanded with cries to be shriven; yet did they not grant him
a friar or a priest to confess him. And when all the five dead bodies
were taken out of the tower, they were buried without honour; and
thenceforward the said prison was called the Tower of Hunger, and will
be always[31]."

Enough of Ugolino. Count Guido, that mystical, fierce soul from Urbino,
seeing danger everywhere, called the whole city to the army. Florence
had allied herself with Lucca and Genoa[32]. Count Guido's business was
to beat them. He did it[33]; so that by the Assumption of Our Lady in
1292 he had won back again nearly all the lost fortresses, and wrung
peace from the Guelph League. Nevertheless, Pisa was compelled to
sacrifice her captain, and to see Genoa established in Corsica and in
part of Sardinia; also she had to pay 160,000 lire to Genoa for the
Pisan captives, and in Elba to admit Genoese trade free of tax.

Some idea of the glory of Pisa even when she had suffered so much may be
had, perhaps, from Tronci's account of that Festival of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin as it was kept in August 1293, when the peace had
been signed.

The Anziani, Tronci tells us[34], "were used, for a month before the
Festa, to publish it in the following manner. Twenty horses covered all
with scarlet, went out of the city bearing twenty youths dressed in
fanciful and rich costumes. The first two carried two banners, one of
the Comunità, the other of the Popolo. Two others carried two lances of
silver washed with gold, on which were the Imperial eagles. Two others
bore on their fists two living eagles crowned with gold. The rest
followed in a company, dressed in rich liveries. There came after, the
trumpeters of the Comunità with the silver trumpets, and others with
fifes and wind instruments of divers loudness, and they proclaimed the
_Palii_ which were to be won on land and water.

"On land, the first prize was of red velvet lined with fur, with a great
eagle of silver. This he received who first reached the goal. To the
second was given a silken stuff of the value of thirty gold florins, to
the third in jest was offered a pair of geese and a bunch of garlic. On
the water the race was rowed in little galleys and brigantini. He who
came in first won a Bull covered with scarlet, and fifty _scudi_; the
second a piece of silken stuff with thirty gold florins, the third got
only geese and garlic.

"On the first day of August were placed on the towers of the city,
certainly some 16,000 in number, three banners on each of them; one with
the Imperial eagle, another of the Commune, and the third of the People.
In like manner, on the cupola, façade, and corners of the Duomo, on S.
Giovanni, on the Campo Santo and the Campanile, these banners flew not
only on the top, but at all the angles of the columns. The same were
seen on all the churches of the city, and on all the palaces, the
Palazzo Pubblico, the Palace of the Podestà, the Palazzo del Capitano
del Conservatore, the Corte del Consulato di Mare, on the palaces of the
Mercati and of the seven Arti. The Contado followed the example of the
city; and thus it continued all the month of August. And the whole
people of every sort made great rejoicing and feasting, to which
foreigners were particularly invited.

"At the first Vespers of the Festa, the Anziani went to the Duomo in
state: and before them walked the maidens dressed in new costumes; and
after came the trumpeters, and the Captain with his company, and all the
other lesser magistrates. When they were come to the Cathedral, the
Archbishop, vested _a Pontificale_, began solemn Vespers. This ended, a
youth mounted into the pulpit and chanted a prayer in praise of the
Assumption of the Most Glorious Virgin. Then Matins was sung; and that
finished, the procession made its way round about the church, and was
joined by all the Companies and the Regulars, carrying each man a candle
of wax of half a pound weight, alight in his hands. The Clergy followed
with the Canons and the Archbishop with lighted candles of greater
weight; and last came the Anziani, the Podestà, the Captain and other
Magistrates, the Representatives of the Arti, and all the People with
lights of wax in their hands. And the procession being over, all went to
see the illuminations, the bonfires, and the festa, through the city.

"On the morning of the Festa, the _ceri_ were placed on the _trabacche_,
that were more than sixty in number, carried, by boys dressed in
liveries, with much pomp. Immediately after followed the Anziani, the
Podestà, and the Captain of the People with all the other Magistrates
and Officials and the people, with the Company of Horse richly dressed
and with the Companies of Foot; and a little after came all the _arti_,
carrying each one his great _cero_ all painted, and accompanied by all
the wind instruments. It was a thing sweet to hear and beautiful to see.
The offering made, they went out to bring the silver girdle[35] borne
with great pomp on a _carretta_; and there assisted all the clergy in
procession with exquisite music both of voices and of instruments. The
usual ceremonies being over, they encircled the Cathedral, and hung the
girdle to the irons that were set round about. Yes, it was this girdle
of a great value and very beautiful that was spoken of through the whole
world, so that from many a city of Italy people came in haste to see it;
but to-day there is nothing of it left save a small particle[36]."

Misfortune certainly had not broken the spirit of Pisa. And so it is not
surprising that, though she dared scarcely fly her flag on the seas, on
land she thought to hold her own. No doubt this hope was strengthened by
the advent in 1312 of Henry VII of Luxembourg. With him on her side she
dreamed of the domination of Tuscany. But it was not to be. She found
money and arms in his cause and her own. She opened a new war with the
Guelph League; she suspended her own Government and made him lord of
Pisa. He remained with her two months, and then in 1313 he died at
Buonconvento. They buried him sadly in the Duomo. The two million
florins she had expended were lost for ever. Frederick of Sicily,
Henry's ally, though he came to Pisa, refused the proferred lordship, as
did Henry of Savoy; and at last Pisa placed herself under the Imperial
Vicar of Genoa, for that city also had been delivered by her nobles into
the hands of Henry VII.

Uguccione della Faggiuola, the Imperial Vicar of Genoa, remained, as
Imperial legate, Podestà, Captain of the People, and Elector, bringing
with him one thousand German horse. The rest of the army of Henry
returned over the Alps. Pisa thought herself on the verge of ruin; she
must make terms with her foes. This being done, there appeared to be no
further need for Uguccione, whose German troops were expensive, and
whose presence did but anger the Guelphs. Uguccione was a man of
enormous strength, brave, too, and resolute, swift to decide an issue,
wise in council, but a barbarian. What had he to do with peace. His
business was war, as he very soon let the Pisans know. Nor were they
slow to take him at his word. Pisa was never beaten. Uguccione marched
through the streets with the living eagles of the Empire borne before
him. Before long he had deprived the Guelphs of power, and was
practically tyrant of Pisa. Everything now seemed to depend on victory.
Lucca scarcely ten miles away, Guelph by tradition and hatred of Pisa,
was in an uproar. Uguccione saw his chance and took it; he flung himself
on the city and delivered it up to its own factions while the Pisans
sacked it. Nor did they spare the place. The spoil was enormous; among
the rest, a large sum belonging to the Pope fell into their hands.
Florence and her allies sprang to arms. Uguccione took up the challenge,
burnt the lands of Pistoja and San Miniato al Tedesco, ravaged the
vineyards of Volterra, seized the fortresses of Val di Nievole, and at
last besieged Montecatini.

It was now that the Ghibellines of Lucca with Castruccio Castracani
joined Uguccione. They met the army of Florence at Montecatini.
Machiavelli states that Uguccione fell ill, and had no part in the
battle, which was won by Castruccio. Villari, however, gives the glory
to Uguccione.

It might seem that Uguccione, whether ill or not on the day of battle,
was jealous, and perhaps afraid, of Castruccio. Certainly he plotted
against him, sending his son Nerli to Lucca with orders to trap
Castruccio and imprison him; which was done. Nerli, however, wanted
resolution to kill him; and his father hearing this, set out from Pisa
with four hundred horse to take the matter in hand. The Pisans, who were
by this time completely enslaved by Uguccione, seized the opportunity to
rise. Macchiavelli tells us "they cut his Deputies' throats, and slew
all his Family. Now, that he might be sure they were in earnest, they
chose the Conte de Gherardesca, and made him their Governor." When
Uguccione got to Lucca he found the city in an uproar, and the people
demanding the release of Castruccio. This he was compelled to allow.
With Castruccio at liberty, Lucca was too hot for him, and he fled into
Lombardy to the Lords of Scala, where no long time after, he died.

After the great victory of Montecatini, Gherardesca and Castruccio soon
came to terms with the Guelphs; and all that Pisa really seems to have
gained by the war was that she was compelled to build a hospital and
chapel for the repose of the souls of the dead at Montecatini. This
chapel, hidden away in the Casa dei Trovatelli at the top of Via S.
Maria in Pisa, became a glorious monument of the victory of Pisa over

But the freedom of Pisa was gone for ever; others, lords and tyrants,
arose, Castruccio Castracani and the rest, yet she was still at bay. On
the 2nd October 1325 she again defeated Florence at Altopascio, and even
excluded her from the port, and, in 1341, when Florence had bought Lucca
from Mastino della Scala for 250,000 florins, she besieged it to prevent
the entry of the Florentine army then aided by Milan, Mantova, and
Padova, In 1342, the Florentines having failed to relieve Lucca, the
Pisans entered the city. The possession of Lucca seemed to put Pisa,
where centuries ago Luitprand had placed her, at the head of the
province of Tuscany. This view, which certainly she herself was not slow
to take, was confirmed when Volterra and Pistoja placed themselves under
her protection; yet, as ever, her greatest danger was the discord within
her walls. The Republic was weak, nearly a million and a half of florins
had been spent on the war, and many tyrants were her allies; moreover,
she had lent troops to Milan.[37] It was this moment of reaction after
so great an effort that Visconti d'Oleggio chose for a conspiracy
against Gherardesca the Captain-General. It is true the plot was
discovered, the traitors exiled, and Visconti banished; but the mischief
was done. When Lucchino Visconti heard of it in Milan, he imprisoned the
Pisan troops in that city and sent Visconti d'Oleggio back with two
thousand men to seize Pisa. Thus the war dragged on; and though these
Milanese were destroyed for the most part by malaria in the Maremma,
still Pisa had no rest. After Visconti came famine, and after the famine
the Black Death. Seventy in every hundred of the population died, Tronci
tells us,[38] while during the famine, bread, such as it was, had to be
distributed every day at the taverns. Then followed a revolution in the
city. Count Raniero of the Gherardesca house had succeeded to the
Captain-Generalship of Pisa as though it were his right by birth. This
brought him many enemies; and, indeed, the city was in uproar for some
years: for, while he was so young, Dino della Rocca acted for him. Among
the more powerful enemies of della Rocca was Andrea Gambacorti, whose
family was soon to enslave the city. Now the one party was called
_Bergolini_, for they had named Raniero Bergo for hate, and of these
Gambacorti was chief. The other party which was at this time in power,
as I have said, was named _Raspanti_, which is to say graspers, and of
them Dino della Rocca was head. In the midst of this disputing Raniero
died, and the Raspanti were accused of having murdered him, among others
by Gambacorti. Every sort of device to heal these wounds was resorted
to; marriages and oaths all alike failed. The city blazed with their
arson every night, till at last the people rose and expelling the
Raspanti, chose Andrea Gambacorti for captain. This happened in 1348.
Seven years later, Charles IV, on his way to Rome to be crowned, came to
the city. Now the Conte di Montescudaio was known to Charles, who years
before had ruled in Lucca; therefore the Raspanti, of when Montescudaio
was one, took heart, and at the moment when Charles was in the Duomo
receiving the homage of the city, they roused the people assembled in
the Piazza, shouting for the Emperor and Liberty; but Charles heeded
them not. Nevertheless Gambacorti, to save himself, thought fit to give
Charles the lordship of the city; but the people, angered at this,
demanded their liberty, so that the magistrates, fearing for peace,
reconciled the two factions, who then together demanded of Charles his
new lordship. And he gave it them with as good a grace as he could, for
his men were few. Then again he heard from Lucca. There, too, they
demanded liberty, and especially from the dominion of Pisa, and, it is
said, the Lucchesi in France gave him 20,000 florins for this. But Pisa
heard of it. When Charles sent his troops to occupy Lucca, the Raspanti
saw their opportunity and rose. They put themselves at the head of the
people, who slew one hundred and fifty of Charles's Germans, and held
Charles himself a prisoner in the Duomo, where he lodged since the
Palazzo Comunale had been fired. Montescudaio, however, secretly joined
Charles with his men; he burnt the houses of the Gambacorti and
dispersed the mob. Apparently Lucca was free. But Charles had reckoned
without the Pisan garrison in the subject city. They fired their
beacons, and Pisa saw the blaze. It was enough, their dominion was in
danger; there were no longer any factions; Raspanti and Bergolini alike
stood together for Pisa. They streamed out of the great Porta a Lucca to
the relief of their own people, and though six thousand armed peasants
opposed them, they won to Lucca and took it, the Pisani still holding
the gates. Then they fired the city, and when the flames closed in round
S. Michele the Lucchesi surrendered. Thus they served their enemies. But
Charles had his revenge. He seized the Gambacorti, and appointing a
judge, having given instructions to find them guilty, tried them and
beheaded seven of them in Piazza degli Anziani, in spite of the rage of
Pisa. Then, with a large amount of treasure, of which he had spoiled the
Pisans, he fled back with his barbarians to his Germany. And as soon as
he was gone the city took Montescudaio and sent him into exile[39], with
the remaining Gambacorti also. So Charles left Pisa more Ghibelline than
he found her.

It was at this time that Pisa really began to see perhaps her true
danger from Florence. Certainly she did everything to prick her into
war. But Florence was already victorious. Her answer was more disastrous
than any battle; she took her trade from the port of Pisa to the Sienese
port Talamone. Then Florence purchased Volterra, over the head of Pisa
as it were; and at last, careless whether it pleased the Pisans or no,
she permitted the Gambacorti to make raid upon Pisan territory, and
allowed Giovanni di Sano, who had lately been in her service, to seize a
fortress in the territory of Lucca. The peace was broken. On the brink
of ruin, ravaged by plague, Pisa turned to confront her hard, merciless
foe. For months Florence ravaged her territory, while she, too weak to
strike a blow in her own honour, could but hold her gates. Then the
plague left her, and she rose.

Bernabò Visconti was sending her help for 150,000 florins.[40] The
English were on the way; already over the mountains, Hawkwood and his
White Company were coming to save her; meantime she tried to strike for
herself. Pietro Farnese of the Florentines laid her low, taking one
hundred and fifty prisoners and her general. The English tarried, but a
new ally was already by her side. The Black Death which had brought down
her pride, now fell upon the enemy, both in camp and in their city of
the Lily: and then--the English were come. On the 1st of February 1364,
Hawkwood, with a thousand horse and two thousand foot, drove the
Florentines through the Val di Nievole; he harried them above Vinci and
chased them through Serravalle, crushed them at Castel di Montale, and
scattered them in the valley of Arno. They found their city at last, as
foxes find their holes, and went to earth. There Pisa halted. Before the
gates of Pisa the Florentines for years had struck money: so the Pisans
did before Florence. Nor was this all. Halting there three days, says
the chronicle,[41] "they caused three palii to be run well-nigh to the
gates of Florence. One was on horseback, another was on foot, and the
third was run by loose women (_le feminine mundane_); and they caused
newly-made priests to sing Mass there, and they coined money of divers
kinds of gold and of silver; and on one side thereof was Our Lady, with
Her Son in Her arms; on the other side was the Eagle, with the Lion
beneath its feet.... Thereafter for further dispite they set up a pair
of gallows over against the gate of Florence, and hanged thereon three

Florence refused to submit. Other Free Companies such as Hawkwood's
joined in the war. The Florentines hired that of the Star. But Hawkwood
was not to be denied. He marched up Arno, devastating the country, and
at last deigned to return to Pisa by Cortona and Siena.

Then Florence did what might have been expected. She bribed Baumgarten,
who with his Germans had fought since the rout with Hawkwood. They met
at the Borgo di Cascina on 28th July. Hawkwood was caught napping, and
Pisa in her turn was humbled. The Florentines returned with two thousand
prisoners, having slain a thousand men. They took with them "forty-two
wagons full of prisoners, all packed together 'like melons,' with a dead
eagle tied by the neck and dragging along the ground."[42] Such was war
in Italy in the fourteenth century.

Then followed the Doge Agnello: the greatness of Pisa was past.

It had ever been the plan of Milan to weaken Florence by aiding Pisa,
and to weaken Pisa by this continual war, for it was the Visconti's
dream to carry their dominion into Tuscany. Now at this time, amid all
these disasters, the Pisan ambassador at Milan was a certain Giovanni
dell' Agnello, a merchant, ambitious but without honour. This plebeian
readily lent himself to the Visconti to betray the city, if thereby he
might win power; and this Visconti promised him, for, said he, "if I win
Pisa, you shall be my lieutenant, and all the world will take you even
for my ally."

Agnello went back to Pisa full of this dream:[43] and at the first
opportunity suggested that Visconti would be flattered if a Lord were
to be elected in Pisa, if only for a year at a time; and in his subtilty
he proposed Pietro d' Albizzo da Vico, a very much respected (_di gran
stima_) citizen, as Lord. But Messer Pietro replied by asking to be sent
with other citizens to Pescia to arrange the peace with Florence. Then a
certain Vanni Botticella applied for the post; and Agnello praised him
for his patriotism, but asked him whether he had money enough to be
Lord. Certainly Pisa had fallen. By this Agnello was suspected, and
indeed one night certain citizens got leave to search his house, for
they believed him to be a traitor[44]. But he had warning, and already
Hawkwood had sold himself, for it was his business. So, when those
citizens had returned disappointed, for they found Agnello abed, he
arose and joined his bandits. With Hawkwood he went to the Palazzo dei
Anziani, bound the guard and had the Elders summoned, and told them a
tale of how the Blessed Virgin had bidden him assume the lordship of the
city. Well, he had his way, his bandits saw to that; so the Anziani
agreed and swore obedience. Next day Pisa acclaimed her Doge.

Agnello remained Doge, or Lord as he preferred to be called, for four
years. Then Charles IV marched back over the Alps into Italy. Bought off
and thwarted in Lombardy, he came towards Lucca, which the Lucchesi
exiles again offered to buy from him. Agnello was terrified. In haste he
sent to Charles offering to give him Lucca if he were made sure in Pisa.
Outside the walls of Lucca, Charles knighted this astute tradesman.
Agnello ran back to Pisa and conferred knighthood on his nephews. Then
he built a platform and awaited the Emperor. His end was in keeping with
his life. As he stood on the insecure "hustings" which he had built,
that in sight of all the people Charles might declare him Imperial Vicar
of Pisa, the platform collapsed and Agnello's leg was broken. Now,
whether the comic spirit, so helpful to justice, be strong in our Pisans
still, I know not, but on learning of the misfortune of their Lord, they
rose, and, without noticing their Imperial Vicar, appointed Anziani to
rule by the old laws.

Then the burghers and nobles--"Cittadini amatori della Patria," Tronci
calls them--formed the Campagnia di S. Michele, for it bore on its
gonfalon St. Michael Archangel, and the black eagle of the Empire. It
was the business of this company to restore peace and unity to the city.
The leaders resolved to recall the exiles, among them Pietro Gambacorti.
He came, and the city greeted him, and he swore to serve the Republic
and to forgive his enemies. A riot followed; the Bergolini armed
themselves and burnt the Gambacorti palaces. But Pietro Gambacorti
called to the city, which had risen to defend itself and to make
reprisals, saying, "I have pardoned them--I, whose parents they slew. By
what right do you refuse to do what I have done?"[45] The Bergolini took
the government, and there was peace. Then the Campagnia di S. Michele
broke up.

Not for long, however, could there be peace in Pisa. The Raspanti still
held one of the gates; and thinking to better themselves, they sent an
embassy to Charles, who was in Lucca, asking his help. He imprisoned the
embassy, and at once sent his Germans to seize the city. But the Pisans
heard of it. They rang the great bells in the Campanile, and barricaded
the gates with the benches and stalls in the Duomo, on the Baptistery
they set their bowmen, and on the Campanile the slingers. Then they tore
up the streets, and waited to give death for death. The Germans,
however, were easily beaten and bought off, and Pisa again returned to
her internal quarrels.

Out of these sprang, in 1385, Pietro Gambacorti, as Captain of the
people. It was the beginning of the last twenty years of Pisa's life as
an independent city. She now stood between Visconti in the north and
Florence close at hand. Florence was her friend against Visconti for
her own sake: she meant to have Pisa herself. Gambacorti did his best.
With infinite tact he kept friends with both cities. Under him Pisa
seemed to regain something of her old confidence and prosperity. A man
of fine courage, simplicity, and passing honest, he was incapable of
suspecting a tried friend whom he had benefited. Yet it was by the hand
of such an one he fell.

Jacopo d'Appiano's father had been exiled with Gambacorti in 1348. Like
many another Pisan house which had risen from nothing, Appiano was at
feud with certain of his fellow-citizens, among them the Lanfranchi
family. For this cause he kept a guard about him. Now Gambacorti, who
remembered his father's exile, made Appiano permanent "Chancellor of the
Republic": and hoping to reconcile the Lanfranchi with the new
chancellor, he sent for Lanfranchi, but the bandits of Appiano murdered
him as he went thither, and then joined Appiano in his house. Gambacorti
ordered his chancellor to deliver them up, but he refused. Then the
Bergolini offered Gambacorti their assistance, but he refused it,
trusting to justice. Appiano, however, at the head of the Raspanti,
marched to the palace of Gambacorti. The city was in arms, and they had
to fight their way. Arrived before the palace, Gambacorti ordering his
men not to shoot his friend, agreed to confer with Appiano. So he went
out of his house, and as Appiano stretched out his hand, in token, as it
were, of friendship, his bandits fell upon him and slew him. A fight
followed, in which the Bergolini were beaten; then Appiano became
Captain of the People. In truth, it was only a device of Visconti for
seizing the city. Appiano admitted the Milanese, and what Agnello had
failed to do, he did, for he ruled as the creature of Gian Galeazzo. But
there is no honour among thieves. Soon Visconti, hoping to win Pisa all
for himself, plotted against Appiano. The quarrel went on, Appiano
fearing to make treaty with Florence lest he should fall, and fearing,
too, to decide with Visconti lest he should be murdered, till he died,
and his son became Captain, only to sell Pisa to Visconti for 200,000
florins, with Elba also, and many castles.[46] Then Gian Galeazzo died
in 1404.

Now Florence knew that in the confusion which followed the death of the
great Visconti, Pisa was weak and almost without defence, so without
hesitation she sent an army to seize the city: but Pisa, always at her
best in danger, worked night and day, nor was any man idle in building
fortifications. In Genoa the Frenchman Boucicault, who had held that
city, came to her assistance, for the last thing Genoa or Milan desired
was to see Pisa and her port in the hands of Florence. Boucicault
imprisoned all the Florentines in Genoa, and seized Livorno, nor would
he agree to release his prisoners till Florence had signed a four years'
peace. But Pisa soon wearied of this. In the grip of Genoa, fearing
Visconti, unable to save herself, she revolted, and Boucicault sold her
to Florence, for he had to defend himself in Genoa. It was in August
1405 that Pisa was given up to Florence, but although for a moment
Florence then held the city, she was to fight for it in earnest before
she could hold it for good. As yet she only possessed the citadel, and
by a ruse the Pisans managed to win that from her: then they sent to
Florence to negotiate. They offered to buy their freedom, but Florence
was obdurate. She was determined to possess herself of Pisa; her armies
were ordered to advance.

Pisa was ready. At that moment all feuds were forgotten; a united city
opposed the Florentines: there was but one way to take it--by famine.
And it was thus at last, on 9th October 1406, Pisa fell. Preferring to
die rather than to surrender, it would have been into a city of the dead
that the armies of Florence would have marched, but for the brutal
treachery of Giovanni Gambacorti. As it was, it was only a city of the
dying that Florence occupied. After every kind of heroic effort,
Giovanni Gambacorti sold Pisa when she was too weak to fight, save
against a declared enemy, for 50,000 florins, the citizenship of
Florence and Borgo to rule. He opened the gates, and Florence streamed
in. There was scarcely a crust left in the city which was at last
become the vassal of Florence.

Here, truly, the chronicles of Pisa end--in the horrid cruelty, scorn,
and disdain so characteristic of the Florentine. Certainly with the
Medici a more humane government was adopted, so that in 1472 we read of
Lorenzo Magnifico restoring the University to something of its old
splendour, but nothing he could do was able to extinguish the undying
hatred of Pisa for those who had stolen away her liberty. In 1494 that
carnival army of Charles VIII, winding through the valleys and over the
mountains, seemed to offer them a hope of freedom. They welcomed him
with every sort of joy, and hurled the Marzocco and the Gonfalon of
Florence into Arno, all to no purpose. And truly without hope, from 1479
to 1505, they bore heroically three sieges and flung back three
different armies of Florence. Soderini and Macchiavelli urged on the
war. In 1509, Macchiavelli, that mysterious great man, besieged her on
three sides, and at last, forced by hunger and famine, Pisa admitted him
on the 8th June. It was her last fight for liberty. But she had won for
herself the respect of her enemies. A more humane and moderate policy
was adopted in dealing with her. Nevertheless, as in 1406, so now, her
citizens fled away, so that there was scarcely left a Pisan in Pisa for
the victor to rule.

Grand Duke Cosimo seems to have loved her. It was there he founded his
Order of the Knights of St. Stephen to harry the pirates in the
Mediterranean. Still she was a power on the sea, though in the service
of another. And though dead, she yet lived, for she is of those who
cannot die. The ever-glorious name of Galileo Galilei crowns her
immortality. Born within her walls, he taught at her University, and his
first experiments in the knowledge of the law of gravity were made from
her bell-tower, while, as it is said, the great lamp of her Duomo taught
him the secret of the pendulum.

Looking on her to-day, remembering her immortal story, one thinks only
of the beauty that is from of old secure in silence on that meadow among
the daisies just within her walls.


It is with a peculiar charm and sweetness that Pisa offers herself to
the stranger, who maybe between two trains has not much time to give
her. And indeed to him she knows she has not much to offer, just a few
things passing strange or beautiful, that are spread out for him as at a
fair, on the grass of a meadow in the dust and the sun. But to such an
one Pisa can never be more than a vision, vanished as soon as seen, in
the heat of midday or the shadow of evening.

But for me, of all the cities that grow among the flowers in Tuscany, it
is Pisa that I love best. She is full of the sun; she has the gift of
silence. Her story is splendid, unfortunate, and bitter, and moves to
the song of the sea: still she keeps her old ways about her, the life of
to-day has not troubled her at all. In her palaces the great mirrors are
still filled with the ghosts of the eighteenth century; on her Lung'
Arno you may almost see Byron drive by to mount his horse at the gate,
while in the Pineta, not far away, Shelley lies at noonday writing
verses to Miranda.

It is on the Lung' Arno, curved like a bow, so much more lovely than any
Florentine way, that what little world is left to Pisa lingers yet.
Before one is the Ponte di Mezzo, the most ancient bridge of the city,
built in 1660, but really the representative of its forerunners that
here bound north and south together: _En moles olim lapidea vix aetatem
ferrus nunc mormorea pulchrior et firmior stat simulato Marte virtutis
verae specimen saepe datura_, you read on one of the pillars at the
northern end. For indeed the first bridge seems to have been of wood,
partly rebuilt of stone after the great victory off the coast of Sicily,
and finished in 1046[47]. This bridge, called the Ponte Vecchio, took
ten years to build, and any doubt we might have as to whether it was of
wood or stone is set at rest by Tronci,[48] who tells us that in 1382,
"Pietro Gambacorta, together with the Elders and the Consiglio dei
Cittadini, determined to rebuild in stone the bridge of wood which
passed over Arno from the mouth of the Strada del Borgo to that of S.
Egidio, for the greater ornament of the city, chiefly because there were
many shops on the bridge that impeded the view of the beautiful Lung'
Arno." One sees the bridge that was thus built, the foundations having
been laid with much ceremony, a procession and a sung mass, in a
seventeenth-century print in the Museo Civico.[49] There is a buttress a
quarter of the way from each end, on which houses were still standing.
Then in 1635 this bridge was carried away by a flood. A new bridge was
immediately built, only to be destroyed in the same way on 1st January
1644. In 1660 the present Ponte di Mezzo was finished by Francesco Nave
of Rome.

It was on these bridges that the great Pisan game the _Giuoco del Ponte_
was played,[50] a model of which may be found in the Museo. This new
bridge, at any rate, does not shut out the view of the beautiful Lung'
Arno, _il bello di Pisa_, as one writer calls it. Standing there you may
see the yellow river, curved like a bow, pass through the beautiful
city, between the palaces of marble, their wrinkled image reflected in
the stream, till it is lost in the green fields on its way to the sea;
while on the other side, looking eastward, on either side the river are
the palaces of Byron and Shelley, just before the hideous iron bridge,
where Arno turns suddenly into the city from the plain and the hills. To
the south of the bridge is the Loggia dei Banchi, and farther to the
west, on the Lung' Arno, the great palace of the Gambacorti rises, now
the Palazzo del Comune, and farther still, the Madonna della Spina, a
little Gothic church of marble; while if you pass a little way westward,
the Torre Guelfa comes into sight at the bend of the river among the
ruins of the old arsenal.

It is of course to the wonderful group of buildings to the north of the
city, just within the walls, that every traveller will first make his
way. Passing from Ponte di Mezzo down the Lung' Arno Regio, past the
Palazzo Agostini, beautiful in its red brick past Palazzo Lanfreducci
with its little chain and enigmatic motto, "Alla Giornata," past the
Grand Ducal Palace, you turn at last into the Via S. Maria, a beautiful
and lovely street that winds like a stream full of shadows to the Piazza
del Duomo. On your right is the Church of S. Niccolò, founded about the
year 1000 by Ugo, Marquis of Tuscany. It seems that with Otho III there
came into Italy the Marquis Hugh. "I take it," says Villani,[51] "this
must have been the Marquis of Brandenburg, inasmuch as there is no other
marquisate in Germany." His sojourn in Italy, and especially in our city
of Florence, liked him so well that he caused his wife to come thither,
and took up his abode in Florence as Vicar of Otho the Emperor. It came
to pass as it pleased God, that when he was riding to the chase in the
country of Bonsollazzo, he lost sight of all his followers in a wood,
and came out, as he supposed, at a workshop where iron was wont to be
wrought. Here he found men black and deformed, who in place of iron
seemed to be tormenting men with fire and with hammer, and he asked them
what this might be: and they answered and said that these were damned
souls, and that to similar pains was condemned the soul of the Marquis
Hugh by reason of his worldly life, unless he should repent. With great
fear he commended himself to the Virgin Mary, and when the vision was
ended he remained so pricked in spirit, that after his return to
Florence he sold all his patrimony in Germany and commanded that seven
monasteries should be founded. The first was the Badia of Florence, to
the honour of St. Mary; the second, that of Bonsollazzo, where he beheld
the vision; the third was founded at Arezzo, the fourth at Poggibonizzi,
the fifth at the Verruca of Pisa, the sixth at the city of Castello, the
last was the one at Settimo; and all these abbeys he richly endowed,
and lived afterwards with his wife in holy life, and had no son, and
died in the city of Florence on St. Thomas's Day in the year of Christ
1006, and was buried with great honour in the Badia of Florence.
Tronci[52] says, that beside the Badia di S. Michele di Verruca outside
Pisa, "this most pious Marquis" founded also the Church of S. Niccolò,
for the use of the Monks of S. Michele Fuori. The Church of S. Niccolò
has been altogether restored. The Campanile, however, the oldest tower
left in the city, is strange and lovely. It has been given to Niccolò
Pisano, but is certainly older than his day, and, resembling as it does
the tower of the Badia at Florence and of the Badia at Settimo, seems to
be of the same date as the church. There is a gallery joining the church
with the palace of the Grand Dukes, to which it served as chapel.

Coming as one does out from this narrow deserted street of S. Maria into
the space and breadth of the Piazza del Duomo, one is almost blinded by
the sudden light and glory of the sun on those buildings, that seem to
be made of old ivory intricately carved and infinitely noble. Standing
there as though left stranded upon some shore that life has long
deserted, they are an everlasting witness to the Latin genius, symbols
as it were of what has had to be given up so that we may follow life at
the heels of the barbarian Teuton.

It was in 1063,[53] after the great victory at Palermo, that the ships
of the Republic returning full of spoil, "after much discourse made in
the Senate,"[54] it was decided at last to build "a most magnificent
temple" to S. Maria Assunta, for it was about the time of her Festa,
that is to say, the 15th August, that the victory had been won. This
having been decided on, the Republic sent ambassadors to Rome to the
Pope and to King Henry of Germany, and the Pope sent the church many
privileges, and the King a royal dowry. So they began to build the
temple where stood the old Church of S. Reparata, and more anciently the
Baths of the Emperor Hadrian; and they brought marble from Africa,
Egypt, Jerusalem, Sardinia, and other far places to adorn the church. In
1065 we read that the Pope received under his protection the Chapter and
Canons of Pisa. The Cathedral was finished in about thirty years, and
was consecrated by Pope Gelasius II in 1118. The architects, two dim
names still to be read on the façade ever kissed by the setting sun,
were Rainaldus and Busketus. They built in that Pisan style which, as
some of us may think, was never equalled till Bramante and his disciples
dreamed of St. Peter's and built the little church at Todi, and S.
Pietro in Montorio. However this may be, the Duomo of Pisa, the first
modern cathedral of Italy, was to be the pattern of many a church built
later in the contado, and even in Lucca and Pistoja and the country
round about. It was a style at once splendid and devout, not forgetful
of the Roman Empire, yet with new thoughts concerning it, so that where
a Roman building had once really stood, now a Latin Church should stand,
white with marble and glistening with precious stones. It is strange to
find in this far-away piazza the great buildings of the city; and
stranger still, when we remember that S. Reparata, the church that was
destroyed to make room for the Duomo, was called S. Reparata in Palude,
in the swamp. It may be that Pisa was less open to attack on this side,
or that this being the highest spot near the city, a flood was less to
be feared. But there were other foes beside the flood and the enemy, for
the church was damaged by fire in 1595, and was restored in 1604.

The Duomo is a basilica with nave and double aisles[55], with a
transept flanked with aisles, covered by a dome over the crossing. Built
all of white marble, that has faded to the tone of old ivory, it is
ornamented with black and coloured bands, and stands on a beautiful
marble platform in the grass of a meadow. It is, however, the façade
that is the most splendid and beautiful part of the church. It consists
of seven round arches; in the centre and in each alternate arch is a
door of bronze made by Giovanni da Bologna in 1602. Above these arches
is the first tier of columns, eighteen in number, of various coloured
marbles, supporting the round arches of the first storey; above, the
roof of the aisles slopes gradually inwards, and is supported again by a
tier of pillars of various marbles, while above rise two other tiers
supporting the roof of the nave. On the corners of the church and on the
corners of the nave are figures of saints, while above all, on the cusp
of the façade, stands Madonna with Her Son in Her arms. The door in the
south transept is by Bonannus, whose great doors were destroyed in 1595.

Within, the church is solemn and full of light. Sixty-eight antique
columns, the spoil of war, uphold the church, while above is a coffered
Renaissance ceiling, of the seventeenth century. There is but little to
see beside the church itself, a few altar-pieces, one by Andrea del
Sarto; a few tombs; the bronze lamp of Battista Lorenzi, which is said
to have suggested the pendulum to Galileo, and that is all in the nave.
The choir screens, work of the Renaissance, are very lovely, while above
them are the _ambones_, from which on a Festa the Epistle and Gospel are
sung. The stalls are of the end of the fifteenth century, and the altar,
a dreadful over-decorated work, of the year 1825. Matteo Civitali of
Lucca made the wooden lectern behind the high altar, and Giovanni da
Bologna forged the crucifix, while Andrea del Sarto, not at his best,
painted the Saints Margaret and Catherine, Peter and John, to the right
and left of the altar. The capital of the porphyry column here is by
Stagio Stagi of Pietrasanta, while the porphyry vase is a prize from a
crusade. The mosaics in the apsis are much restored, but they are the
only known work of Cimabue,[56] and are consequently, even in their
present condition, valuable and interesting. The most beautiful and the
most interesting work of art in the Duomo is the Madonna, carved in
ivory in 1300 by Giovanni Pisano, in the sacristy. This Madonna is a
most important link in the history of Italian art; it seems to suggest
the way in which French influence in sculpture came into Italy. Such
work as this, by some French master, probably came not infrequently into
Italian hands; nor was its advent without significance; you may find its
influence in all Giovanni's work, and in how much of that which came

It is but a step across that green meadow to the Baptistery, that like a
casket of ivory and silver stands to the west of the Duomo. It was begun
in 1153 by Diotisalvi, but the work went very slowly forward. In 1164,
out of 34,000 families in Pisa subject to taxes, each gave a gold sequin
for the continuation of the work, but it was not finished altogether
till the fourteenth century. There are four doors; above them on the
east and north are sculptures of the thirteenth century.[58]

Truly, one might as well try to describe the face of one's angel as
these holy places of Pisa, which are catalogued in every guide-book ever
written. At least I will withhold my hand from desecrating further that
which is still so lovely. Only, if you would hear the heavenly choirs
before death has his triumph over you, go by night into the Baptistery,
having bribed some choir-boy to sing for you, and you shall hear from
that marvellous roof a thousand angels singing round the feet of San

Perhaps the loveliest thing here is the great octagonal font of various
marbles, in which every Pisan child has been christened since 1157; but
it is the pulpit of Niccolò Pisano that everyone praises.

Niccolò Pisano appears to have been born in Apulia, and to have come to
Pisa about the middle of the thirteenth century. We know scarcely
anything of his life. The earliest record in which we find his name is
the contract of 1265, in which he binds himself to make a pulpit for the
Duomo of Siena.[59] There he is called _Magister Niccolus lapidum de
paroccia ecclesie Sancti Blasii de Ponte, de Pisis quondam Petri_.
Another document of later date describes him as _Magister Nichola Pietri
de Apulia_. Coming thus to Pisa from Apulia, possibly after many
wanderings, in about 1250, his childhood had been passed not among the
Tuscan hills, but in Southern Italy among the relics of the Roman world.
It is not any sudden revelation of Roman splendour he receives in the
Campo Santo of Pisa, but just a reminder, as it were, of the things of
his childhood, the broken statues of Rome that littered the country of
his birth. Thus in a moment this Southerner transforms the rude art of
his time here in Tuscany, the work of Bonannus, for instance, the
carvings of Biduinus, and the bas-reliefs at San Cassiano,[60] with the
faint memory of Rome that lingered like a ghost in the minds of men,
that already had risen in the laws and government of the cities, in the
desire of men here in Pisa, for instance, for liberty, and that was soon
to recreate the world. If the Roman law still lived as tradition and
custom in the hearts of men, the statues of the gods were but hiding for
a little time in Latin earth. It was Niccolò Pisano who first brought
them forth.

The pulpit which he made for Pisa--perhaps his earliest work--is in the
form of a hexagon resting upon nine columns; the central pillar is set
on a strange group, a man, a griffin, and animals; three others are
poised on the backs of lions; while three are set on simple pediments on
the ground; and three again support the steps. A "trefoil arch" connects
the six chief pillars, on each of which stands a statue of a Virtue. It
is here that we came for the first time upon a figure not of the
Christian world, for Fortitude is represented as Hercules with a lion's
cub on his shoulder. In the spandrels of the trefoils are the four
Evangelists and six Prophets. Above the Virtues rise pillars clustered
in threes, framing the five bas-reliefs and supporting the parapet of
the pulpit; and it is here, by these the most beautiful and
extraordinary works of that age in Italy, that Niccolò Pisano will be
for ever remembered.

Poor in composition though they be, they are full of marvellous energy,
a Roman dignity and weight. It is antiquity flowering again in a
Christian soil, with a certain new radiance and sweetness about it, a
naïveté almost ascetic, that was certainly impossible from any Roman

On the far side you may see the Birth of Our Lord, where Mary sits in
the midst, enthroned, unmoved, with all the serenity of a goddess, while
in another part the angel brings her the message with the gesture of an
orator. Consider, then, those horses' heads in the Adoration of the
Magi, or the high priest in the Presentation, and then compare them with
the rude work of Bonannus on the south transept door of the Duomo; no
Pisan, certainly no Tuscan, could have carved them thus in high relief
with the very splendour of old Rome in every line. And in the
Crucifixion you see Christ really for the first time as a God reigning
from the cross; while Madonna, fallen at last, is not the weeping Mary
of the Christians, but the mother of the Gracchi who has lost her elder
son. In the Last Judgment it is a splendid God you see among a crowd of
men with heads like the busts in a Roman gallery, with all the aloofness
and dignity of those weary emperors. There is almost nothing here of any
natural life observed for the first time, and but little of the
Christian asceticism so marvellously lovely in the French work of this
age; Niccolò has in some way discovered classic art, and has been
content with that, as the humanists of the Renaissance were to be
content with the discovery of ancient literature later: he has imitated
the statues and the bas-reliefs of the sarcophagi, as they copied

To pass from the Baptistery into the Campo Santo, where among Christian
graves the cypresses are dying in the earth of Calvary, and the urns and
sarcophagi of pagan days hold Christian dust, is perhaps to make easier
the explanation we need of the art of Niccolò. Here, it is said, he
often wandered "among the many spoils of marbles brought by the
armaments of Pisa to this city." Among these ancient sarcophagi there is
one where you may find the Chase of Meleager and the Calydonian boar;
this was placed by the Pisans in the façade of the Duomo opposite S.
Rocco, and was used as a tomb for the Contessa Beatrice, the mother of
the great Contessa Matilda. Was it while wandering here, in looking so
often on that tomb on his way to Mass, that he was moved by its beauty
till his heart remembered its childhood in a whole world of such things?
It must have been so, for here all things meet together and are
reconciled in death.

Out of the dust and heat of the Piazza one comes into a cool cloister
that surrounds a quadrangle open to the sky, in which a cypress still
lives. The sun fills the garden with a golden beauty, in which the
butterflies flit from flower to flower over the dead. I do not know a
place more silent or more beautiful. One lingers in the cool shadow of
the cloisters before many an old marble,--a vase carved with
Bacchanalian women, the head of Achilles, or the bust of Isotta of
Rimini. But it is before the fresco of the Triumph of Death that one
stays longest, trying to understand the dainty treatment of so horrible
a subject. Those fair ladies riding on horseback with so brave a show of
cavaliers, even they too must come at last to be just dust, is it, or
like that swollen body, which seems to taint even the summer sunshine,
lying there by the wayside, and come upon so unexpectedly? What
love-song was that troubadour, fluttering with ribbons, singing to that
little company under the orange-trees, cavaliers and ladies returned
from the chase, or whiling away a summer afternoon playing with their
falcons and their dogs? The servants have spread rich carpets for their
feet, and into the picture trips a singing girl, who has surely called
the very loves from Paradise or from the apple-trees covered with
blossom, where they make their temporary abode. What love song were they
singing, ere the music was frozen on their lips by a falling leaf or
chance flutter of bird life calling them to turn, and lo, Death is here?

It is in such a place as this that any meditation upon death loses both
its sentimental and its ascetic aspect, and becomes wholly aesthetic, so
that it can never be before this fresco that such a contemplation should
be, as it were, "a lifelong following of one's own funeral." And indeed,
it is not any gross fear of death that comes to one at all here in the
mysterious sunshine, but a new delight in life. Those joyful pleasant
paintings of Benozzo Gozzoli, a third-rate master, but one who is always
full of joy and sunshine, with a certain understanding and love, too, of
the hills and the trees, seem to confirm us in our delight at the sun
and the sea wind, here in Italy, in Italy at last. For, indeed, in what
other land than this could a cemetery be so beautiful, and where else in
the world do frescoes like these stain the walls out of doors amid a
litter of antique statues, graves, and flowers over the heroic or holy
dead? Here you may see life at its sanest and most splendid moments. In
the long hot days of the vintage, for instance, when the young men tread
the wine-press, the girls bear the grapes in great baskets, and boy and
girl together pluck the purple fruit. Call it, if you will, the
Drunkenness of Noah, you will forget the subject altogether in your
delight in the sun and the joy of the vintage itself, where the girls
dance among the vines under the burden of the grapes, and the little
children play with the dogs, and the goodman tastes the wine. Or again,
in the fresco of the Tower of Babel: think if you can of all the mere
horror of the confusion, and the terror of death, but in a moment you
will forget it, remembering only that heroic Republic which amid her
enemies built her splendid city, her beautiful Duomo, her Tower like the
horn of an unicorn, and this Campo Santo too, where the hours pass so
softly, and the hottest days are cool and full of delight. The Victory
of Abraham is a battle gay with the banners of Pisa, when the Gonfalons
of Florence lay low in the dust. The Curse of Ham, with its multitude of
children, is just the departure of some prodigal for the Sardinian wars
on a summer evening beyond the city gate. Thus alone in this place of
death Pisa lives, ah! not in the desolate streets of the modern city,
but fading on the walls of her Campo Santo, a ghost among ghosts,
immortalised by an alien hand.

Coming last of all to the greatest wonder of the Piazza, it is really
with surprise you find the Campanile so beautiful, perhaps the most
beautiful tower of Italy. It is like a lily leaning in the wind, it is
like the slanting horn of an unicorn, it is like an ivory Madonna that
the artist has not had the heart to carve since the ivory was so fair.
Begun in 1174, it was designed by Bonannus. He made it all of white
marble, which has faded now to the colour of old ivory. Far away at the
top of the tower live the great bells, and especially La
Pasquareccia,[61] founded in 1262, stamped with a relief of the
Annunciation, for it used to ring the Ave. I think there can be no
reasonable doubt that the lean of the Tower is due to some terrible
accident which befell it after the third gallery had been built, for the
fourth gallery, added in 1204 by Benenabo, begins to rectify the
sinking; the rest, built in 1260, continues to throw the weight from the
lower to the higher side. As we know, the whole Piazza was a marsh, and
just as the foundations of the Tower of S. Niccolò have given a little,
so these sank much earlier, offering an unique opportunity to a
barbarian architect. There is, as has been often very rightly said, no
such thing as a freak in Italian art: its aim was beauty, very simple
and direct; nowhere in all its history will you find a grotesque such as
this. It is strange that a northerner, William of Innspruck, finished
the Tower the fifth storey in 1260; and it may well be that this Teuton
brought to the work something of a natural delight in such a thing as
this, and contrived to finish it, instead of beginning again. It seems
necessary to add that the tower would be more beautiful if it were
perfectly upright.

The Piazza del Duomo is full of interest. Almost opposite the Campanile,
at the corner of the Via S. Maria, is the Casa dei Trovatelli. It was
here, as I suppose,[62] that the Pisans built that hospital and chapel
to S. Giorgio after the great day of Montecatini.[63] Not far away,
behind the Via Torelli in Via Arcevescovado, is the archbishop's palace,
with a fine courtyard. If we follow the Via Torelli a little, we pass,
on the right, the Oratory of S. Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa, where
there is a crucifix by Giunta Pisano which used to hang in the kitchen
of the Convent of S. Anna,[64] not far away, where Emilia Viviani was
"incarcerated," as Shelley says. Close by are the few remains of the
Baths of Hadrian. At the corner we pass into Via S. Anna, and then,
taking the first turning to the left, we come into the great Piazza di
S. Caterina, before the church of that name. Built in the thirteenth
century, it has a fine Pisan façade, but the church is now closed and
the convent has become a boys' school. Passing through the shady Piazza
under the plane-trees, we come into the Via S. Lorenzo, and then,
turning to the right into Vicolo del Ruschi, we come into a Piazza out
of which opens the Piazza di S. Francesco. S. Francesco fell on evil
days, and was altogether desecrated, but is now in the hands of the
Franciscans again. This is well, for the whole church, founded in 1211,
and not the Campanile only, is said to be by Niccolò Pisano.[65] Behind
it, in the old convent, is the Museo.

As you come into this desecrated and ruined cloister littered with
rubbish, among which here and there you may see some quaint or charming
thing, it is difficult to remember S. Francis. Yet, indeed, the place
was founded by two of his followers, the blessed Agnolo and the blessed
Alberto, and still holds in a locked room one of the most extraordinary
of his portraits. In the old Chapter-house are some fragments of the
pulpit from the Duomo by Giovanni Pisano, destroyed in the fire of 1595.
Here we may see very easily the difference between father and son. It is
no longer the influence of the antique that gives life to Italian
sculpture, but certainly French work, something of that passionate
restless energy that, whether we like it or not, puts certain statues at
Chartres, for instance, without shame beside the best Greek work. The
subjects of these panels are the same as those of Niccolò's pulpit in
the Baptistery; one could not wish for a better opportunity of comparing
the work of the two men who stand at the source of the Renaissance.

Passing through the cloister, we enter the convent through a great room
on the first floor, hung with the banners of the Giuoco del Ponte, and
bright with service books. In a little room on the left (Sala I) we come
into the gallery proper. Here, among all sorts of stained parchments, is
the precious remnant of the Cintola del Duomo, that girdle of Maria
Assunta which used to be bound round the Duomo.[66] It took some three
hundred yards of the fabric, crusted with precious stones, painted with
miniatures, sewn with gold and silver, to gird the Duomo. I know not
when first it was made, nor who first conceived the proud thought,[67]
nor what particular victory put it into his heart. Only the tyrant and
thief who stole it I know, Gambacorti, whom Pisa brought back from

In the chamber next to this are some strangely beautiful crucifixes by
Giunta Pisano, and a little marvellous portrait of S. Francesco on
copper with a bright red book in his hand.

Of the pictures which follow, but two ever made any impression upon me.
One, a Madonna and Child by Gentile da Fabriano, is full of a mysterious
loveliness that did not survive him; the other is an altar-piece from S.
Caterina by Simone Martini of Siena, where a Magdalen holds the delicate
casket of precious ointment, and, as though fainting with the sweetness
of her weeping, leans a little, her sleepy, languorous eyes drooping
under her heavy hair, which a jewelled ribbon hardly holds up. Something
in this "primitive" art has been lost when we come to Angelico, some
almost morbid loveliness that you may find even yet in the air about
Perugia and Siena, in the delicate flowers there, the honeysuckle which
the country people call _le manine della Madonnina_--the little hands of
the Virgin, and even in the people sometimes, in their soft gestures and
dreamy looks. And for these I pass by the pictures by Benozzo Gozzoli,
by Sodoma, and the rest, for they are as nothing.

It is, however, not a work of art at all that is perhaps the most
interesting thing in the Museo; but a model of the _Giuoco del Ponte_,
with certain banners, flags, bucklers, and such, once used by the Pisans
in their national game.[68] This _Giuoco_ was played on the Ponte di
Mezzo, by the people who lived on the north bank of the river and those
on the south, nor were the country folk excluded; and Mr. Heywood tells
us that it was no uncommon sight a quarter of a century ago "to see
hanging above the doorway of a contadino's house the _targone_ [or
shield] with which his sires played at Ponte."[69] The city and
countryside being thus divided into two camps, as it were, each chose an
army, that was divided into six _squadre_ of from thirty to sixty
_soldati_. The _squadre_ of the north were, Santa Maria with a banner of
blue and white; San Michele, whose colours were white and red; the
Calci, white and green and gold; Calcesana, yellow and black; the
Mattaccini, white, blue, and peach-blossom; the Satiri, red and black.
The southern _squadre_ were called S. Antonio, whose banner was of
flame colour, on which was a pig; S. Martino, with a banner of white,
black, and red; San Marco, with a banner of white and yellow with a
winged lion, and under its feet was the gospel, on which was written
_Pax tibi Marce_; the Leoni, with a banner of black and white; the
Dragoni, with a banner of green and white; the Delfini, with a banner of
blue and yellow. All these banners were of silk, and very large.[70]

Originally the game was played on St. Anthony's day, the 17th of
January; later, this first game came to be a sort of trial match, in
which the players were chosen for the _Battaglia generale_, which took
place on some later date agreed upon by both parties. Thus, I suppose,
if any noble visited Pisa, the _Battaglia generale_ would be fought in
his honour.

The challenge of the side defeated at the last contest having been
received, a council of war was held in both camps, and permission being
given by the authorities, on that evening, the city was illuminated. The
great procession (the _squadre_ in each camp, in the order in which I
have named them) took place on the day of battle, each army keeping to
its own side of Arno. Then the Piazza del Ponte for the northern army,
the Piazza de' Bianchi for the southern, were enclosed with palisades to
form the camps, and the battle began.

In order to save the _soldato_ from hurt, his head was covered with a
_falzata_ of cotton, and guarded by an iron casque with a barred
vizor.[71] The body was also swathed in cotton or a doublet of leather,
over which iron armour was worn. The arms, too, were covered with
quilted leather and the hands in gauntlets, and the legs were protected
with gaiters, while round the neck a quilted collar was tied to save the
collar bone. The only weapon allowed was the _targone_, a shield of wood
curved at the top, and almost but not quite pointed at the foot. At the
back of this were two handles, which were gripped by both hands, and
the blow delivered with the smaller end of the shield. When the press of
the fight was not very great, no doubt this shield was used as a club.
These _targoni_ were decorated with mottoes or a device, as we may see
from these now in the Museo; they were evidently even heirlooms in the
family which had the honour to see one of its members chosen for the

Four _comandanti_ or captains on each side entered the battle itself.
Two of these on each side stood on the parapet of the bridge directing
their men. The two northerners wore a scarlet uniform with white
facings, the two southerners a green uniform with white facings. Two
other _comandanti_ in each army stood on the ground. The two first were
unarmed, and were not allowed to interfere with the fight, but the two
on the ground, who were allowed two adjutants, could scarcely have been
prevented from giving or receiving blows.

Before the fight began, the banner of Pisa, a silver cross on a red
ground, floated from a staff in the middle of the bridge. This was
lowered across the bridge to divide the two armies; and at the close of
the fight it was so lowered again, and, according as either side was in
the enemy's territory, so the victory went.

When the battle was over, the victorious side made procession through
the city. If the north had won, all Pisa north of Arno was alight with
bonfires, the houses were decorated, everyone was in the streets; while
south of Arno the city was in darkness, the people in their houses, not
a dog lurked without. Then followed, after a few days, the great trionfo
of the victors.

"The procession was headed," says Mr. Heywood, "by two trumpeters on
horseback, followed by a band of horsemen clad in military costumes, and
by war-cars full of arms and banners of the vanquished. Thereafter came
certain soldiers on foot with their hands bound, to represent prisoners
taken in the battle; then more trumpeters and drummers; and then the
triumphal chariot, drawn by four or six horses richly draped and adorned
with emblems and mottoes. It was accompanied and escorted by knights
and gentlemen on horseback. The noble ladies of the city followed in
their carriages, and behind them thronged an infinite people (_infinito
popolo_) scattering broadcast various poetical compositions, and singing
with sweet melodies in the previously appointed places, the glories of
the victory won, making procession through the city until night." After
dark, bonfires were lighted. On high above the triumphal car was set
some allegorical figure, such as Valour, Victory, or Fame.[72]

The last _Giuoco del Ponte_ was fought in 1807. "Certain pastimes," says
Signor Tribolati, "are intimately connected with certain institutions
and beliefs; and when the latter cease to exist, the former also perish
with them. The _Giuoco del Ponte_ was a relic of popular chivalry, one
of the innumerable knightly games which adorned the simple, artistic,
warlike life of the hundred Republics of Italy.... What have we to do
with the arms and banners of the tourneys? At most we may rub the
cobwebs away and shake off the dust and lay them aside in a museum."[73]

To come out of the Museo, that graveyard of dead beauty, of forgotten
enthusiasms, into the quiet, deserted Piazza di S. Francesco, where the
summer sleeps ever in the sun and no footstep save a foreigner's ever
seems to pass, is to fall from one dream into another, not less
mysterious and full of beauty. How quiet now is this old city that once
rang with the shouts of the victors home from some sea fight, or
returned from the Giuoco. Only, as you pass along Via S. Francesco and
turn into Piazza di S. Paolo, the children gather about you, reminding
you that in Italy even the oldest places--S. Paolo al Orto, for
instance, with its beautiful old tower that is now a dwelling--are put
to some use, and are really living still like the gods who have taken
service with us, perhaps in irony, to console themselves for our
treachery in watching our sadness without them.

It is certainly with some such thought as this in his heart the
unforgetful traveller will enter S. Pierino, not far from S. Paolo al
Orto, at the corner of Via Cavour and Via delle belle Torri. Coming into
this old church suddenly out of the sunshine, how dark a place it seems,
full of a mysterious melancholy too, a sort of remembrance of change and
death, as though some treachery asleep in our hearts had awakened on the
threshold and accused us. The crypt has long been used as a charnel
house, the guide-book tells you, but maybe it is not any memory of the
unremembered and countless dead that has stirred in your heart, but some
stranger impulse urging you to a dislike of the darkness, that dim
mysterious light that is part of the north and has nothing to do with
Italy. How full of twilight it is, yet once in this place a temple to
Apollo stood, full of the sun, almost within sound of the sea, when, we
know not how,[74] the Pisans received news of Jesus Christ, and,
forgetting Apollo, gave his temple to St. Peter. Then in 1072 they
pulled down that old "house of idols,"[75] and built this church,
calling it S. Pietro in Vincoli, perhaps because of the presence of the
old gods, perhaps because it was so dark--who knows; and on the 30th of
August 1119, Archbishop Pietro, he who brought the cross of silver from
Rome and put in it the banner of the city and led Pisa to victory in
Majorca, solemnly consecrated it.

I was thinking somewhat in this fashion, resting on a bench in that cool
twilight place, where the sounds of life come from very far off, when
out of the darkness an old man crept toward me; he seemed as old as the
church itself. "The Signore would see the church," he asked; "who can
the Signore wish for better than myself?--it is my own church, I am its
guardian." Truly he was very old: if he were Apollo, long and evil had
been his days; if he were St. Peter, indeed he was very like.

It was a long story of buried treasure, buried or lost I know not which,
that he tried to tell me, while he pointed to the beautiful pavement, or
caressed the old fading pillars, leading me up the broken steps into the
greater darkness of the nave, where he showed me one of the most ancient
pictures in Pisa, a great, mournful, and grievous crucifix, a colossal
Christ, His feet nailed separately to the cross, His body tortured and
emaciated, a hideous mask of death;--here in the temple of Apollo. "It
is here," said he, smiling, "that Paganism and Christianity were
married; and in the temple lie the dead, and in the church the living
pray, as you see, Signore, beside these old pillars that were not built
for any Christian house. Such is the splendour and antiquity of our
city. For, as you know, doubtless, the Duomo itself is built on the
foundations of Nero's Palace,[76] S. Andrea (not far away) was once a
temple of Venus, in S. Niccola we besought Ceres, and in S. Michele
called on Mars; such, Signore, is the splendour and glory of our

Evening had come when I found myself again on the Lung' Arno, in a world
neither Pagan nor Christian, in which I am a stranger.

       *       *       *       *       *

Leaving behind you Ponte di Mezzo and the Lung' Arno, _quasi a modo d'un
archo di balestro_,[77] you come into the Borgo, under the low arches of
the old houses that make a covered way. This is perhaps the oldest part
of Pisa. Almost at once on your right you pass S. Michele in Borgo,
built probably just before his death by Fra Guglielmo, that disciple of
Niccolò Pisano. Fra Guglielmo died in the convent of S. Caterina, for he
had been fifty-seven years in the Dominican Order. Tronci tells us
that, being one day in Bologna, where he had gone with Niccolò his
master to make a tomb for S. Domenico, when the old tomb was opened he
secretly took a bone and hid it, and without saying anything presently
set out for Pisa. Arrived there, he placed the relic under the table of
the altar of S. Maria Maddalena, and was seen often by the brethren
praying there,--they knew not why. But at his death he revealed his
pious theft, and showed the bone in its place, and it was guarded and
shown to the people.

But S. Michele in Borgo is older than Fra Guglielmo, who died about the
year 1313. Certainly the crypt is ancient as are the pillars. A certain
_Buono_ is said to have built a church here in 990; but little, however,
now remaining can be of that date, the church as a whole being of about
1312, and, as I have said, probably the last work of Fra Guglielmo.

Passing up the Borgo, here and there we may see signs of ancient Pisa in
the sunken pillars, for instance, before a house in a street on the
left, Via del Monte, following which we come into the most beautiful
Piazza in Pisa, perhaps in Italy, Piazza dei Cavalieri, once the Piazza
dei Anziani.

On the right is the Church of the Knights of St. Stephen, Santo Stefano
dei Cavalieri; next to it is the beautiful palace of the Anziani, later
the Palazzo Conventuale dei Cavalieri, rebuilt by Vasari. Almost
opposite this is a palace under which the road passes, built to the
shape of the Piazza; it marks the spot where the Tower of Hunger once
stood, where the eagles of the Republic were housed, and where Conte
Ugolino della Gherardesca with his sons and nephews was starved to death
by Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini. Opposite to this is the marble
Palazzo del Consiglio, also belonging to the Order of St. Stephen.

The Knights of St. Stephen, to whom, indeed, the whole Piazza seems to
be devoted, were a religious and military Order founded by Cosimo I,
Grand Duke of Tuscany, who sits on horseback in front of the beautiful
steps of the _Conventuale_. The object of the Order was to harry the
Moorish pirates of the Mediterranean, to redeem their captives, and to
convert these Moors to Christianity; nor were they wanting in war, for
they fought at Lepanto. Cosimo placed the Order under the protection of
St. Stephen, because he had gained his greatest victory on that saint's
day. The Knights seem to have been of two kinds: the religious, who took
three major vows and lived in the Conventuale under the rule of St.
Benedict, and served the Church of S. Stefano; and the military, who
might not only hold property but marry. Their cross is very like the
cross of Pisa, but red, while that is white.

In S. Stefano there is little to see, a few old banners, a series of bad
frescoes, and a bust of S. Lussorius by Donatello, perhaps,--at least,
that sculptor was working for eighteen months in the city. Before the
sixteenth century this Piazza must have been very different from what it
is to-day. Where S. Stefano stands now S. Sebastiano stood, that church
where the Anziani met so often to decide peace or war.[78] Close by was
the palace of the Podestà, while beyond the Palazzo Anziani rose the
Torre delle Sette Vie, Torre Gualandi, Torre della Fame, for it bore all
three names; only, the last came to it after the hideous crime of
Ruggiero. If we cross the Piazza opposite the Palazzo Conventuale, and
pass into Via S. Sisto, we come to the church of that saint, where also
the Grand Council used to meet. It was founded to commemorate the great
victories that came to Pisa on that day. Those antique columns are the
spoil of war, as Tronci tells us.[79] Returning to the Piazza, and
leaving it by Via S. Frediano, we soon come to the church of that saint,
with its lovely and spacious nave and antique columns. A little farther
on is the University, La Sapienza, founded by Conte Fazio della
Gherardesca in 1338. In that year Conte Fazio enlarged the Piazza degli
Anziani, so that _la nobilità_ should be able to walk there more
readily; and to render the city more honourable, with the consent of the
_Anziani_ and all the Senate, he founded a university, to lead the
greatest doctors to lecture there; and to establish the Theatre of the
Schools he sent ambassadors in the name of the Republic to Pope Benedict
for his authorisation. Needless to say, this was given and in 1340 we
find Messer Bartolo da Sassoferrato and Messer Guido da Prato, Doctor of
Physics, lecturing on "Chirugia."[80] In 1589, Galileo was Professor of
Mathematics here. The present building dates from 1493. Close by,
between the University and the Lung' Arno, are the remains of an old
gate of the city, Porta Aurea, and some remnants of towers.

Crossing Arno by Ponte Solferino, and turning along the Lung' Arno
Gambacorti to the left, we come suddenly upon a great Piazza in which an
old and splendid church is hidden away. And just as the Duomo, the great
church of the northern part of the city, is set just within the walls
far away from the Borgo, so here, in the southern part of Pisa, S. Paolo
a Ripa d'Arno is abandoned by the riverside on the verge of the country,
for the fields are at its threshold. And indeed, this desolate church is
really older than the Duomo, for, as some say, it served as the Great
Church of Pisa while the Cathedral was building. Founded, as the Pisans
assert, by Charlemagne in 805, it was rather the model of the Duomo, if
this be true, than, as is generally supposed, a copy of it. Bare for the
most part and empty, its original beauty and simplicity still remain to
it; nor should any who find it omit to pass into the priest's house, to
see the old Baptistery now in the hands of Benedictine nuns.

On our way back to Pisa by the Lung' Arno Gambacorti, we may look always
with new joy at the Torre Guelfa, almost all that is left of the great
arsenal built in 1200. And then you will not pass without entering, it
may be, S. Maria della Spina, where of old the huntsmen used to hear
Mass at dawn before going about their occasions.

And many another church in Pisa is devout and beautiful. S. Sepolcro,
which Diotisalvi made, he who built the Baptistery, a church of the
Knights Templars below the level of the way; S. Martino too, both in
Chinseca, that part of the city named after her who gave the alarm
nearly a thousand years ago when the Saracen sails hove in sight.--Ah,
do not be in a hurry to leave Pisa for any other city. Let us think of
old things for a little, and be quiet. It may be we shall never see that
line of hills again--Monti Pisani; it were better to look at them a
little carefully. A little while before to-day the most precious of our
dreams was not so lovely as that spur of the Apennines.


[17] Muratori, _Annali ad ann._: He quotes from _Annali Pisani_ (see
tom. vi., Rer. Ital. Scrip): "Fecerunt bellum Pisani cum Lucensibus in
Aqua longa, et vicerunt illos." See Arch. St. It. VI. ii. p. 4. Cron.
Pis. ad annum.

[18] Muratori, _Annali ad ann. 1050_: "et Pisa fuit firmata de tota
Sardinia a Romana sede."--_Ann. Pis._, R.I.S., tom. vi.

[19] Tronci, _Annali Pisani_, Livorno, 1682, p. 21.

[20] Ibid. p. 22.

[21] Muratori (_Annali ad ann._) says Pope Alexander visited in this
year S. Martino the Duomo of Lucca. Ad ann. 1118 he suggests 1092 for
the foundation of the Duomo of Pisa.

[22] Thus Tronci; but Volpe, _Studi sulle Istituzioni Comunali a Pisa_,
p. 6, tells us that these quarters did not exist till much later,--till
after 1164, when the system of division by _porte e base_ was abandoned
for division by _quartieri_. Tronci, later, says that the city was
unwalled (p. 38). But even in the eleventh century Pisa was a walled
city; the first walls included only the Quartiere di Mezzo; and in those
days the city proper, the walled part, was called "Populus Pisanus,"
while the suburbs were called Cinthicanus, Foriportensis, and de Burgis.
Cf. _Arch. St. It._ iii. vol. VIII. p. 5. Muratori, _Dissertazioni_, 30,
"De Mercat." says that in the tenth century a part of the city was
called Kinzic; cf. Fanucci, _St. dei Tre celebri Popoli Maritt._ I. 96.
Kinzic is Arabic, and means _magazzinaggi_.

[23] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 38.

[24] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 60.

[25] It was from Amalfi that they brought home the Pandects.

[26] The first Podestà of the city was Conte Tedicis della Gherardesca.

[27] Pisa was perhaps influenced, too, in her choice of the Ghibelline
side by the interference of the Papacy against her in Corsica. While, if
Pisa was Ghibelline, Lucca, of course, was Guelph.

[28] Cf. G. Villani, _op. cit._ lib. vii. cap. ii., "La cagione perchè
si comincio la guerra da' Fiorentini a' Pisani," and Villari, _History
of Florence_ (Eng. ed. 1902), p. 176.

[29] This seems to give the lie to the accusation of treachery, which
said that he gave the signal for flight at Meloria; but in fact it does
not, for Pisa elected Ugolino for reasons, in the hope of conciliating
Florence; cf. Villari, _op. cit._ p. 284.

[30] He knew them to be Ghibellines.

[31] It was also called _la muda_. It seems hardly necessary to refer
the reader to Dante, _Inferno_, xxxiii. 1-90. This tower (now to be
called the Tower of Hunger) was the mew of the eagles. For even as the
Romans kept wolves on the Capitol, so the Pisans kept eagles, the
Florentines lions, the Sienese a wolf. See Villani, bk. vii. 128.
Heywood, _Palio and Ponte_, p. 13, note 2.

[32] Florence here means the League, to wit, Prato, Pistoja, Siena even,
and all the allies, including the Guelphs of Romagna, who were fighting
Arezzo under Archb. Uberti, and Pisa under Archb. Ruggieri.

[33] Yet in 1290 Genoa seized Porto Pisano: "Furono allora disfatte le
torri ... il fanale e tutte."

[34] Tronci, _op. cit._ 269-271. For the _Palio_,--the name of the race
and the prize of victory, a piece of silk not too much unlike the
banners given at a modern battle of Flowers,--see Heywood, _Palio and
Ponte_, 1904, p. 12.

[35] The girdle was made of silver and jewels and silk to represent the
girdle of the B.V.M. It encircled the Duomo--a most splendid and unique
thing, only possible, I think, in Pisa. No parsimonious Florentine could
have imagined it.

[36] Now in the Museo, room 1. See page 119.

[37] Tronci, _op. cit._ 366.

[38] See Tronci, _op. cit._ 304.

[39] They imprisoned him in Lucca.

[40] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 404.

[41] Cronaca Sanese in _Muratori_, xv. 177.

[42] Heywood, _Palio and Ponte_, p. 22.

[43] Tronci, _op. cit._ 412.

[44] A pleasing story of how these citizens found Agnello's house in
darkness and all sleeping within, of his awakened maid-servant and
frightened wife, is told in Marangoni, _Cron. di Pisa_. See _Sismondi_,
ed. Boulting (1906), p. 401.

[45] _See_ Sismondi, _op. cit._ p. 403.

[46] Cf. Sismondi, _op. cit._ p. 557.

[47] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 18.

[48] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 453.

[49] The print is dated 1634.

[50] For all things concerning this game and the Palio, see Heywood,
_Palio and Ponte_.

[51] Villani, _op. cit._ Bk. iv. 2. The Badia, like that of Firenze,
seems rather to have been founded by Ugo's mother, Countess Willa.

[52] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 9.

[53] It may be as well to explain here that the Pisan Calendar differed
not only from our own but from that of other cities of Tuscany. The
Pisans reckoned from the Incarnation. The year began, therefore, on 25th
March: so did the Florentine and the Sienese year, but they reckoned
from a year after the Incarnation. The Aretines, Pistoiese, and
Cortonese followed the Pisans.

[54] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 21.

[55] 104 yards long by 35-1/2 yards wide.

[56] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _History of Painting in Italy_, new
edition, 1903, vol. i. pp. 185, 186.

[57] There is a miracle picture, S. Maria sotto gli Orcagni in the
Duomo. Mr. Carmichael, in his book, _In Tuscany_, gives a full account
of this picture. See also my _Italy and the Italians_, pp. 117-120.

[58] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. i. p. 103.

[59] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. i. p. 109.

[60] See below, p. 134.

[61] See _On the Old Road through France to Florence_ (Murray, 1904), in
which Mr. Carmichael wrote the Italian part. He has much pleasant
information about the bells of Pisa, p. 223.

[62] Was it here, or in the Ospedale dei Trovatelli close to S. Michele
in Borgo? cf. Tronci, p. 179.

[63] See p. 95.

[64] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit_, vol. i. p. 146, note.

[65] See _Pisa_. da I.B. Supino, 1905, p. 43.

[66] See p. 91.

[67] Mr. Carmichael (_On the Old Road through France to Florence_, p.
224) says it must have been worth £30,000 of our money.

[68] Let me refer the reader again to Mr. William Heywood's exhaustive
work on Italian mediaeval games, _Palio and Ponte_, Methuen, 1904.

[69] See also F. Tribolati, _Il Gioco del Ponte_, Firenze, 1877, p. 5.

[70] Many of these banners are hung in the great Salone--the first room
you enter on the first floor of the Museo.

[71] All the coverings and armour are illustrated in the _Oplomachia
Pisana_ of Camillo Borghi. (Lucca, 1713.)

[72] There is a rich literature of poems and _Relazioni_, etc., on the
_Gioco del Ponte_.

[73] F. Tribolati, _Il Gioco del Ponte_, Firenze, 1877. See also
Heywood, _op. cit._ p. 136.

[74] Yet it is said that St. Peter himself came to Pisa from Antioch,
and founded the Church of S. Pietro in Grado, and consecrated Pierino
first bishop of Pisa; cf. Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 3.

[75] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 23.

[76] He said palace, and palace it may be, for the baths are a quarter
of a mile away.

[77] So a nineteenth-century writer calls it. Leopardi, too, cannot find
words enough to express its beauty: "Questo Lung' Arno è uno spetaccolo
così bello così ampio così magnifico," etc.

[78] It was in S. Sebastiano that Ruggiero condemned Count Ugolino and
his sons.

[79] Tronci, _op. cit._ p. 30.

[80] Tronci, op. cit. p. 343.


It was only after many days spent in the Pineta, those pinewoods that go
down to the sea at Gombo, where the silent, deserted shore, strewn with
sea-shells and whispering with grass, stretches far away to the Carrara
hills, that very early one morning I set out for Livorno, that port
which has taken the place of the old Porto Pisano,[82] so famous through
the world of old. Leaving Pisa by the Porta a Mare, I soon came to S.
Pietro a Grado, a lonely church among the marshes, that once, as I
suppose, stood on the seashore. It was here St. Peter, swept out of his
course by a storm on his way from Antioch, came ashore before setting
out again for Naples, entering Italy first, then, on the shores of
Etruria. So the tale goes; but the present church seems to be a building
of the twelfth century. Its simple beauty, which the seawind and the sun
have kissed for seven hundred years, seems to give character to the
whole plain, so ample and green, beyond the wont of Italy; but, indeed,
here we are on the threshold of the Maremma, that beautiful, wild,
deserted country that man has not yet reclaimed from Death, where the
summer is still and treacherous in its loveliness, where in winter for a
little while the herdsmen come down with their cattle from the
Garfagnana, and the hills musical with love songs. On the threshold of
that treacherous summer, as it were, this lonely church stands on guard.
Within, she is beautiful, in the old manner, splendid with antique
pillars caught about now with iron; but it is perhaps the frescoes, that
have faded on the walls till they are scarcely more than the shadows of
a thousand forgotten sunsets, that you will care for most. They are the
work of Giunta Pisano, or if, indeed, they are not his they are of his
school,--a school already decadent, splendid with the beauty that has
looked on death and can never be quite sane again. No one, I think, can
ever deny the beauty of Giunta's work; it is full of a strange subtilty
that is ready to deny life over and over again. He is concerned not with
life, but chiefly with religion, and with certain bitter yet altogether
lovely colours which evoke for him, and for us too, if we will lend
ourselves to their influence, all the misery and pessimism of the end of
the Middle Age, its restlessness and ennui, that find consolation only
in the memory of the grotesque frailty of the body which one day Jesus
will raise up. All the anarchy and discontent of our own time seems to
me to be expressed in such work as this, in which ugliness, as we might
say, has as much right as beauty. It is, I think, the mistake of much
popular criticism in our time to assert that these "primitive" painters
were beginners, and could not achieve what they wished. They were not
beginners, rather they were the most subtle artists of a convention--and
all art is a convention--that was about to die. If one can see their
work aright, it is beautiful; but it has lost touch with life, or is a
mere satirical comment upon it, that Giotto, with his simplicity, his
eager delight in natural things and in man, will supersede and banish.
In him, Europe seems to shake off the art and fatality of the East,
under whose shadow Christianity had grown up, to be altogether
transformed and humanised by Rome, when she at the head really of
humanism and art should once more give to the world the thoughts and
life of another people full of joy and temperance--things so hard for
the Christian to understand. And it is really with such a painter as
Giunta Pisano that Christian art pure and simple comes to end. Some
divinity altogether different has touched those who came after: Giotto,
who is enamoured of life which the Christian must deny; Angelico, whose
world is full of a music that is about to become pagan; Botticelli, who
has mingled the tears of Mary with the salt of the sea, and has seen a
new star in heaven, and proclaimed the birth not of the Nazarene, but
the Cyprian.

But it is not such thoughts as these you will find in Livorno, one of
the busiest towns in Italy, full of modern business life; material in
the manner of the Latin people that by reason of some inherent purity of
heart never becomes sordid in our fashion.

"There is absolutely nothing to see in Leghorn," says Mr. Hare. Well,
but that depends on what you seek, does it not? If you would see a
Tuscan city that is absolutely free from the tourist, I think you must
go to Livorno. It is true, works of art are not many there; but the
statue of Grand Duke Ferdinand, with four Moors in bronze chained to his
feet, a work of Piero Jacopo Tacca, made in 1617-1625, is something;
though I confess those chained robbers at the feet of a petty tyrant who
was as great a robber, he and his forebears, as any among them, are in
this age of sentimental liberalism, from which who can escape, a little
disconcerting. Ferdinand has his best monument in the city itself, which
he founded to take the place of Porto Pisano, that in the course of
centuries had silted up. In order to populate the new port, he
proclaimed there a religious liberty he denied to his Duchy at large.
His policy was splendidly successful. Every sort of outcast made Livorno
his home--especially the Jews, for whom Ferdinando had a great respect;
but there were there Greeks also, and _nuovi christiani_, Moors
converted to Christianity. These last, I think, indeed, must have been
worth seeing; for no doubt Ferdinand's politic grant of religious
liberty did not include Moors who had not been "converted to

But the great days of Livorno are over; though who may say if a new
prosperity does not await her in the near future, she is so busy a
place. Livorno la cara, they call her, and no doubt of old she endeared
herself to her outcasts. To-day, however, it is to the Italian summer
visitor that she is dear. There he comes for sea-bathing, and it is
difficult to imagine a more delightful seaside. For you may live on the
hills and yet have the sea. Beyond Livorno rises the first high ground
of the Maremma, Montenero, holy long ago with its marvellous picture of
the Madonna, which, as I know, still works wonders. Here Byron lived,
and not far away Shelley wrote the principal part of _The Cenci_.

Passing out by tramway by the Porta Maremmana, you come to Byron's
villa, almost at the foot of the hills, on a sloping ground on your
right. Entering by the great iron gates of what looks like a neglected
park, you climb by a stony road up to the great villa itself, among the
broken statues and the stone pines, where is one of the most beautiful
views of the Pisan country and seashore, with the islands of Gorgona,
Capraja, Elba, and Corsica in the distance. Villa Dupoy, as it was
called in Byron's day, is now in the summer months used as a girls'
school: and, indeed, it would be easy to house a regiment in its vast
rooms, where here and there a seventeenth century fresco is still
gorgeous on the walls, and the mirrors are dim with age. From here the
walk up to Our Lady of Montenero is delightful; and once there, on the
hills above the church, the rolling downs towards Maremma lie before you
without a single habitation, almost without a road, a country of heath
and fierce rock, desolate and silent, splendid with the wind and the

The Church of Madonna lies just under the crest of the hill, and is even
to-day a place of many pilgrimages: for the whole place is strewn and
hung with thank-offerings, silver hearts, shoes, crutches, and I know
not what else, among the pathetic pictures of her kindly works. The
picture itself, loaded now with jewellery, is apparently a work of the
thirteenth century; but it is said to have been miraculously brought
hither from Negroponte. It was found at Ardenza close by, by a shepherd,
who carried it to Montenero, where, as I suppose, he lived; but just
before he won the top of the hill it grew so heavy he had to set it
down. So the peasants built a shrine for it; and the affair getting
known, the Church inquired into it, with the result that certainly by
the fifteenth century the shrine was in charge of a Religious Order;
to-day the monks of the Vallombrosan Benedictines serve the church.

One returns always, I think, with regret from Montenero to Livorno; yet,
after all, not with more sadness than that which always accompanies us
in returning from the country to any city, howsoever fair and lovely.
God made the country; man made the town; and though in Italy both God
and man have laboured with joy and done better here than anywhere else
in the world, who would not leave the loveliest picture to look once
more on the sky, or neglect the sweetest music if he might always hear
the sea, or give up praising a statue, if he might always look on his
beloved? So it is in Italy, where all the cities are fair; flowers they
are among the flowers; yet any Tuscan rose is fairer far than ever Pisa
was, and the lilies of Madonna in the gardens of Settignano are more
lovely than the City of Flowers: come, then, let us leave the city for
the wayside, for the sun and the dust and the hills, the flowers beside
the river, the villages among the flowers. For if you love Italy you
will follow the road.


[81] Livorno, in the barbarian dialect of the Genovesi, Ligorno; and
hence our word Leghorn. It is excusable that we should have taken St.
George from Genoa, but not that we should have stolen her dialect also.

[82] Perhaps, but Bocca d'Arno, that delicious place, is far and far
to-day from Livorno.


The road from Pisa to Florence, out of the Porta Fiorentina, to-day the
greatest gate of the city, passes at first across the Pisan plain,
beside Arno though not following it in its wayward and winding course,
to Cascina at the foot of those hills behind which Lucca is hidden away:
Monti Pisani

    "Perche i Pisani veder Lucca non ponno."

And unlike the way through the Pineta to the sea, the road, so often
trodden by the victorious armies of Florence, is desolate and sombre,
while beside the way to-day a disused tramway leads to Calci in the
hills. On either side of this road, so deep in dust, are meadows lined
with bulrushes, while there lies a village, here a lonely church. It is
indeed a rather sombre world of half-reclaimed marshland that Pisa thus
broods over, in which the only landmarks are the far-away hills, the
smoke of a village not so far away, or the tower of a church rising
among these fields so strangely green. For Pisa herself is soon lost in
the vagueness of a world thus delicately touched by sun and cloud, and
seemingly so full of ruinous or deserted things like the beautiful great
Church of Settimo, whose tower you may see far away in the golden summer
weather standing quite alone in a curve of the river; so that you leave
the highway and following a little by-road come upon Pieve di S.
Cassiano, a basilica in the ancient Pisan manner set among the trees in
a shady place, and over the three doors of the façade you find the
beautiful work of Biduino da Pisa, as it is said, sculptures in relief
of the resurrection of Lazarus, the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, a
fight of dragons, and certain subjects from the Bestiaries.

Another lonely church, set, not at the end of a byway by the river, but
on the highroad itself, greets you as you enter Cascina. It is the
Chiesa della Madonna dell' Acqua, rebuilt in the eighteenth century. In
this wide plain there are many churches, some of them of a great
antiquity, as S. Jacopo at Zambra and S. Lorenzo alle Corti, and in the
hills you may find a place so wonderful as the Certosa di Calci, a
monastery founded in 1366, but altered and spoiled in the seventeenth
century, and the marvellous Church of S. Giovanni there. Cascina itself
is as it were the image of this wide flat country between the hills and
the Maremma, where the sun has so much influence and the shadows of the
clouds drift over the fields all day long, and the mist shrouds the
evening in blue and silver. Desolate and sober enough on a day of rain,
when the sun shines this gaunt outpost of Pisa, for it is little more,
is as gay as a flower by the wayside. The road runs through it, giving
it its one long and almost straight street, while behind the poor houses
that have so little to boast of, lies a beautiful old Piazza, with a
great palace seemingly deserted on one side and an old tower and a
church with a beautiful façade on another. Always a prize of the enemy,
Cascina in the Pisan wars fell to Lucca, to the Guelph League, and to
Florence. Its old walls, battered long ago, still remain to it, so that
from afar, from the Pisan hills, for instance, it looks more picturesque
than in fact it proves to be.

The high road, Via Pisana, as it is still called, though, indeed, it was
more often the way of the Florentines, sometimes almost deserted,
sometimes noisy with peasants returning from market, finds the river
again at Cascina only to lose it, however, till after a walk of some
five miles you come to Pontedera, a wild and miserable place, full of
poor and rebellious people, who eye you with suspicion and a sort of
envy. Yet in spite of the proclamation of their wretchedness, I think of
them now in London, as fortunate. At least upon them the sun will
surely shine in the morning, the unsullied infinite night will fall;
while for us there is no sun, and in the night the many are too unhappy
to remember even that. There in Pontedera they preach their socialism,
and none is too miserable to listen; these poor folk have been told they
are unhappy, and, indeed, Pontedera is not beautiful. Yet on a market
day you may see the whole place transformed. It has an aspect of joy
that lights up the dreary street. All day on Friday you may watch them
at their little stalls, which litter Via Pisana and make it impassable.
You might think you were at a fair, but that a fair in England, at any
rate, is not so gay. All along the highway that runs through the town in
front of the shops and the inn you see the stalls of the crockery
merchants, of the dealers in lace and stuffs, of those who sell macaroni
and pasti, and of those who sell mighty umbrellas. And it is then, I
think, that Pontedera is at her best; life which ever contrives in Italy
to keep something of a gay sanity, disposing for that day at least of
the surliness of this people, who are very poor, and far from any great

As for me, I left Pontedera with all speed, being intent on Vico Pisano,
a fortress built by Filippo Brunellesco for the Republic of Florence,
after the fall of the old Pisan Rocca of Verruca, on the hill-top.
There, too, if we may believe Villani,[83] the Marchese Ugo founded a
monastery. To-day on Monte della Verruca there is nothing remaining of
the Rocca, and the monastery is a heap of stones; but in Vico Pisano the
fortifications and towers of Brunellesco still stand, battered though
they be,--gaunt and bitter towers, their battlements broken, the walls
that the engines of old time have battered, hung now with ivy, over
which, all silver in the wind, the ancient olive leans.

Here, where the creeping ivy has hidden the old wounds, and the
oleanders speak of the living, and the lilies remind us of the dead, let
us, too, make peace in our hearts and suffer no more bitterness for the
fallen, nor think hardly of the victor. Florence, too, in her turn
suffered slavery and oblivion; and from the same cause as her own
victims, because she would not be at peace. If Pisa fell, it was just
and right; for that she was Ghibelline, and would not make one with her
sisters. For this Siena was lopped like a lily on her hills, and Lucca
pruned like her own olive trees, and Pistoia gathered in the plain. This
Florence stood for the Guelph cause and for the future, yet she too in
her turn failed in love, and great though she was, she too was not great
enough. One of her sons, seeing her power, dreamed of the unity of
Italy, and for this cause followed Cesare Borgia; but she could not
compass it, and so fell at last as Pisa fell, as Siena fell, as all must
fall who will not be at one. How beautiful these old towers of Vico
Pisano look now among the flowers, yet once they were cruel enough: men
defended them and thought nothing of their beauty, and time has spoiled
them of defence and left only their beauty to be remembered. For the
ancients of Pisa have met for the last time; the signory of Florence
plots no more; no more will any Emperor with the pride of a barbarian,
the mien of a beggar or a thief, cross the Alps, or such an one as
Hawkwood was sell his prowess for a bag of silver; and if the ships of
war shall ever put out from Genoa, they will be the ships of Italy. For
she who slept so long has awakened at last, and around her as she stands
on the Capitol, there cluster full of the ancient Latin beauty that can
never die, the beautiful cities of the sea, the plain, and the mountain,
who have lost life for her sake, to find it in her.

It is a long road of some fifteen miles from Pontedera to S. Miniato al
Tedesco: a hot road not without beauty passing through Rotta, own sister
to Pontedera, through Castel del Bosco, only a dusty village now, for
the castello is gone which guarded the confines of the Republic of Pisa,
divided from the Republic of Florence by the Chiecinella, a torrent bed
almost without water in the summer heat, while not far away on the
southern hills Montopoli thrusts its tower into the sky, keeping yet its
ancient Rocca, once in the power of the Bishops of Lucca, but later in
the hands of Florence, an answer, as it were, to Castel del Bosco of
Pisa in the land where both Pisa and Florence were on guard. There is
but little to see at Montopoli, just two old churches and a picture by
Cigoli; indeed the place looks its best from afar; and then, since the
day is hot, you may spend a pleasanter hour in S. Romano in the old
Franciscan church there, which is worth a visit in spite of its modern
decorations, and is full of coolness and quiet. It was afternoon when I
left S. Romano and caught sight of Castelfranco far away to the north,
and presently crossed Evola at Pontevola, and already sunset when I saw
the beautiful cypresses of Villa Sonnino and the tower of S. Miniato
came in sight. Slowly in front of me as I left Pinocchio a great ox
wagon toiled up the hill winding at last under a splendid Piazza fronted
with flowers; and it was with surprise and joy that, just as the angelus
rang from the Duomo, I came into a beautiful city that, like some
forgotten citadel of the Middle Age, lay on the hills curved like the
letter S, smiling in the silence while the sun set to the sound of her

And indeed you may go far in Tuscany, covered as it is to-day by the
trail of the tourist, before you will find anything so fair as S.
Miniato. Some distance from the railway, five miles from Empoli,
half-way between Pisa and Florence, it alone seems to have escaped
altogether the curiosity of the traveller, for even the few who so
wisely rest at Empoli come not so far into the country places.

Lying on the hills under the old tower of the Rocca, of which nothing
else remains, S. Miniato is itself, as it were, a weather-beaten
fortress, that was, perhaps, never so beautiful as now, when no one
keeps watch or ward. You may wander into the Duomo and out again into
the cloistered, narrow streets, and climbing uphill, pass down into the
great gaunt church like a fortress, S. Domenico, with its scrupulous
frescoes, and though you will see many wonderful and some delightful
things, it will be always with new joy you will return to S. Miniato
herself, who seems to await you like some virgin of the centuries of
faith, that age has not been able to wither, fresh and rosy as when she
first stood on her beautiful hills. Yet unspoiled as she is, Otto I has
dwelt with her, she was a stronghold of the Emperors, the fortress of
the Germans; Federigo Barbarossa knew her well, and Federigo II has
loved her and hated her, for here he spoke with poets and made a few
songs, and here he blinded and imprisoned Messer Piero della Vigna, that
famous poet and wise man, accusing him of treason.[84] Was it that he
envied him his verses or feared his wisdom, or did he indeed think he
plotted with the Pope? Piero della Vigna was from Capua, in the Kingdom;
very eloquent, full of the knowledge of law, the Emperor made him his
chancellor, and indeed gave him all his confidence, so that his
influence was very great with a man who must have been easily influenced
by his friends. Seeing his power, others about the Emperor, remembering
Piero's low condition, no doubt sought to ruin him; and, as it seems, at
last in this they were successful, forging letters to prove that the
chancellor trafficked with the Pope. It was a time of danger for
Frederick; he was easily persuaded of Piero's guilt, and having put out
his eyes, he imprisoned him. Driven to despair at the loss of that fair
world, Piero dashed his head against the walls of his prison, and so
died. Dante meets him among the suicides in the seventh circle of the

But the Rocca of S. Miniato, as it is said, having brought death to a
poet and housed many Emperors, gave birth at last to the greatest
soldier of the fifteenth century, Francesco Sforza himself, he who made
himself Duke of Milan and whose statue Leonardo set himself to make, on
which the poets carved _Ecce Deus_. A mere fort, perhaps, in its origin,
in the days of Federigo II the Rocca must have been of considerable
strength, size, and luxury, dominating as it did the road to Florence
and the way to Rome: and then even in its early days it was a
stronghold of the German foreigner from which he dominated the Latins
round about, and not least the people of S. Miniato. Like all the
Tuscans, they could not bear the yoke, and they fled into the valley to
S. Genesio: soon to return, however, for the people of the plain liked
them as little as he of the tower. This exodus is, as it were,
commemorated in the dedication of the Duomo to S. Maria e a S. Genesio.
The church is not very interesting; some fragments of the old pulpit or
_ambone_, where you may see in relief the Annunciation and a coat of
arms with a boar and an inscription, are of the thirteenth century. It
is, however, in S. Domenico, not far away, that what remains to S.
Miniato of her art treasures will be found. Everyone seems to call the
church S. Domenico, but in truth it belongs to S. Jacopo and S. Lucia.
As in many another Tuscan city, it guards one side of S. Miniato, while
S. Francesco watches on the other, as though to befriend all who may
pass by. S. Domenico was founded in 1330, but it has suffered much since
then. The chapels, built by the greatest families of the place, in part
remain beautiful with the fourteenth-century work of the school of Gaddi
and of some pupil of Angelico; but it is a work of the fifteenth century
by some master of the Florentine school that chiefly delights us. For
there you may see Madonna, her sweet, ambiguous face neither happy nor
sad, with the Prince of Life in her lap, while on the one side stand S.
Sebastian and St. John Baptist, and on the other perhaps S. Jacopo and
S. Roch. Below the donors kneel a man and his wife and little daughter,
while in the predella you see our Lord's birth, baptism, and
condemnation. Altogether lovely, in that eager yet dry manner, a little
uncertain of its own dainty humanism, this picture alone is worth the
journey to S. Miniato. Yet how much else remains--a tomb attributed to
Donatello in this very chapel, a lovely terra-cotta of the Annunciation
given to Giovanni della Robbia, and indeed, not to speak of S. Francesco
with its spaciousness and delicate light, and the Palazzo Comunale, with
its frescoed Sala del Consiglio, there is S. Miniato itself, full of
flowers and the wind. Like a city of a dream, at dawn she rises out of
the mists of the valley pure and beautiful upon her winding hills that
look both north and south; cool at midday and very still, hushed from
all sounds, she sleeps in the sun, while her old tower tells the slow,
languorous hours; golden at evening, the sunset ebbs through her streets
to the far-away sea, till she sinks like some rosy lily into the night
that for her is full of familiar silences peopled by splendid dreams.
Then there come to her shadows innumerable--Otto I, Federigo Barbarossa,
Federigo II, poor blinded Piero della Vigna, singing his songs, and
those that we have forgotten. The ruined dream of Germany, the Holy
Roman Empire, the resurrection of the Latin race--she has seen them all
rise, and two of them she helped to shatter for ever. It is not only in
her golden book that she may read of splendour and victory, but in the
sleeping valley and the whisper of her olives, the simple song of the
husbandman among the corn, the Italian voices in the vineyard at dawn:
let her sleep after the old hatred, hushed by this homely music.


[83] See p. 107.

[84]  "Io son colui che tenni ambo le chiavi
      Del cuor di Federigo e che le volsi
      Serrando e disserando sì soavi
      Che dal segreto suo quasi ogni uom tolsi."


It is but four miles down the hillside and through the valley along Via
Pisana to Empoli in the plain. And in truth that way, difficult truly at
midday--for the dusty road is full of wagons and oxen--is free enough at
dawn, though every step thereon takes you farther from the hills of S.
Miniato. Empoli, which you come to not without preparation, is like a
deserted market-place, a deserted market-place that has been found, and
put once more to its old use. Set as it is in the midst of the plain
beside Arno on the way to Florence, on the way to Siena, amid the
villages and the cornfields, it was the Granary of the Republic of
Florence, its very name, may be, being derived from the word Emporium,
which in fact it was. Not less important perhaps to-day than of old, its
new villas, its strangely busy streets, its cosy look of importance and
comfort there in the waste of plain, serve to hide any historical
importance it may have, so that those who come here are content for the
most part to go no farther than the railway station, where on the way
from Pisa or from Florence they must change carriages for Siena. And
indeed, for her history, it differs but little from that of other Tuscan
towns within reach of a great city. Yet for Empoli, as her Saint willed,
there waited a destiny. For after the rout of the Guelphs, and
especially of Florence, the head and front of that cause at Montaperti,
when in all Tuscany only Lucca remained free, and the Florentine
refugees built the loggia in front of S. Friano, there the Ghibellines
of Tuscany proposed to destroy utterly and for ever the City of the
Lily, and for this cause Conte Giordano and the rest caused a council to
be held at Empoli; and so it happened. Now Conte Giordano, Villani tells
us, was sent for by King Manfred to Apulia, and there was proclaimed as
his vicar and captain, Conte Guido Novello of the Conti Guidi of
Casentino, who had forsaken the rest of the family, which stood for the
Guelph cause. This man was eager to fling every Guelph out of Tuscany.
There were assembled at that council all the cities round about, and the
Conti Guidi and the Conti Alberti, and those of Santafiora and the
Ubaldini; and these were all agreed that for the sake of the Ghibelline
cause Florence must be destroyed, "and reduced to open villages, so that
there might remain to her no renown or fame or power." It was then that
Farinata degli Uberti, though a Ghibelline and an exile, rose to oppose
this design, saying that if there remained no other, whilst he lived he
would defend the city, even with his sword. Then, says Villani, "Conte
Giordano, seeing what manner of man he was, and of how great authority,
and how the Ghibelline party might be broken up and come to blows,
abandoned the design and took new counsel, so that by one good man and
citizen our city of Florence was saved from so great fury, destruction,
and ruin." But Florence was ever forgetful of her greatest sons, and
Farinata's praise was not found in her mouth, but in that of her
greatest exile, who, finding him in his fiery tomb, wishes him rest.

    "Deh se riposi mai vostra semenza
        Prega io lui."

To-day, however, in Empoli the long days are unbroken by the whisperings
from any council; and as though to mark the fact that all are friends at
last, if you come to her at all, you will sleep at the Aquila Nera in
the street of the Lily; Guelph and Ghibelline hate no more. And as
though to prove to man, ever more mindful of war than peace, that it is
only the works of love after all that abide for ever, in Empoli at least
scarcely anything remains from the old beloved days save the churches,
and, best of all, the pictures that were painted for them.

You pass the Church of S. Maria a Ripa just before you enter the city by
the beautiful Porta Pisana, but though you may find some delightful
works of della Robbia ware there, especially a S. Lucia, it is in the
Collegiata di S. Andrea in the lovely Piazza Farinata degli Uberti, that
most of the works have been gathered in some of the rooms of the old
college. The church itself is very interesting, with its beautiful
façade in the manner of the Badia at Fiesole, where you may see carved
on either side of the great door the head of S. Andrea and of St. John

In the Baptistery, however, comes your first surprise, a beautiful
fresco, a Pietà attributed to Masolino da Panicale, where Christ is laid
in the tomb by Madonna and St. John, while behind rises the Cross, on
which hangs a scourge of knotted chords. And then in the second chapel
on the right is a lovely Sienese Madonna, and a strange fresco on the
left wall of men taming bulls.

In the gallery itself a few lovely things have been gathered together,
of which certainly the finest are the angels of Botticini, two children
winged and crowned with roses, dressed in the manner of the fifteenth
century, with purfled skirts and slashed sleeves powdered with flowers,
who bow before the S. Sebastian of Rossellino. Two other works
attributed to Botticini, certainly not less lovely, are to be found
here: an Annunciation in the manner of his master Verrocchio, where Mary
sits, a delicate white girl, under a portico into which Gabriele has
stolen at sunset and found her at prayer; far away the tall cypresses
are black against the gold of the sky, and in the silence it almost
seems as though we might overhear the first Angelus and the very message
from the angel's lips. And if this is the Annunciation as it happened
long ago in Tuscany, in heaven the angels danced for sure, thinking of
our happiness, as Botticini knew; and so he has painted those seven
angels playing various instruments, while about their feet he has strewn
a song of songs. A S. Andrea and St. John Baptist in a great
fifteenth-century altar are also given to him, while below you may see
S. Andrea's crucifixion, the Last Supper, and Salome bringing the head
of St. John Baptist to Herodias at her supper with Herod. Some fine
della Robbia fragments and a beautiful relief of the Madonna and Child
by Mino da Fiesole are among the rest of the treasures of the
Collegiata, where you may find much that is merely old or curious. Other
churches there are in Empoli, S. Stefano, for instance, with a Madonna
and two angels, given to Masolino, and the marvellously lovely
Annunciation by Bernardo Rossellino; and S. Maria di Fuori, with its
beautiful loggia, but they will not hold you long. The long white road
calls you; already far away you seem to see the belfries of Florence
there, where they look into Arno, for the very water at your feet has
held in its bosom the fairest tower in the world, whiter than a lily,
rosier than the roses of the hills. With this dream, dream or
remembrance, in your heart, it is not Empoli with its brown country face
that will entice you from the way. And so, a little weary at last for
the shadows of the great city, it was with a sort of impatience I
trudged the dusty highway, eager for every turn of the road that might
bring the tall towers, far and far away though they were, into sight.
Somewhat in this mood, still early in the morning, I passed through
Pontormo, the birthplace of the sixteenth-century painter Jacopo
Carrucci, who has his name from this little town. Two or three pictures
that he painted, a lovely font of the fourteenth century in the Church
of S. Michele Arcangiolo, called for no more than a halt, for there,
still far away before me, were the hills, the hills that hid Florence

It was already midday when I came to the little city of Montelupo at the
foot of these hills, and, in front of a beautiful avenue of plane trees,
to the trattoria, a humble place enough, and full at that hour of
drivers and countrymen, but quite sufficient for my needs, for I found
there food, a good wine, and courtesy. Later, in the afternoon, climbing
the stony street across Pesa, I came to the Church of S. Giovanni
Evangelista, and there in the sweet country silence was Madonna with her
Son and four Saints, by some pupil of Sandro Botticelli.

It is not any new vision of Madonna you will see in that quiet country
church, full of afternoon sunshine and wayside flowers, but the same
half-weary maiden of whom Botticelli has told us so often, whose honour
is too great for her, whose destiny is more than she can bear. Already
she has been overwhelmed by our praise and petitions; she has closed her
eyes, she has turned away her head, and while the Jesus Parvulus lifts
his tiny hands in blessing, she is indifferent, holding Him languidly,
as though but half attentive to those priceless words which St. John,
with the last light of a smile still lingering round his eyes, notes so
carefully in his book. Something of the same eagerness, graver, and more
youthful, you may see in the figure of St. Sebastian, who, holding three
arrows daintily in his hand, has suddenly looked up at the sound of that
Divine childish voice. Two other figures, S. Lorenzo and perhaps S.
Roch, listen with a sort of intent sadness there under that splendid
portico, where Mary sits on a throne, she who was the carpenter's wife,
with so little joy or even surprise. Below, in the predella, you may see
certain saints' heads, S. Lorenzo giving alms, the death of S. Lorenzo,
the risen Christ.

[Illustration: BADIA AL SETTIMO]

But though Montelupo possesses such a treasure as this picture, for me
at least the fairest thing within her keeping is the old fortress,
ruined now, on her high hill, and the view one may have thence. For,
following that stony way which brought me to S. Giovanni, I came at last
to the walls of an old fortress, that now houses a few peasants, and
turning there saw all the Val d'Arno, from S. Miniato far and far away
to the west, to little Vinci on the north, where, as Vasari says,
Leonardo was born; while below me, beside Arno, rose the beautiful Villa
Ambrogiana, with its four towers at the corners; and then on a hill
before me, not far away, a little town nestling round another fortress,
maybe less dilapidated than Montelupo, Capraja, that goat which
caused Montelupo to be built. For in the days when Florence disputed Val
d'Arno and the plains of Empoli with many nobles, the Conti di Capraja
lorded it here, and, as the Florentines said:

    "Per distrugger questa Capra non ci vuol altro che un Lupo."

To-day Montelupo is but a village; yet once it was of importance not
only as a fortress, for that she ceased to be almost when the Counts of
Capraja were broken, and certainly by 1203, when Villani tells us that
the Florentines destroyed the place because it would not obey the
commonwealth; but as a city of art, or at any rate of a beautiful
handicraft. Even to-day the people devote themselves to pottery, but of
old it was not merely a matter of commerce, but of beauty and

It was through a noisy gay crowd of these folk, the young men lounging
against the houses, the girls talking, talking together, arm in arm, as
they went to and fro before them, with a wonderful sweet air of
indifference to those who eyed them so keenly and yet shyly too, and
without anything of the brutal humour of a northern village, that in the
later afternoon I again sought the highway. And before I had gone a mile
upon my road the whole character of the way was changed; no longer was I
crossing a great plain, but winding among the hills, while Arno, noisier
than before, fled past me in an ever narrower bed among the rocks and
buttresses of what soon became little more than a defile between the
hills. Though the road was deep in dust, there was shadow under the
cypresses beside the way, there was a whisper of wind among the reeds
beside the river, and the song of the cicale grew fainter and the hills
were touched with light; evening was coming.

And indeed, when at last I had left the splendid villa of Antinori far
behind, evening came as I entered Lastra, and by chance taking the wrong
road, passing under a most splendid ilex, huge as a temple, I climbed
the hill to S. Martino a Gangalandi. Standing there in the pure calm
light just after sunset, the whole valley of Florence lay before me. To
the left stood Signa, piled on her hill like some fortress of the Middle
Age; then Arno, like a road of silver, led past the Villa delle Selve to
the great mountain Monte Morello, and there under her last spurs lay
Florence herself, clear and splendid like some dream city, her towers
and pinnacles, her domes and churches shining in the pure evening light
like some delectable city seen in a vision far away, but a reality, and
seen at last. Very far off she seemed in that clear light, that
presently fading fled away across the mountains before the advance of
night, that filled the whole plain with its vague and beautiful shadow.

And so, when morning was come, I went again to S. Martino a Gangalandi,
but Florence was hidden in light. In my heart I knew I must seek her at
once, that even the fairest things were not fair, since she was hidden
away. Not without a sort of reluctance I heard Mass in S. Martino, spent
a moment before the beautiful Madonna of that place, a picture of the
fifteenth century, and looked upon the fortifications of Brunellesco.
Everywhere the women sitting in their doorways were plaiting straw, and
presently I came upon a whole factory of this craft, the great courtyard
strewn with hats of all shapes, sizes, and colours, drying in the sun.
Signa, too, across the river as I passed, seemed to be given up to this
business. Then taking the road, hot and dusty, I set out--not by Via
Pisana, but by the byways, which seemed shorter--for Florence. For long
I went between the vines, in the misty morning, all of silver and gold,
till I was weary. And at last houses began to strew the way, herds of
goats led by an old man in velveteen and a lad in tatters, one herd
after another covered me with dust, or, standing in front of the houses,
were milked at the doorways, where still the women, their brown legs
naked in the sun, plaited the straw. Then at a turning of the way, as
though to confirm me in any fears I might have of the destruction of the
city I had come so far to see, a light railway turned into the highway
between the houses, where already there was not room for two carts to
pass. How may I tell my anger and misery as I passed through that
endless suburb, the great hooting engine of the train venting its
stench, and smoke, and noise into the very windows of the houses,
chasing me down the narrow way, round intricate corners, over tiny
piazzas, from the very doors of churches. Yet, utterly weary at last,
covered with dust, it was in this brutal contrivance that I sought
refuge, and after an hour of agony was set down before the Porta al
Prato. The bells were ringing the Angelus of midday when I came into


Florence is like a lily in the midst of a garden gay with wild-flowers;
a broken lily that we have tied up and watered and nursed into a
semblance of life, an image of ancient beauty--as it were the _memento
mori_ of that Latin spirit which contrived the Renaissance of mankind.
As of old, so to-day, she stands in the plain at the foot of the
Apennines, that in their sweetness and strength lend her still something
of their nobility. Around her are the hills covered with olive gardens
where the corn and the wine and the oil grow together between the iris
and the rose; and everywhere on those beautiful hills there are villas
among the flowers, real villas such as Alberti describes for us, full of
coolness and rest, where a fountain splashes in an old courtyard, and
the grapes hang from the pergolas, and the corn is spread in July and
beaten with the flail. And since the vista of every street in Florence
ends in the country, it is to these hills you find your way very often
if your stay be long, fleeing from the city herself, perhaps to hide
your disappointment, in the simple joy of country life. More and more as
you live in Florence that country life becomes your consolation and your
delight: for there abide the old ways and the ancient songs, which you
will not find in the city. And indeed the great treasure of Florence is
this bright and smiling country in which she lies: the old road to
Fiesole, the ways that lead from Settignano to Compiobbi, the path
through the woods from S. Martino a Mensola, that smiling church by the
wayside, to Vincigliata, to Castel di Poggio, the pilgrimage from Bagno
a Ripoli to the Incontro. There, on all those beautiful gay roads, you
will pass numberless villas whispering with summer, laughing with
flowers; you will see the _contadini_ at work in the _poderi_, you will
hear the _rispetti_ and _stornelli_ of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries sung perhaps by some love-sick peasant girl among the olives
from sunrise till evening falls. And the ancient ways are not forgotten
there, for they still reap with the sickle and sing to the beat of the
flail; while the land itself, those places "full of nimble air, in a
laughing country of sweet and lovely views, where there is always fresh
water, and everything is healthy and pure," of which Leon Alberti tells
us, are still held and cultivated in the old way under the old laws by
the _contadino_ and his _padrone_. This ancient order, quietness, and
beauty, which you may find everywhere in the country round about
Florence, is the true Tuscany. The vulgarity of the city, for even in
Italy the city life has become insincere, blatant, and for the most part
a life of the middle class, seldom reaches an hundred yards beyond the
_barriera_: and this is a charm in Florence, for you may so easily look
on her from afar. And so, if one comes to her from the country, or
returns to her from her own hills, it is ever with a sense of loss, of
sadness, of regret: she has lost her soul for the sake of the stranger,
she has forgotten the splendid past for an ignoble present, a strangely
wearying dream of the future.

Yet for all her modern ways, her German beer-houses, her English
tea-shops, her noisy trams on Lung' Arno, her air as of a museum, her
eagerness to show her contempt for the stranger while she sells him her
very soul for money, Florence remains one of the most delightful cities
of Italy to visit, to live with, to return to again and again. Yet I for
one would never live within her walls if I could help it, nor herd with
those barbarian, exclamatory souls who in guttural German or cockney
English snort or neigh at the beauties industriously pointed out by a
loud-voiced cicerone, quoting in American all the appropriate
quotations, Browning before Filippo Lippi, Ruskin in S. Croce, Mrs.
Browning at the door of S. Felice, Goethe everywhere.

No, I will live a little way out of the city on the hillside, perhaps
towards Settignano, not too far from the pine woods, nor too near the
gate. And my garden there shall be a vineyard, bordered with iris, and
among the vines shall be a garden of olives, and under the olives there
shall be the corn. And the yellow roses will litter the courtyard, and
the fountain will be full of their petals, and the red roses will strew
the paths, and the white roses will fall upon the threshold; and all day
long the bees will linger in the passion-flowers by the window when the
mulberry trees have been stripped of leaves, and the lilies of Madonna,
before the vines, are tall and like ghosts in the night, the night that
is blue and gold, where a few fire-flies linger yet, sailing faintly
over the stream, and the song of the cicale is the burden of endless

Then very early in the morning I will rise from my bed under the holy
branch of olive, I will walk in my garden before the sun is high, I will
look on my beloved city. Yes, I shall look over the near olives across
the valley to the hill of cypresses, to the poplars beside Arno that
tremble with joy; and first I shall see Torre del Gallo and then S.
Miniato, that strange and beautiful place, and at last my eyes will rest
on the city herself, beautiful in the mist of morning: first the tower
of S. Croce, like a tufted spear; then the tower of Liberty, and that
was built for pride; and at last, like a mysterious rose lifted above
the city, I shall see the dome, the rosy dome of Brunellesco, beside
which, like a slim lily, pale, immaculate as a pure virgin, rises the
inviolate Tower of the Lowly, that Giotto built for God. Yes, often I
shall thus await the Angelus that the bells of all the villages will
answer, and I shall greet the sun and be thankful. Then I shall walk
under the olives, I shall weigh the promised grapes, I shall bend the
ears of corn here and there, that I may feel their beauty, and I shall
bury my face in the roses, I shall watch the lilies turn their heads, I
shall pluck the lemons one by one. And the maidens will greet me on
their way to the olive gardens, the newly-married, hand in hand with
her husband, will smile upon me, she who is heavy with child will give
me her blessing, and the children will laugh and peep at me from behind
the new-mown hay; and I shall give them greeting. And I shall talk with
him who is busy in the vineyard, I shall watch him bare-foot among the
grapes, I shall see his wise hands tenderly unfold a leaf or gather up a
straying branch, and when I leave him I shall hear him say, "May your
bread be blessed to you." Under the myrtles, on a table of stone spread
with coarse white linen, such we see in Tuscany, I shall break my fast,
and I shall spill a little milk on the ground for thankfulness, and the
crumbs I shall scatter too, and a little honey that the bees have given
I shall leave for them again.

So I shall go into the city, and one will say to me, "The Signore must
have a care, for the sun will be hot, in returning it will be necessary
to come under the olives." And I shall laugh in my heart, and say, "Have
no fear, then, for the sun will not touch me." And how should I but be
glad that the sun will be hot, and how should I but be thankful that I
shall come under the olives?

And I shall come into the city by Porta alla Croce for love, because I
am but newly returned, and presently through the newer ways I shall come
to the oldest of all, Borgo degli Albizzi, where the roofs of the
beautiful palaces almost touch, and the way is cool and full of shadow.
There, amid all the hurry and bustle of the narrow, splendid street, I
shall think only of old things for a time, I shall remember the great
men who founded and established the city, I shall recall the great
families of Florence. Here in this Borgo the Albizzi built their towers
when they came from Arezzo, giving the city more than an hundred
officers, Priori and Gonfalonieri, till Cosimo de' Medici thrust them
out with the help of Eugenius IV. The grim, scornful figure of Rinaldo
seems to haunt the old palace still. How often in those September days
must he have passed to and fro between his palace and the Bargello close
by, the Palace of the Podestà: but the people, fearing they knew not
what, barricaded the place so that Rinaldo was persuaded to consult
with the Pope in S. Maria Novella. At dawn he dismissed his army, and
remained alone. Then the friends of Cosimo in exile went to the Pope and
thanked him, thus, as some have thought, surprising him into an
abandonment of Rinaldo. However that may be, Rinaldo was expelled,
leaving the city with these words, "He is a blind man without a guide,
who trusts the word of a Pope." And what figure haunts Palazzo Altovite,
the home of that fierce Ghibelline house loved by Frederick II, if not
that hero who expelled the Duke of Athens. Palazzo Pazzi and Palazzo
Nonfinito at the Canto de' Pazzi where the Borgo degli Albizzi meets Via
del Proconsolo, brings back to me that madman who first set the Cross
upon the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, and who for this cause was given
some stones from Christ's sepulchre by Godfrey de Bouillon, which he
brought to Florence and presented to the Republic. They were placed in
S. Reparata, which stood where the Duomo now is, and, as it is said, the
"new fire" was struck from them every Holy Saturday, and the clergy, in
procession, brought that sacred flame to the other churches of the city.
And the Pazzi, because of their gift, gave the guard of honour in this
procession: and this they celebrated with much pomp among themselves;
till at last they obtained permission to build a _carro_, which should
be lighted at the door of S. Reparata by some machine of their
invention, and drawn by four white oxen to their houses. And even to
this day you may see this thing, and to this day the car is borne to
their canto. But above all I see before that "unfinished" palace the
ruined hopes of those who plotted to murder Lorenzo de' Medici with his
brother at the Easter Mass in the Duomo. Even now, amid the noise of the
street, I seem to hear the shouting of the people, _Vive le Palle, Morte
ai Pazzi_.

So I shall come into the Proconsolo beside the Bargello, where so many
great and splendid people are remembered, and she, too, who is so
beautiful that for her sake we forget everything else, Vanna degli
Albizzi, who married Lorenzo de' Tornabuoni, whom Verrocchio carved and
Ghirlandajo painted. Then I shall follow the Via del Corso past S.
Margherita, close to Dante's mythical home, into Via Calzaioli, the
busiest street of the city, and I shall think of the strange difference
between these three great ways, Via del Proconsolo, Via Calzaioli, and
Via Tornabuoni, which mark and divide the most ancient city. I shall
turn toward Or San Michele, where on St. John's Day the banners of the
guilds are displayed above the statues, and for a little time I shall
look again on Verrocchio's Christ and St. Thomas. Then in this
pilgrimage of remembrance I shall pass up Via Calzaioli, past the gay
cool caffè of Gilli, into the Piazza del Duomo. And again, I shall fear
lest the tower may fall like a lopped lily, and I shall wish that Giotto
had made it ever so little bigger at the base. Then I shall pass to the
right past the Misericordia, where for sure I shall meet some of the
_confraternità_, past the great gazing statue of Brunellesco, till, at
the top of Via del Proconsolo, I shall turn to look at the Duomo, which,
seen from there, seems like a great Greek cross under a dome, that might
cover the world. And so I shall pass round the apse of the Cathedral
till I come to the door of the Cintola, where Nanni di Banco has
marvellously carved Madonna in an almond-shaped glory: and this is one
of the fairest things in Florence. And I shall go on my way, past the
Gate of Paradise to the open door of the Baptistery, and returning find
the tomb of Baldassare Cossa, soldier and antipope, carved by Donatello:
and here, in the most ancient church of Florence, I shall thank St. John
for my return.

Out in the Piazza once more, I shall turn into Borgo S. Lorenzo, and
follow it till I come to Piazza di S. Lorenzo, with its bookstalls where
Browning found that book, "small quarto size, part print, part
manuscript," which told him the story of "The Ring and the Book." There
I shall look once more on the ragged, rugged front of S. Lorenzo, and
entering, find the tomb of Piero de' Medici, made by Verrocchio, and
thinking awhile of those other tombs where Michelangelo hard by carved
his Night and Day, Twilight and Dawn, I shall find my way again into the
Piazza del Duomo, and, following Via Cerretani, that busy street, I
shall come at last into Piazza S. Maria Novella, and there on the north
I shall see again the bride of Michelangelo, S. Maria Novella of the

Perhaps I shall rest there a little before Duccio's Madonna on her high
altar,[85] and linger under the grave, serene work of Ghirlandajo; but
it may be the sky will be too fair for any church to hold me, so that
passing down the way of the Beautiful Ladies, and taking Via dei Serpi
on my left, I shall come into Via Tornabuoni, that smiling, lovely way
just above the beautiful Palazzo Antinori, whence I may see Palazzo
Strozzi, but without the great lamp at the corner where the flowers are
heaped and there are always so many loungers. Indeed, the whole street
is full of flowers and sunshine and cool shadow, and in some way, I know
not what, it remains the most beautiful gay street in Florence, where
past and present have met and are friends. And then I know if I follow
this way I shall come to Lung' Arno,--I may catch a glimpse of it even
from the corner of Via Porta Rossa over the cabs, past the Column of S.

[Illustration: PONTE VECCHIO]

Presently, in the afternoon, I shall follow Via Porta Rossa, with its
old palaces of the Torrigiani (now, Hotel Porta Rossa), and the
Davanzati into Mercato Nuovo, where, because it is Thursday, the whole
place will be smothered with flowers and children, little laughing
rascals as impudent as Lippo Lippi's Angiolini, who play about the Tacca
and splash themselves with water. And so I shall pass at last into
Piazza della Signoria, before the marvellous palace of the people with
its fierce, proud tower, and I shall stand on the spot before the
fountains where Humanism avenged itself on Puritanism, where Savonarola,
that Ferrarese who burned the pictures and would have burned the city,
was himself burned in the fire he had invoked. And I shall look once
more on the Loggia de' Lanzi, and see Cellini's young _contadino_
masquerading as Perseus, and in my heart I shall remember the little wax
figure he made for a model, now in Bargello, which is so much more
beautiful than this young giant. So, under the cool cloisters of Palazzo
degli Uffizi I shall come at last on to Lung' Arno, where it is very
quiet, and no horses may pass, and the trams are a long way off. And I
shall lift up my eyes and behold once more the hill of gardens across
Arno, with the Belvedere just within the old walls, and S. Miniato, like
a white and fragile ghost in the sunshine, and La Bella Villanella
couched like a brown bird under the cypresses above the grey olives in
the wind and the sun. And something in the gracious sweep of the hills,
in the gentle nobility of that holy mountain which Michelangelo has
loved and defended, which Dante Alighieri has spoken of, which Gianozzo
Manetti has so often climbed, will bring the tears to my eyes, and I
shall turn away towards Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most beautiful of
the bridges, where the houses lead one over the river, and the little
shops of the jewellers still sparkle and smile with trinkets. And in the
midst of the bridge I shall wait awhile and look on Arno. Then I shall
cross the bridge and wander upstream towards Porta S. Niccolò, that
gaunt and naked gate in the midst of the way, and there I shall climb
through the gardens up the steep hill

      "... Per salire al monte
    Dove siede la chiesa...."

to the great Piazzale, and so to the old worn platform before S. Miniato
itself, under the strange glowing mosaics of the façade: and, standing
on the graves of dead Florentines, I shall look down on the beautiful

Marvellously fair she is on a summer evening as seen from that hill of
gardens, Arno like a river of gold before her, leading over the plain
lost in the farthest hills. Behind her the mountains rise in great
amphitheatres,--Fiesole on the one side, like a sentinel on her hill; on
the other, the Apennines, whose gesture, so noble, precise, and
splendid, seems to point ever towards some universal sovereignty, some
perfect domination, as though this place had been ordained for the
resurrection of man. Under this mighty symbol of annunciation lies the
city, clear and perfect in the lucid light, her towers shining under the
serene evening sky. Meditating there alone for a long time in the
profound silence of that hour, the whole history of this city that
witnessed the birth of the modern world, the resurrection of the gods,
will come to me.

Out of innumerable discords, desolations, hopes unfilled, everlasting
hatred and despair, I shall see the city rise four square within her
rosy walls between the river and the hills; I shall see that lonely,
beautiful, and heroic figure, Matilda the great Countess; I shall suffer
the dream that consumes her, and watch Germany humble in the snow. And
the Latin cause will tower a red lily beside Arno; one by one the great
nobles will go by with cruel alien faces, prisoners, to serve the Lily
or to die. Out of their hatred will spring that mongrel cause of Guelph
and Ghibelline, and I shall see the Amidei slay Buondelmonte
Buondelmonti. Through the year of victories I shall rejoice, when
Pistoja falls, when Siena falls, when Volterra is taken, and Pisa forced
to make peace. Then in tears I shall see the flight at Monteaperti, I
shall hear the thunder of the horses, and with hate in my heart I shall
search for Bocca degli Abati, the traitor, among the ten thousand dead.
And in the council I shall be by when they plot the destruction of the
city, and I shall be afraid: then I shall hear the heroic, scornful
words of Farinata degli Uberti, when in his pride he spared Florence for
the sake of his birth. And I shall watch the banners at Campaldino, I
shall hear the intoxicating words of Corso Donati, I shall look into his
very face and read the truth.

And at dawn I shall walk with Dante, and I shall know by the softness of
his voice when Beatrice passeth, but I shall not dare to lift my eyes. I
shall walk with him through the city, I shall hear Giotto speak to him
of St. Francis, and Arnolfo will tell us of his dreams. And at evening
Petrarch will lead me into the shadow of S. Giovanni and tell me of
Madonna Laura. But it will be a morning of spring when I meet
Boccaccio, ah, in S. Maria Novella, and as we come into the sunshine I
shall laugh and say, "Tell me a story." And Charles of Valois will pass
by, who sent Dante on that long journey; and Henry VII, for whom he had
prayed; and I shall hear the trumpets of Montecatini, and I shall
understand the hate Uguccione had for Castracani. And I shall watch the
entry of the Duke of Athens, and I shall see his cheek flush at the
thought of a new tyranny. Then for the first time I shall hear the
sinister, fortunate name Medici. Under the banners of the Arti I shall
hear the rumour of their names, Silvestro who urged on the Ciompi, Vieri
who once made peace; nor will the death of Gian Galeazzo of Milan, nor
the tragedy of Pisa, hinder their advent, for I shall see Giovanni di
Bicci de' Medici proclaimed Gonfaloniere of the city. Then they will
troop by more splendid than princes, the universal bankers, lords of
Florence: Cosimo the hard old man, Pater Patriae, the greatest of his
race; Piero, the weakling; Lorenzo il Magnifico, tyrant and artist; and
over his shoulder I shall see the devilish, sensual face of Savonarola.
And there will go by Giuliano, the lover of Simonetta; Piero the exile;
Giovanni the mighty pope, Leo X; Giulio the son of Guiliano, Clement
VII; Ippolito the Cardinal, Alessandro the cruel, Lorenzino his
assassin, Cosimo l'Invitto, Grand Duke of Tuscany, bred in a convent and
mourned for ever.

So they pass by, and their descendants follow after them, even to poor,
unhappy, learned Gian Gastone, the last of his race.

And around them throng the artists; yes, I shall see them all. Angelico
will lead me into his cell and show me the meaning of the Resurrection.
With Lippo Lippi I shall play with the children, and talk with Lucrezia
Buti at the convent gate; Ghirlandajo will take me where Madonna Vanna
is, and with Baldovinetti I shall watch the dawn. And Botticelli will
lead me into a grove apart: I shall see the beauty of those three women
who pass, who pass like a season, and are neither glad nor sorry; and
with him I shall understand the joy of Venus, whose son was love, and
the tears of Madonna, whose Son was Love also. And I shall hear the
voice of Leonardo; and he will play upon his lyre of silver, that lyre
in the shape of a horse's head which he made for Sforza of Milan; and I
shall see him touch the hands of Monna Lisa. And I shall see the statue
of snow that Buonarotti made; I shall find him under S. Miniato, and I
shall weep with him.

So I shall dream in the sunset. The Angelus will be ringing from all the
towers, I shall have celebrated my return to the city that I have loved.
The splendour of the dying day will lie upon her; in that enduring and
marvellous hour, when in the sound of every bell you may find the names
that are in your heart, I shall pass again through the gardens, I shall
come into the city when the little lights before Madonna will be shining
at the street corners, and the streets will be full of the evening,
where the river, stained with fading gold, steals into the night to the
sea. And under the first stars I shall find my way to my hillside. On
that white country road the dust of the day will have covered the vines
by the way, the cypresses will be white half-way to their tops, in the
whispering olives the cicale will still be singing; as I pass every
threshold some dog will rouse, some horse will stamp in the stable, or
an ox stop munching in his stall. In the far sky, marvellous with
infinite stars, the moon will sail like a little platter of silver, like
a piece of money new from the mint, like a golden rose in a mirror of
silver. Long and long ago the sun will have set, but when I come to the
gate I shall go under the olives; though I shall be weary I shall go by
the longest way, I shall pass by the winding path, I shall listen for
the whisper of the corn. And I shall beat at my gate, and one will say
_Chi è_, and I shall make answer. So I shall come into my house, and the
triple lights will be lighted in the garden, and the table will be
spread. And there will be one singing in the vineyard, and I shall hear,
and there will be one walking in the garden, and I shall know.


[85] Alas, this too has now become as nothing and its place knows it no



In every ancient city of the world, cities that in themselves for the
most part have been nations, one may find some spot holy or splendid
that instantly evokes an image of that of which it is a symbol,--which
sums up, as it were, in itself all the sanctity, beauty, and splendour
of her fame, in whose name there lives even yet something of the glory
that is dead. It is so no longer; in what confused street or shapeless
square shall I find hidden the soul of London, or in what name then
shall I sum up the lucid restless life of Paris? But if I name the
Acropolis, all the pale beauty of Athens will stir in my heart; and when
I speak the word Capitolium, I seem to hear the thunder of the legions,
to see the very face of Caesar, to understand the dominion and majesty
of Rome.

Something of this power of evocation may still be found in the Piazza
della Signoria of Florence: all the love that founded the city, the
beauty that has given her fame, the immense confusion that is her
history, the hatred that has destroyed her, lingers yet in that strange
and lovely place where Palazzo Vecchio stands like a violated fortress,
where the Duke of Athens was expelled the city, where the Ciompi rose
against the Ghibellines, where Jesus Christ was proclaimed King of the
Florentines, where Savonarola, was burned, and Alessandro de' Medici
made himself Duke.

It is not any great and regular space you come upon in the Piazza della
Signoria, such as the huge empty Place de la Concorde of Paris, but one
that is large enough for beauty, and full of the sweet variety of the
city; it is the symbol of Florence--a beautiful symbol.

In the morning the whole Piazza is full of sunlight, and swarming with
people: there, is a stall for newspapers; here, a lemonade merchant
dispenses his sweet drinks. Everyone is talking; at the corner of Via
Calzaioli a crowd has assembled, a crowd that moves and seems about to
dissolve, that constantly re-forms itself without ever breaking up. On
the benches of the loggia men lie asleep in the shadow, and children
chase one another among the statues. Everywhere and from all directions
cabs pass with much cracking of whips and hallooing. There stand two
Carabinieri in their splendid uniforms, surveying this noisy world; an
officer passes with his wife, leading his son by the hand; you may see
him lift his sword as he steps on the pavement. A group of tourists go
by, urged on by a gesticulating guide; he is about to show them the
statues in the loggia; they halt under the Perseus. He begins to speak
of it, while the children look up at him as though to catch what he is
saying in that foreign tongue.

And surely the Piazza, which has seen so many strange and splendid
things, may well tolerate this also; it is so gay, so full of life. Very
fair she seems under the sunlight, picturesque too, with her buildings
so different and yet so harmonious. On the right the gracious beauty of
the Loggia de' Lanzi; then before you the lofty, fierce old Palazzo
Vecchio; and beside it the fountains play in the farther Piazza. Cosimo
I rides by as though into Siena, while behind him rises the palace of
the Uguccioni, which Folfi made; and beside you the Calzaioli ebbs and
flows with its noisy life, as of old the busiest street of the city.

The Palazza Vecchio, peaceful enough now, but still with the fierce
gesture of war stands on one side, facing the Piazza, a fortress of huge
stones four storeys high--the last, thrust out from the wall and
supported by arches on brackets of stone, as though crowning the
palace itself. It stands almost four-square, and above rises the
beautiful tower, the highest tower in the city, with a gallery similar
to the last storey of the palace, and above a loggia borne by four
pillars, from which spring the great arches of the canopy that supports
the spire; and whereas the battlements of the palazzo are square and
Guelph, those of the tower are Ghibelline in the shape of the tail of
the swallow. Set, not in the centre of the square, nor made to close it,
but on one side, it was thus placed, it is said, in order to avoid the
burned houses of the Uberti, who had been expelled the city. However
this may be, and its position is so fortunate that it is not likely to
be due to any such chance, Arnolfo di Cambio began it in February 1299,
taking as his model, so some have thought, the Rocca of the Conti Guidi
of the Casentino, which Lapo his father had built. Under the arches of
the fourth storey are painted the coats of the city and its gonfaloni.
And there you may see the most ancient device of Florence, the lily
argent on a field gules; the united coats gules and argent of Florence
and Fiesole in 1010; the coat of Guelph Florence, a lily gules on a
field argent; and, among the rest, the coat of Charles of Anjou, the
lilies or on a field azure.

[Illustration: LOGGIA DE' LANZI]

On the platform or ringhiera before the great door, the priori watched
the greater festas, and made their proclamations, before the Loggia de'
Lanzi was built in 1387; and here in 1532 the last Signoria of the
Republic proclaimed Alessandro de' Medici first Duke of Florence, in
front of the Judith and Holofernes of Donatello, whose warning went
unheeded. And indeed, that group, part of the plunder that the people
found in Palazzo Riccardi, in the time of Piero de' Medici, who sought
to make himself tyrant, once stood beside the great gate of Palazzo
Vecchio, whence it was removed at the command of Alessandro, who placed
there instead Bandinelli's feeble Hercules and Cacus. Opposite to it
Michelangelo's David once stood, till it was removed in our own time to
the Accademia, where it looks like a cast.

Over the great door where of old was set the monogram of Christ, you
may read still REX REGUM ET DOMINUS DOMINANTIUM, and within the gate is
a court most splendid and lovely, built after the design of Arnolfo, and
once supported by his pillars of stone, but now the columns of
Michelozzo, made in 1450, and covered with stucco decoration in the
sixteenth century, form the cortile in which, over the fountain of
Vasari, Verrocchio's lovely Boy Playing with the Dolphin ever half turns
in his play. Altogether lovely in its naturalism, its humorous grace,
Verrocchio made it for Lorenzo Magnifico, who placed it in his gardens
at Careggi, whence it was brought here by Cosimo I.

Passing through that old palace, up the great staircase into the Salone
del Cinquecento, where Savonarola was tried, with the Cappella di S.
Bernardo, where he made his last communion, and at last up the staircase
into the tower, where he was tortured and imprisoned, it is ever of that
mad pathetic figure, self-condemned and self-murdered, that you think,
till at last, coming out of the Palazzo, you seek the spot of his awful
death in the Piazza. Fanatic puritan as he was, vainer than any Medici,
it is difficult to understand how he persuaded the Florentines to listen
to his eloquence, spoiled as it must have been for them by the Ferrarese
dialect. How could a people who were the founders of the modern world,
the creators of modern culture, allow themselves to be baffled by a
fanatic friar prophesying judgment? Yet something of a peculiar charm, a
force that we miss in the sensual and almost devilish face we see in his
portrait, he must have possessed, for it is said that Lorenzo desired
his company; and even though we are able to persuade ourselves that it
was for other reasons than to enjoy his friendship, we have yet to
explain the influence he exercised over Sandro Botticelli and Pico della
Mirandola, whose lives he changed altogether. In the midst of a people
without a moral sense he appears like the spirit of denial. He was
kicking against the pricks, he was guilty of the sin against the light,
and whether his aim was political or religious, or maybe both, he
failed. It is said he denied Lorenzo absolution, that he left him
without a word at the brink of the grave but when he himself came to
die by the horrible, barbaric means he had invoked in a boast, he did
not show the fortitude of the Magnificent. Full of every sort of
rebellion and violence, he made anarchy in Florence, and scoffed at the
Holy See, while he was a guest of the one and the officer of the other.
His bonfires of "vanities," as he called them, were possibly as
disastrous for Florence as the work of the Puritan was for England; for
while he burned the pictures, they sold them to the Jews. He is dead,
and has become one of the bores of history; and while Americans leave
their cards on the stone that marks the place of his burning, the
Florentines appear to have forgotten him. Peace to his ashes!

As you enter the Loggia de' Lanzi, gay with children now, once the
lounge of the Swiss Guard, whose barracks were not far away, you wonder
who can have built so gay, so happy a place beside the fortress of the
Signoria. Yet, in truth, it was for the Priori themselves that loggia
was built, though not by Orcagna as it is said, to provide, perhaps, a
lounge in summer for the fathers of the city, and for a place of
proclamation that all Florence might hear the laws they had made. Yes,
and to-day, too, do they not proclaim the tombola where once they
announced a victory? Even now, in spite of forgotten greatness, it is
still a garden of statues. Looking ever over the Piazza stands the
Perseus of Cellini, with the head of Medusa held up to the multitude,
the sword still gripped in his hand. It is the masterpiece of one who,
like all the greatest artists of the Renaissance--Giotto, Orcagna,
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael--did not confine himself to one art, but
practised many. And though it would be unjust to compare such a man as
Cellini with the greatest of all, yet he was great not only as a
sculptor and a goldsmith, but as a man of letters and as a man of the
world. His Perseus, a little less than a demigod, is indeed not so
lovely as the wax model he made for it, which is now in the Bargello;
but in the gesture with which he holds out the severed head from him, in
the look of secret delight that is already half remorseful for all that
dead beauty, in the heroic grace with which he stands there after the
murder, the dead body marvellously fallen at his feet, Cellini has
proved himself the greatest sculptor of his time. That statue cost him
dear enough, as he tells you in his Memoirs, but, as Gautier said, it is
worth all it cost.

On the pedestal you may see the deliverance of Andromeda; but the finest
of these reliefs has been taken to the Bargello. The only other bronze
here is the work of Donatello--a Judith and Holofernes, under the arch
towards the Uffizi. It is Donatello's only large bronze group, and was
probably designed for the centre piece of a fountain, the mattress on
which Holofernes has fallen having little spouts for water. Judith
stands over her victim, who is already dead, her sword lifted to strike
again; and you may see by her face that she will strike if it be
necessary. Beneath you read--"Exemplum salut. publ. cives posuere,
MCCCCXV." Poor as the statue appears in its present position, the three
bronze reliefs of the base gain here what they must lose in the midst of
a fountain, yet even they too are unfortunate. Indeed, very few statues
of this sort were made by the sculptors of the Renaissance; for the most
part they confined themselves to single figures and to groups in relief:
even Michelangelo but rarely attempted the "freestanding group." It is,
however, to such a work we come in the splendidly composed Rape of the
Sabines by Giovanni da Bologna in the Loggia itself. Spoiled a little by
its too laboured detail, its chief fault lies in the fact that it is
top-heavy, the sculptor having placed the mass of the group so high that
the base seems unsubstantial and unbalanced. Bologna's other group here,
Hercules and Nessus, which once stood at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio,
is dramatic and well composed, but the forms are feeble and even
insignificant. The antique group of Ajax dragging the body of Patrocles,
is not a very important copy of some great work, and it is much
restored: it was found in a vineyard near Rome.

The great fountain which plays beside the Palazzo, where of old the
houses of the Uberti stood, is rich and grandiose perhaps, but in some
unaccountable way adds much to the beauty of the Piazza. How gay and
full of life it is even yet, that splendid and bitter place, that in its
beauty and various, everlasting life seems to stand as the symbol of
this city, so scornful even in the midst of the overwhelming foreigner
who has turned her into a museum, a vast cemetery of art. Only here you
may catch something of the old life that is not altogether passed away.
Still, in spite of your eyes, you must believe there are Florentines
somewhere in the city, that they are still as in Dante's day proud and
wise and easily angry, scornful too, a little turbulent, not readily
curbed, but full of ambition--great nobles, great merchants, great
bankers. Does such an one never come to weep over dead Florence in this
the centre of her fame, the last refuge of her greatness, in the night,
perhaps, when none may see his tears, when all is hushed that none may
mark his sorrow?


_Benvenuto Cellini_


It was past midnight when once more I came out of the narrow ways,
almost empty at that hour, when every footfall resounds between the old
houses, into the old Piazza to learn this secret. Far away in the sky
the moon swung like a censer, filling the place with a fragile and
lovely light. Standing there in the Piazza, quite deserted now save for
some cloaked figure who hurried away up the Calzaioli, and two
Carabinieri who stood for a moment at the Uffizi corner and then turned
under the arches, I seemed to understand something of the spirit that
built that marvellous fortress, that thrust that fierce tower into the
sky;--yes, surely at this hour some long dead Florentine must venture
here to console the living, who, for sure, must be gay so sadly and with
so much regret.

In the Loggia de' Lanzi the moonlight fell among the statues, and in
that fairy light I seemed to see in those ghostly still figures of
marble and bronze some strange fantastic parable, the inscrutable
prophecy of the scornful past. Gian Bologna's Sabine woman, was she not
Florence struggling in the grip of the modern vandal; Cellini's Perseus
with Medusa's head, has it not in truth turned the city to stone?

The silence was broken; something had awakened in the Piazza: perhaps a
bird fluttered from the battlements of the Palazzo, perhaps it was the
city that turned in her sleep. No, there it was again. It was a human
voice close beside me: it seemed to be weeping.

I looked around: all was quiet. I saw nothing, only there at the corner
a little light flickered before a shrine; and yes, something was moving
there, someone who was weeping. Softly, softly over the stones I made my
way to that little shrine of Madonna at the street corner, and I found,
ah! no proud and scornful noble mourning over dead Florence, but an old
woman, ragged and alone, prostrate under some unimaginable sorrow, some
unappeasable regret.

Did she hear as of old--that Virgin with narrow half-open eyes and the
sidelong look? God, I know not if she heard or no. Perhaps I alone have
heard in all the world.



On coming into the Piazza del Duomo, perhaps from the light and space of
the Lung' Arno or from the largeness of the Piazza della Signoria, one
is apt to think of it as too small for the buildings which it holds, as
wanting in a certain spaciousness such as the Piazza of St. Peter at
Rome certainly possesses, or in the light of the meadow of Pisa; and yet
this very smallness, only smallness when we consider the great buildings
set there so precisely, gives it an element of beauty lacking in the
great Piazza of Rome and in Pisa too--a certain delicate colour and
shadow and a sense of nearness, of homeliness almost; for the shadow of
the dome falls right across the city itself every morning and evening.
And indeed the Piazza del Duomo of Florence is still the centre of the
life of the city, and though to some this may be matter for regret, I
have found in just that a sort of consolation for the cabs which Ruskin
hated so, for the trams which he never saw; for just these two necessary
unfortunate things bring one so often there that of all the cathedrals
of Italy that of Florence must be best known to the greatest number of
people at all hours of the day. And this fact, evil and good working
together for life's sake, makes the Duomo a real power in the city, so
that everyone is interested, often passionately interested, in it: it
has a real influence on the lives of the citizens, so that nothing in
the past or even to-day has ever been attempted with regard to it
without winning the people's leave. Yet it is not the Duomo alone that
thus lives in the hearts of the Florentines, but the whole Piazza. There
they have established their trophies, and set up their gifts, and
lavished their treasure. It was built for all, and it belongs to all; it
is the centre of the city.

This enduring vitality of a place so old, so splendid, and so beloved,
is, I think, particularly manifest in the Church of S. Giovanni
Battista, the Baptistery. It is the oldest building in Florence, built
probably with the stones from the Temple of Mars about which Villani
tells us, and almost certainly in its place; every Florentine child,
fortunate at least in this, is still brought there for baptism, and
receives its name in the place where Dante was christened, where
Ippolito Buondelmonti first saw Dianora de' Bardi, where Donatello has
laboured, which Michelangelo has loved.

Built probably in the sixth or seventh century, it was Arnolfo di Cambio
who covered it with marble in 1288, building also three new doorways
where before there had been but one, that on the west side, which was
then closed. The mere form, those octagonal walls which, so it is said,
the Lombards brought into Italy, go to show that the church was used as
a Baptistery from the first, though Villani speaks of it as the Duomo;
and indeed till 1550 it had the aspect of such a church as the Pantheon
in Rome, in that it was open to the sky, so that the rain and the
sunlight have fallen on the very floor trodden by so many generations.
Humble and simple enough as we see it to-day before the gay splendour of
the new façade of the Duomo, it has yet those great treasures which the
Duomo cannot boast, the bronze doors of Andrea Pisano and of Ghiberti.

[Illustration: PIAZZA DEL DUOMO]

Over the south doorway there was placed in the end of the sixteenth
century a group by Vincenzo Danti, said to be his best work, the
Beheading of St. John Baptist; and under are the gates of Andrea Pisano
carved in twenty bronze panels with the story of St. John and certain
virtues: and around the gate Ghiberti has twined an exquisite pattern of
leaves and fruits and birds, it is strange to find Ghiberti's work
thus completing that of Andrea Pisano, who, as it is said, had Giotto to
help him, till we understand that originally these southern gates stood
where now are the "Gates of Paradise" before the Duomo. Standing there
as they used to do before Ghiberti moved them, they won for Andrea not
only the admiration of the people, but the freedom of the city. To-day
we come to them with the praise of Ghiberti ringing in our ears, so that
in our hurry to see everything we almost pass them by; but in their
simpler, and, as some may think, more sincere way, they are as lovely as
anything Ghiberti ever did, and in comparing them with the great gates
that supplanted them, it may be well to remind ourselves that each has
its merit in its own fashion. If the doors of Andrea won the praise of
the whole city, it was with an ever-growing excitement that Florence
proclaimed a public competition, open to all the sculptors of Italy, for
the work that remained, those two doors on the north and east. Ghiberti,
at that time in Rimini at the court of Carlo Malatesta, at the entreaty
of his father returned to Florence, and was one of the two artists out
of the thirty-four who competed, to be chosen for the task: the other
was Filippo Brunellesco. You may see the two panels they made in the
Bargello side by side on the wall. The subject is the Sacrifice of
Isaac, and Ghiberti, with the real instinct of the sculptor, has
altogether outstripped Brunellesco, not only in the harmony of his
composition, but in the simplicity of his intention. Brunellesco seems
to have understood this, and, perhaps liking the lad who was but
twenty-two years old, withdrew from the contest. However this may be,
Ghiberti began the work at once, and finished the door on the north side
of the Baptistery in ten years. There, amid a framework of exquisite
foliage, leaves, birds, and all kinds of life, he has set the gospel
story in twenty panels, beginning with the Annunciation and ending with
the Pentecost; and around the gate he has set the four Evangelists and
the doctors of the Church and the prophets. Above you may see the group
of a pupil of Verrocchio, the Preaching of St. John.

In looking on these beautiful and serene works, we may already notice
an advance on the work of Andrea Pisano in a certain ease and harmony, a
richness and variety, that were beyond the older master. Ghiberti has
already begun to change with his genius the form that has come down to
him, to expand it, to break down its limitations so that he may express
himself, may show us the very visions he has seen. And the success of
these gates with the people certainly confirmed him in the way he was
going. In the third door, that facing the Duomo, which Michelangelo has
said was worthy to be the gate of Paradise, it is really a new art we
come upon, the subtle rhythms and perspectives of a sort of pictorial
sculpture, that allows him to carve here in such low relief that it is
scarcely more than painting, there in the old manner, the old manner but
changed, full of a sort of exuberance which here at any rate is beauty.
The ten panels which Ghiberti thus made in his own way are subjects from
the Old Testament: the Creation of Adam and Eve, the story of Cain and
Abel, of Noah, of Abraham and Isaac, of Jacob and Esau, of Joseph, of
Moses on Sinai, of Joshua before Jericho, of David and Goliath, of
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. At his death in 1455 they were
unfinished, and a host of sculptors, including Brunellesco and Paolo
Uccello, are said to have handled the work, Antonio del Pollajuolo being
credited with the quail in the lower frame. Over the door stands the
beautiful work of Sansovino, the Baptism of Christ.

It is with a certain sense of curiosity that one steps down into the old
church; for in spite of every sort of witness it has the air of some
ancient temple: nor do the beautiful antique columns which support the
triforium undeceive us. For long enough now the mosaics of the vault
have been hidden by the scaffolding of the restorers; but the beautiful
thirteenth-century floor of white and black marble, in the midst of
which the font once stood, is still undamaged. The font, which is
possibly a work of the Pisani, is on one side, set there, as it is said,
because of old the roof of the church was open, and many a winter
christening spoiled by rain.[86] It was not, however, till 1571 that
the old font, surrounded by its small basins, one of which Dante broke
in saving a man from drowning there, was removed from the church by
Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, for the christening of his son.

Certain vestiges of the oldest church remain: you may see a sarcophagus,
one of those which, before Arnolfo covered the church with marble, stood
without and held the ashes of some of the greater families. But the most
beautiful thing here is the tomb that Donatello made for Baldassare
Cossa, pirate, condottiere, and anti-pope, who, deposed by the Council
of Constance (1414), came to Florence, and, as ever, was kindly received
by the people. It stands beside the north door. On a marble couch
supported by lions, the gilt bronze statue of this prince of
adventurers, who grasped the very chair of St. Peter as booty, lies, his
brow still troubled, his mouth set firm as though plotting new conquests
even in the grave. Below, on the tomb itself, two winged _angiolini_
hold the great scroll on which we read the name of the dead man,
Johannes Quondam Papa XXIII: to which inscription Martin V, Cossa's
successful rival at Constance, is said to have taken exception; but the
Medici who had built the tomb answered in Pilate's words to the
Pharisees, "What I have written, I have written." The three marble
figures in niches at the base may be by Michelozzo, who worked with
Donatello, or possibly by Pagano di Lapo, as the Madonna above the tomb
almost certainly is.

Coming up once more into the Piazza from that mysterious dim church, dim
with the centuries of the history of the city, you come upon two
porphyry columns beside the eastern door. They are the gift of Pisa[87]
when her ships returned from the Balearic Islands to Florence, who had
defended their city from the Lucchesi. The column with the branch of
olive in bronze upon it to the north of the Baptistery reminds us of the
miracle performed by the body of S. Zenobio in 490. Borne to burial in
S. Reparata, the bier is said to have touched a dead olive tree standing
on this spot, which immediately put forth leaves: the column
commemorates this miracle. So in Florence they remind us of the gods.

In turning now to the Duomo we come to one of the great buildings of the
world. Standing on the site of the old church of S. Salvatore, of S.
Reparata, it is a building of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
begun in 1298 from the designs of Arnolfo; and it is dedicated to S.
Maria del Fiore. Coming to us without the wonderful romantic interest,
the mysticism and exaltation of such a church as Notre Dame d'Amiens,
without the more resolute and heroic appeal of such a stronghold as the
Cathedral of Durham, it is more human than either, the work of a man
who, as it were, would thank God that he was alive and glad in the
world. And it will never bring us delight if we ask of it all the
consummate mystery, awe, and magic of the great Gothic churches of the
North. The Tuscans certainly have never understood the Christian
religion as we have contrived to do in Northern Europe. It came to them
really as a sort of divine explanation of a paganism which entranced but
bewildered them. Behind it lay the Roman Empire; and its temples became
their churches, its halls of justice their cathedrals, its tongue the
only language understood of the gods. It is unthinkable that a people
who were already in the twelfth century the possessors of a marvellous
decadent art in the painting of the Byzantine school, who, finding again
the statues of the gods, created in the thirteenth century a new art of
painting, a Christian art that was the child of imperial Rome as well as
of the Christian Church, who re-established sculpture and produced the
only sculptor of the first rank in the modern world, should have failed
altogether in architecture. Yet everywhere we may hear it said that the
Italian churches, spoken of with scorn by those who remember the
strange, subtle exaltation of Amiens, the extraordinary intricate
splendour of such a church as the Cathedral of Toledo, are mere barns.
But it is not so. As Italian painting is a profound and natural
development from Greek and Roman art, certainly influenced by life, but
in no doubt of its parentage; so are the Italian churches a very
beautiful and subtle development of pagan architecture, influenced by
life not less profoundly than painting has been, but certainly as sure
of their parentage, and, as we shall see, not less assured of their
intention. Just as painting, as soon as may be, becomes human, becomes
pagan in Signorelli and Botticelli, and yet contrives to remain true to
its new gods, so architecture as soon as it is sure of itself moves with
joy, with endless delight and thanksgiving, towards that goal of the old
builders: in such a church as S. Maria della Consolazione outside Todi,
for instance,--in such a church as S. Pietro might have been,--and that
it is not so, we may remind ourselves, is the fault of that return to
barbarism and superstition which Luther led in the North.

What then, we may ask ourselves, were the aim and desire of the Italian
builders, which it seems have escaped us for so long? If we turn to the
builders of antiquity and seek for their intention in what remains to us
of their work, we shall find, I think, that their first aim was before
all things to make the best building they could for a particular
purpose, and to build that once for all. And out of these two intentions
the third must follow; for if a temple, for instance, were both fit and
strong it would be beautiful because the purpose for which it was needed
was noble and beautiful. Now the first necessity of the basilica, for
instance, was space; and the intention of the builder would be to build
so that that space should appear as splendid as possible, and to do this
and to enjoy it would necessitate, above all things, light,--a problem
not so difficult after all in a land like Italy, where the sun is so
faithful and so divine. Taking the necessity, then, of the Italian to be
much the same as that of the Roman builder when he was designing a
basilica,--that is to say, the accommodation of a crowd of people who
are to take part in a common solemnity,--we shall find that the
intention of the Italian in building his churches is exactly that of the
Roman in building his basilica: he desires above all things space and
light, partly because they seem to him necessary for the purpose of the
church, and partly because he thinks them the two most splendid and
majestic things in the world.

Well, he has altogether carried out his intention in half a hundred
churches up and down Italy: consider here in Florence S. Croce, S. Maria
Novella, S. Spirito, and above all the Duomo. Remember his aim was not
the aim of the Gothic builder. He did not wish to impress you with the
awfulness of God, like the builder of Barcelona; or with the mystery of
the Crucifixion, like the builders of Chartres: he wished to provide for
you in his practical Latin way a temple where you might pray, where the
whole city might hear Mass or applaud a preacher. He did this in his own
noble and splendid fashion as well as it could be done. He has never
believed, save when driven mad by the barbarians, in the mysterious
awfulness of our far-away God. He prays as a man should pray, without
self-consciousness and not without self-respect. He is without
sentiment; he believes in largeness, grandeur, splendour, and sincerity;
and he has known the gods for three thousand years.

What, then, we are to look for in entering such a church as S. Maria del
Fiore is, above all, a noble spaciousness and the beauty of just

The splendour and nobility of S. Maria del Fiore from without are
evident, it might seem, to even the most prejudiced observer; but
within, I think, the beauty is perhaps less easily perceived.

One comes through the west doors out of the sunshine of the Piazza into
an immense nave, and the light is that of an olive garden,--yes, just
that sparkling, golden, dancing shadow of a day of spring in an old
olive grove not far from the sea. In this delicate and fragile light the
beauty and spaciousness of the church are softened and simplified. You
do not reason any longer, you accept it at once as a thing complete and
perfect. Complete and perfect--yet surely spoiled a little by the
gallery that dwarfs the arches and seems to introduce a useless detail
into what till then must have been so simple. One soon forgets so small
a thing in the immensity and solemnity of the whole, that seems to come
to one with the assurance of the sky or of the hills, really without an
afterthought. And indeed I find there much of the strange simplicity of
natural things that move us we know not why: the autumn fields of which
Alberti speaks, the far hills at evening, the valleys that in an hour
will make us both glad and sorry, as the sun shines or the clouds gather
or the wind sings on the hills. Not a church to think in as St. Peter's
is, but a place where one may pray, said Pius IX when he first saw S.
Maria del Fiore: and certainly it has that in common with the earth,
that you may be glad in it as well as sorry. It is not a museum of the
arts; it is not a pantheon like Westminster Abbey or S. Croce; it is the
beautiful house where God and man may meet and walk in the shadow.

Yet little though there be to interest the curious, Giovanni Acuto, that
Englishman Sir John Hawkwood of the White Company, one of the first of
the Condottieri, the deliverer of Pisa, "the first real general of
modern times," is buried here. You may see his equestrian portrait by
Paolo Uccello over the north-west doorway in his habit as he lived.
Having fought against the Republic and died in its service, he was
buried here with public honours in 1394. And then in the north aisle you
may see the statue called a portrait of Poggio Bracciolini[89] by
Donatello. Donatello carved a number of statues, of which nine have been
identified, for the Opera del Duomo, three of these are now in the
Cathedral: the Poggio, the so-called Joshua in the south aisle, which
has been said to be a portrait of Gianozzo Manetti; and the St. John
the Evangelist in the eastern part of the nave. The Poggio certainly
belongs to the series: it would be delightful if the cryptic writing on
the borders of the garment were to prove it to be the Job. The St. John
Evangelist is an earlier work than the Poggio; it was begun when
Donatello was twenty-two years old, and, as Lord Balcarres says, "it
challenges comparison with one worthy rival, the Moses of Michelangelo."
It was to have stood on one side of the central door. Something of the
wonder of this work in its own time may be understood if we compare it,
not with the later work of Michelangelo, but with the statues of St.
Mark by Niccolò d'Arezzo, the St. Luke of Nanni di Banco, and the St.
Matthew of Bernardo Ciuffagni, which were to stand beside it and are now
placed in a good light in the nave, while the work of Donatello is
almost invisible in this dark apsidal chapel. Of the other works which
Donatello made for the Opera del Duomo, the David is in the Bargello,
while the Jeremiah, and Habbakuk, the so-called Zuccone, the Abraham,
and St. John Baptist are still on the Campanile.

The octagonal choir screens carved in relief by Baccio Bandinelli, whom
Cellini hated so scornfully because he spoke lightly of Michelangelo,
will not keep you long; but there behind the high altar is an unfinished
Pietà by Michelangelo himself. It is a late work, but in that fallen
Divine Figure just caught in Madonna's arms you may see perhaps the most
beautiful thing in the church, less splendid but more pitiful than the
St. John of Donatello, but certainly not less moving than that severe,
indomitable son of thunder. Above, the dome soars into heaven; that
mighty dome, higher than St. Peter's, the despair of Michelangelo, one
of the beauties of the world. One wanders about the church looking at
the bronze doors of the Sagrestia Nuova, or the terra-cottas of Luca
della Robbia, always to return to that miracle of Brunellesco's. Not far
away in the south aisle you come upon his monument with his portrait in
marble by Buggiano. The indomitable persistence of the face! Is it any
wonder that, impossible as his dream appeared, he had his way with
Florence at last--yes, and with himself too? As you stand at the corner
of Via del Proconsolo, and, looking upward, see that immense dome
soaring into the sky over that church of marble, something of the joy
and confidence and beauty that were immortal in him come to you too from
his work. Like Columbus, he conquered a New World. His schemes, which
the best architects in Europe laughed at, were treated with scorn by the
Consiglio, yet he persuaded them at last. In 1418 he made his designs,
and the people, as now, were called upon to vote. Two years went by, and
nothing was done; then in 1420 he was elected by the Opera to the post
of Provveditore della Cupola, but not alone, for Lorenzo Ghiberti and
Battista d'Antonio were elected with him. Still he persisted, and, as
the Florentines say, by pretending sickness and leaving the work to
Ghiberti, who knew nothing about it and could do nothing without him, in
1421 he won over the Consiglio. He began at once. What his agonies may
have been, what profound difficulties he discovered and conquered, we do
not know, but by 1434, when Eugenius IV was in Florence and the Duomo
was consecrated, his dome was finished, wanting only the lantern and the
ball. These he began in 1437, but died too soon to see, for the lantern
was not finished till 1458, and it was only in 1471 that Verrocchio cast
the bronze ball.[90]

Wandering round to the façade, finished in 1886, it is a careful
imitation of fifteenth-century work we see, saved from the mere routine
of just that, in its design at any rate, by the vote of the people, who,
against the opinion of all the artists in Florence at that time,
insisted on the cornice following the basilical form of the tower,
refusing to endorse the pointed "tricuspidal" design. It is not,
however, in such merely competent work as this that we shall find
ourselves interested, but rather in the beautiful door on the north
just before the transept, over which, in an almond-shaped glory, Madonna
gives her girdle to St. Thomas. Given now to Nanni di Banco, a sculptor
of the end of the fourteenth century, whom Vasari tells us was the pupil
of Donatello, it long passed as the work of Jacopo della Quercia.
Certainly one of the loveliest works of the early Renaissance, it is so
full of life and gracious movement, so natural and so noble, that
everything else in the Cathedral, save the work of Donatello, is
forgotten beside it. Madonna enthroned among the Cherubim in her oval
mandorla, upheld by four puissant fair angels, turns with a gesture most
natural and lovely to St. Thomas, who kneels to her, his drapery in
beautiful folds about him, lifting his hands in prayer. Above, three
angels play on pipes and reeds; while in a corner a great bear gnaws at
the bark of an oak in full leaf.

In turning now to the Campanile, which Giotto began in 1334, on the site
of a chapel of S. Zenobio, we come to the last building of the great
group. Fair and slim as a lily, as light as that, as airy and full of
grace, to my mind at least it lacks a certain stability, so that looking
on it I always fear in my heart lest it should fall. It seems to lack
roots, as it were, yet by no means to want confidence or force. Can it
be that, after all, it would have seemed more secure, more firm and
established, if the spire Giotto designed for it had in truth been
built? The consummate and supreme artist, architect, sculptor, and
painter was not content to design so fair, so undreamed-of a flower as
this, but set himself to make the statues and the reliefs that were
necessary also. And then has he not built as only a painter could have
done, in white and rose and green? He died too soon to see the fairest
of his dreams, and it is really to two other artists--Taddeo Gaddi and
Francesco Talenti--that the actual work, after the first five
storeys--those windows, for instance, that add so much to the beauty of
the tower--is owing.[91]


_By Nanni di Banco. Duomo, Florence_


The reliefs that, set some five-and-twenty feet from the ground, are
so difficult to see, are the work of Andrea Pisano, the sculptor of the
south gate of the Baptistery. Born at Pontedera, the pupil of Giovanni
Pisano, this great and lovable artist has been robbed of much that
belongs to him. Vasari tells us--and for long we believed him--that
Giotto helped him to design the gate of the Baptistery; and again, that
Giotto designed these reliefs for Andrea to carve and found. It might
seem impossible to believe that the greatest sculptor then living, fresh
from a great triumph, would have consented to use the design of a
painter, even though he were Giotto. However this may be, the reliefs
really speak for themselves: those on the south side--early Sabianism,
house-building, pottery, training horses, weaving, lawgiving, and
exploration--are certainly by Andrea; while among the rest the Jubal,
the Creation of Man, the Creation of Woman, seem to be his own among the
work of his pupils. It is to quite another hand, however, to Luca della
Robbia, that the Grammar, Poetry, Philosophy, Astrology, and Music must
be given. The genius of Andrea Pisano, at its best in those Baptistery
gates, in the panel of the Baptism of our Lord, for instance, or in
those marvellous works on the façade of the Duomo at Orvieto, so full of
force, vitality, and charm, is, as I think, less fortunate in its
expression when he is concerned with such work as these statues of the
prophets in the niches on the south wall of the Campanile,--if indeed
they be his. Seen as these figures are, beside the large, splendid,
realistic work of Donatello, so wonderfully ugly in the Zuccone, so
pitiless in the Habakkuk, they are quickly forgotten; but indeed
Donatello's work seems to stand alone in the history of sculpture till
the advent of Michelangelo.

I speak of Donatello elsewhere in this book,[92] but you will find one
of his best works among much curious, interesting litter from the Duomo
in the Opera del Duomo, the Cathedral Museum in the old Falconieri
Palace just behind the apse of the Cathedral. A bust of Cosimo Primo
stands over the entrance, and within you find a beautiful head of
Brunellesco by Buggiano. It is, however, in a room on the first floor
that you will find the great organ lofts, one by Donatello and the other
by Luca della Robbia, which I suppose are among the best known works of
art in the world. Made for the Cathedral, these galleries for singers
seem to be imprisoned in a museum.

The beautiful youths of Luca, the children of Donatello, for all their
seeming vigour and joy, sing and dance no more; they are in as evil a
case as the Madonnas of the Uffizi, who, in their golden frames behind
the glass, under the vulgar, indifferent eyes of the multitude, envy
Madonna of the street-corner the love of the lowly. So it is with the
beautiful Cantorie made for God's praise by Donatello and Luca della
Robbia. Before the weary eyes of the sight-seer, the cold eyes of the
scientific critic, in the horrid silence of a museum, amid so much that
is dead, here the headless trunk of some saint, there the battered
fragments of what was once a statue, some shadow has fallen upon them,
and though they keep still the gesture of joy, they are really dead or
sleeping. Is it only sleep? Do they perhaps at night, when all the doors
of their prisons are barred and their gaolers are gone, praise God in
His Holiness, even in such a hell as this? Who knows? They were made for
a world so different, for a time that out of the love of God had seen
arise the very beauty of the world, and were glad therefor. Ah, of how
many beautiful things have we robbed God in our beggary! We have
imprisoned the praise of the artists in the museums that Science may
pass by and sneer; we have arranged the saints in order, and Madonna we
have carefully hidden under the glass, because now we never dream of God
or speak with Him at all. Art is dying, Beauty is become a burden,
Nature a thing for science and not for love. They are become too
precious, the old immortal things; we must hide them away lest they fade
and God take them from us: and because we have hidden them away, and
they are become too precious for life, and we have killed them because
we loved them, we seldom pass by where they are save to satisfy the
same curiosity that leads us to any other charnel-house where the dead
are exposed.


_In Opera del Duomo, Florence_


Thus they have stolen away the silver altar of the Baptistery, that
miracle of the fourteenth-century silversmiths, Betto di Geri, Leonardo
di Ser Giovanni, and the rest, that it may be a cause of wonder in a
museum. So a flower looks between the cold pages of a botanist's album,
so a bird sings in his case: for life is to do that for which we were
created, and if that be the praise of God in His sanctuary, to stand
impotently by under the gaze of innumerable unbelievers in a museum is
to die. And truly this is a shame in Italy that so many fair and lovely
things have been torn out of their places to be catalogued in a gallery.
It were a thousand times better that they were allowed to fade quietly
on the walls of the church where they were born. It is a vandalism only
possible to the modern world in which the machines have ground out every
human feeling and left us nothing but a bestial superstition which we
call science, and which threatens to become the worst tyranny of all,
that we should thus herd together, catalogue, describe, arrange, and
gape at every work of art and nature we can lay our hands on. No doubt
it brings in, directly and indirectly, an immense revenue to the country
which can show the most of such death chambers. Often by chance or
mistake one has wandered into a museum--though I confess I never
understood in what relation it stood to the Muses--where your scientist
has collected his scraps and refuse of Nature, things that were
wonderful or beautiful once--birds, butterflies, the marvellous life of
the foetus, and such--but that in his hands have died in order that he
may set them out and number them one by one. Here you will find a leg
that once stood firm enough, there an arm that once for sure held
someone in its embrace: now it is exposed to the horror and curiosity of
mankind. Well, it is the same with the Pictures and the statues. Why,
men have prayed before them, they have heard voices, tears have fallen
where they stood, and they have whispered to us of the beauty and the
love of God. To-day, herded in thousands, chained to the walls of their
huge dungeons, they are just specimens like the dead butterflies which
we pay to see, which some scientific critic without any care for beauty
will measure and describe in the inarticulate and bestial syllables of
some degenerate dialect he thinks is language. Our unfortunate gods! How
much more fortunate were they of the older world: Zeus, whose statue of
ivory and gold mysteriously was stolen away; Aphrodite of Cnidus, which
someone hid for love; and you, O Victory of Samothrace, that being
headless you cannot see the curious, peeping, indifferent multitude. Was
it for this the Greeks blinded their statues, lest the gods being in
exile, they might be shamed by the indifference of men? And now that our
gods too are exiled, who will destroy their images and their pictures
crowded in the museums, that the foolish may not speak of them we have
loved, nor the scientist say, such and such they were, in stature of
such a splendour, carved by such a man, the friend of the friend of a
fool? But our gods are dead.


[86] I give this story for what it is worth. So far as I know, however,
the font was placed in its present position in 1658, more than a hundred
years after the church was roofed in. It may, however, have occupied
another position before that.

[87] See p. 82.

[88] To compare an Italian church with a French cathedral would be to
compare two altogether different things, a fault in logic, and in
criticism the unforgivable sin; for a work of art must be judged in its
own category, and praised only for its own qualities, and blamed only
for its own defects.

[89] Cf. _Donatello_, by Lord Balcarres: Duckworth, 1903, p. 12.

[90] Not the ball we see now, which was struck by lightning and hurled
into the street in 1492. Verrocchio's was rather smaller than the
present ball.

[91] See Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _History of Painting in Italy_: London,
1903, p. 116, note 4.

[92] See pp. 283-289.



Or San Michele, S. Michele in Orto, was till the middle of the
thirteenth century a little church belonging, as it is said, to the
Cistercians, who certainly claimed the patronage of it. About 1260,
however, the Commune of Florence began to dispute this right with the
Order, and at last pulled down the church, building there, thirty years
later, a loggia of brick, after a design by Arnolfo di Cambio, according
to Vasari, who tells us that it was covered with a simple roof and that
the piers were of brick. This loggia was the corn-market of the city, a
shelter, too, for the contadini who came to show their samples and to
talk, gossip, and chaffer, as they do everywhere in Italy even to-day.
And, as was the custom, they made a shrine of Madonna there, hanging on
one of the brick pillars a picture (_tavola_) of Madonna that, as it is
said, was the work of Ugolino da Siena. This shrine soon became famous
for the miracles Madonna wrought there. "On July 3rd," says Giovanni
Villani, writing of the year 1292, "great and manifest miracles began to
be shown forth in the city of Florence by a figure of Saint Mary which
was painted on a pilaster of the loggia of S. Michele d'Orto, where the
corn was sold: the sick were healed, the deformed were made straight,
and those who were possessed of devils were delivered from them in
numbers." In the previous year the Compagnia di Or San Michele, called
the Laudesi, had been established, and this Company, putting the fame of
the miracles to good use, grew rich, much to the disgust of the Friars
Minor and the Dominicans. "The Preaching Friars and the Friars Minor
likewise," says Villani, "through envy or some other cause, would put no
faith in that image, whereby they fell into great infamy with the
people. But so greatly grew the fame of these miracles and the merits of
Our Lady, that pilgrims flocked thither from all Tuscany for her festas,
bringing divers waxen images because of the wonders, so that a great
part of the loggia in front of and around Madonna was filled."
Cavalcanti, too, speaks of Madonna di Or San Michele, likening her to
his Lady, in a sonnet which scandalised Guido Orlandi--

    "Guido an image of my Lady dwells
    At S. Michele in Orto, consecrate
    And duly worshipped. Fair in holy state
    She listens to the tale each sinner tells:
    And among them that come to her, who ails
    The most, on him the most doth blessing wait.
    She bids the fiend men's bodies abdicate;
    Over the curse of blindness she prevails,
    And heals sick languors in the public squares.
    A multitude adores her reverently:
    Before her face two burning tapers are;
    Her voice is uttered upon paths afar.
    Yet through the Lesser Brethren's jealousy
    She is named idol; not being one of theirs."[93]

The feuds of Neri and Bianchi at this time distracted Florence; at the
head of the Blacks, though somewhat their enemy, was Corso Donati; at
the head of the Whites were the Cerchi and the Cavalcanti. After the
horrid disaster of May Day, when the Carraja bridge, crowded with folk
come to see that strange carnival of the other world, fell and drowned
so many, there had been much fighting in the city, in which Corso Donati
stood neutral, for he was ill with gout, and angered with the Black
party. Robbed thus of their great leader, the Neri were beaten day and
night by the Cerchi, who with the aid of the Cavalcanti and Gherardini
rode through the city as far as the Mercato Vecchio and Or San
Michele, and from there to S. Giovanni, and certainly they would have
taken the city with the help of the Ghibellines, who were come to their
aid, if one Ser Neri Abati, clerk and prior of S. Piero Scheraggio, a
dissolute and worldly man, and a rebel and enemy against his friends,
had not set fire to the houses of his family in Or San Michele, and to
the Florentine Calimala near to the entrance of Mercato Vecchio. This
fire did enormous damage, as Villani tells us, destroying not only the
houses of the Abati, the Macci, the Amieri, the Toschi, the Cipriani,
Lamberti, Bachini, Buiamonti, Cavalcanti, and all Calimala, together
with all the street of Porta S. Maria, as far as Ponte Vecchio and the
great towers and houses there, but also Or San Michele itself. In this
disaster who knows what became of the miracle picture of Madonna? For
years the loggia lay in ruins, till peace being established in 1336, the
Commune decided to rebuild it, giving the work into the hands of the
Guild of Silk, which, according to Vasari, employed Taddeo Gaddi as
architect. The first stone of the new building was laid on July 29,
1337, the old brick piers, according to Villani, being removed, and
pillars of stone set up in their stead.[94] In 1339 the Guild of Silk
won leave from the Commune to build in each of these stone piers a
niche, which later should hold a statue; while above the loggia was
built a great storehouse for corn, as well as an official residence for
the officers of the market.

[Illustration: OR SAN MICHELE]

Nine years later there followed the great plague, of which Boccaccio has
left us so terrible an impression. In this dreadful calamity, which
swept away nearly two-thirds of the population, the Compagnia di Or San
Michele grew very wealthy, many citizens leaving it all their
possessions. No doubt very much was distributed in charity, for the
Company had become the greatest charitable society in the city, but by
1347, so great was its wealth, that it resolved to build the most
splendid shrine in Italy for the Madonna di Or San Michele. The loggia
was not yet finished, and after the desolation of the plague the Commune
was probably too embarrassed to think of completing it immediately. Some
trouble certainly seems to have arisen between the Guild of Silk, who
had charge of the fabric, and the Company, who were only concerned for
their shrine, the latter, in spite of their wealth, refusing in any way
to assist in finishing the building. Whether from this cause or another,
a certain suspicion of the Company began to rise in Florence, and Matteo
Villani roundly accuses the Capitani della Compagnia of peculation and
corruption. However this may be, by 1355 Andrea Orcagna had been chosen
to build the shrine of Madonna, which is still to-day one of the wonders
of the city. It seems to have been in a sort of recognition of the
splendour and beauty of Orcagna's work that the Signoria, between 1355
and 1359, removed the corn-market elsewhere, and thus gave up the whole
loggia to the shrine of Madonna. Thus the loggia became a church, the
great popular church of Florence, built by the people for their own use,
in what had once been the corn-market of the city. The architect of this
strange and secular building, more like a palace than a church, is
unknown. Vasari, as I have said, speaks of Taddeo Gaddi; others again
have thought it the work of Orcagna himself; while Francesco Talenti and
his son Simone are said to have worked on it. The question is to a large
extent a matter of indifference. What is important here is the fact that
it is to the greater Guilds and to the Parte Guelfa that we owe the
church itself--that is to say, to the merchants and trades of the
city--while the beautiful shrine within is due to a secular Company
consisting of some of the greatest citizens, and to a large extent
opposed to the regular Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis. It is,
then, as the great church of the _popolo_ that we have to consider Or
San Michele. Here, because their greatest and most splendid deed, the
expulsion of the Duke of Athens, had been achieved on St. Anne's Day,
July 26, 1343, they built a chapel to St. Anne, and around the church
on every anniversary, above the fourteen niches which hold the statues
presented by the seven greater arts, by six of the fourteen lesser arts,
and by the Magistrato della Mercanzia, that magistracy which governed
all the guilds,[95] their banners are set up even to this day.

The great Guild of Wool was already responsible for the Duomo, and it
was for this reason, it might seem, that to the Guild of Silk was given
the care of Or San Michele; not altogether without jealousy, it might
seem, for when they had asked leave to place the image of their saint in
one of the niches there, all the other guilds had demanded a like
favour, thus in an especial manner marking the place as the Church of
the Merchants, the true _popolo_; the great popular shrine of Florence,
therefore, since Florence was a city of merchants.

It is on the south side, in the niche nearest to Via Calzaioli, that the
Guild of Silk set its statue of St. John the Evangelist by Baccio da
Montelupo; next to it is an empty niche belonging to the Guild of
Apothecaries and Doctors. Here a Madonna and Child by Simone Ferrucci
once stood, but, owing to a rumour current in the seventeenth century,
that Madonna sometimes moved her eyes, the statue was placed inside the
church, so that the crowd which always collected to see this miracle
might no longer stop the way. In the next niche the Furriers placed a
statue of St. James by Nanni di Banco, and beyond, the Guild of Linen
set up a statue of St. Mark by Donatello. On the west, in the first
niche, is S. Lo, the patron of the Furriers, carved by Nanni di Banco,
and beyond, St. Stephen, set there by the Guild of Wool and carved by
Ghiberti; while next to him stands St. Matthew, set there by the Bankers
and carved by Ghiberti, and cast in 1422 by Michelozzo. On the north,
Donatello's statue of St. George used to fill the first niche, somewhat
shallower than the rest owing to a staircase inside the church, but it
was removed to the Bargello for fear of the weather: the beautiful
relief, also by Donatello, below the copy, is still in its place, under
the St. George of the Armourers. The four statues in the next niche were
placed there by the Guilds of Sculptors, Masons, Smiths, and
Bricklayers; they are the work of Nanni di Banco. Further, is the St.
Philip of the Shoemakers, again by Nanni di Banco, and the St. Peter of
the Butchers, by Donatello. On the east stands St. Luke, placed there by
the Notaries, and carved by Giovanni da Bologna; the great bronze group
of Christ and St. Thomas, the gift of the Magistrato della Mercanzia,
the governor of all the guilds; and the St. John Baptist, the gift of
the Calimala, and the work of Ghiberti: this last was the first statue
placed here--in 1414.

Nanni di Banco, that delightful sculptor of the Madonna della Cintola of
the Duomo, has thus four works here at Or San Michele--the S. Lo, the
group on the north side, the St. Philip, and the St. James. The St.
Philip, and the group which represents the four masons who, being
Christians, refused to build a Pagan temple, and were martyred long and
long ago, have little merit; and though the S. Lo has a certain force,
and the relief below it a wonderful simplicity, they lack altogether the
charm of the Madonna della Cintola.

Ghiberti has three works here--the St. Stephen, the St. Matthew, and the
St. John Baptist, the only sculptures of the kind he ever produced. Full
of energy though the St. Stephen may be, it has about it a sort of
divine modesty that lends it a charm altogether beyond anything we may
find in the St. John Baptist, a figure full of character, nevertheless.
It is, however, in the St. Matthew that we see Ghiberti at his best
perhaps, in a figure for once full of strength, and altogether splendid.

Donatello, too, had three figures here beside the relief beneath the St.
George. The St. Peter on the north side is probably the earliest work
done for Or San Michele, and is certainly the poorest. The St. Mark on
the south side is, however, a fine example of his earlier manner, with
a certain largeness, strength, and liberty about it a frankness, too, in
expression so that he has made us believe in the goodness of the
Apostle, which, as Michelangelo is reported to have said must have
vouched for the truth of what he taught.

The masterpiece, certainly, of these Tuscan sculptures is the bronze
group of Christ and St. Thomas by Verrocchio, which I have so loved. All
the work of this master is full of eagerness and force: something of
that strangeness without which there is no excellent beauty, that later
was so characteristic of the work of his pupil Leonardo, you will find
in this work also, a subtlety sometimes a little elaborate, that, as I
think is but a sort of over-eagerness to express all he has thought to
say. Donatello prepared this niche for him at the end of his life it was
almost his last work; and Verrocchio, after many years of labour, had
thought to place here really his masterpiece, in the church that, more
than any other, belonged to the people of the city, that middle class,
as we might say, from which he sprang. How perfectly, and yet not
altogether without affectation, he has composed that difficult scene, so
that St. Thomas stands a little out of the setting, and places his
finger--yes, almost as a child might do--in the wounded side of Jesus,
who stands majestically fair before him. It is true the drapery is
complicated, a little heavy even, but with what care he has remembered
everything! Consider the grace of those beautiful folds, the beauty of
the hair, the loveliness of the hands: and then, as Burckhardt reminds
us, as a piece of work founded and cast in bronze, it is almost

       *       *       *       *       *

Within, the church is strange and splendid. It is as though one stood in
a loggia in deep shadow, at the end of the day in the last gold of the
sunset; and there, amid the ancient fading glory of the frescoes, is the
wonderful shrine that Orcagna made for the picture of Madonna, who had
turned the Granary of S. Michele into the Church of the People. Finished
in 1359, this tabernacle is the loveliest work of the kind in Italy, an
unique masterpiece, and perhaps the most beautiful example of the
Italian Gothic manner in existence. Orcagna seems to have been at work
on it for some ten years, covering it with decoration and carving those
reliefs of the Life of the Virgin in that grand style which he had found
in Giotto and learned perhaps from Andrea Pisano. To describe the shrine
itself would be impossible and useless. It is like some miniature and
magic church, a casquet made splendid not with jewels but with beauty,
where the miracle picture of Madonna--not that ancient and wonderful
picture by Ugolino da Siena, but a work, it is said, of Bernardo
Daddi--glows under the lamps. On the west side, in front of the altar,
Orcagna has carved the Marriage of the Virgin and the Annunciation; on
the south, the Nativity of Our Lord and the Adoration of the Magi; on
the north, the Presentation of the Virgin and her Birth; and on the
east, the Purification and the Annunciation of her Death. And above
these last, in a panel of great beauty, he has carved the Death of the
Virgin, where, among the Apostles crowding round her bed, while St.
Thomas--or is it St. John?--passionately kisses her feet, Jesus Himself
stands with her soul in His arms, that little Child which had first
entered the kingdom of heaven. Above this sorrowful scene you may see
the Glory and Assumption of Our Lady in a mandorla glory, upheld by six
angels, while St. Thomas kneels below, stretching out his arms, assured
at last. It is, as it were, the prototype of the Madonna della Cintola,
that exquisite and lovely relief which Nanni di Banco carved later for
the north gate of the Duomo, only here all the sweetness that Nanni has
seen and expressed seems to be lost in a sort of solemnity and strength.

Between these panels Orcagna has set the virtues Theological and
Cardinal, little figures of much force and beauty; and at the corners he
has carved angels bearing palms and lilies. Some who have seen this
shrine so loaded with ornament, so like some difficult and complicated
canticle, have gone away disappointed. Remembering the strength and
significance of Orcagna's work in fresco, they have perhaps looked for
some more simple thing, and indeed for a less rhetorical praise. Yet I
think it is rather the fault of Or San Michele than of the shrine
itself, that it does not certainly vanquish any possible objection and
assure us at once of its perfection and beauty. If it could be seen in
the beautiful spacious transept of S. Croce, or even in Santo Spirito
across Arno, that sense as of something elaborate and complicated would
perhaps not be felt; but here in Or San Michele one seems to have come
upon a priceless treasure in a cave.


[93] Rossetti's translation of Guido Cavalcanti's Sonnet written in

[94] Franceschini, however, in his record (_L'Oratorio di S. Michele in
Orto in Firenze_: P. Franceschini: Firenze, 1892), says that the
Tabernacle of Orcagna was built round the old brick pillars. It may well
be that the pillar on which the Madonna was painted or was hung (for it
is not clear whether the painting was a panel or a wall painting) was
saved while the rest was destroyed.

[95] The Parte Guelfa originally set up their statue of St. Louis of
Toulouse, carved by Donatello, in the place where now stands the statue
of Magistrates, the group of Christ and St. Thomas made by Verrocchio.
Eight of the fourteen lesser arts are not represented--namely, the
Bakers, the Carpenters, the Leatherworkers, the Saddlers, the
Innkeepers, the Vintners, and the Cheesemongers.



It is in the Ciompi rising of 1278, that social revolution in which all
Florence seems for once to have been interested, that we catch really
for the first time the name of Medici. In 1352, Salvestro de'
Medici--_non già Salvestro ma Salvator mundi_, Franco Sacchetti calls
him--had led the Florentines against the Archbishop of Milan, and in
1370 he had been chosen Gonfaloniere of Justice. He was filling this
office against the wishes of the Parte Guelfa, when, not without his
connivance, the Ciompi riot broke out against the magnates, whose power
he had sought to break by means of the Ordinances of Justice.

The result of that bloody struggle was really a victory for the Arti
Maggiori, the Arti Minori being bribed with promises and thus separated
from the populace, who had sided with the Parte Guelfa, which was beaten
for ever. The oligarchy was saved, but the struggle between rich and
poor was by no means over. Soon the older Guilds seem to lose grip, and
we see instead great trusts arising, associations of wealth, and above
all, Banking Companies. What was wanting in Florence, as elsewhere in
Italy, was some legitimate authority that might have guided the people
in their desire for power. As it was, the city became divided into
classes, each anxious to gain power at the expense of others, the result
being an oligarchy, continually a prey to schism, merely waiting for a
despot to declare himself.

Seemingly in the hands of a group of families without any legitimate
right, the government was really in the power of one among them, and
thus of one man, the head of it, Maso degli Albizzi. Brilliant, clever,
and fascinating, Maso ruled with a certain strength and generosity; but
Florence was a city of merchants, and between the Scylla of oligarchy
and the Charybdis of despotism, was really driven into the latter by her
economic position. The Duke Gian Galeazzo of Milan closed the trade
routes, and Florence was compelled to fight for her life. Pisa, too, had
to be overcome, again for economic reasons, and in 1414 a long war with
King Ladislaus brought Cortona into the power of the Republic; but all
these wars cost money, and the taxes pressed on the poor, who obtained
no advantage from them. Maso's son Rinaldo, who succeeded him before the
wars were over, had less ability than his father, and was certainly less
beloved; he seems, however, to have been upright and incorruptible. He
was, nevertheless, capable of mistakes, and, while engaged in war with
Milan, attempted to seize Lucca. At length, when the grumbling of the
poor had already gone too far, he readjusted the taxes, and thus
alienated the rich also. His own party was divided, he himself heading
the more conservative party, which refused to listen to the clamour of
the wealthier families for a part in the government, while Niccolò
Uzzano, with the more liberal party, would have admitted them. Among
these wealthy families excluded from the government was the Medici.

The Medici had been banished after the Ciompi riots, but a branch of the
family had returned, and was already established in the affections of
the people. To the head of this branch, Giovanni de' Medici, all the
enemies of Rinaldo looked with hope. This extraordinary man, who
certainly was the founder of the greatness of his house, had long since
understood that in such an oligarchy as that of Florence, the wealthiest
must win. He had busied himself to establish his name and credit
everywhere in Europe. He refused to take any open and active part in
the fight that he foresaw must, with patience decide in his favour, but
on his death, Cosimo, his elder son, no longer put off the crisis. He
opposed Rinaldo for the control of the Signoria, and was beaten, in
spite of every sort of bribery and corruption. It fell out that Bernardo
Guadagni, whom Rinaldo had made his creature, was chosen Gonfaloniere
for the months of September and October 1433. Rinaldo at once went to
him and persuaded him that the greatest danger to the State was the
wealth of Cosimo, who had inherited vast riches, including some sixteen
banks in various European cities, from his father. He encouraged him to
arrest Cosimo, and to have no fear, for his friends would be ready to
help him, if necessary, with arms. Cosimo was cited to appear before the
Balia, which, much against the wishes of his friends, he did. "Many,"
says Machiavelli, "would have him banished many executed, and many were
silent, either out of compassion for him or apprehension of other
people, so that nothing was concluded." Cosimo, however, was in the
meantime a prisoner in the Palazzo Vecchio in the Alberghettino
tower[96] in the custody of Federigo Malavolti. He could hear all that
was said, and the clatter of arms and the tumult made him fear for his
life, and especially he was afraid of assassination or poison, so that
for four days he ate nothing. This was told to Federigo, who, according
to Machiavelli, addressed him in these words: "You are afraid of being
poisoned, and you kill yourself with hunger. You have but small esteem
of me to believe I would have a hand in any such wickedness; I do not
think your life is in danger, your friends are too numerous, both within
the Palace and without; if there be any such designs, assure yourself
they must take new measures, I will never be their instrument, nor
imbrue my hands in the blood of any man, much less of yours, since you
have never offended me. Courage, then, feed as you did formerly, and
keep yourself alive for the good of your country and friends, and
that you may eat with more confidence, I myself will be your taster."


Now Malavolti one night brought home with him to supper a servant of the
Gonfaloniere's called Fargannaccio, a pleasant man and very good
company. Supper over, Cosimo, who knew Fargannaccio of old, made a sign
to Malavolti that he should leave them together. When they were alone,
Cosimo gave him an order to the master of the Ospedale di S. Maria Nuova
for 1100 ducats, a thousand for the Gonfaloniere and the odd hundred for
himself. On receipt of this sum Bernardo became more moderate, and
Cosimo was exiled to Padua. "Wherever he passed," says Machiavelli, "he
was honourably received, visited publicly by the Venetians, and treated
by them more like a sovereign than a prisoner." Truly the oligarchy had
at last produced a despot.

The reception of Cosimo abroad seems to have frightened the Florentines,
for within a year a Balia was chosen friendly disposed towards him. Upon
this Rinaldo and his friends took arms and proceeded to the Palazzo
Vecchio, the Senate ordering the gates to be closed against them;
protesting at the same time that they had no thought of recalling
Cosimo. At this time Eugenius IV, hunted out of Rome by the populace,
was living at the convent of S. Maria Novella. Perhaps fearing the
tumult, perhaps bribed or persuaded by Cosimo's friends, he sent
Giovanni Vitelleschi to desire Rinaldo to speak with him. Rinaldo
agreed, and marched with all his company to S. Maria Novella. They
appear to have remained in conference all night, and at dawn Rinaldo
dismissed his men. What passed between them no man knows, but early in
October 1434 the recall of Cosimo was decreed and Rinaldo with his son
went into exile. Cosimo was received, Machiavelli tells us, "with no
less ostentation and triumph than if he had obtained some extraordinary
victory; so great was the concourse of people, and so high the
demonstration of their joy, that by an unanimous and universal
concurrence he was saluted as the Benefactor of the people and the
Father of his country." Thus the Medici established themselves in
Florence. Practically Prince of the Commune, though never so in name,
Cosimo set himself to consolidate his power by a judicious munificence
and every political contrivance known to him. Thus, while he enriched
the city with such buildings as his palace in Via Larga, the Convent of
S. Marco, the Church of S. Lorenzo, he helped Francesco Sforza to
establish himself as tyrant of Milan, and in the affairs of Florence
always preferred war to peace, because he knew that, beggared, the
Florentines must come to him. Yet it was in his day that Florence became
the artistic and intellectual capital of Italy. Under his patronage and
enthusiasm the Renaissance for the first time seems to have become sure
of itself. The humanists, the architects, the sculptors, the painters
are, as it were, seized with a fury of creation; they discover new
forms, and express themselves completely, with beauty and truth. For a
moment realism and beauty have kissed one another: for reality is not
enough, as Alberti will find some day, it is necessary to find and to
express the beauty there also. It was an age that was learning to enjoy
itself. The world and the beauty of the world laid bare, partly by the
study of the ancients, partly by observation, really almost a new
faculty, were enough; that conscious paganism which later, but for the
great disaster, might have emancipated the world, had not yet discovered
itself; in Cosimo's day art was still an expression of joy, impetuous,
unsophisticated, simple. In this world of brief sunshine Cosimo appears
to us very delightfully as the protector of the arts, the sincere lover
of learning, the companion of scholars. To him in some sort the world
owes the revival of the Platonic Philosophy, for the Greek Argyropolis
lived in his house, and taught Piero his son and Lorenzo his grandson
the language of the Gods. When Gemisthus Pletho came to Florence, Cosimo
made one of his audience, and was so moved by his eloquence that he
determined to establish a Greek academy in the city on the first
opportunity. He was the dear friend of Marsilio Ficino, and he founded
the Libraries of S. Marco and of the Badia at Fiesole. The great
humanists of his time, Leonardo Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini, Poggio and
Niccolò de' Niccoli were his companions, and in his palace in Via Larga,
and in his villas at Careggi and Poggio a Caiano, he gathered the most
precious treasures, rare manuscripts, and books, not a few antique
marbles and jewels, coins and medals and statues, while he filled the
courts and rooms, built and decorated by the greatest artists of his
time, with the statues of Donatello, the pictures of Paolo Uccello,
Andrea del Castagno, Fra Filippo Lippo, and Benozzo Gozzoli. Cosimo,
says Gibbon, "was the father of a line of princes whose name and age are
almost synonymous with the restoration of learning; his credit was
ennobled with fame; his riches were dedicated to the service of mankind;
he corresponded at once with Cairo and London, and a cargo of Indian
spices and Greek books were often imported in the same vessel." While
Burckhardt, the most discerning critic of the civilisation of the
Renaissance, tells us that "to him belongs the special glory of
recognising in the Platonic philosophy the fairest flower of the ancient
world of thought, and of inspiring his friends with the same belief."

Among those who had loved Cosimo so well as to go with him into exile,
had been Michelozzo Michelozzi, the architect and sculptor, the pupil of
Donatello. Already, Vasari tells us in 1430, Cosimo had caused
Michelozzo to prepare a model for a palace at the corner of Via Larga
beside S. Giovannino, for one already made by Brunellesco appeared to
him too sumptuous and magnificent, and quite as likely to awaken envy
among his fellow-citizens as to contribute to the grandeur and ornament
of the city, and to his own convenience. The palace which we see to-day
at the corner of Via Cavour and Via Gori and call Palazzo Riccardi, was
perhaps not begun till 1444, and is certainly somewhat changed and
enlarged since Michelozzo built it for Cosimo Vecchio. The windows on
the ground floor, for instance, were added by Michelangelo and the
Riccardi family, whose name it now bears, and who bought it in 1695 from
Ferdinando II, enlarged it in 1715.

In 1417, Cosimo, after his marriage with Contessina de' Bardi, had
bought and Michelozzo had rebuilt for him the Villa Careggi, where, in
the Albizzi conspiracy, he had retired, he said, "to escape from the
contests and divisions in the city." It was here that he lay dying when
he wrote to Marsilio Ficino to come to him. "Come to us, Marsilio, as
soon as you are able. Bring with you your translation of Plato _De Summo
Bono_, for I desire nothing so much as to learn the road to the greatest
happiness": and there too Lorenzo his grandson turned his face to the
wall, when Savonarola came to him in his last hours and bade him give
back liberty to Florence.

It is, however, the palace in the Via Larga that recalls to us most
vividly the lives and times of these first Medici, Cosimo Vecchio, Piero
the gouty, Lorenzo il Magnifico. Michelozzo, Vasari tells us, deserves
infinite credit for this building, since it was the first palace built
in Florence after modern rules in which the rooms were arranged with a
view to convenience and beauty. "The cellars are excavated," he
explains, "to more than half their depth under the ground, having four
braccia beneath the earth, that is with three above, on account of the
lights. There are, besides buttresses, store-rooms, etc., on the same
level. In the first or ground floor are two court-yards with magnificent
loggia, on which open various saloons, bed-chambers, ante-rooms,
writing-rooms, offices, baths, kitchens, and reservoirs, with staircases
both for private and public use, all most conveniently arranged. In the
upper floors are dwellings and apartments for a family, with all those
conveniences proper, not only to that of a private citizen, as Cosimo
then was, but sufficient also for the most powerful and magnificient
sovereign. Accordingly, in our time, kings, emperors, popes, and
whatever of most illustrious Europe can boast in the way of princes,
have been most commodiously lodged in this palace, to the infinite
credit of the magnificent Cosimo, as well as that of Michelozzo's
eminent skill in architecture."

It is not, however, the splendour of the palace, fine as it is, or the
memory of Cosimo even, that brings us to that beautiful house to-day,
but the work of Donatello in the courtyard, those marble medallions
copied from eight antique gems, and the little chapel on the second
floor, almost an afterthought you might think, since in a place full of
splendidly proportioned rooms, it is so cramped and cornered under the
staircase, where Benozzo Gozzoli has painted in fresco quite round the
walls, the Journey of the Three Kings, in which Cosimo himself, Piero
his son, and Lorenzo his grandson, then a golden-haired youth, ride
among the rest, in a procession that never finds the manger at
Bethlehem, is indeed not concerned with it, but is altogether occupied
with its own light-hearted splendour, and the beauty of the fair morning
among the Tuscan hills. Is it the pilgrimage of the Magi to the lowly
cot of Jesus that we find in that tiny dark chapel, or the journey of
man, awake now on the first morning of spring in quest of beauty? Over
the grass scattered with flowers, that gay company passes at dawn by
little white towns and grey towers, through woods where for a moment is
heard the song of some marvellous bird, past running streams, between
hedges of pomegranates and clusters of roses; and by the wayside rise
the stone-pine and the cypress, while over all is the far blue sky, full
of the sun, full of the wind, which is so soft that not a leaf has
trembled in the woods, nor the waters stirred in a single ripple. Truly
they are come to Tuscany where Beauty is, and are far from Bethlehem,
where Love lies sleeping. There on a mule, a black slave beside his
stirrup, rides Cosimo Pater Patriae, and beside him comes Piero his son,
attended too, and before them on a white horse stepping proudly, with
jewels in his cap, rides the golden-haired Lorenzo, the youngest of the
three kings, already magnificent, the darling of this world of hills and
streams, which one day he will sing better than anyone of his time. Not
thus came the Magi of the East across the deserts to stony Judaea, and
though the Emperor of the East be of them, and the Patriarch of
Constantinople another, we know it is to the knowledge of Plato they
would lead us, and not to the Sedes Sapientiae. And so it is before an
empty shrine that those clouds of angels sing; Madonna has fled away,
and the children are singing a new song, surely the Trionfo of Lorenzo,
it is the first time, perhaps, that we hear it--

    Quant' e' bella giovinezza.

Ah, if they had but known how tragically that day would close.

As Cosimo lay dying at Careggi, often closing his eyes, "to use them to
it," as he told his wife, who wondered why he lay thus without sleeping,
it was perhaps some vision of that conflict which he saw and would fain
have dismissed from his mind, already divided a little in its
allegiance--who knows--between the love of Plato and the love of Jesus.
Piero, his son, gouty and altogether without energy, was content to
confirm his political position and to overwhelm the Pitti conspiracy. It
is only with the advent of Lorenzo and Giuliano, the first but
twenty-one when Piero died, that the spirit of the Renaissance, free for
the first time, seems to dance through every byway of the city, and,
confronted at last by the fanatic hatred of Savonarola, to laugh in his
face and to flee away through Italy into the world.

Born in 1448, Lorenzo always believed that he owed almost everything
that was valuable in his life to his mother Lucrezia, of the noble
Florentine house of Tornabuoni, which had abandoned its nobility in
order to qualify for public office. A poetess herself, and the patron of
poets, she remained the best counsellor her son ever had. In his early
youth she had watched over his religious education, and in his
grandfather's house he had met not only statesmen and bankers, but
artists and men of letters. His first tutor had been Gentile Becchi of
Urbino, afterwards Bishop of Arezzo; from him he learned Latin, but
Argyropolus and Ficino and Landino taught him Greek, and read Plato and
Aristotle with him. Nor was this all, for we read of his eagerness for
every sort of exercise. He could play calcio and pallone, and his own
poems witness his love of hunting and of country life, and he ran a
horse often enough in the palii of Siena. He was more than common tall,
with broad shoulders, and very active. In colour dark, though he was not
handsome, his face had a sort of dignity that compelled respect, but he
was shortsighted too, and his nose was rather broad and flat. If he
lacked the comeliness of outward form, he loved all beauteous things,
and was in many ways the most extraordinary man of his age; his verse,
for instance, has just that touch of genius which seems to be wanting in
the work of contemporary poets. His love for Lucrezia Donati, in whose
honour the tournament of 1467 was popularly supposed to be held, though
in reality it was given to celebrate his betrothal with Clarice Orsini,
seems to have been merely an affectation in the manner of Petrarch, so
fashionable at that time. Certainly the Florentines, for that day at
least, wished to substitute a lady of their city for the Roman beauty,
and Lorenzo seems to have agreed with them. Like the tournament that
Giuliano held later in honour of Simonetta Vespucci, which Poliziano has
immortalised, and for which Botticelli painted a banner, this pageant of
Lorenzo's, for it was rather a pageant than a fight, was sung, too, by
Luca Pulci, and was held in Piazza S. Croce. A rumour of the splendour
of the dresses, the beauty and enthusiasm of the scene, has come down to
us, together with Lorenzo's own account of the day, and Clarice's
charming letter to him concerning it. "To follow the custom," he writes
unenthusiastically in his Memoir--"to follow the custom and do as others
do, I gave a tournament in Piazza S. Croce at a great cost, and with a
considerable magnificence; it seems about 10,000 ducats were spent.
Although I was not a great fighter, nor even a very strong hitter, I won
the prize, a helmet of inlaid silver, with a figure of Mars as a crest."
"I have received your letter, in which you tell me of the tournament
where you won the prize," writes Clarice, "and it has given me much
pleasure. I am glad you are fortunate in what pleases you and that my
prayers are heard, for I have no other wish but to see you happy. Give
my respects to my father Piero and my mother Lucrezia, and all who are
near to you, and I send, too, my respect to you. I have nothing else to
say.--Yours, Clarice de Orsinis." Poor little Clarice, she was married
to Lorenzo on June 4, in the following year. "I, Lorenzo, took to wife
Clarice, daughter of Signor Jacopo, or rather she was given to me." He
writes more coldly, certainly, than he was used to do. The marriage
festa was celebrated in Palazzo Riccardi with great magnificence.
Clarice, who was tall, slender, and shapely, with long delicate hands
and auburn hair, but without great beauty of feature, dressed in white
and gold, was borne on horseback through the garlanded way, in a
procession of girls and matrons, trumpeters and pipers, all Florence
following after to the Palace. There in the loggia above the garden she
dined with the newly-married ladies of the city. In the courtyard, round
the David of Donatello, some seventy of the greatest among the citizens
sat together, while the stewards were all sons of the _grandi_. Piero
de' Medici entertained each day some thousand guests, while for their
entertainment mimic battles were fought, and in the manner of the time
wooden forts were built, defended, and taken by assault, and at night
there were dances and songs. Almost immediately after the marriage
Lorenzo set out for Milan to visit the new Duke, and stand godfather to
his heir. All his way through Prato, Pistoja, Lucca, Pietrasanta
Sarzana, Pontremoli to Milan was a triumphal progress. He came home to
find his father ailing, and on 2nd December 1469, Piero de' Medici died.
He was buried in S. Lorenzo, in a tomb made by Verrocchio.

It was to a great extent owing to the prompt action of Tommaso Soderini
that the power of the Medici did not pass away at Piero's death, as that
of many another family had done in Florence. The tried friend of that
house, Soderini gathered some six hundred of the leading citizens in the
convent of S. Antonio, and, as it seems, with the help of the relatives
of Luca Pitti, persuaded them that the fortunes of Florence were wrapped
up in the Medici. "The second day after my father's death," writes
Lorenzo in his Memoir, "although I, Lorenzo, was very young, in fact
only in my twenty-first year, the leading men of the city and of the
ruling party came to our house to express their sorrow for our
misfortune, and to persuade me to take upon myself the charge of the
government of the city as my grandfather and father had already done.
This proposal being contrary to the instincts of my age, and entailing
great labour and danger, I accepted against my will, and only for the
sake of protecting my friends and our own fortunes, for in Florence one
can ill live in the possession of wealth without control of the
government." Thus Lorenzo came to be tyrant of Florence. It was a rule
illegitimate in its essence, purchased with gold, and without any
outward sign of office. That it would come to be disputed might have
seemed certain.


[96] The Alberghettino was the prison in the great tower.



For there was another spirit, too, moving secretly through the ways of
the city, among the crowds that gathered round the Cantastoria of the
Mercato Vecchio, or mingled with the wild procession of the carnival, a
spirit not of life, but of denial, a little forgetful as yet that the
days of the Middle Age were over: and even as one day that joy in the
earth and the beauty of world was to pass almost into Paganism, so this
mysticism, that was at first like some marvellous fore-taste of heaven,
fell into just Puritanism, a brutal political and schismatic hatred in
the fanaticism of--let us be thankful for that--a foreigner. "If I am
deceived, Christ, thou hast deceived me," Savonarola will come to say;
and amid his cursing and prophecies it is perhaps difficult to catch the
words of Pico--"We may rather love God than either know Him or by speech
utter Him." But in Cosimo's day men had no fear, the day was at the
dawn: who could have thought by sunset life would be so disastrous?

[Illustration: CHIOSTRO DI S. MARCO]

Cosimo de' Medici had a villa near the convent of S. Domenico at
Fiesole, where, as it is said, he would often go when Careggi was too
far, and the summer had turned the city into a furnace. Here, as we may
think, he may well have talked with Fra Angelico, for he would often
walk in the cloisters in the evening with the friars, and must have seen
and praised the frescoes there. These Dominicans at Fiesole had already
sent a colony to Florence, for in June 1435 they had obtained from
Pope Eugenius iv, who was then at S. Maria Novella the little church of
S. Giorgio across Arno. Seeing the order and comeliness of that convent
at Fiesole, Cosimo, on behalf of the magistrates of Florence, presented
a petition to the Pope about this time, praying that since he was
engaged on a reform of the Religious Orders, which, partly owing to the
schism and partly to the plague, were much relaxed, he would suppress
the Sylvestrians who dwelt in the old convent of S. Marco, and give it
to the Dominicans of Fiesole, who in exchange would give up their
convent of S. Giorgio, for in the centre of the city numerous and
zealous ministers were needed. Eugenius very gladly agreed to this, and
in a Bull of January 1436, S. Marco was given to the Dominican
Friars.[97] So they came down from Fiesole in procession, and went
through the city accompanied by three bishops, all the clergy, and an
immense concourse of people, and Fra Cipriano took possession of S.
Marco "in the name of his congregation." The convent at this time would
seem to have been in a deplorable state: in the previous year a fire had
destroyed much of it, and the church even was without a roof, so that
the friars were obliged to build themselves wooden cells to live in, and
to roof the church with timber. When Cosimo heard this he prepared at
once to rebuild the convent, and sent Michelozzo to see what could be
done. Michelozzo first pulled down the old cloister, leaving only the
church and the refectory; and in 1437 began to build the beautiful
convent we see to-day, completing it in 1443, at a cost of 36,000
ducats. The church which was then restored has suffered many violations
since, and is very different to-day from what it was at the end of the
fifteenth century. It was consecrated in 1442, on the feast of the
Epiphany, by Pope Eugenius in the presence of his Cardinals. The
library, Vasari tells us, was built later. It was vaulted above and
below, and had sixty-four bookcases of cypress wood filled with most
valuable books, among them later the famous collection of Niccolò
Niccoli, whose debts Cosimo paid on condition that he might dispose
freely of his books, which were arranged here by Thomas of Sarzana,
afterwards Nicholas v. The convent thus completed is "believed to be,"
says Vasari, "the most perfectly arranged, the most beautiful and most
convenient building of its kind that can be found in Italy, thanks to
the skill and industry of Michelozzo."

Fra Angelico was nearly fifty years old when his Order took possession
of S. Marco. Already he had painted three choir books, which Cosimo so
loved that he wished nothing else to be used in the convent, for, as
Vasari tells us, their beauty was such that no words can do justice to
it. Born in 1387, he had entered the Order of S. Dominic in 1408 at
Fiesole. The convent into which he had come had only been founded in
1406, and as with S. Marco later, so with S. Domenico, many disputes as
to the property had to be encountered, so that he had early been a
traveller, going with the brethren to Foligno and later to Cortona,
returning to Fiesole in 1418. Who amid these misfortunes could have been
his master? It might seem that in the silence of the sunny cloister in
the long summer days of Umbria some angel passing up the long valleys
stayed for a moment beside him, so that for ever after he could not
forget that vision. And then, who knows what awaits even us too, in that
valley where Blessed Angela heard Christ say, "I love thee more than any
other woman in the valley of Spoleto"? It is certainly some divinity
that we find in those clouds of saints and angels, those marvellously
sweet Madonnas, those majestic and touching crucifixions, that with a
simplicity and sincerity beyond praise, Angelico has left up and down
Italy, and not least in the convent of S. Marco.

Yes, it is a divine world he has dreamed of, peopled by saints and
martyrs, where the flowers are quickly woven into crowns and the light
streams from the gates of Paradise, and every breeze whispers the sweet
sibilant name of Jesus, and there, on the bare but beautiful roads,
Christ meets His disciples, or at the convent gate welcomes a
traveller, and if He be not there He has but just passed by, and if He
has not just passed by He is to come. It is for Him the sun is darkened;
to lighten His footsteps the moon shall rise; because His love has
lightened the world men go happily, and because He is here the world is
a garden. In all that convent of S. Marco you cannot turn a corner but
Christ is awaiting you, or enter a room but His smile changes your
heart, or linger on the threshold but He bids you enter in, or eat at
midday but you see Him on the Cross, and hear, "Take, eat; this is My
Body, which was given for you."

You enter the cloister, and the first word is Silence; St. Peter Martyr,
with finger on lip, seems to utter the first indispensable word of the
heavenly life. The second you see over the door of the chapter-house,
Discipline and the denial of the body; St. Dominic with a scourge of
nine cords is about to give you the difficult book of heavenly wisdom.
The third is spoken by Christ Himself; Faith, for He points to the wound
in His side. And the fourth Christ speaks too, for none other may utter
it; Love, for as a pilgrim He is welcomed by two pilgrims, two Dominican
brothers, to their home. Pass into the Refectory and He is there; go
into the Capitolo and He is there also, the Prince of life between two
malefactors, hanging on a cross for love of the world, and in His face
all the beauty and sweetness of the earth have been gathered and purged
of their dross, and between His arms is the kingdom of Heaven. In that
room the name of Jesus continually vibrates with an intense and
passionate life, more wonderful, more beautiful, and more terrible than
the tremor of all the sea. And it has brought together in adoration not
the world, which cannot hear its music, but those who above the tumult
of their hearts have caught some faint far echo of that supernal concord
which has bound together this whispering universe: for there beneath the
Cross of Jesus are none but saints, Madonna and the two SS. Maries, St.
John the Baptist and St. John the Divine, and beside them kneel the
founders of the Religious Orders St. Dominic, the founder of the
preaching friars, St. Jerome the father of monasticism, St. Francis the
little poor man, St. Bernard who spoke with Madonna, S. Giovanni
Gualberto the founder of Vallombrosa, St. Peter Martyr who was wounded
for Christ's sake. Above him stands St. Thomas Aquinas the angelic
doctor, St. Romuald the founder of Camaldoli St. Benedict who overthrew
the temples, St. Augustine who has spoken of the City of God, S. Alberto
di Vercelli the founder of the Carmelites. And on the other side, beside
St. John Baptist, St. Mark the patron of the convent kneels with his
open Gospel, St. Laurence stands with his gridiron, and behind him come
the two other Medici saints, S. Cosmo and S. Damiano.

Pass into the dormitories, and in every cell you enter Jesus is there
before you; on the threshold the angel announces His advent, and little
by little, scene by scene, you are involved in the beauty and the
tragedy of His life. You see Him transfigured (No. 6), you see Him
buffeted (No. 7), you see Him rise from the tomb (No. 8), and you see
Him in glory crowning Madonna (No. 9), or as a youth presented in the
Temple (No. 11). Many times you come upon Him crucified (15-23), once
John baptizes Him in Jordan (24), or Madonna and St. John the Divine
weep over Him dead (26). Here He bears His Cross (28), there descends
into Hades (31), preaches to the people (32), is betrayed by Judas (33),
agonises in the Garden (34), gives us His Body to eat, His Blood to
drink (35), is nailed to the Cross (36); crucified (37), and again
adored as a Child by the Magi (38), speaks with Mary in the garden (1),
is buried (2); the angel announces His birth (3), He is crucified (4),
and born in Bethlehem (5). It is the rosary of Jesus that we tell,
consisting of the glorious and sorrowful mysteries of His life and
death. It is the spirit of Christianity that we see here, blossoming
everywhere, haphazard like the wild flowers that are the armies of
spring. As Benozzo Gozzoli has expressed with an immense good fortune,
the very spirit of the Renaissance at its birth almost, the spirit and
the joy of youth, so Angelico with as simple an eagerness and a more
sure sincerity has expressed here the very spirit of Christianity,--He
that loseth his life shall gain it: take no thought for your life.

[Illustration: THE CRUCIFIXION

_By Fra Angelica. S. Marco, Florence_


It was here, then, amid all this mystical and heavenly beauty, that
first S. Antonino and later Savonarola sought to oppose the "new
religion of love and beauty" which had already filled Florence with a
new joy. At first, certainly, that new joy seemed not unfriendly to the
mysterious and heavenly beauty of the Christian ideal. It is not till
later, when both have been a little spoiled by love, that there seems to
have been any antagonism between them. It is true that it was only with
reluctance that S. Antonino accepted the Arch-bishopric of Florence, but
this seems rather to have been owing to humility, the most beautiful
characteristic of a beautiful nature, than to any perception that he
might have to oppose that new spirit fostered so carefully, and indeed
so unwittingly, by Cosimo de' Medici, his benefactor. Born of Florentine
parents in 1389, the son of a notary, Antonino, at the age of sixteen,
had entered the convent of S. Domenico at Fiesole, not without a severe
test of his steadfastness, for Fra Domenico made him learn the whole of
Gratian's decree by heart before he would admit him to the Order. Later,
he became priest, wrote his _Summa Theologicae_, and was called by
Eugenius, who loved him, to the General Council in Florence in 1439;
while there he was made Prior of the Convent of S. Marco. Having set his
Congregation in order, and, as such a man was bound to do, endeared
himself to the Florentines, he set out for other convents, not in
Tuscany only, but in Naples, which needed his presence. He was absent
for two years. During that time the See of Florence became vacant, and
Eugenius, to the great joy of the city, appointed Antonino Archbishop.
Surprised and troubled that he should have been thought of for such a
dignity, he set out to hide himself in Sardinia, but, being prevented,
came at last to Siena, whence he wrote to the Pope begging him to change
his mind, saying that he was old, sick and unworthy. How little he knew
Eugenius, the on altogether inflexible will in all that time, so full of
trouble for the Church! The Pope sent him to S. Domenico at Fiesole and
told the Florentines their Archbishop was at their gates. So, with
Cosimo de' Medici at their head, they went out to meet him, but he
refused to enter the city till Eugenius threatened him with
excommunication. He was consecrated Archbishop of Florence in March 1446
borne in procession from S. Piero down Borgo degli Albizzi to the
Duomo.[98] As a boy, it is said, he would pray before the Madonna of Or
San Michele, and, indeed, in his Chronicle he defends his Order against
the charges of scepticism as to the miracles worked there, with a
certain eloquence. Many are the stories told of him, and Poccetti has
painted the story of his life round the first cloister of S. Marco,
where he was buried in May 1459. S. Antonino was a saint and a
theologian, not a politician or an historian. Certainly he did not
foresee the tragedy that was already opening, and that was to end, not
in the lenten fires of Piazza Signoria, nor even in the death of
Savonarola, but in the siege of Florence, the establishment of the House
of Medici, the tombs of S. Lorenzo. How often in those days Cosimo would
walk with him and Fra Angelico in the cloisters on a summer night, after
listening may be to Marsilio Ficino or to the vague and wonderful
promises of Argyropolis. "To serve God is to reign," Antonino told him,
not without a certain understanding of those restless ambitions which at
that time seemed to promise the city nothing but good. And then, was it
not Cosimo who had rebuilt the convent, was it not Cosimo who had built
S. Lorenzo and S. Spirito too, by the hand of Michelozzo?

Antonino was not a politician; the _Chronicon Domini Antonini
Archipraesulis Florentini_ is the work rather of a theologian than of an
historian: the friend of Leonardo Bruni, or at least well acquainted
with his work, he cared rather for charity than for learning; and it was
as the father of the poor that Florence loved him. He lived by love. An
in those days of uncertain fortune, amid the swift political changes of
the time, there were many whom, doubtless, he saved from degradation or
suicide. I poveri vergognosi--the poor who are ashamed, it was these he
first took under his protection. We read of him sending for twelve men
of all classes and various crafts, and, laying the case before them,
refounded a charity--_Provveditori dei poveri vergognosi_, which soon
became in the mouth of Florence _I Buonomini di S. Martino_, the good
men of S. Martin, for the society had its headquarters in the Church S.
Martino; and, was not S. Martino himself, as it were, the first of this

Born in Ferrara in 1452, the grandson of a famous doctor of Padua,
Girolamo Savonarola had entered the Dominican Order at Bologna when he
was twenty-two years old, finding the world but a wretched place, and
the wickedness of men more than he could bear. Something of this strange
and almost passionate pessimism remained with him his whole life long.
In 1481 he had been sent to the convent of S. Marco, in Florence, when
Lorenzo de' Medici had been at the head of affairs for some twelve
years. The Pazzi conspiracy, in which Giuliano de' Medici lost his life,
had come in 1478, and Lorenzo was fixed more firmly than ever in the
affections of the people. Simonetta had been borne like a dead goddess
through the streets of the city to burial; Lorenzo was already busy with
those carnival songs which, as some thought, were written to corrupt the
people: the Renaissance had come. "Gladius Domini super terram cite et
velociter," thought Savonarola, unable to understand that life from
which he had fled into the cloister. It was the first voice that had
been raised against the resurrection of the Gods, but at that moment
Martin Luther was lying in his mother's arms, while his father worked in
the mines at Eisleben: the Reaction was already born.

On a Latin city such as Florence was, Savonarola at first made little or
no impression; too often the friars had prophesied evil for no cause,
wandering through every little city in Italy denouncing the Signori. It
was in San Gemignano, even to-day the most medieval of Tuscan cities, a
place of towers and winding narrow ways, that Savonarola first won a
hearing; and so it was not till nine years after his first coming to her
that Florence seems to have listened to his prophecy, when, in August
1490, in S. Marco he began to preach on the Revelation of St. John the
Divine. It was a programme half political, half spiritual, that he
suggested to those who heard him, the reformation of the Church and the
fear of a God who had been forgotten but who would not forget. In the
spring of the year following, so great were the crowds who flocked to
hear his half-political discourses that he had to preach in the Duomo.
There unmistakably we are face to face with a political agitator. "God
intends to punish Lorenzo Magnifico,--yes, and his friends too"; and
when, a little later, he was made prior of S. Marco, he refused to
receive Lorenzo in the house his grandfather had built. In the following
year Lorenzo died; Savonarola, as the tale goes, refusing him absolution
unless he would restore liberty to the people of Florence. Consider the
position. How could Lorenzo restore that which he had never stolen away,
that which had, in truth, never had any real existence? He was without
office, without any technical right to government, merely the first
among the citizens of what, in name at least, was a Republic. If he was
a tyrant, he ruled by the will of the people, not by divine right, a
thing unknown among the Signori of Italy, nor by the will of the Pope,
nor by the will of the Emperor, but by the will of Florence. Yet
Savonarola, the Ferrarese, whether or no he refused him absolution, did
not hesitate to denounce him, with a wild flood of eloquence and fanatic
prophecy worthy of the eleventh century. "Leave the future alone,"
Lorenzo had counselled him kindly enough: it was just that he could not
do, since for him the present was too disastrous. And the future?--the
future was big with Charles VIII and his carnival army, gay with
prostitutes, bright with favours, and behind him loomed the fires of
Piazza della Signoria.

The peace of Italy is dead, the Pope told his Cardinals, when in the
spring of 1492 Lorenzo passed away at Careggi It was true. In September
1494, Charles VIII, on his way to Naples, came into Italy, was received
by Ludovico of Milan at Asti, while his Switzers sacked Rapallo. Was
this, then, the saviour of Savonarola's dreams? "It is the Lord who is
leading those armies," was the friar's announcement. Amid all the horror
that followed, it is not Savonarola that we see to-day as the hero of a
situation he had himself helped to create, but Piero Capponi, who, Piero
de' Medici having surrendered Pietrasanta and Sarzana, stood for the
Republic. On 9th November Piero and Giuliano his brother fled out of
Porta di S. Gallo, while Savonarola with other ambassadors went to meet
the King. A few days later, on 17th November 1494, at about four o'clock
in the afternoon, Pisa in the meantime having revolted, Charles entered
Florence[99] with Cardinal della Rovere, the soldier and future Pope,
and in his train came the splendour and chivalry of France, the Scotch
bowmen, the Gascons, and the Swiss. "Viva la Francia!" cried the people,
and Charles entered the Duomo at six o'clock in the evening, down a lane
of torches to the high altar. And coming out he was conducted to the
house of Piero de' Medici, the people crying still all the time "Viva la
Francia!" The days passed in feasting and splendour, Charles began to
talk of restoring the Medici, nor were riots infrequent in Borgo
Ognissanti; in Borgo S. Frediano the Switzers and French pillaged and
massacred, and were slain too in return. Florence, always ready for
street fighting, was, as we may think, too much for the barbarians. On
24th November the treaty was signed, an indemnity being paid by the
city, but the rioting did not cease. Landucci gives a very vivid account
of it. Even the King himself was not slow to pillage: he was
discontented with the indemnity offered, and threatened to loot the
city. "_Io farò dare nelle trombe_," said he; Piero Capponi was not slow
to answer, "_E noi faremo dare nello campane_"--and we will sound our
bells. The King gave in, and Florence was saved. On 26th November he
heard Mass for the last time in S. Maria del Fiore, and on the 28th he
departed--_si partì el Re di Firenze dopo desinare, e andò albergo alla
Certosa e tutta sua gente gli andò dietro e innanzi, che poche ce ne
rimase_, says Landucci thankfully.

Then the city, free from this rascal, who carried off what he could of
the treasures of Cosimo and Lorenzo, turned not to Piero Capponi but to
another foreigner, Girolamo Savonarola. The political eagerness of this
friar now came to the point of action. He set up a Greater Council,
which in its turn elected a Council of Eighty; he refused to call a
parliament, since he told them that "parliament had ever stolen the
sovereignty from the people." Then, on the 1st of April, he said that
the Virgin Mary had revealed to him that the city would be more
glorious, rich, and powerful than ever before, and, as Landucci says,
"_La maggiore parte del popolo gli credeva."_ He also said that the
Greater Council was the creation of God, and that whoever should attempt
to change it would be eternally damned. Nor was this all. If it were
right and splendid for Florence to be free, free as she always had been
from the domination of any other city, so it was for revolted Pisa. Yet
this fanatic Ferrarese told the people that he had had a vision in which
the Blessed Virgin had told him that Florence should make treaty with
France, and thus regain Pisa. This was on the return of the King from
Naples with Piero de' Medici in his train. However, he met the King at
Poggibonsi, told him Florence was his friend, that God desired him to
spare it, and with other tales succeeded in keeping Charles out of the
city. This, as it seems to me, is the one good deed Savonarola did for

But the people still believed in him, though he turned the whole life of
the city into a sort of religious carnival. Now, if Lorenzo had kept the
people quiet with songs, Savonarola was equally successful with hymns.
"Viva Cristo e la Vergine Maria, nostra regina," shouted the
people,--merchants, friars, women, and children dancing before the
crucifix with olive boughs in their hands. "On 27th March 1496, which
was Palm Sunday, Fra Girolamo made a procession of children with olive
branches in their hands and crowns of olive on their heads and all
bore, too, a red cross. There were some five thousand boys, and a great
number of girls all dressed in white, then after came all the Ufici, and
all the guilds, and then all the men, and after all the women of the
city. There never was so great a procession," says Landucci. Indeed,
there was not a man nor a woman who did not join the company. "It was a
holy time, but it was short," says Landucci again, whose own children
were among "these holy and blessed companies."

Short indeed! The Italian League had been formed against France; only
Florence and Ferrara remained outside. If it were politics that had
taken Savonarola so high, it was to them he owed his fall. He denounced
all Italy, and not least Alexander VI, the vicious but very capable
Pope. When he began to denounce Rome he signed his own death; her hour
was not yet come. "I announce to you, Italy and Rome, the Lord will come
out of His place.... I tell you, Italy and Rome, the Lord will tread you
down. I have commanded penance, yet you are worse and worse.... Soon all
priests, friars, bishops, cardinals, and great masters shall be trampled
down." It was a brave denunciation, and if it were unjust, what was
justice to one who had made Jesus King of Florence and established
himself as His Vicegerent.

The Pope excommunicated him: the factions in Florence--the Arrabbiati,
the Compagnacci, the Palleschi--rejoiced; yet the people he had led so
long seemed inclined to support him. Then came the plague, and then the
discovery of a plot to bring back Piero. Well, Savonarola began to
preach again; but he was beaten. Many would not go to hear him, of whom
Landucci was one, because of the excommunication.[100] And at last
Savonarola himself seems to have seen the end. "If I am deceived, Christ
Thou hast deceived me," he says and at last he challenged the fire to
prove it. It was too much for the Signoria; they agreed. It was the
Franciscans he had to meet; whether or no they meant to persist with the
"trial by fire" we shall never know, but when, on 7th April 1498, the
fire was lighted in Piazza della Signoria, it was Savonarola who
refused. A few minutes later, amid the uproar, a deluge of rain put out
the flames. Savonarola's last chance was gone. The people hounded him
back to S. Marco, and but for the Guards of the Signoria he would have
been torn in pieces. On 8th April, which was Palm Sunday, in the
evening, the attack that had been threatening all day began: through the
church, through the cloisters the fight raged, while the whole city was
in the streets. At last Savonarola and Fra Domenico, his friend, gave
themselves up to the guard, really for protection, and were lodged in
Palazzo Vecchio. There the Signoria tortured them, with another friar,
Silvestro, and at last from Savonarola even they seem to have dragged
some sort of admission. What such a confession was worth, drawn from the
poor mangled body of a broken man, one can well imagine; but that
mattered nothing to the wild beasts he had taught to roar, who now had
him at their mercy. The effect of this on the city seems to have been
very great. "We had thought him to be a prophet," writes Luca Landucci
simply, "and he confessed he was not a prophet, that he had not from God
the things he preached.... And I was by when this was read, and I was
astonished, bewildered, amazed.... Ah, I expected Florence to be, as it
were, a New Jerusalem, ... and I heard the very contrary."

The Signoria which tortured Savonarola was presently replaced by
another; and though, like its predecessor, it too refused to send him to
Rome, it went about to compass his death. Again they tortured him; then
on the 23rd May, the gallows having been built over night in the Piazza,
they killed him with his companions, afterwards burning their bodies.
"They wish to crucify them,"[101] cried one in the crowd; and indeed,
the scaffold seems to have resembled a cross. Was it Florence herself
perhaps who hung there?


[97] Not without protest, for the Sylvestrians appealed to the
schismatic counsel at Basle, but got no good by it; and a whole series
of lawsuits followed.

[98] See p. 256.

[99] Cf. L. Landucci, _Diario Fiorentino_ (Sansoni, 1883), p. 80.

[100] It would be wrong to conclude that Savonarola attacked the faith
of the Catholic Church. He never did. He protested himself a faithful
Catholic to the last. He was a puritan and a politician, and it was on
these two counts that he fought the Papacy.

[101] Landucci, _op. cit. p_. 176.



If Florence built the Baptistery, the Duomo, and the Campanile for the
glory of the whole city, that there might be one place, in spite of all
the factions, where without difference all might enter the kingdom of
heaven, one temple in which all the city might wait till Jesus passed
by, one tower which should announce the universal Angelus, she built
other churches too, more particular in their usefulness, less splendid
in their beauty, but not less necessary in their hold on the life of the
city, or their appeal to us to-day. You may traverse the city from east
to west without forsaking the old streets, and a little fantastically,
perhaps, find some hint in the buildings you pass of that old far-away
life, so restless and so fragile, so wanting in unity, and yet, as it
seems to us, with but one really profound intention in all its work, the
resurrection of life among men. In the desolate but beautiful Piazza of
S. Maria Novella, at the gates of the old city, you find a Dominican
convent, and before it the great church of that Order, S. Maria Novella
herself, the bride of Michelangelo. Then, following Via dei Fossi, you
enter the old city at the foot of the Carraja bridge, following Via di
Parione past an old Medici palace into Via Porta Rossa and so into Via
Calzaioli, where you came upon that strange and beautiful church so like
a palace, Or San Michele, built by the merchants, the Church of the
Guilds of the city. Passing thence into Piazza Signoria, and so into Via
de' Gondi, in the Proconsolo you find the Church of the great monastic
Order the Badia of the Benedictines, having passed on your way Palazza
Vecchio, the Palace of the Republic, afterwards of the Medici; and the
Bargello, the Palace of the Podestà, afterwards a prison; coming later
through Borgo de' Greci to the Church of S. Croce, the convent of the
Franciscans. Thus, while beyond the old west gate of the city there
stood the house of the Dominicans, the Franciscans built their convent
on the east, just without the city; and between them in the heart of
Florence dwelt the oldest Order of all, the Benedictines, busy with
manuscripts. Again, if the tower of authority throws its shadow over the
Bargello, it is the tower of liberty that rises over Palazzo Vecchio,
and the whole tragedy of the beautiful city seems to be expressed for us
in the fact that while the one became a prison the other came to house
the gaoler.

So this city of warm brick, with its churches of marble, its old ways,
its palaces of stone, its convents at the gates, comes to hold for us,
as it were, the very dream of Italy, the dream that was too good to
last, that was so soon to be shattered by the barbarian. Yet in that
little walk through the narrow winding ways from the west to the east of
the city, all the eloquence and renown, the strength and beauty of Italy
seem to be gathered for you, as in a nosegay you may find all the beauty
of a garden. And of all the broken blossoms that you may find by the
way, not one is more fragrant and fair than the sweet bride of
Michelangelo, S. Maria Novella.

Standing in a beautiful Piazza, itself the loveliest thing therein,
dressed in the old black and white habit, it dreams of the past: it is
full of memories too, for here Boccaccio one Tuesday morning, just after
Mass in 1348, amid the desolation of the city, found the seven beloved
ladies of the _Decamerone_ talking of death; here Martin V, and Eugenius
IV, fugitives from the Eternal City, found a refuge; here Beata Villana
confessed her sins; here Vanna Tornabuoni prayed and the Strozzi made
their tombs. Full of memories--and of what else, then, but the past
can she dream? For her there is no future. Her convent is suppressed,
the great cloister has become a military gymnasium. What has she, then,
in common with the modern world, with the buildings of Piazza Vittorio
Emmanuele, for instance?--the past is all that we have left her.

[Illustration: S. MARIA NOVELLA]

Begun in 1278, as some say, from the design of Fra Ristoro and Fra
Sisto, the façade, one of the most beautiful in the world, is really the
fifteenth-century work of Leon Alberti working to the order of Giovanni
Rucellai--you may see their blown sail everywhere--with that profound
and unifying genius which involved everything he touched in a sort of
reconciliation, thus prophesying to us of Leonardo da Vinci. For Alberti
has here very fortunately made the pointed work of the Middle Age
friends with Antiquity, Antiquity seen with the eyes of the Renaissance,
full of a new sort of eagerness and of many little refinements. In the
fagade of his masterpiece, the Tempio Malatestiano at Rimini, that
beautiful unfinished temple where the gods of Greece seem for once to
have come to the cradle of Jesus with something of the wonder of the
shepherds who left their flocks to worship Him, Leon Alberti has taken
as his model the arch of Augustus, that still, though broken, stands on
the verge of the city in the Flaminian Way; but as though aware at last
of the danger of any mere imitation of antiquity such as that, he has
here contrived to express the beauty of Roman things, just what he
himself had really felt concerning them, and has combined that very
happily with the work of the age that was just then passing away; thus,
as it were, creating for us one of the most perfect buildings of the
fifteenth century, very characteristic too, in its strange beauty, as of
the dead new risen. And then how subtly he has composed this beautiful
façade, so that somehow it really adds to the beauty of the Campanile,
with its rosy spire, in the background.

Within, the church is full of a sort of twilight, in which certainly
much of its spaciousness is lost; those chapels in the nave, for
instance, added by Vasari in the sixteenth century have certainly
spoiled it of much of its beauty. Built in the shape of a tau cross--a
Latin cross that is almost tau, in old days it was divided, where still
there is a step across the nave into two parts, one of which was
reserved for the friars, while the other was given to the people. There
is not much of interest in this part of the church: a crucifix over the
great door, attributed to Giotto; a fresco of the Holy Trinity, with
Madonna and St. John, by Masaccio, that rare strong master; the altar,
the fourth in the right aisle, dedicated to St. Thomas of
Canterbury,--almost nothing beside. It is in the south transept, where a
flight of steps leads to the Rucellai Chapel, that we came upon one of
the most beautiful and mysterious things in the city, the Madonna, so
long given to Cimabue, but now claimed for Duccio of Siena.[102]

Vasari describes for us very delightfully the triumph of this picture,
when, so great was the admiration of the people for it that "it was
carried in solemn procession, with the sound of trumpets and other
festal demonstrations, from the house of Cimabue to the church,--he
himself being highly rewarded and honoured for it"; while, as he goes on
to tell us, when Cimabue was painting it, in a garden as it happened
near the gate of S. Pietro, King Charles of Sicily, brother of St.
Louis, saw the picture, and praising it, "all the men and women of
Florence hastened in great crowds to admire it, making all possible
demonstrations of delight. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood,
rejoicing in this occurrence, ever after called that place Borgo
Allegri,"--the name it bears to this day. However reluctant we may be to
find Vasari, that divine gossip, at fault, it might seem that Cimabue's
Triumph is a fable, or if, indeed, it happened, was stolen, for the
Rucellai Madonna is apparently the work of Duccio the Sienese.[103] Of
the works of Cimabue not one remains to us; we do not know, we have
certainly no means of knowing, whether he was, as Ghiberti tells us, a
painter in the old Greek manner, or whether, as Vasari suggests, he was
the true master of Giotto, in that to him was owing the impulse of life
which we find so moving in Giotto's work. And then Vasari, it seems, is
wrong in his account of Borgo Allegri, for that place was named not
after happiness, the happiness of that part of the city in their great
neighbour, but from a family who in those days lived thereabout and bore
that name.

It is, however, of comparatively little importance who painted the
picture. The controversy, which is not yet finished, serves for the most
part merely to obscure the essential fact that here is the picture still
in its own place, and that it is beautiful. Very lovely, indeed, she is,
Madonna of Happiness, and still at her feet the poor may pray, and still
on her dim throne she may see day come and evening fall. Far up in the
obscure height she holds Christ on her knees. Perhaps you may catch the
faint dim loveliness of her face in the early dawn amid the beauty of
the angels kneeling round her throne when the light steals through the
shadowy windows across the hills; or perhaps at evening in the splendour
of some summer sunset you may see just for a moment the whiteness of her
delicate hands; but she is secret and very far away, she has withdrawn
herself to hear the prayers of the poor in spirit who come when the
great church is empty, when the tourists have departed, when the workmen
have returned to their homes. And beside her in that strange, mysterious
place Beata Villana sleeps, where the angels draw back the curtain, in a
tomb by Desiderio da Settignano. She was not of the great company whose
names we falter at our altars and whisper for love over and over again
in the quietness of the night; but of those who are weary. Born to a
wealthy Florentine merchant, Andrea di Messer Lapo by name, little Vanna
went her ways with the children, yet with a sort of naïve sincerity
after all, so that when she heard Saint Catherine praised or Saint
Francis, she believed it and wished to be of that company; but the
world, full of glamour and laughter in those days, and now too, caught
her by the waist and bore her away, in the person of a noble youth of
the Benintendi, who loved her well enough; yet it was love she loved
rather than her husband; and life calling sweetly enough down the long
narrow streets, she followed, yes, till she was a little weary. So she
would question her beauty, and, looking in her glass, see not herself
but the demon love that possessed her; and again in another mirror she
found a devil, she said, like a faun prick-eared and with goat's feet,
peering at her with frightening eyes. So she stripped off her fair gay
dresses, and took instead the rough hair-shirt, and came at evening
across the Piazza to confess in S. Maria Novella; and gave herself to
the poor, and forgot the sun till weary she fled away. Her grandson, as
it is said, built this tomb to her memory, and they wrote above, Beata

It is always with reluctance, I think, that one leaves that dim chapel
of the Rucellai, and yet how many wonderful things await us in the
church. In the second chapel of the transept, the Chapel of Filippo
Strozzi, who is buried behind the altar, Filippino Lippi, the son of Fra
Lippo, the pupil of Botticelli, has painted certain frescoes,--a little
bewildering in their crowded beauty, it is true, but how good after all
in their liveliness, their light and shadow, the pleasant, eager faces
of the women--where St. John raises Drusiana from the grave, or St.
Philip drives out the Dragon of Hierapolis; while above St. John is
martyred, and St. Philip too. But it is in the choir behind the high
altar, where for so long the scaffolding has prevented our sight, that
we come upon the simple serious work of Domencio Ghirlandajo, whom all
the critics have scorned. Born in 1449, the pupil of Alessio
Baldovinetti, Ghirlandajo is not a great painter perhaps, but rather a
craftsman, a craftsman with a wonderful power of observation, of noting
truly the life of his time. He seems to have asked of art rather truth
than beauty. Almost wholly, perhaps, without the temperament of an
artist, his success lies in his gift for expressing not beauty but the
life of his time, the fifteenth century in Florence, which lives still
in all his work. Consider, then, the bright facile mediocre work of
Benozzo Gozzoli, not at its best, in the Campo Santo of Pisa, remember
how in the dark chapel of the Medici palace he lights up the place
almost as with a smile, in the gay cavalcade that winds among the hills.
There is much fancy there, much observation too; here a portrait, there
a gallant fair head, and the flowers by the wayside. Well, it is in much
the same way that Ghirlandajo has painted here in the choir of S. Maria
Novella. He has seen the fashions, he has noted the pretty faces of the
women, he has watched the naïve homely life of the Medici ladies, for
instance, and has painted not his dreams about Madonna, but his dreams
of Vanna Tornabuoni, of Clarice de' Medici, and the rest. And he was
right; almost without exception his frescoes are the most interesting
and living work left in Florence. He has understood or divined that one
cannot represent exactly that which no longer exists; and it is to
represent something with exactitude that he is at work. So he contents
himself very happily with painting the very soul of his century. It is a
true and sincere art this realistic, unimpassioned, impersonal work of
Ghirlandajo's, and in its result, for us at any rate, it has a certain
largeness and splendour. Consider this "Birth of the Virgin." It is full
of life and homely observation. You see the tidy dusted room where St.
Anne is lying on the bed, already, as in truth she was, past her youth,
but another painter would have forgotten it. She is just a careful
Florentine housewife, thrifty too, not flurried by her illness, for she
has placed by her bedside, all ready for her need, two pomegranates and
some water. Then, again, they are going to wash the little Mary. She
lies quite happily sucking her fingers in the arms of her nurse, the
basin is in the middle of the floor, a servant has just come in briskly,
no doubt as St. Anne has always insisted, and pours the water quickly
into the vessel. It is not difficult to find all sorts of faults, of
course, as the critics have not hesitated to do. That perspective, for
instance, how good it is: almost as good as Verrocchio's work,--and
those dancing _angiolini_; yes, Verrocchio might have thought of them
himself. But the lady in the foreground, how unmoved she seems; it is as
though the whole scene had been arranged for the sake of her portrait;
and, indeed it is a portrait, for the richly dressed visitor is Ginevra
de' Benci, who stands too in the fresco of the Birth of St. John. Again
in the fresco of the angel appearing to Zacharias in the Temple, there
are some thirty portraits of famous Florentines, painted with much
patience, and no doubt with an extraordinary truth of likeness. In the
left corner you may see Marsilio Ficino dressed as a priest; Gentile de'
Becchi turns to him, while Cristoforo Landini in a red cloak stands by,
and Angelo Poliziano lifts up his hands.

Does one ever regret, I wonder, after looking at these realistic
fifteenth-century works, that the frescoes of Orcagna--for he painted
the whole choir--were destroyed in a storm, it is said, in 1358.
Fragments of his work, however, we are told, remained for more than a
hundred years, till, indeed, Ghirlandajo was employed to replace them.
We find his work, however, sadly damaged it is true, and really his
perhaps only in outline, in the Strozzi chapel here, the lofty chapel
of north transept, where he has painted on the wall facing the entrance
the Last Judgment, while to the left you may see Paradise, to the right
the Inferno. The pupil of Giotto and of Andrea Pisano, Orcagna is the
most important artist of his time, the one vital link in the chain that
unites Masolino with Giotto. He was a universal artist, practising as an
architect and goldsmith no less than as a painter. In the Last Judgment
in this chapel he seems not only to have absorbed the whole art of his
time, but to have advanced it; for to the grandeur and force of his work
he added a certain visionary loveliness that most surely already
foretells Beato Angelico. If in the Paradise and the Inferno we are less
moved by the greatness of his achievement, we remind ourselves how
terribly they have suffered from damp, from neglect, from the restorer.
In the altar-piece itself we have perhaps the only "intact painting" of
his remaining to us, and splendid as it is in colour and form, it lacks
something of the rhythm of the frescoes that like some slow and solemn
chant fill the chapel with their sincere unforgetable music.

As you pass, beckoned by a friar, into the half-ruined cloisters below
S. Maria Novella, you come on your right into a little alley of tombs,
behind which, on the wall, you may find two bits of fresco by Giotto,
the Meeting of S. Joachim and S. Anna at the Golden Gate, and the Birth
of the Virgin. On your left you pass into the Chiostro Verde, where
Paolo Uccello has painted scenes from the Old Testament in a sort of
green monotone, for once without enthusiasm. Above you and around you
rises the old convent and the great tower; there, in the far corner,
perhaps a friar plays with a little cat, here a pigeon flutters under
the arches about the little ruined space of grass, the meagre grass of
the south, where now and then the shadow of a white cloud passes over
the city, whither who knows. For a moment in that silent place you
wonder why you have come, you feel half inclined to go back into the
church, when shyly the friar comes towards you, and, leading you round
the cloister, enters the Cappellina degli Spagnuoli.

How much has been written in praise of the frescoes in the Spanish
chapel of S. Maria Novella, where Eleonora of Toledo, the wife of Grand
Duke Cosimo, used to hear Mass; yet how disappointing they are. In so
simple a building, some great artist, you might think, in listening to
Ruskin, had really expressed himself, his thoughts about Faith and the
triumph of the Church. But the work which we find there is the work of
mediocrities, poor craftsmen too, the pupils and imitators of the
Sienese and Florentine schools of their time, having nothing in common
with the excellent work of Taddeo Gaddi, the beautiful work of Simone
Martini of Siena. These figures, so pretty and so ineffectual, which
have been labelled here the Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas, there the
Triumph of the Church, have no existence for us as painting; they have
passed into literature, and in the pages of Ruskin have found a new
beauty that for the first time has given them some semblance of life.


[102] Mysterious no longer. For in the autumn of 1907 the chapel was
destroyed by fools and the Madonna--just an old panel picture after
all--set up in the cold daylight (1908).

[103] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. i, 187.



The Piazza di S. Croce, in which stands the great Franciscan church of
Florence, is still almost as it was in the sixteenth century when the
Palazzo del Borgo on the southern side was painted in fresco by the
facile brush of Passignano; but whatever charm so old and storied a
place might have had for us, for here Giuliano de' Medici fought in a
tournament under the eyes of La Bella Simonetta, and here, too, the
Giuoco del Calcio was played, it is altogether spoiled and ruined, not
only by the dishonouring statue of Dante, which for some unexplained
reason has here found a resting-place, but by the crude and staring
façade of the church itself, a pretentious work of modern Italy, which
lends to what was of old the gayest Piazza in the city, the very aspect
of a cemetery.

Not long before the end of the thirteenth century, a little shrine of
St. Anthony stood where now we may see the great Church of S. Croce, in
the midst of the marshes, as it is said, that waste land which in the
Middle Age seems to have surrounded every city in Italy. It belonged, as
did the land round about, to a certain family called Altafronte, who
appear to have presented it to the friars of the neighbouring convent of
Franciscans just outside Porta S. Gallo. St. Francis being dead, and the
strictness of his rule relaxed, the first stone of the great Church of
S. Croce was laid on Holy Cross Day, 1297. Arnolfo, the architect of the
Duomo, was the first builder here, till later Giotto was appointed. The
church itself is in the form of a tau cross, the eastern end on both
sides of the choir consisting of twelve chapels scarcely less deep than
the choir and tiny apse, itself a chapel of St. Anthony. The wide and
spacious nave, with two aisles, could doubtless hold half the city, as
perhaps it did when Fra Francesco of Montepulciano preached here in the
early years of the sixteenth century just after the death of Savonarola.
And indeed the very real beauty of the church consists in just that
splendour of space and light which so few seem to have cared for, but
which seems to me certainly in Italy the most precious thing in the
world. And then S. Croce is really the Pantheon, as it were, of the
city; the golden twilight of S. Maria Novella even would seem too gloomy
for the resting-place of heroes. Already before the sixteenth century it
had been here that Florence had set up the banners of those she
delighted to honour. And though Cosimo I destroyed them when he let
Vasari so unfortunately have his way with the church, some remembrance
of the glory that of old hung about her seems to have lingered, for here
Michelangelo was buried, under a heavy monument by Vasari, and close by
Vittorio Alfieri lies in a tomb carved by Canova at the request of the
Duchess of Albany. Not far away you come upon the grave of Niccolò
Machiavelli, the statesman, and beside it the monument erected to his
memory in the eighteenth century. And then here too you find the
beautiful tomb of Leonardo Bruni, one of the first great scholars of the
modern world, and secretary to the Republic, who died in 1443. It is the
masterpiece of Bernardo Rossellino (1409-1464), achieved at the end of
the early Renaissance, and forming the very style of such things for
those sculptors who came after him. It is true that the lunette of
Madonna is a little feeble and without life, though some have given it
falsely to Verrocchio, and the two angioloni bearing the arms have
little force; but the tomb itself is a thing done once and for all, and
the figure of the dead poet is certainly the masterpiece of a man who
was perhaps the first sculptor in marble of his time. If we compare it
for a moment with the lovely Annunciation of Donatello (1386-1466) on
the other side of the gateway, where for once that strong and fearless
artist seems to have contented himself with beauty, we shall understand
better the achievement of Rossellino; and though it were difficult to
imagine a more lovely thing than that Annunciation set there by the
Cavalcanti, with the winged wreath of Victory beneath it to commemorate
their part in the victory of Florence over Pisa in 1406, as a piece of
architecture Rossellino's work is as much better than this earlier
design of Donatello's as in every other respect his work falls below it.
Covered with all sorts of lovely ornament, the frame supports an
elaborate and splendid cornice on which six children stand, three
grouped on either side, playing with garlands. And within the frame, as
though seen through some magic doorway, Madonna, about to leave her
prayers, has been stopped by the message of the angel, who has not yet
fallen on his knees. It is as though one had come upon the very scene
itself suddenly at sunset on some summer day.

If the tomb of Leonardo Bruni is the masterpiece of Bernardo Rossellino,
the tomb of Carlo Marsuppini, the humanist, Bruni's successor as
secretary to the Republic, placed in the north aisle exactly opposite,
is no less the masterpiece of another of Donatello's friends, Desiderio
da Settignano (1428-1464). Standing as they were to do, face to face
across the church, no doubt Desiderio was instructed to follow as
closely as might be the general design of Rossellino. On a rich bed
Marsuppini lies, a figure full of sweetness and strength, while under is
the carved tomb, supported by the feet of lions, and borne by a winged
shell. On either side two children bear his arms, figures so naïve and
lovely that, as it seems to me, Luca della Robbia in his happiest moment
might have thought of them almost in despair. Above, under a splendid
canopy of flowers and fruit, in a tondo, severe and simple, is Madonna
with Our Lord, and on either side an angel bows half-smiling,
half-weeping, while without stand two youths of tender age, slender and
full of grace, but strong enough to bear the great garland of fruits
with lovely and splendid gestures of confidence and expectancy. Before
the tomb in the pavement is a plaque of marble also from the hand of
Desiderio, and here Gregorio Marsuppini, Carlo's father, lies: other
similar works of his you may find here and there in the church.

Scattered through the two aisles and the nave are many modern monuments
and tablets to famous Italians, Dante who lies at Ravenna, Galileo,
Alberti, Mazzini, Rossini, and the rest; they have but little interest.
It is not only in the aisles, however, that we find the work of the
Florentine sculptors. Galileo Galilei, an ancestor of the great
astronomer, is buried in the nave at the west end, under a carved
tombstone enthusiastically praised by Ruskin. And then on the first
pillar on the right we find the work of Bernardo Rossellino's youngest
brother Antonio (1427-1478), who, under the influence of Desiderio da
Settignano, has carved there a relief of Madonna and Child, surrounded
by a garland of cherubim lovely and fair. Antonio Rossellino's work is
scattered all over Tuscany, in Prato, in Empoli, in Pistoja, and we
shall find it even in such far-away places as Naples and Forli. His
masterpiece, however, the beautiful tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal, is
in the Church of S. Miniato al Monte, of which I shall speak later.

It was another and younger pupil of Desiderio's, Benedetto da Maiano
(1442-1497), who made the beautiful pulpit to the order of that Pietro
Mellini, whose bust, also from his hand, is now in the Bargello. It is
the most beautiful pulpit in all Italy, splendid alike in its decoration
and its construction. It seems doubtful whether the pulpit itself is not
earlier than the five reliefs of the life of St. Francis which surround
it--The Confirmation of the Order by the Pope, the Test by Fire before
the Sultan, the Stigmata, the Death of St. Francis, and the Persecution
of the Order. These were carved in 1474, and for the life and charm
which they possess are perhaps Benedetto's finest work. In the beautiful
niches below he has set some delightful statuettes, representing Faith,
Hope, Charity, Fortitude, and Justice.

Passing now into the south transept, we come to the great chapel of the
Blessed Sacrament, with its spoiled frescoes of the stories of St. John
Baptist, St. John the Divine, St. Nicholas and St. Anthony; while here,
too, is the tomb of the Duchess of Albany, who was the wife of the Young
Pretender, and who loved Alfieri the poet, whose monument, as we have
seen, she caused Canova to make.

The south transept ends in the Baroncelli Chapel, which "between the
close of December 1332 and the first days of August 1338," Taddeo Gaddi
painted in fresco.[104] Giotto died in 1337, and Taddeo, who had served
under him, seems to have been content to carry on his practice without
bringing any originality of his own to the work. What Taddeo could
assimilate of Giotto's manner he most patiently reproduced, so that his
work, never anything but a sort of imitation, threatens to overwhelm in
its own mediocrity much of the achievement of his master. The beautiful
and sincere work of Giotto in him degenerates into a mannerism, a
mannerism that the people of his own day seem to have appreciated quite
as much as the living work of Giotto himself. Taddeo, trained by his
master in the Giottesque manner, became its most patient champion, and
practising an art that was in his hands little better than a craft, he
finds himself understood, and when Giotto is not available very
naturally takes his place. Here in S. Croce, a church in which Giotto
himself had worked, we find Taddeo's work everywhere: over the door of
the Sacristy he painted Christ and the Doctors; in the Cappella di S.
Andrea, the stories of St. Peter and St. Andrew; in the Bellaci chapel,
too, and above all in this the chapel of the Baroncelli family. But when
Giotto, being long dead, other and newer painters arose, Taddeo's work,
out of fashion at last, suffered the oblivion of whitewash, sharing this
fate with some of the best work in Italy: so that there is to-day but
little left of it in S. Croce save these frescoes, where he has painted,
not without a certain vigour and almost a gift for composition, the
story of the Blessed Virgin.

Close by, without the chapel, is a very beautiful monument the school
of Niccolò Pisano; passing this and entering the great door of the
Sacristy, we come into a corridor and thence into the Sacristy itself,
which Vasari covered with whitewash. Built in the fourteenth century, it
is divided into two parts by a grating of exquisitely wrought iron of
the same period. Behind this grating is the Rinuccini chapel, painted in
fresco by a pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, Giovanni da Milano, in whose work we
may discern, in spite of the rigid convention of his master, something
sincere, a lightness and grace and even perhaps a certain reliance on
Nature, which the authority of Giotto had spoiled for Taddeo himself. It
is the stories of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Mary Magdalen that he
has set himself to tell, with an infinite detail that a little confuses
his really fine and sincere work. Repainted though they be, something of
their original beauty may still be found there, their simplicity and
homely realism.

At the end of the corridor is the chapel which Cosimo de' Medici, Pater
Patriae caused Michelozzo to build for his delight. Over the altar is
one of the loveliest works of the della Robbia school, a Madonna and
Child, between St. Anthony of Padua, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. John
Baptist, St. Laurence, St. Louis of Toulouse, and St. Francis; while on
the wall is a later work of the same school, after a work by Verrocchio,
where Madonna holds her Son in her arms; and opposite is another work by
a Tuscan sculptor, a Tabernacle, by Mino da Fiesole (1431-1484), who
certainly has loved the gracious marbles of Desiderio da Settignano. The
picture of the Coronation of the Virgin beside this Tabernacle, once the
altar-piece of the Baroncelli Chapel, a genuine work of Giotto's, as it
is thought, is tender in feeling and magnificent in arrangement and
composition. Full of a grave earnestness and full of ardent life,--mark
the eagerness of those clouds of Saints,--it is worthy of the painter of
the tribune of the Lower Church at Assisi.

Returning now to the church itself, we begin our examination of those
twelve chapels, which with the choir form the eastern end of S. Croce.
The first three chapels have little interest, but the two nearest the
choir, Cappella Peruzzi and Cappella Bardi, were both painted in fresco
by Giotto, his work there being among the best of his paintings.

The Peruzzi Chapel was built by the powerful family that name, who had
already done much for S. Croce, when about 1307 they employed Giotto to
decorate these walls with frescoes of the story of St. John Baptist and
St. John the Divine. In 1714, the new Vasari tells us,[105] and, indeed,
we may read as much on the floor of the chapel itself, Bartolommeo di
Simone Peruzzi caused the place to be restored, and it was then, as we
may suppose, that the work of Giotto was covered with whitewash. It was
in 1841 that the Dance of Herodias was discovered, and the whitewash not
very carefully, perhaps, removed, and by 1863 the rest of the frescoes
here were brought to light. In their original brightness they formed
probably "the finest series of frescoes which Giotto ever produced"; but
the hand of the restorer has spoiled them utterly, so that only the
shadow of their former beauty remains, amid much that is hard or

On the left we see the story of St. John Baptist; above, the Angel
announces to Zacharias the birth of a son; and, with I know not what
mastery of his art, Giotto tells us of it with a simplicity and
perfection beyond praise. If we consider the work merely as a
composition, it is difficult to imagine anything more lovely; and then
how beautiful and full of life is the angel who has entered so softly
into the Holy of Holies, not altogether without dismay to the high
priest, who, busy swinging his censer before the altar, has suddenly
looked up and seen a vision. Below, we see the Birth of St. John
Baptist, where Elizabeth is a little troubled, it may be, about her dumb
husband, to whom the child has been brought. An old man with an eager
and noble gesture seems to argue with Zacharias, holding the child the
while by the shoulder, and Zacharias writes the name on his knee. Below
this again is the Dance of Herodias, the first of these frescoes to be
uncovered and ruined in the process. But even yet, in the perfect
grouping of the figures, the splendour of the viol player, the
frightened gaze of the servants, we may still see the very hand of

But it is in the frescoes on the right wall that Giotto is seen at his
highest: it is the story of St. John the Divine; above he dreams on
Patmos, below he raises Drusiana at the Gate of Ephesus, and is himself
received into heaven. Damaged though they be, there is nothing in all
Italian art more fundamental, more simple, or more living than these
frescoes. It is true that the Dream of St. John is almost ruined, and
what we see to-day is very far from being what Giotto painted, but in
the Raising of Drusiana and in the Ascension of St. John we find a
grandeur and force that are absent from painting till Giotto's time, and
for very many years after his death. The restorer has done his best to
obliterate all trace of Giotto's achievement, especially in the fresco
of Drusiana, but in spite of him we may see here Giotto's very work, the
essence of it at any rate, its intention and the variety of his powers
of expressing himself.

The chapel nearest the choir was built by Ridolfo de' Bardi, it is said,
sometime after 1310,[106] and it was for him that Giotto painted there
the story of St. Francis; while on the ceiling he has painted the three
Franciscan virtues, Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and in the fourth
space has set St. Francis in Glory, as he had done in a different manner
at Assisi.

After the enthusiastic pages of Ruskin,[107] to describe these frescoes,
beautiful still, in spite of their universal restoration, would be
superfluous. It will be enough to refer the reader to his pages, and to
add the subjects of the series. Above, on the left wall, St. Francis
renounces his father, while below he appears to the brethren at Arles,
and under this we see his death. On the left above, Pope Honorius gives
him his Rule, and below, he challenges the pagan priests to the test of
the fire before the Sultan, and appears to Gregory IX, who had thought
to deny that he received the Stigmata. Beside the window Giotto has
painted four great Franciscans, St. Louis of Toulouse, St. Clare, St.
Louis of France, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. All these frescoes in the
Bardi Chapel are much more damaged by restoration than those in Cappella

In the choir, behind the high altar, Agnolo Gaddi, one of the two sons
of Taddeo, has painted, with a charm and brightness of colour that hide
the poor design, the story of the Holy Cross. It was at the request of
Jacopo degli Alberti that Agnolo painted these eight frescoes, where the
angel gives a branch of the Tree of Life from Eden to Seth, whom Adam,
feeling his death at hand, had sent on this errand. Seth returns,
however, only to find Adam dead, and the branch is planted on his grave.
Then in the course of ages that branch grows to a tree, is hewn down,
and, as the Queen of Sheba passes on her way to King Solomon, the
carpenters are striving to cut this wood for the Temple, but they reject
it and throw it into the Pool of Bethesda. And this rejected tree was at
length hewn into the Cross of Our Lord. Then comes Queen Helena to seek
that blessed wood, and finding the three crosses, and in ignorance which
was that of Our Lord, commands that the dead body of a youth which is
borne by shall be touched with them all, one after another. So they find
the True Cross, for at its touch the dead rises from his bier. Then they
bear the cross before the Queen: till presently it is lost to Chosroes,
King of Persia, who took Jerusalem "in the year of Our Lord six hundred
and fifteen," and bare away with him that part of the Holy Cross which
St. Helena had left there. So he made a tower of gold and of silver,
crusted with precious stones, and set the Cross of Our Lord before him,
and commanded that he should be called God. Then Heraclius, the Emperor,
went out against him by the river of Danube, and they fought the one
with the other upon the bridge, and agreed together that the victor
should be prince of the whole Empire: and God gave the victory to
Heraclius, who bore the Cross into Jerusalem. So Agnolo Gaddi has
painted the story in the choir of S. Croce.

In the chapels on the north side of the choir there is but little of
interest. And then one is a little weary of frescoes. If we return to
the south aisle and pass through the door between the Annunciation of
Donatello and the tomb of Leonardo Bruni, we shall come into the
beautiful cloisters of Arnolfo, where there will be sunshine and the
soft sky. Here, too, is the beautiful Cappellone that Brunellesco built
for the Pazzi family, whose arms decorate the porch. Under a strange and
beautiful dome, which, as Burckhardt reminds us, Giuliano da Sangallo
imitated in Madonna delle Carceri at Prato, Brunellesco has built a
chapel in the form almost of a Greek cross. And without, before it, he
has set, under a vaulted roof, a portico borne by columns, interrupted
by a round arch. It is the earliest example, perhaps, of the new
Renaissance architecture. Very fair and surprising it is with its frieze
of angels' heads by Donatello, helped perhaps by Desiderio da
Settignano. Within, too, you come upon Donatello's work again, in the
Four Evangelists in the spandrels, and below them the Twelve Apostles.

Walking in the cloisters, you find the great ancient refectory of the
convent itself, which has here been turned into a museum, while another
part of it is used as a barracks; and indeed the finest cloister of the
Early Renaissance, one of the loveliest works of Brunellesco, has also
been given up to the army of Italy. The museum contains much that, in
its removal here or dilapidation, has lost nearly all its interest. The
beautiful fresco of St. Eustace, said to be the work of Andrea Castagno,
is yet full of delight, while here and there amid these old crucifixes,
tabernacles, and frescoes, by pupils of Giotto long forgotten, something
will charm you by its sincerity or naïve beauty, so that you will
forget, if only for a moment, the destruction that has befallen all
around you; the convent that once housed S. Bernardino of Siena, now
noisy with conscripts, the library housed in another convent, Dominican
once, that like this has become a museum and public monument of
vandalism and rapacity.


[104] Cf. Crowe and Gavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 124.

[105] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 77.

[106] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 81.

[107] _Mornings in Florence_, by John Ruskin.



Something of the eager, restless desire for beauty, for antique beauty,
so characteristic of the fifteenth century--for the security and
strength of just that, may be found in S. Lorenzo and S. Spirito, those
two churches which we owe to the genius of Brunellesco, and in them we
seem to find the negation, as it were, of the puritan spirit, of all
that the Convent of S. Marco had come to mean: as though when, one day
at dawn, the peasants ploughing in some little valley in the hills, had
come upon the gleaming white body of the witch Venus, in burning the
precious statue which had lain so long in the earth, they had not been
able altogether to destroy the spirit, free at last, which in the cool
twilight had escaped them to wander about the city. It is the spirit of
Rome you come upon in S. Lorenzo, the old Rome of the Basilicas, that
were but half Christian after all, and, still in ruin, seem to remember
the Gods.

A church has stood where S. Lorenzo stands certainly since pagan times,
for at the beginning of the fourth century, one Giuliana, who had three
daughters but no son, vowed a church to St. Laurence if he would grant
her a son; and a son being born to her she founded S. Lorenzo, and
called the child Laurence for praise. St. Ambrose is said to have come
from Milan to consecrate the place, bringing with him certain relics,
the bones of S. Agnola and S. Vitale, victims of the pagans which he had
found in Bologna; while for sixty years, till 490, the body of S.
Zenobio lay here. In those days, and until the last years of the
eleventh century, S. Lorenzo stood without the walls, and when Cosimo
came back to Florence, the old church, which had fallen into decay, was
already being rebuilt, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, with others, having
given the work to Brunellesco. Filippo Brunellesco, however, had got no
farther, it seems, than the Sagrestia Vecchia when he died, while
Antonio Manetti, who succeeded him as architect, changed somewhat his
design. The church was consecrated at last in 1461, some three years
before the death of Cosimo, who lies before the high altar.

It is really as the resting-place of the Medici that we have come to
consider S. Lorenzo, for here lie not only Giovanni di Bicci and
Piccarda, the parents of Cosimo Pater Patriae, and Cosimo himself, but
Piero and Giovanni his sons, while in the new sacristy lie Giuliano and
Lorenzo il Magnifico his grandsons, and their namesakes Giuliano Duc de
Nemours and Lorenzo Due d'Urbino; and in the Cappella dei Principi,
built in 1604 by Matteo Nigetti, lie the Grand Dukes from Cosimo I to
Cosimo III, the rulers of Florence and Tuscany from the sixteenth to the
beginning of the eighteenth centuries.

The church itself is in the form of a Latin cross, consisting of nave
and aisles and transepts, the nave being covered with a flat coffered
ceiling, though the aisles are vaulted. Along the aisles are square
chapels, scarcely more than recesses, and above the great doors is a
chapel supported by pillars, a design of Michelangelo, who was to have
built the façade for Leo X, but, after infinite thought and work in the
marble mountains, the Pope bade him abandon it in 1519. For many years a
single pillar, the only one that ever came to Florence of all those hewn
for the church in Pietrasanta, lay forlorn in the Piazza.

Those chapels that flank the aisles have to-day but little interest for
us, here and there a picture or a piece of sculpture, but nothing that
will keep us for more than a moment from the chapels of the transept,
the work of Desiderio da Settignano, of Verrocchio, and, above all, of
Donatello. It is all unaware to the tomb of this the greatest sculptor,
and in many ways the most typical artist, Florence ever produced, that
we come, when, standing in front of the high altar, we read the
inscription on that simple slab of stone which marks the tomb of Cosimo
Vecchio; for Donatello lies in the same vault with his great patron. A
modern monument in the Martelli Chapel, where the beautiful Annunciation
by Lippo Lippi hangs under a crucifix by Cellini, in the left transept,
commemorates him; but he needs no such reminder here, for about us is
his beautiful and unforgetable work: not perhaps the two ambones, which
he only began on his return from Padua when he was sixty-seven years
old, and which were finished by his pupils Bertoldo and Bellano, but the
work in the old sacristy built in 1421 by Brunellesco. How rough is the
modelling in the ambone reliefs, as though really, as Bandinelli has
said, the sight of the old sculptor was failing; and yet, in spite of
age and the intervention of his pupils, how his genius asserts itself in
a certain rhythm and design in these tragic panels, where, under a
frieze of dancing _putti_,--loves or angels I know not,--of bulls and
horses, he has carved the Agony in the Garden, Christ before Pilate, and
again before Caiaphas, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, in the southern
ambone; while in the northern we find the Descent into Hades, where John
Baptist welcomes our Lord, who draws forth Adam, and, as Dante records,
Abel too, and Noah, Moses, Abraham, and David, Isaac and Jacob and his
sons, not without Rachel, _E altri molti, e fecegli beati_, the
Resurrection and the Ascension, the Maries at the Tomb, the Pentecost.
It is another and very different work you come upon in the Cantoria,
which, lovely though it be, seems to be rather for a sermon than for
singing, so cold it is, and yet full enough of his perfect feeling for
construction, for architecture. It has a rhythm of its own, but it is
the rhythm of prose, not of poetry.

The old sacristy, which is full of him--for indeed all the decorative
work seems to be his--is one of the first buildings of the Renaissance,
the beautiful work of Filippo Brunelleschi. Covered by a polygonal dome,
the altar itself stands under another dome, low and small; and
everywhere Donatello has added beauty to beauty, the two friends for
once combining to produce a masterpiece, though not, as it is said,
without certain differences between them. "Donatello undertook to
decorate the sacristy of S. Lorenzo in stucco for Cosimo de' Medici,"
Vasari tells us. "In the angles of the ceiling he executed four
medallions, the ornaments of which were partly painted in perspective,
partly stories of the Evangelists[108] in basso-relievo. In the same
place he made two doors of bronze in basso-relievo of most exquisite
workmanship: on these doors he represented the apostles, martyrs, and
confessors, and above these are two shallow niches, in one of which are
S. Lorenzo and S. Stefano; in the other, S. Cosimo and S. Damiano." The
sacristy, according to Vasari, was the first work proceeded with in the
church. Cosimo took so much pleasure in it that he was almost always
himself present, and such was his eagerness, that while Brunellesco
built the sacristy, he made Donatello prepare the ornaments in stucco,
"with the stone decorations of the small doors and the doors of bronze."
And it is in these bronze doors that, as it seems to me, you have Donato
at his best, full of energy and life, yet never allowing himself for a
moment to forget that he was a sculptor, that his material was bronze
and had many and various beauties of its own, which it was his business
to express. There are two doors, one on each side of the altar, and
these doors are made in two parts, and each part is divided into five
panels. With a loyalty and apprehension of the fitness of things really
beyond praise, Donatello has here tried to do nothing that was outside
the realm of sculpture. It was not for him to make the Gates of
Paradise, but the gates of a sacristy in S. Lorenzo. His work is in
direct descent from the work of the earliest Italian sculptors, a
legitimate and very beautiful development of their work within the
confines of an art which was certainly sufficient to itself. Consider,
then, the naturalism of that figure who opens his book on his knees so
suddenly and with such energy; or again, the exquisite reluctance of him
who in the topmost panel turns away from the preaching of the apostle.
Certainly here you have work that is simple, sincere, full of life and
energy, and is beautiful just because it is perfectly fitting and
without affectation.[109] In one of the two small rooms which are on
each side of the sacristy, having the altar between them, Brunellesco by
Cosimo's orders made a well. Here, Vasari tells us later, Donato placed
a marble lavatory, on which Andrea Verrocchio also worked; but the
Lavabo we find there to-day seems very doubtfully Donatello's.

In the centre of the sacristy itself, Vasari tells us, Cosimo caused the
tomb of his father Giovanni to be made beneath a broad slab of marble,
supported by four columns; and in the same place he made a sepulchre for
his family, wherein he separated the tombs of the men from those of the
women. But again this work too seems, in spite of Vasari, to belong
rather uncertainly to Donatello. It is very rare to find a detached tomb
in Italy, and rarer still to find it under a table, where it is very
difficult to see it properly, and the care and beauty that have been
spent upon it might seem to be wasted. It is perhaps rather Buggiano's
hand than Donato's we see even in so beautiful a thing as this, which
Donatello may well have designed. The beautiful bust of S. Lorenzo over
the doorway is, however, the authentic work of Donato himself. Full of
eagerness, S. Lorenzo looks up as though to answer some request, and to
grant it.

The splendid porphyry sarcophagus set in bronze before a bronze screen
of great beauty, by Verocchio, is certainly one of the finest things
here. Every leaf and curl of the foliage seem instinct with some
splendid life, seem to tremble almost with the fierceness of their
vitality. There lie Giovanni and Piero de' Medici, the uncle and father
of Lorenzo il Magnifico. Close by you may see a relief of Cosimo
Vecchio, their father.

The cloisters, where Lorenzo walked often enough, are beautiful, and
then from them one passes so easily into the Laurentian Library, founded
by Cosimo Vecchio, and treasured and added to by Piero and Lorenzo il
Magnifico, but scattered and partly destroyed by the vandalism and
futile stupidity of Savonarola and his puritans in 1494. Savonarola,
however, was a cleverer demagogue than our Oliver (it is well to
remember that he was a Dominican), for he persuaded the Signoria to let
him have such of the MSS. as he could find for the library of S. Marco.
The honour of such a person is perhaps not worth discussing, but we may
remind ourselves what Cosimo had done for S. Marco, and how he had built
the library there. In 1508 the friars turned these stolen goods into
money, selling them back to Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, who was soon
to be Leo X, who carried them to Rome. Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, later
Clement VII, presented Leo's collection to the Laurentian Library, which
he had bidden Michelangelo to rebuild. This was interrupted by the
unfortunate business of 1527, and it was not till Cosimo I came that the
library was finished. Perhaps the most precious thing here is the
Pandects of Justinian, taken by the Pisans from Amalfi in 1135, and
seized by the Florentines when they took Pisa in 1406. Amalfi prized
these above everything she possessed, Pisa was ready to defend them with
her life, Florence spent hundreds of thousands of florins to possess
herself of them--for in them was thought to lie the secret of the law of
Rome. Who knows what Italy, under the heel of the barbarian, does not
owe to these faded pages, and through Italy the world? They were, as it
were, the symbol of Latin civilisation in the midst of German barbarism.
Here too is that most ancient Virgil which the French stole in 1804.
Here is Petrarch's Horace and a Dante transcribed by Villani; and, best
of all, the only ancient codex in the world of what remains to us of
Aeschylus, of what is left of Sophocles. It is in such a place that we
may best recognise the true greatness of the abused Medici. Tyrants
they may have been, but when the mob was tyrant it satisfied itself with
destroying what they with infinite labour had gathered together for the
advancement of learning, the civilisation of the world. What, then, was
that Savonarola whom all have conspired to praise, whose windy
prophecies, whose blasphemous cursings men count as so precious? In
truth in his fashion he was but a tyrant too--a tyrant, and a poor one,
and therefore the more dangerous, the more disastrous. To the Medici we
owe much of what is most beautiful in Florence--the loveliest work of
Botticelli, of Brunellesco, of Donatello, of Lippo Lippi, of
Michelangelo, and the rest, to say nothing of such a priceless
collection of books and MSS. as this. Is, then, the work of Marsilio
Ficino nothing, the labours of a thousand forgotten humanists? What do
we owe to Savonarola? He burnt the pictures which to his sensual mind
suggested its own obscenity; he stole the MSS., and no doubt would have
destroyed them too, to write instead his own rhetorical and
extraordinary denunciations of what he did not understand. Who can deny
that when he proposed to give freedom to Florence he was dreaming of a
new despotism, the despotism, if not of himself, of that Jesus whom he
believed had inspired him, and on whom he turned in his rage? That he
was brave we know, but so was Cataline; that he believed in himself we
like to believe, and so did Arius of Alexandria; that he carried the
people with him is certain, and so did they who crucified Jesus; but
that he was a turbulent fellow, a puritan, a vandal, a boaster, a
wind-bag, a discredited prophet, and a superstitious failure, we also
know, as he doubtless did at last, when the wild beast he had roused had
him by the throat, and burnt him in the fire he had invoked. His
political ideas were beneath contempt; they were insincere, as he
proved, and they were merely an excuse for riot. He bade, or is said to
have bidden, Lorenzo restore her liberty to Florence. When, then, had
Florence possessed this liberty, of which all these English writers who
sentimentalise over this unique and unfortunate Ferrarese traitor speak
with so much feeling and awe? Florence had never possessed political
liberty of any sort whatever; she was ruled by the great families, by
the guilds, by an oligarchy, by a despot. She was never free till she
lost herself in Italy in 1860. Socially she was freer under the Medici
than she was before or has been since.[110] In the production of unique
personalities a sort of social freedom is necessary, and Florence under
the earlier Medici might seem to have produced more of such men than any
other city or state in the history of the world, saving Athens in the
time of the despot Pericles. The happiest period in the history of
Athens was that in which he was master, even as the greatest and most
fortunate years in the history of the Florentine state were those in
which Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo ruled in Florence. And when at last
Lorenzo died, the Pope saw very clearly that on that day had passed away
"the peace of Italy." It is to the grave of this great and unique man
you come when leaving the cloisters of S. Lorenzo, and passing round the
church into Piazza Madonna, you enter the Cappella Medicea, and,
ascending the stairs on the left, find again on the left the new
sacristy, built in 1519 by Michelangelo. Lorenzo lies with his murdered
brother Giuliano, who fell under the daggers of the Pazzi on that Easter
morning in the Duomo, between the two splendid and terrible tombs of his
successors, under an unfinished monument facing the altar; a beautiful
Madonna and Child, an unfinished work by Michelangelo, and the two
Medici Saints, S. Damian by Raffaello da Montelupo, and S. Cosmas by
Montorsoli. It is not, however, this humble and almost nameless grave
that draws us to-day to the Sagrestia Nuova, but the monument carved by
Michelangelo for two lesser and later Medici: Giuliano, Duc de Nemours,
who died in 1516, and Lorenzo, Duc d'Urbino, who died in 1519. When
Lorenzo il Magnifico died at Careggi in April 1492, he left seven
children: Giovanni, who became Leo X; Piero, who succeeded him and went
into exile; Giuliano, who returned; Lucrezia, who married Giacomo
Salviati, and was grandmother of Cosimo I; Contessina, who married
Piero Ridolfi; Maddalena, who married Francesco Cibo; and Maria, whom
Michelangelo is said to have loved. Lorenzo's successor, Piero, did not
long retain the power his father had left him; he was vain and
impetuous, and, trying to rule without the Signoria, placed Pisa and
Livorno in the hands of Charles VIII of France, who was on his carnival
way to Naples. Savonarola chased him out, and sacked the treasures of
his house. He died in exile. It was his brother Giuliano who returned,
Savonarola being executed in 1512. Giuliano was a better ruler than his
brother, but he behaved like a despot till his brother Giovanni became
Pope, when he resigned the government of Florence to his nephew Lorenzo,
the son of Piero, and while he became Gonfaloniere of Rome and
Archbishop, Lorenzo became Duke of Urbino and father of Catherine de'
Medici of France. It is this Giuliano and Lorenzo de Medici that
Michelangelo has immortalised with an everlasting gesture of sorrow and
contempt. On the right is the tomb of Giuliano, and over it he sits for
ever as a general of the Church; on the left is Lorenzo's dust, coffered
in imperishable marble, over which he sits plotting for ever. The
statues that Michelangelo has carved there have been called Night and
Day, Twilight and Dawn; but indeed these names, as I have said, are far
too definite for them: they are just a gesture of despair, of despair of
a world which has come to nothing. They are in no real sense of the word
political, but rather an expression, half realised after all, of some
immense sadness, some terrible regret, which has fallen upon the soul of
one who had believed in righteousness and freedom, and had found himself
deceived. It is not the house of Medici that there sees its own image of
despair, but rather Florence, which had been content that such things
should be. Some obscure and secret sorrow has for a moment overwhelmed
the soul of the great poet in thinking of Florence, of the world, of the
hearts of men, and as though trying to explain to himself his own
melancholy and indignation, he has carved these statues, to which men
have given the names of the most tremendous and the most sweet of
natural things--Night and Day, Twilight and Dawn; and even as in the
Sistine Chapel Michelangelo has thought only of Life,--of the Creation
of Man, of the Judgment of the World, which is really the
Resurrection,--so here he has thought only of Death, of the death of the
body, of the soul, and of the wistful life of the disembodied spirit
that wanders disconsolate, who knows where?--that sleeps uneasily, who
knows how long?


[108] Not of the Evangelists, but of St. John: the medallions are the
Four Evangelists.

[109] See _Donatello_, by Lord Balcarres, p. 136 (London, 1904), where a
long comparison is made of the doors of Donatello, Ghiberti, and Luca
della Robbia.

[110] Even politically, too, as Guicciardini tells us.



To pass through Florence for the most part by the old ways, from church
to church, is too often like visiting forgotten shrines in a museum.
Something seems to have been lost in these quiet places; it is but
rarely after all that they retain anything of the simplicity which once
made them holy. To their undoing, they have been found in possession of
some beautiful thing which may be shown for money, and so some of them
have ceased altogether to exist as churches or chapels or convents; you
find yourself walking through them as through a gallery, and if you
should so far forget yourself as to uncover your head, some official
will eagerly nudge you and say, "It is not necessary for the signore to
bare his head: here is no longer a church, but a public monument." A
public monument! But indeed, as we know, the Italian "public" is no
longer capable of building anything that is beautiful. If it is a bridge
they need, it is not such a one as the Trinità that will be built, but
some hideous structure of iron, as in Pisa, Venice, and Rome. If it is a
monument they wish to carve, they will destroy numberless infinitely
precious things, and express themselves as vulgarly as the Germans could
do, as in the monument of Vittorio Emmanuele at Rome, which is founded
on the ruined palaces of nobles, the convents of the poor. If it is a
Piazza they must make, they are no longer capable of building such place
as Piazza Signoria, but prefer a hideous and disgusting clearing, such
as Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele in Florence. How often have I sat at the
little cafe there on the far side of the square, wondering why the house
of Savoy should have brought this vandalism from Switzerland. Nor is
this strange monarchy content with broken promises and stolen dowries;
in its grasping barbarism it must rename the most famous and splendid
ways of Italy after itself: thus the Corso of Rome has become Corso
Umberto Primo, and we live in daily expectation that Piazza Signoria of
Florence will become Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II. If that has not yet
befallen, it is surely an oversight; the Government has been so busy
renaming Roman places--the Villa Borghese, for instance--that Florence
has so far nearly escaped. Not altogether, however: beyond the Carraja
bridge, just before the Pescaia in the Piazza Manin, is the suppressed
convent (now a barracks) of the Humiliati, that democratic brotherhood
which improved the manufacture of wool almost throughout Italy. What has
the Venetian Jew, Daniel Manin, to do with them? Yet he is remembered by
means of a bad statue, while the Humiliati and the Franciscans are
forgotten: yet for sure they did more for Florence than he. But no doubt
it would be difficult to remind oneself tactfully of those one has
robbed, and a Venetian Jew looks more in place before a desecrated
convent than S. Francis would do. Like the rest of Italy, Florence seems
always to forget that she had a history before 1860; yet here at least
she should have remembered one of her old heroes, for in the convent
garden Giano della Bella, who fought at Campaldino, and was
anti-clerical too and hateful to the Pope, the hero of the Ordinances of
Justice, used to walk with his friends. _Perisca innanzi la città_, say
I, _che tante opere rie si sostengano_. By this let even Venetian Jews,
to say nothing of Switzer princes, know how they are like to be
remembered when their little day is over.

[Illustration: OGNISSANTI]

It was in 1256 that the Humiliati founded here in Borgo Ognissanti the
Church of S. Caterina, and carved their arms, a woolpack fastened with
ropes, over the door. Originally founded by certain Lombard exiles in
Northern Germany, the Humiliati were at first at any rate a lay
brotherhood, which had learned in exile the craft of weaving wool. Such
wool as was to be had in Tuscany, a land of olives and vines, almost
without pasture, was poor enough, and it seems to have been only after
the advent of the Humiliati that the great Florentine industry began to
assert itself, foreign wools being brought in a raw state to the city
and sold, dressed and woven into cloth, in all the cities of Europe and
the East. This brotherhood, however, in 1140 formed itself into a
Religious Order under a Bull of Innocent III, and though from that time
the brethren seem no longer to have worked at their craft themselves,
they directed the work of laymen whom they enrolled and employed,
busying themselves for the most part with new inventions and the
management of what soon became an immense business. Their fame was
spread all over Italy, for, as Villari tells us,[111] "wherever a house
of their Order was established, the wool-weaving craft immediately made
advance," so that in 1239 the Commune of Florence invited them to
establish a house near the city, as they did in S. Donato a Torri, which
was given them by the Signoria. By 1250 we read that the Guild Masters
were already grumbling at their distance from the city, so that they
removed to S. Lucia sul Prato, under promise of exemption from all
taxes; and in 1256 they founded a church and convent in Borgo
Ognissanti. The Church of S. Lucia sul Prato still stands, but the
Humiliati were robbed of it in 1547 by Cosimo I, who, strangely enough,
had taken the old convent of S. Donato a Torri from the friars who had
acquired it, in order to build a fortification, and now wished to give
them the Church of S. Lucia sul Prato. It is said that the friars began
to build their convent, but four years later abandoned the work,
removing to S. Jacopo on the other side Arno. However this may be, the
Franciscans certainly succeeded the Humiliati in their convent in Borgo
Ognissanti about this time, and in 1627 they rebuilt S. Caterina,
renaming it S. Salvadore. To-day there is but little worth seeing in
this seventeenth-century church,--a St. Augustine by Botticelli, a St.
Jerome and two large frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandajo,--but in the old
refectory of the convent, which has now become a barracks, is Domenico
Ghirlandajo's fresco of the Last Supper.

Passing from Ognissanti down the Borgo to Piazza Ponte alla Carraja, you
come to the great palace built by Michelozzo for the Ricasoli family: it
is now the Hotel New York. Thence you turn into Via di Parione behind
the palace, where at No. 7 you pass the Palazzo Corsini, coming at last
into Via Tornabuoni, where at the corner is the Church of S. Trinità
facing the Piazza.

This beautiful and very ancient church stands on the site of an oratory
of S. Maria dello Spasimo, destroyed, as it is said, in the tenth
century. It was built by the monks of Vallombrosa, and was therefore in
the hands of Benedictines. Here, in the Cappella Sassetti, Domenico
Ghirlandajo has painted the Life of S. Francis; but it is not with his
commonplace treatment, often irrelevant enough, of a subject which
Giotto had already used with genius, that we are concerned, but perhaps
with the fresco above the altar, and certainly with the marvellous
portraits of Sassetti and Nera Cosi his wife, on either side. Here in
this portrait for once Ghirlandajo seems to have escaped from the
limitations of his cleverness, and to have really expressed himself so
that his talent becomes something more than talent, is full of life and
charm, and only just fails to convince us of his genius.

Many another delightful or surprising thing may be found in the old
church, which has more than once suffered from restoration. In a chapel
in the right aisle Lorenzo Monaco has painted the Annunciation, while,
close by, you may see a beautiful altar by Benedetto da Rovezzano. Over
the high altar is the crucifix which bowed to S. Giovanni Gualberto,
who forbore to slay his brother's murderer; but the chief treasure of
the church is the tomb in the left transept of Benozzo Federighi, Bishop
of Fiesole, by Luca della Robbia. It was in the year 1450 that Luca
finished his most perfect work in marble--begun and finished, as it is
said, within the year--the tomb of Bishop Federighi. And here, as one
might almost expect, remembering his happy expressive art in many a
terra-cotta up and down in Italy, he has thought of death almost with
cheerfulness, not as oblivion, but as just sleep after labour. Amid a
profusion of natural things--fruits, garlands, grapes--the old man lies
half turned towards us, at rest at last. Behind him Luca has carved a
Pietà, and beneath two angels unfold the name of the dead man. The tomb
was removed hither from S. Francesco di Paolo.

Passing now under the Column of the Trinità across the Piazza between
the two palaces, Bartolini Salimbeni and Buondelmonte on the left, and
Palazzo Spini on the right, you come into Borgo Santi Apostoli, where,
facing the Piazzetta del Limbo, is the little church de' Santi Apostoli,
which, if we may believe the inscription on the façade, was founded by
Charlemagne and consecrated by Turpin before Roland and Oliver. However
that may be, it is, with the exception of the Baptistery, the oldest
church on this side Arno, and already existed outside the first walls of
the city. Within, the church is beautiful, and indeed Brunellesco is
reported by Vasari to have taken it as a model for S. Lorenzo and S.
Spirito. In the sacristy lies the stone which Mad Pazzi brought from
Jerusalem, and from which the Easter fire is still struck in the Duomo;
while in the chapel to the left of the high altar is a beautiful
Tabernacle by the della Robbia, and a monument to Otto Altoviti by
Benedetto da Rovezzano. The Altoviti are buried here, and their palace,
which Benedetto built for them, is just without to the south.

This Borgo SS. Apostoli and the Via Lambertesca which continues it are
indeed streets of old palaces and towers. Here the Buondelmonti lived,
and the Torre de' Girolami, where S. Zanobi is said to have dwelt,
still stands, while Via Lambertesca is full of remembrance of the lesser
guilds. Borgo SS. Apostoli passes into Via Lambertesca at the corner of
Por S. Maria, where of old the great gate of St. Mary stood in the first
walls, and the Amidei had their towers. It must have been just here the
Statue of Mars was set, under the shadow of which Buondelmonte was
murdered so brutally; and thus, as Bandello tells us, following Villani,
began the Guelph and Ghibelline factions in Florence.

Just out of Via Lambertesca, on the left, is the little Church of S.
Stefano and S. Cecilia--S. Cecilia only since the end of the eighteenth
century, when that church was destroyed in Piazza Signoria; but S.
Stefano, _ad portam ferram_, since the thirteenth century at any rate.
This church seems to have been confused by many with the little Santo
Stefano, still, I think, a parish church, though now incorporated with
the abbey buildings, of the Badia. You pass out of Via Lambertesca by
Via de' Lanzi, coming thus into Piazza Signoria; then, passing Palazzo
Uguccione, you take Via Condotta to the right, and thus come into Via
del Proconsolo at the Abbey gate.

Here in this quiet Benedictine house one seems really to be back in an
older world, to have left the noise and confusion of to-day far behind,
and in order and in quiet to have found again the beautiful things that
are from of old. The Badia, dedicated to S. Maria Assunta, was founded
in 978 by Countess Willa, the mother of Ugo of Tuscany,[112] and was
rebuilt in 1285 by Arnolfo di Cambio. The present building is, however,
almost entirely a work of the seventeenth century, though the beautiful
tower was built in 1328. Here still, however, in spite of rebuilding,
you may see the tomb of the Great Marquis by Mino da Fiesole. "It was
erected," says Mr. Carmichael, "at the expense of the monks, not of
the Signoria.... Ugo died in 1006, on the Feast of St. Thomas the
Apostle, December 21, and every year on that date a solemn requiem for
the repose of his soul is celebrated in the Abbey Church. His helmet and
breast-plate are always laid upon the catafalque. In times past--down to
1859, I think--a young Florentine used on this occasion to deliver a
panegyric on the Great Prince. I have heard ... that the mass is no
longer celebrated. That is not so; but since the city has ceased to care
about it, it takes place quietly at seven in the morning, instead of
with some pomp at eleven. Then again, it is said that the monks have
allowed the panegyric to drop. That too is not the case; it was not they
but the Florentines who were pledged to this pious office, and it is the
laity alone who have allowed it to fall into desuetude."

[Illustration: VIA POR. S. MARIA]

Even here we cannot, however, escape destruction and forgetfulness. The
monastery has been turned into communal schools and police courts; the
abbot has become a parish priest, and his abbey has been taken from him;
there are but four monks left. But in the steadfast, unforgetful eyes of
that Church which has already outlived a thousand dynasties, and beside
whom every Government in the world is but a thing of yesterday, the
Abbot of S. Maria is abbot still, and no parish priest at all. It is
not, however, such things as this that will astonish the English or
American stranger, whose pathetic faith in "progress" is the one
touching thing about him. He has come here not to think of deprived
Benedictines, or to stand by the tomb of Ugo, of whom he never heard,
but to see the masterpiece of Filippino Lippi, the Madonna and St.
Bernard, with which a thousand photographs have already made him
familiar. Painted in 1480, when Filippino was still, as we may suppose,
under the influence of Botticelli, it was given by Piero del Pugliese to
a church outside Porta Romana, and was removed here in 1529 during the

Passing down Via della Vigna Vecchia, you come at last to the little
Church of S. Simone, which the monks of the Badia built about 1202, in
their vineyards then, and just within the second walls. At the beginning
of the fourteenth century it became a parish church, but was only taken
from them at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Within, there is
an early picture of Madonna, which comes from the Church of S. Piero
Maggiore, now destroyed. You may reach the Piazza di S. Piero (for it
still bears that name) if you turn into Via di Mercatino. Here the
bishops of Florence were of old welcomed to the city and installed in
the See. Thither came all the clergy of the diocese to take part in a
strange and beautiful ceremony. Attached to the church was a Benedictine
convent, whose abbess seems to have represented the diocese of Florence.
There in S. Piero the Archbishop came to wed her, and thus became the
guardian of the city. The church is destroyed now, and, as we have seen,
all the monks and nuns have departed; the Government has stolen their
dowries and thrust them into the streets. Well might the child, passing
S. Felice, cry before this came to pass, O bella Libertà! But S. Piero
was memorable for other reasons too beside this mystic marriage. There
lay Luca della Robbia, Lorenzo di Credi, Mariotto Albertinelli, Piero di
Cosimo: where is their dust to-day? As we look at their work in the
galleries and churches, who cares what has happened to them, or whether
such graves as theirs are rifled or no? Yet not one of them but has done
more for Italy than Vittorio Emmanuele; not one of them, O Italia Nuova,
but is to-day filling your pockets with gold, while he is nothing in the
Pantheon; yet their graves are rifled and forgotten, and him you have
placed on the Capitol.

It is to another Benedictine convent you come down Via Pietrapiana, past
Borgo Allegri, whence the Florentines say they bore Cimabue's Madonna in
triumph to S. Maria Novella. It is a pity, truly, that it is not his
picture that is in the Rucellai Chapel to-day, and that the name of the
Borgo does not come from that rejoicing, but from the Allegri family,
who here had their towers. Yet here Cimabue lived, and Ghiberti and
Antonio Rossellino. Who knows what beauty has here passed by?

The Benedictine Church and Convent at end of Via Pietrapiana is
dedicated to S. Ambrogio. It was the first convent of nuns built in
Florence, and dates certainly from the eleventh century. Like the rest,
it has been suppressed, and indeed destroyed. To-day it is nothing,
having suffered restoration, beside the other violations. Within,
Verrocchio was buried, and in the Cappella del Miracolo, where in the
thirteenth century a priest found the chalice stained with Christ's
blood, is the beautiful altar by Mino da Fiesole. The church is full of
old frescoes by Cosimo Rosselli, Raffaellino del Garbo, and such, and is
worth a visit, if only for the work of Mino and the S. Sebastian of
Leonardo del Tasso.

It is to another desecrated Benedictine convent you come when, passing
through Via dei Pilastrati and turning into Via Farina, you come at last
in Via della Colonna to S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi. This too is now a
barracks and a school. It was not, however, the nuns who commissioned
Perugino to paint for them his masterpiece, the Crucifixion, in the
refectory, but some Cistercian monks who had acquired the convent in the
thirteenth century. Perugino was painting there in 1496. More than a
hundred years later, Pope Urban VIII, who had some nieces in the
Carmelite Convent on the other side Arno, persuaded the monks to
exchange their home for the Carmine. S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, who
was born Lucrezia, had died in 1607, and later been canonised, so that
when the nuns moved here they renamed the place after her. The body of
S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, however, no longer lies in this desecrated
convent, for the little nuns have carried it away to their new home in
Piazza Savonarola. There in that place, always so full of children,
certain Florentine ladies have nobly built a little church and quiet
house, where those who but for them might have been in the street may
still innocently pray to God.

There, in 1496, as I have said, Perugino finished the fresco of the
Crucifixion that he had begun some years before in the chapter-house of
the old S. Maria Maddalena. In almost perfect preservation still, this
fresco on the wall of that quiet and empty room is perhaps the most
perfect expression of the art of Perugino--those dreams of the country
and of certain ideal people he has seen there; Jesus and His disciples,
Madonna and Mary Magdalen, sweet, smiling, and tearful ghosts passing in
the sunshine, less real than the hills, all perhaps that the world was
able to bear by way of remembrance of those it had worshipped once, but
was beginning to forget. And here at last, in this fresco, the landscape
has really become of more importance than the people, who breathe there
so languidly. The Crucifixion has found something of the expressiveness,
the unction of a Christian hymn, something of the quiet beauty of the
Mass that was composed to remind us of it; already it has passed away
from reality, is indeed merely a memory in which the artist has seen
something less and something more than the truth.

Divided into three compartments, we see through the beautiful round
arches of some magic casement, as it were, the valleys and hills of
Italy, the delicate trees, the rivers and the sky of a country that is
holy, which man has taken particularly to himself. And then, as though
summoned back from forgetfulness by the humanism of that landscape where
the toil and endeavour of mankind is so visible in the little city far
away, the cultured garden of the world, a dream of the Crucifixion comes
to us, a vision of all that man has suffered for man, summed up, as it
were, naturally enough by that supreme sacrifice of love; and we see not
an agonised Christ or the brutality of the priests and the soldiers, but
Jesus, who loved us, hanging on the Cross, with Mary Magdalen kneeling
at his feet, and on the one side Madonna and St. Bernard, and on the
other St. John and St. Benedict. And though, in a sort of symbolism,
Perugino has placed above the Cross the sun and the moon eclipsed, the
whole world is full of the serene and perfect light of late afternoon,
and presently we know that vision of the Crucifixion will fade away,
and there will be left to us only that which we really know, and have
heard and seen, the valleys and the hills, the earth from which we are

There are but six figures in the whole picture, and it is just this
spaciousness, perhaps, earth and sky counting for so much, that makes
this work so delightful. For it is not from the figures at all that we
receive the profoundly religious impression that this picture makes upon
all who look unhurriedly upon it; but from the earth and sky, where in
the infinite clear space God dwells, no longer hanging upon a Cross
tortured by men who have unthinkably made so terrible a mistake, but
joyful in His heaven, moving in every living thing He has made; visible
only in the invisible wind that passes over the streams suddenly at
evening, or subtly makes musical the trees at dawn, walking as of old in
His garden, where one day maybe we shall meet Him face to face.

Turning down Via di Pinti to the left, and then to the right along Via
Alfani, we pass another desecrated monastery in S. Maria degli Angioli,
once a famous house of the monks of Camaldoli. This monastery has
suffered many violations, and is scarcely worth a visit, perhaps, unless
it be to see the fresco of Andrea del Castagno in the cloister, and to
remind ourselves that here, in the fifteenth century, Don Ambrogio
Traversari used to lecture in the humanities, a cynical remembrance
enough to-day.

If we take the second street to the right, Via de' Servi, we shall come
at once into the beautiful Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Before us
is the desecrated convent of the Servites, now turned into a school, and
the Church of SS. Annunziata itself, now the most fashionable church in
Florence. On the left and right are the beautiful arcades of
Brunellesco, decorated by the della Robbia; the building on the left is
now used for private houses, that on the right is the Ospedale degli
Innocenti. The equestrian statue was made by Giovanni da Bologna, and
represents Ferdinando I.

The Order of Servites, whose church and convent are before us, was
originally founded by seven Florentines of the Laudesi, that Compagnia
di S. Michele in Orto which built Madonna a shrine by the art of Orcagna
in Or S. Michele, as we have seen. "I Servi di Maria" they were called,
and, determined to quit a worldly life, they retired to a little house
where now S. Croce stands; and later, finding that too near the city,
went over the hills of Fiesole beyond Pratolino, founding a hermitage on
Monte Senario. And I, who have heard their bells from afar at sunset,
why should I be sorry that they are no longer in the city. Well, on
Monte Senario, be sure, they lived hardly enough on the charity of
Florence, so that at last they built a little rest-house just without
the city, where SS. Annunziata stands to-day. But in those days Florence
was full of splendour and life; it had no fear of the Orders, and even
loved them, giving alms. Presently the Servi di Maria were able to build
not a rest-house only, but a church and a convent, and then they who
served Madonna were not forgotten by her, for did she not give them
miraculously a picture of her Annunciation, so beautiful and full of
grace that all the city flocked to see it? Thus it used to be. To-day,
as I have said, SS. Annunziata is the fashionable church of Florence.
The ladies go in to hear Mass; the gentlemen lounge in the cloister and
await them. It is not quite our way in England, but then the sun is not
so kind to us. It is true that on any spring morning you may see the
cloister filled with laughing lilies to be laid at Madonna's feet; but
who knows if she be not fled away with her Servi to Monte Senario?
Certainly those bells were passing glad and very sweet, and they were
ringing, too, the Angelus.

However that may be, a committee, we are told, of which Queen Margherita
is patron here, "renders a programme of sacred music, chiefly Masses
from the ancient masters, admirably executed." It is comforting to our
English notions to know that "The subscribers have the right to a
private seat in the choir, and the best society of Florence is to be met

And then, here are frescoes by Cosimo Rosselli, Andrea del Sarto, under
glass too, a Nativity of Christ by Alessio Baldovinetti, not under
glass, which seems unfair; and what if they be the finest work of
Andrea, since you cannot see them. Within, the church is spoiled and
very ugly. On the left is the shrine of Madonna, carved by Michelozzo,
to the order of Piero de' Medici, decorated with all the spoils of the
Grand Dukes. Ah no, be sure Madonna is fled away!

Passing out of the north transept, you come into the cloisters. Here is,
I think, Andrea's best work, the Madonna del Sacco, and the tomb of a
French knight slain at Campaldino.

Passing out of the SS. Annunziata into S. Maria degli Innocenti, we come
to a beautiful picture by Domenico Ghirlandajo in the great altarpiece,
the Adoration of the Magi, painted in 1488. Though scarcely so lovely as
the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Accademia, perhaps spoiled a
little by over cleaning and restoration, it is one of the most simple
and serene pictures in Florence. The predella to this picture is in the
Ospedale; it represents the Marriage of the Virgin, the Presentation in
the Temple, the Baptism and Entombment of Our Lord. There, too, is a
replica of the Madonna of Lippo Lippi in the Uffizi.

The Ospedale degli Innocenti was founded in 1421 by the Republic, urged
thereto by that Leonardo Bruni who is buried in S. Croce in the tomb by
Rossellino. It appears to have been already open in 1450, and was
apparently under the government of the Guild of Silk, for their arms are
just by the door. It is said to have been the first of its kind in
Europe; originally meant for the reception of illegitimate
children--Leonardo da Vinci, for instance--it is to-day ready to receive
any poor little soul who has come unwanted into the world; it cares for
more than a thousand of such every year.

Passing out of Piazza degli SS. Annunziata through Via di Sapienza into
Piazza di S. Marco, we pass the desecrated convent of the Dominicans,
where Savonarola, Fra Antonino, and Fra Angelico lived, now a museum on
the right; and passing to the right into Via Cavour, come at No. 69 to
the Chiostro dello Scalzo. This is a cloister belonging to the
Brotherhood of St. John, which was suppressed in the eighteenth century.
The Brotherhood of St. John seems to have come about in this way. When
Frate Elias, who succeeded S. Francesco as Minister of the Franciscan
Order, began to rule after his own fashion, the Order was divided into
two parts, consisting of those who followed the Rule and those who did
not. The first were called Observants, the second Conventuals. The
Osservanti, or Observants, remained poor, and observed all the fasts;
perhaps their greatest, certainly their most widely known Vicar-General
was S. Bernardino of Siena. In France the Osservanti were known as the
Recollects, and the reform there having been introduced by John de la
Puebla, a Spaniard, about 1484, these brethren were known as the
Brotherhood of John, or Discalced Friars. In Italy they were called
Riformati. All this confusion is now at an end, for Leo XIII, in the
Constitution "Felicitate quadam," in 1897 joined all the Observants into
one family, giving them again the most ancient and beautiful of their
names, the Friars Minor.

Here, where these little poor men begged or prayed, Andrea del Sarto was
appointed to paint in grisaille scenes from the life of John the
Baptist. They have been much injured by damp, and in fact are not
altogether Andrea's work.

Returning down Via Cavour, if we turn into Via Ventisette Aprile we come
to two more desecrated convents,--that of S. Caterina, now the Commando
Militare, and facing it, S. Appolonia, now a magazine for military

Here, in the refectory of the latter convent, where Michelangelo is said
to have had a niece, and for this cause to have built the nuns a door,
is the fresco of the Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno; while on the
walls are some portraits, brought here from the Bargello, of Farinata
degli Uberti, Niccolò Acciaiuoli, and others.

In another suppressed convent, S. Onofrio in Via Faenza, not far away
(turn to the left down Via di S. Reparata, and then to the right into
Via Guelfa), is another Last Supper, supposed to be the work of a pupil
of Perugino,--Morelli says Giannicolo Manni, who painted the miracle
picture of Madonna in the Duomo of Perugia.

Another picture of the Last Supper--this by Andrea del Sarto--may be
found in another desecrated monastery, founded in 1048 by the
Vallombrosans, the second monastery of the congregation, S. Salvi, just
without the Barriera towards Settignano. It was in front of this
monastery that Corso Donati was killed in 1307. He was buried by the
monks in the church, and four years later his body was borne away to
Florence by his family. This monastery is now turned into houses, and
the refectory with the Andrea del Sarto is become a national monument.
Like many another desecrated church, convent, or religious house, the
Government, as at S. Marco, Chiostro dello Scalzo, and S. Onofrio,
charges you twenty-five centesimi to see their stolen goods.


[111] Villari, _History of Florence_, London, 1905: p. 318.

[112] The best account of this abbey I ever read in English is contained
in a book full of similar good things, good English, and good pictures,
called _The Old Road through France to Florence_, written by H.W.
Nevinson and Montgomery Carmichael, and illustrated by Hallam Murray
(Murray, London, 1904).



The Sesto Oltr'arno, the Quartiere di S. Spirito as it was called later,
was never really part of the city proper, but rather a suburb
surrounded, as Florence itself was, by wall and river. The home for the
most part of the poor, though by no means without the towers and palaces
of the nobles, it seems always to have lent itself readily enough to the
hatching of any plot against the Government of the day. Here in 1343 the
nobles made their last stand, here the signal was given for the Ciompi
rising, and here Luca Pitti built his palace to outdo the Medici. If you
cross Arno by the beautiful bridge of S. Trinità, the first street to
your left will be Borgo S. Jacopo, the first palace that of the
Frescobaldi, whom the Duke of Athens brought into Florence after their
exile. This palace, as well as the Church of S. Jacopo close by, where
Giano della Bella's death was plotted, were given in 1529 to the
Franciscans of S. Salvatore, whose convent had suffered in the siege. S.
Jacopo, which still retains a fine romanesque arcade, was originally a
foundation of the eleventh century. It seems to have been entirely
rebuilt for the friars and the palace turned into a convent in 1580, and
again to have suffered restoration in 1790. Close by is a group of old
towers, still picturesque and splendid. Turning thence back into Via
Maggio, and passing along Via S. Spirito and Via S. Frediano, you come
at last on the left into Piazza del Carmine, before the great church of
that name. The church of the Carmine and the monastery now suppressed
of the Carmelites across Arno were originally built in 1268, with the
help of the great families whose homes were in this part of the
city,--the Soderini, the Nerli, the Serragli; it remained unfinished for
more than two centuries, and in 1771 it was unhappily almost wholly
destroyed by fire, only the sacristy and the Brancacci Chapel escaping.
Famous now because there Fra Lippo Lippi lived, and there Masolino and
Masaccio painted, it is in itself one of the most meretricious and
worthless buildings of the eighteenth century, full of every sort of
flamboyant ornament and insincere, uncalled-for decoration; and yet, in
spite of every vulgarity, how spacious it is, as though even in that
evil hour the Latin genius could not wholly forget its delight in space
and light. It is then really only the Brancacci Chapel in the south
transept that has any interest for us, since there, better than anywhere
else, we may see the work of two of the greatest masters of the first
years of the Quattrocento.

[Illustration: PONTE VECCHIO]

Masolino, according to Mr. Berenson, was born in 1384, and died after
1423, while his pupil Masaccio was born in 1401, and died, one of the
youngest of Florentine painters, in 1428. Here in the Brancacci Chapel
it might seem difficult to decide what may be the work of Masolino and
what of his pupil, and indeed Crowe and Cavalcaselle have denied that
Masolino worked here at all. Later criticism, however, interested in
work that marks a revolution in Tuscan painting, has made it plain that
certain frescoes here are undoubtedly from his hand, and Mr. Berenson
gives him certainly the Fall of Adam, the Raising of Tabitha, and the
Miracle at the Golden Gate, above on the right, as well as the Preaching
of St. Peter, above to the left on the altar wall. Masaccio's work is
more numerous, consisting of the Expulsion from the Temple and the
Payment of the Tribute, above on the right, part of the fresco below the
last; St. Peter Baptizing, above to the left on the altar wall, as well
as the two frescoes, St. Peter and St. John healing the Sick, and St.
Peter and St. John giving Alms, below on either side of the altar. The
rest of the frescoes, the St. Paul visiting St. Peter in Prison, below
on the left, part of the fresco next to it, the Liberation of St. Peter
opposite, and the St. Peter and St. Paul before Nero, and the
Crucifixion of St. Peter, below on the right, are the work of Filippino

Masolino da Panicale of Valdelsa was, according to Vasari, a pupil of
Lorenzo Ghiberti, and had been in his younger days a very good
goldsmith. He was the best among those who helped Ghiberti in the
labours of the doors of S. Giovanni, but when about nineteen years of
age he seems to have devoted himself to painting, forsaking the art of
the goldsmith, and placing himself under Gherardo della Starnina, the
first master of his day. He is said to have gone to Rome, and some works
of his in S. Clemente would seem to prove this story; but finding his
health suffer from the air of the Eternal City, he returned to Florence,
and began to paint here in the Church of S. Maria del Carmine, the
figure of S. Piero beside the "Chapel of the Crucifixion," which was
destroyed in the fire of 1771. This S. Piero, Vasari tells us, was
greatly commended by the painters of the time, and brought Masolino the
commission for painting the Chapel of the Brancacci family in the same
church. Among the rest mentioned by Vasari, he speaks of the Four
Evangelists on the roof here, which have now been ruined by
over-painting and restoration. A man of an admirable genius, his study
and fatigues, Vasari tells us, so weakened him that he was always
ailing, till he died at the age of thirty-seven. Yet in looking on his
work to-day, beside that of Masaccio, one thinks less, I fancy, of his
"study and fatigues," of his structure and technique, than of the
admirable beauty of his work. Consider then those splendid young men in
the Raising of Tabitha, who pass by almost unconcerned, though one has
turned his head to see; the sheer loveliness of Eve and Adam, really for
the first time born again here naked and unashamed; or the easy and
beautiful gesture of the angel, who bids them begone out of the gate of
Paradise. In Masaccio's work you will find a more splendid style, the
real majesty of the creator, a strangely sure generalisation and
expression; but in Masolino's work there still lingers something of the
mere beauty of Gentile da Fabriano, the particular personal loveliness
of things which you may know he has touched with a caress or seen always
with joy.

Masaccio was born at Castello S. Giovanni, on the way to Arezzo. He was
the son of a notary, Ser Giovanni di Simone Guidi, called della
Scheggia, and his first labours in art, Vasari tells us, were begun at
the time when Masolino was working at this chapel in the Carmine. He had
evidently been much impressed by the work of Donato, and, indeed,
something of the realism of sculpture has passed into his work, in the
St. Peter Baptizing, for instance, where he who stands by the side of
the pool, awaiting his turn, has much of the reality of a statue. And
then with a magical sincerity Masaccio has understood the mere
discomfort of such a delay in the cool air, and a shiver seems about to
pass over that body, which is as real to us as any figure in the work of
Michelangelo. Or again, in the fresco of the Tribute Money, how real and
full of energy these people are,--the young man with his back to us, who
has been interrupted; Jesus Himself, who has just interposed; Peter, who
is protesting. How full of a real majesty is this composition, admirably
composed, too, and original even in that. Here, it might seem, we have
the end of merely decorative painting, the beginning of realism, of the
effect of reality, and it is therefore with surprise we see so facile a
master as Filippino Lippi set to finish work of such elemental and
tremendous genius. How pretty his work seems beside these realities.

Coming out into the Piazza again, and turning to the left down Via S.
Frediano, you come almost at once, on the right, to the Church of S.
Frediano in Castello. You may enter it from Lung' Arno, but it would
scarcely be worth a visit, for it is a late seventeenth-century
building, save that in the convent may still be found the cell of S.
Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi; for it was this convent that the Carmelite
nuns exchanged with the Cistercians for the house in Via di Pinti,
called to-day S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, where Perugino painted his
beautiful fresco of the Crucifixion.

Just across the way is the Mercato di S. Frediano and the suppressed
monastery of the Camaldolese, now a school; and by this way you come to
Porta S. Frediano, by which Charles VIII of France entered Florence and
Rinaldo degli Albizzi left it. The whole of this quarter is given up to
the poor and to the Madonna of the street corner, for here her children
dwell, the outcasts and refuse of civilisation who work that we may
live. It is always with reluctance, in spite of the children that I come
by this way, so that if possible I always return by Lung' Arno, past
Torrino di S. Rosa and the barracks of S. Friano and the grain store of
Cosimo III, past the houses of the Soderini to Ponte alla Carraia, which
fell on Mayday 1304, sending so many to that other world they had come
out to see, and so past the house of Piero Capponi, the hero of 1494 who
kept the Medici at bay, and threatened Charles VIII in the council; then
turning down Via Coverelli one comes to Santo Spirito.

It was the Augustinian Hermits who, coming to Florence about 1260,
bought a vineyard close to where Via Maggio, an abbreviation of Via
Maggiore, now is, from the Vellati family. Here they built a monastery
and a church, and dedicated them to the Santo Spirito, so that when the
city was divided into quartieri this Sestiere d'Oltrarno became
Quartiere di S. Spirito. In 1397, as it is said, they determined to
rebuild the place on a bigger scale, and to this end appointed
Brunellesco their architect. The church was begun in 1433, and was
burned down in 1471, during the Easter celebrations, which were
particularly splendid in that year owing to the visit of Galeazzo Maria
Sforza. It was rebuilt, however, in the next twenty years from the
designs of Brunellesco, and is to-day the most beautiful
fifteenth-century church in Florence, full of light and sweetness, very
spacious, too, and with a certain fortunate colour about it that gives
it an air of cheerfulness and serenity beyond anything of the kind to be
found in the Duomo or S. Lorenzo. And then, the Florentines have been
content to leave it alone,--at any rate, so far as the unfinished façade
is concerned. It is in the form of a Latin cross, and suggests even yet
in some happy way the very genius of the Latin people in its temperance
and delight in the sun and the day. The convent, it is true, has been
desecrated, and is now a barracks; most of the altars have been robbed
of their treasures; but the church itself remains to us a very precious
possession from that fifteenth century, which in Italy certainly was so
fortunate, so perfect a dawn of a day that was a little disappointing,
and at evening so disastrous.

Of the works of art remaining in the nave, that spacious nave where one
could wander all day long, only the copy of Michelangelo's Pietà in St.
Peter's will, I think, detain us for more than a moment. What is left to
us of that far-away flower-like beauty of fifteenth-century painting and
sculpture will be found in the great transept, that makes of the church
a cross of light, a temple of the sun. Here, amid many works of that
time given to Fra Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, Ghirlandajo, Donatello, and
others, in the south transept there is a Madonna with the family of de'
Nerli by Filippino Lippi, and in the Capponi Chapel a fine portrait of
Neri Capponi, while in the next chapel Perugino's Vision of St. Bernard,
now in Berlin, used to stand. Here, too, is a Statue of St. Sebastian,
nearly always invisible, said to be from the hand of Donatello; in the
choir is a Madonna enthroned by Lorenzo di Credi. The sacristy is
beautiful, built by Giovanni da Sangallo, and the cloisters now spoiled
are the work of Ammanati. And then, here Niccolò Niccoli is buried, that
great book-collector and humanist; while the barbarians are represented,
if only by the passing figure of Martin Luther, not then forsworn, who
is said to have preached here on his way to Rome. It is strange to think
that these beautiful pillars have heard his rough eloquence, an
eloquence that was so soon to destroy the spirit that had conceived

Close by in Piazza S. Spirito is Palazzo Guadagni, built for Ranieri Dei
at the end of the fifteenth century by Cronaca. It was not, however,
till 1684 that the Guadagni family came into possession of it. Bernardo
Guadagni, it will be remembered, was Gonfaloniere of Justice when Cosimo
de' Medici was expelled the city in 1433. Passing this palace and
turning to the right into Via Mazzetta, you pass at the corner the
Church of S. Felice, which has been so often a refuge,--for at first the
Sylvestrians had it, and held it till the fourteenth century, when it
passed to the Camaldolese, from whom it passed again to a congregation
of Dominican nuns and became a sort of refuge for women who had fled
away from their husbands. Within, you may find a few old pictures, a
Giottesque Crucifixion, and a Madonna and Saints, a fifteenth-century
work. Then, turning into Via Romana, you come, past the gardens of S.
Piero in Gattolino, to the Porta Romana, the great gate of the Via
Romana, the way to Rome, and before you is the Hill of Gardens, and
behind you is the garden of the Pitti Palace, Giardino di Boboli, and
farther still, across Via Romana, the Giardino Torrigiani.

The Boboli Gardens, with their alley ways of ilex, their cypresses and
broken statues, their forgotten fountains, are full of sadness--

    "Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur,
      L'amour vainqueur et la vie opportune,
    Ils n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheur,
      Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

    "Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
      Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres,
    Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,
      Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres."

But the gardens of the Viale are in spring, at any rate, full of the joy
of roses, banks, hedges, cascades of roses, armsful of them, drowsy in
the heat and heavy with sweetness.

    "I'mi trovai, fanciulle, un bel mattino
    Di mezzo maggio, in un verde giardino."

[Illustration: THE BOBOLI]

And if it be not the very place of which Poliziano sang in the most
beautiful verses he ever wrote, certainly to-day there is nothing more
lovely in Florence in spring, and in autumn too, than this Hill of
Gardens. In autumn too; for then the way that winds there about the
hills is an alley of gold, strewn with the leaves of the plane-trees
that the winds have scattered in countless riches under your feet; that
whisper still in golden beauty over your head. There, as you walk in
spring, while the city unfolds herself before you, a garden of roses in
which a lily has towered, or in the autumn afternoons when she is caught
in silver mist, a city of fragile and delicate beauty, that is soon lost
in the twilight, you may see Florence as she remains in spite of every
violation, Città dei Fiori, Firenze la Bella Bellissima, the sweet
Princess of Italy. And, like the way of life, this road among the
flowers ends in a graveyard, the graveyard of S. Miniato al Monte, under
which nestles S. Salvatore, that little brown bird among the cypresses,
over the grey olives.

The story of S. Miniato makes one of the more quiet chapters of Villani.
"Our city of Florence,"[113] he tells you, returning from I know not
what delightful digression, "was ruled long time under the government
and lordship of the Emperors of Rome, and oft-times the Emperors came to
sojourn in Florence, when they were journeying into Lombardy and into
Germany and into France to conquer provinces. And we find that Decius
the Emperor, in the first year of his reign, which was in the year of
Christ 270, was in Florence, the treasure-house and chancelry of the
empire, sojourning there for his pleasure; and the said Decius cruelly
persecuted the Christians wheresoever he could hear of them or find them
out, and he heard tell how the blessed S. Miniato was living as a
hermit, near to Florence, with his disciples and companions, in a wood
which was called Arisbotto di Firenze, behind the place where now stands
his church, above the city of Florence. This blessed Miniato was
first-born son to the King of Armenia, and having left his kingdom for
the faith of Christ, to do penance and to be far away from his kingdom,
he went over-seas to gain pardon at Rome, and then betook himself to the
said wood, which was in those days wild and solitary, forasmuch as the
city of Florence did not extend, and was not settled beyond Arno but was
all on this side,--save only there was one bridge across Arno, not,
however, where the bridges now are. And it is said by many that it was
the ancient bridge of the Fiesolans which led from Girone to Candegghi,
and this was the ancient and direct road and way from Rome to Fiesole
and to go into Lombardy and across the mountains. The said Emperor
Decius caused the said blessed Miniato to be taken, as his story
narrates. Great gifts and rewards were offered him, as to a king's son,
to the end he should deny Christ; and he, constant and firm in the
faith, would have none of his gifts, but endured divers martyrdoms. In
the end the said Decius caused him to be beheaded, where now stands the
Church of S. Candida alla Croce at Gorgo; and many faithful followers of
Christ received martyrdom in this place. And when the head of the
blessed Miniato had been cut off, by a miracle of Christ, with his hands
he set it again upon his trunk, and on his feet passed over Arno, and
went up the hill where now stands his church, where at that time there
was a little oratory in the name of the blessed Peter the Apostle, where
many bodies of holy martyrs were buried. And when S. Miniato was come to
that place, he gave up his soul to Christ, and his body was there
secretly buried by the Christians; the which place, by reason of the
merits of the blessed S. Miniato, was devoutly venerated by the
Florentines after they were become Christians, and a little church was
built there in his honour. But the great and noble church of marble
which is there now in our times, we find to have been built later by the
zeal of the venerable Father Alibrando, Bishop and citizen of Florence
in the year of Christ 1013, begun on the 26th day of April, by the
commandment and authority of the Catholic and holy Emperor, Henry II of
Bavaria, and of his wife, the holy Empress Gunegonda, which was
reigning in those times; and they presented and endowed the said church
with many rich possessions in Florence and in the country, for the good
of their souls, and caused the said church to be repaired and rebuilt of
marble, as it is now. And they caused the body of the blessed Miniato to
be translated to the altar, which is beneath the vaulting of the said
church, with much reverence and solemnity, by the said bishop and the
clergy of Florence, with all the people, both men and women of the city
of Florence; but afterwards the said church was completed by the
commonwealth of Florence, and the stone steps were made which lead down
by the hill; and the consuls of the Art of the Calimala were put in
charge of the said work of S. Miniato, and were to protect it."

Thus far Villani: to-day S. Miniato, the church, and the great palace
built in 1234 by Andrea Mozzi, Bishop of Florence, come to us with
memories, not of S. Miniato alone, that somewhat shadowy martyr of so
long ago, but of S. Giovanni Gualberto also, of the Benedictines too,
and of the Olivetans, of the siege of 1529, when Michelangelo fortified
the place in defence of Florence, saving the tower from destruction, as
it is said, by swathing it in mattresses; of Cosimo I, who from here
held the city in leash. It is the most beautiful of the
Tuscan-Romanesque churches left to us in Florence; built in 1013 in the
form of a basilica, with a great nave and two aisles, the choir being
raised high above the rest of the church on twenty-eight beautiful red
ancient pillars, over a crypt where, under the altar, S. Miniato sleeps
through the centuries. The fading frescoes of the aisles, the splendour
and quiet of this great and beautiful church that has guarded Florence
almost from the beginning, that has seen Buondelmonte die at the foot of
the Statue of Mars, that has heard the voice of Dante and watched the
flight of Corso Donati, have a peculiar fascination, almost ghostly in
their strangeness, beyond anything else to be found in the city. And if
for the most part the church is so ancient as to rival the Baptistery
itself, the Renaissance has left there more than one beautiful thing.
For between the two flights of steps that lead out of the nave into the
choir, Michelozzo built in 1448, for Piero de' Medici a chapel to hold
the crucifix, now in S. Trinità, which bowed to S. Giovanni Gualberto
when he forgave his brother's murderer,[114] and in the left aisle is
the chapel, built in 1461 by Antonio Rossellino, where the young
Cardinal Jacopo of Portugal lies in one of the loveliest of all Tuscan
tombs, and there Luca della Robbia has placed some of his most charming
terracottas, and Alessio Baldovinetti has painted in fresco. In all
Tuscany there is nothing more lovely than that tomb carved in 1467 by
Antonio Rossellino for the body of the young Cardinal, but twenty-six
years old when he died, "having lived in the flesh as though he were
freed from it, an Angel rather than a man." Over the beautiful
sarcophagus, on a bed beside which two boy angels wait, the young
Cardinal sleeps, his delicate hands folded at rest at last. Above, two
angels kneel, about to give him the crown of glory which fadeth not
away, and Madonna, borne from heaven by the children, comes with her Son
to welcome him home. There, in the most characteristic work of the
fifteenth century, you find man still thinking about death, not as a
trance out of which we shall awaken to some terrible remembrance, but as
sleep, a sweet and fragile slumber, that has something of the drooping
of the flowers about it, in a certain touching beauty and regret that is
never bitter, but, like the ending of a song or the close of a fair day
of spring, that rightly, though not without sadness, passes into
silence, into night, in which shine only the eternal stars.

It is strange that of all the difficult hills of Italy, it is the steep
way hither from Porto S. Niccola, of old, in truth Via Crucis, that
comes into Dante's mind when, in the Twelfth Purgatorio, he sees the
ascent to the second cornice, where is purged the sin of envy. Something
of the immense sadness of that terrible hill seems to linger to-day
about the Monti alle Croci: it is truly a hill of the dead, over which
hovers, pointing the way, some angel

            "la creatura bella
    Bianco vestita, e nella faccia quale
    Per tremolando mattutina Stella."

The Convent of S. Salvatore--S. Francesco al Monte, as it was called of
old--was built in 1480 after a design by Cronaca. Hesitating among the
cypresses on the verge of the olives gardens, Michelangelo called it La
bella Villanella, and truly in its warm simplicity and shy loveliness it
is just that, a beautiful peasant girl among the vines in a garden of
olives. But she has been stripped of her treasures, her trinkets of
silver, her pretty gold chains, her gown of taffetas, her kerchief of
silk (do you not remember the verses of Lorenzo), and all these you will
find to-day, fading out of use in the Uffizi, where, in a palace that
has become a museum, they are most out of place: thus they have robbed
the peasants for the sake of the gold of the tourists, the sterile
ejaculations of the critics.

It is well not to return to the city by the tramway, which rushes
through the trees of the Viale Michelangelo like I know not what hideous
and shrieking beast of prey, but to wander down towards the Piazzale,
and then, just before you came to it, on your left, by S. Salvatore, to
go down to Porta S. Miniato, that "gap in the wall," and then to pass by
the old wall itself up the hill to Porta di S. Giorgio among the olives
between the towers under the Belvedere. It is the most beautiful of all
the gates of the city, little, too, and still keeps its fresco of the
fourteenth century.


[113] Villani, _Cronica_, l. i. c. 57, translated by R.E. Selfe.
Constable, 1906.

[114] See p. 363.



If Arnolfo di Cambio is the architect not only of the Duomo but of the
Palazzo Vecchio, and if Orcagna conceived the delicate beauty of the
Loggia de' Lanzi, it is, if we may believe Vasari, partly to Arnolfo and
partly to Agnolo Gaddi that we owe Bargello, that palace so like a
fortress, at the corner of Via del Proconsolo and Via Ghibellina. Begun
in the middle of the thirteenth century for the Capitano del Popolo, it
later became the Palace of the Podestà, passing at last, under the Grand
Dukes, to the Bargello, the Captain of Justice, who turned it
barbarously enough into a prison, dividing the great rooms, as it is
said, into cells for his prisoners. To-day it is become the National
Museum, where all that could be gathered of the work of the Tuscan
sculptors is housed and arranged in order.

Often as I wander through those rooms or loiter in the shadow under the
cloisters of the beautiful courtyard, perhaps the most lovely court in
Tuscany, the remembrance of that old fierce life which desired beauty so
passionately and was so eager for every superiority, comes to me, and I
ask myself how the dream which that world pursued with so much
simplicity and enthusiasm can have led us at last to the world of
to-day, with its orderly disorder, its trams and telegraphs and
steam-engines, its material comfort which, how strangely, we have
mistaken for civilisation. In all London there is no palace so fine as
this old prison, nor a square so beautiful as Piazza della Signoria.
Instead of Palazzo Pitti (so much more splendid is our civilisation than
theirs) we are content with Buckingham Palace, and instead of Palazzo
Riccardi we have made the desolate cold ugliness of Devonshire House.
Our craftsmen have become machine-minders, our people, on the verge of
starvation, as we admit, without order, with restraint, without the
discipline of service, having lost the desire of beauty or splendour,
have become serfs because they are ignorant and fear to die. And it is
we who have claimed half the world and thrust upon it an all but
universal domination. In thus bringing mankind under our rule, it is
ever of our civilisation that we boast, that immense barbarism which in
its brutality and materialism first tried to destroy the Latin Church
and then the Latin world, which alone could have saved us from
ourselves. Before our forests were cleared here in Italy they carved
statues, before our banks were founded here in Italy they made the
images of the gods, and in those days there was happiness, and men for
joy made beautiful things. And to-day, half dead with our own smoke,
herded together like wild beasts, slaves of our own inventions, ah,
blinded by our unthinkable folly, before the statues that they made,
before the pictures that they painted, before the palaces that they
built, in the churches where they still pray, stupefied by our own
stupidity, brutalised by our own barbarism, we boast of a civilisation
that has already made us ridiculous, and of which we shall surely die.
Here in the Bargello, the ancient palace of the Podestà of a Latin city,
let us be silent and forget our madness before the statues of the Gods,
the images of the great and beautiful people of old.

Tuscan sculpture, that of all the arts, save architecture, was the first
to rise out of the destruction with which the barbarians of the North
had overwhelmed the Latin world, came to its own really in the fifteenth
century. After the beautiful convention of Byzantium had passed away,
and Gruamone and Adeodatus had carved at Pistoja, Biduinus at S.
Cassiano, Robertus at Lucca, Bonamicus and Bonannus at Pisa, and Guido
da Como again at Pistoja, in the work of Niccolò Pisano at Pisa we come
upon the first thought of the Renaissance, the reliefs of the pulpit in
the Baptistery, in which the Middle Age seems to have passed over the
work of Antiquity almost like a caress. In these panels of the pulpit at
Pisa, where Madonna masquerades as Ariadne and the angel speaks with the
gesture of Hermes, some sentiment of a new sweetness in the world seems
to lurk amid all the naïve classicism, finding expression at last in
such a thing, for instance, as the divine figure of Virtue in the pulpit
of the Duomo of Siena, in which some have thought to find French
influence, the work of the artists of Chartres and Rheims, visible
enough, one might think, in the work of Niccolò's son Giovanni Pisano,
whose ivory Statue of Madonna is to-day perhaps the greatest treasure of
the sacristy of the Duomo at Pisa.

Niccolò Pisano was from Apulia. He may well have seen the beautiful
fragments of Greek and Roman art scattered over the South before he came
to Pisa, yet there may, too, be more truth in Vasari's tale than we are
sometimes willing to admit, so that in the northern city beside Arno it
may well have been with a sort of delight he came upon the art of the
ancients, asleep in the beautiful Campo Santo of Pisa, and awakened it,
yes, almost with a kiss.

It is, however, in the work of his pupils Giovanni Pisano and Arnolfo
Fiorentino[115] that Tuscan sculpture begins to throw off the yoke of
antiquity and to express itself. Fra Guglielmo, another pupil of
Niccolò's, in his work at Perugia more nearly preserves the manner of
his master, though always inferior to him in beauty and force: but in
the work of Arnolfo which remains to us chiefly in the tomb of Cardinal
de Braye in S. Domenico at Orvieto, and in the Tabernacle of S. Paolo
Fuori at Rome, and more especially in the work of Giovanni Pisano in the
pulpit for the Duomo of Pisa, now in the Museo, for instance, we may see
the beginnings of that new Tuscan sculpture which in Andrea Pisano and
Andrea Orcagna was to make the work of Nanni di Banco, of Ghiberti and
Donatello possible, and through them to inspire the art of all the
sculptors of the fifteenth century, that is to say of the Renaissance

Here in the Bargello it is chiefly that art of the fifteenth century
that we see in all its beauty and realism: and though for the proper
understanding of it some knowledge of its derivation might seem to be
necessary, a knowledge not to be had in the Museo itself, it is really a
new impulse in sculpture, different from, though maybe directed by, that
older art which we come upon, and may watch there, in its dawn and in
its splendour, till with Bandinelli and the pupils of Michelangelo it
loses itself in a noisy grandiosity, a futile gesticulation.

Realism, I said in speaking of the character of this fifteenth century
work, and indeed it is just there that we come upon the very thought of
the time. Sculpture is no longer content with mere beauty, it has
divined that something is wanting, yes, even in the almost miraculous
work of Niccolò Pisano himself; is it only an expression of character,
of the passing moment, of movement that is lacking, or something
comprising all these things--some indefinable radiance which is very
life itself? It is this question which seems to have presented itself to
the sculptors of the fifteenth century: and their work is their answer
to it.

For even as the philosophers and alchemists had sought so patiently for
life, for the very essence of it, through all the years of the Middle
Age, so art now set out in search of it, the greatest treasure of all,
and seems to have found it at last, not hardly or hidden away in some
precipitous place of stones, or among the tombs, but as a little child
playing among the flowers.

The great masters of the Middle Age had set themselves to express in
stone or colour the delicate beauty of the soul, its terror, too, in the
loneliness of the world, where only as it were by chance it might escape
everlasting death. The subtle beauty and pathos of their art has
escaped our eyes filled as they are with the marvellous work of Greece,
unknown till our own time, the splendid and joyful work of the
Renaissance, the mysterious and lovely work of our own day: it remains,
nevertheless, a consummate and exquisite art in its dawn, in its noon,
in its decadence, but it seeks to express something we have forgotten,
and its secret is for the most part altogether hidden from us. It is
from this art, as beautiful in its expression of itself as that of
Greece, that Niccolò Pisano turns away, not to Nature, but to Antiquity.
The movement which followed, producing while it continued almost all
that is to-day gathered in the Bargello, together with much else that is
still happily where it was born, is as it were an appeal from Antiquity
to Life, to Nature. In the simplicity and impulse of this movement, so
spontaneous, so touching, so full of a sense of beauty, which sometimes,
though not often, becomes prettiness, the art of sculpture, awakened at
last from the mysticism of the Middle Age, seems to look back with
longing to the antique world, which it would fain claim as its brother,
and after a little moment in the sun falls again into a sort of
mysticism, a new kingdom of the spirit with Michelangelo, and of the
senses merely with Sansovino and Giovanni da Bologna.

Really Tuscan in its birth, the art of the Quattrocento became at last
almost wholly Florentine, a flower of the Val d'Arno or of the hills
about it, where even to-day at Settignano, at Fiesole, at Majano, at
Rovezzano, you may see the sculptors at work in an open bottega by the
roadside, the rough-hewn marble standing here and there in many sizes
and shapes, the chips and fragments strewing the highway.

In the twilight of this new dawn of the love of nature, perhaps the
first figure we may descry is Piero di Giovanni Tedesco (1386-1402), who
carved the second south door of the Duomo about 1398, where amid so many
lovely natural things, the fig leaf and the oak leaf and the vine, you
may see the lion and the ox, the dog and the snail, and man too; little
fantastic children peeping out from the foliage, or blowing through
musical reeds, or playing with a kitten, tiny naked creatures full of
life and gladness.

The second door north of the Duomo was carved by Niccolò di Piero
d'Arezzo, who was still working more than forty years after Tedesco's
death; but his best work, for we pass by his Statue of St. Mark in the
chapel of the apex of the Duomo, is the little Annunciation over the
niche of the St. Matthew of Or San Michele. In his work on the gate of
the Duomo, however, he was assisted by his pupil Nanni di Banco, who,
born in the fourteenth century, died in 1420; and in his work, and in
that of Jacopo della Quercia, a Sienese, and a much greater man, we see
the very dawn itself.

Nanni di Banco, Vasari tells us, was a man who "inherited a competent
patrimony, and one by no means of inferior condition." He goes on to say
that Nanni was the pupil of Donatello, and though in any technical sense
that seems to be untrue, it may well be that he sought Donato's advice
whenever he could, for he seems to have practised his art for love of
it, and may well have recognised the genius of Donatello, who probably
worked beside him. He too worked at Or San Michele, where he carved the
St. Philip, the delightful relief under the St. George of Donatello, the
Four Saints, which seem to us so full of the remembrance of antiquity,
and the S. Eligius with its beautiful drapery, a little stupid still, or
sleepy is it, with the mystery of the Middle Age that after all was but
just passing away. Something of this sleepiness seems also to have
overtaken the St. Luke, that tired figure in the Duomo; and so it is
with a real surprise that we come at last upon the best work of Nanni's
life, "the first great living composition of the Renaissances," as
Burckhardt says, the Madonna della Cintola over Niccolò d'Arezzo's door
of the Duomo. Even with all the work of Ghiberti, of Donatello even, to
choose from, that relief of Madonna in an almond-shaped glory,
stretching out her hands among the cherubim, with a gesture so eager and
so moving to St. Thomas, who kneels before her, remains one of the most
beautiful works of that age, and one of the loveliest in all Tuscany.

There follows Ciuffagni (1381-1457), that poor sculptor working in his
old age amid much that was splendid and strange at Rimini, where Lorenzo
Ghiberti (1378-1455) had painted in his youth. For all his genius,
Ghiberti, that euphuist, did not influence those who came after him as
Donatello did. His work, inspired by the past, by Andrea Pisano, for
instance, is full of the lost beauty of the Middle Age, the old secrets
of the Gothic manner. His solution of the problem before him, a problem
of movement, of character, of life, is to make the relief as purely
picturesque as possible; with him sculpture almost passes into painting,
using not without charm the perspective of a picture the mere seeming of
just that, but losing how profoundly, much of the nobility, the delight
of pure form, the genius peculiar to sculpture. As an artist pure and
simple, as a master of composition, he may well have no superior, for
the fantasy and beauty of his work, its complexity, too, are almost
unique, and entirely his own; but in simplicity, and in a certain sense
of reality, he is wanting, so that however delightful his work may be,
those "gates of Paradise," for instance, that Michelangelo praised, it
seems to be complete in itself, to suggest nothing but the wonderful
effect one may get by using the means proper to one art for expression
in another, as though one were to write a book that should have the
effect upon one of an opera, to allow the strange rhythm and sensuous
beauty of Tristan and Isolde, for instance, to disengage itself from
pages which were full of just musical words.

Ghiberti's gift for composition, as well as his failure to understand,
or at least to satisfy the more fundamental needs of his art, may be
seen very happily in those two panels now in the Bargello, which he and
Brunellesco made in the competition for the gates of the Baptistery.
Looking on those two panels, where both artists have carved the
Sacrifice of Isaac, you see Ghiberti at his best, the whole interest not
divided, as it is in Brunellesco's panel, between the servants and the
sacrifice, but concentrated altogether upon that scene which is about
to become so tragical. Yet with what energy Brunellesco has conceived an
act that in his hands seems really to have happened. How swiftly the
angel has seized the hand of Abraham; how splendidly he stands, the old
man who is about to kill his only son for the love of God. And then
consider the beauty of Isaac, that naked body which in Brunellesco's
hands is splendid with life, really living and noble, with a truth and
loveliness far in advance of the art of his time. Ghiberti has felt none
of the joy of a creation such as this; his Isaac is sleepy, a little
surprised and altogether docile; he has not sprung up from his knees as
in Brunellesco's panel, but looks up at the angel as though he had never
understood that his very life was at stake. Yet it was in those gates
which, Brunellesco, as it is said, retiring from the contest, the Opera
then gave into his hands, that we shall find the best work of Ghiberti.
There it is really the art of Andrea Pisano that he takes as a master,
and with so fair an example before him produces as splendid a thing as
he ever accomplished, simpler too, and it may be more sincere, though a
little lacking in expressiveness and life. All the rest of his work
seems to me to be lacking in conviction, to be frankly almost an
experiment. His Statue of St. John Baptist, his St. Matthew and St.
Stephen, too, at Or San Michele, different though they are, and with six
years between each of them, seem alike in this, that they are, while
splendid in energy, wanting in purpose, in intention: he never seems
sufficiently sure of himself to convince us. His reliquary in bronze
containing the ashes of S. Zenobius in the apse of the Duomo, is
difficult to see, but it is in the manner of the gates of Paradise. It
was not to the disciples of Ghiberti that the future belonged, but to
those who have studied with Brunellesco. His crucifix in S. Maria
Novella, his Evangelists in the Pazzi Chapel, are among the finest work
of that age, full of life and the remembrance of it in their strength
and beauty.

It is, however, in the art of a contemporary that the new age came at
last to its own--in the work of Donatello. In his youth he had worked
for the Duomo and for Or San Michele side by side with Nanni di Banco,
who may perhaps pass as his master. Of Donatello's life we know almost
nothing If we seek to learn something of him, it must be in his works of
which so many remain to us. We know, however, that he was the intimate
friend of Brunellesco, and that it was with him he set out for Rome soon
after this great and proud man had withdrawn from the contest with
Ghiberti for the Baptistery gates. Donatello was to visit Rome again in
later life, but on this first journey that he made with Brunellesco for
the purposes of study, he must have become acquainted with what was left
of antiquity in the Eternal City. It was too soon for that enthusiasm
for antiquity, which later overwhelmed Italian art so disastrously, to
have arisen. When Donatello returned about a year later to Florence to
work for the Opera del Duomo, it is not any classic influence we find in
his statues, but rather the study of nature, an extraordinary desire to
express not beauty, scarcely ever that, but character. His work is
strong, and often splendid, full of energy, movement, and conviction,
but save now and then, as in the S. Croce Annunciation, for instance, it
is not content with just beauty.

Of his work for the Duomo and the Campanile, I speak elsewhere; it will
be sufficient here to note the splendour of the St. John the Divine in
the apse of the Duomo, which, as Burckhardt has divined, already
suggests the Moses of Michelangelo. The destruction of the unfinished
façade has perhaps made it more difficult to identify the figures he
carved there, but whether the Poggio of the Duomo, for instance, be Job
or no, seems after all to matter very little, since that statue itself,
be its subject what it may, remains to us.

In his work at Or San Michele, in the St. Peter, in the St. Mark, so
like the St. John the Divine and in the St. George, here in the
Bargello, we see his progress, and there in that last figure we find
just that decision and simplicity which seem to have been his own, with
a certain frankness and beauty of youth which are new in his work.

[Illustration: ST. JOHN THE DIVINE

_By Donatello. Duomo, Florence_


There are some ten works by the master in the Bargello, together with
numerous casts of his statues and reliefs in other parts of Italy, so
that he may be studied here better than anywhere else. Looking thus on
his work more or less as a whole, it is a new influence we seem to
divine for the first time in the marble David, a little faintly,
perhaps, but obvious enough in the St. George, a Gothic influence that
appears very happily for once, in work that almost alone in Italy seems
to need just that, well, as an excuse for beauty. That marble statue of
David was made at about the same time as the St. John the Divine, for
the Duomo too, where it was to stand within the church in a chapel there
in the apse. A little awkward in his half-shy pose, the young David
stands over the head of Goliath, uncertain whether to go or stay. It is
a failure which passes into the success, the more than success of the
St. George, which is perhaps his masterpiece. Made for the Guild of
Armourers, from the first day on which it was set up it has been
beloved. Michelangelo loved it well, and Vasari is enthusiastic about
it, while Bocchi, writing in 1571,[116] devotes a whole book to it. In
its present bad light--for the light should fall not across, but from in
front and from above, as it did once when it stood in its niche at Or
San Michele--it is not seen to advantage, but even so, the life that
seems to move in the cold stone may be discerned. With a proud and
terrible impetuosity St. George seems about to confront some renowned
and famous enemy, that old dragon whom once he slew. Full of confidence
and beauty he gazes unafraid, as though on that which he is about to
encounter before he moves forward to meet it. Well may Michelangelo have
whispered "March!" as he passed by, it is the very order he awaits, the
whisper of his own heart. It is in this romantic and beautiful figure
that, as it seems to me, that new Gothic influence may be most clearly
discerned. M. Reymond, in his learned and pleasant book on Florentine
sculpture, has pointed out the likeness which this St. George of
Donatello bears to the St. Theodore of Chartres Cathedral, and though
it is impossible to deny that likeness, it seems at first almost as
impossible to explain it. It is true that many Italians were employed in
France in the building of the churches; it is equally true that
Michelozzo, the friend and assistant of Donato, was the son of a
Burgundian; but it seems as unlikely that an Italian artist, inspired by
the French style, returned from France to work in Florence, as that
Michelozzo was born with a knowledge of the northern manner which he
never practised. An explanation, however, offers itself in the fact that
the Religious Orders, those internationalists, continually passed from
North to South, from East to West, from monastery to monastery, and that
they may well have brought with them certain statues in ivory of Madonna
or the Saints, in which such an one as Donatello could have found the
hint he needed. That such statues were known in Italy is proved not only
by their presence in this museum, but by the ivory Madonna of Giovanni
Pisano in the sacristy of the Duomo at Pisa.

The Marzocco which stood of old on the Ringhiera before the Palazzo
Vecchio might seem to be a work of this period, for it is only saved by
a kind of good fortune from failure. It is without energy and without
life, but in its monumental weight and a certain splendour of design it
impresses us with a sort of majesty as no merely naturalistic study of a
lion could do. If we compare it for a moment with the heraldic shield in
Casa Martelli, where Donato has carved in relief a winged griffin
rampant, cruel and savage, with all the beauty and vigour of Verrocchio,
we shall understand something of his failure in the Marzocco, and
something, too, of his success. In that heavy grotesque and fantastic
Lion of the Bargello some suggestion of the monumental art of Egypt
seems to have been divined for a moment, but without understanding.

In the Casa Martelli, too, you may find a statue of St. John Baptist, a
figure fine and youthful and melancholy, with the vague thoughts of
youth, really the elder brother as it were of the child of the Bargello,
who bears his cross like a delicate plaything, unaware of his destiny.
That figure, so full of mystery, seems to have haunted Donatello all his
life, and then St. John Baptist was the patron of Florence and presided
over every Baptistery in Italy; yet it is always with a particular
melancholy that Donatello deals with him, as though in his vague destiny
he had found as it were a vision. The child of the Bargello passes into
the boy of the Casa Martelli, that lad who maybe has heard a voice sweet
enough as yet while wandering by chance on the mountains, sandalled and
clad in camel's hair. We see him again as the chivalrous youth of the
Campanile, the dedicated, absorbed wanderer of the Bargello, the
haggard, emaciated prophet of the Friars' Church at Venice, and at last
as the despairing and ancient seer of Siena, a voice that is only a
voice weary of itself, crying unheeded in the wilderness. And, as it
seems to me in all these figures, which in themselves have so little
beauty, it is rather a mood of the soul that Donatello has set himself
to express than any delight. He has turned away from physical beauty, in
which man can no longer believe, using the body refined almost to the
delicacy and transparency of a shell, in which the soul may shine, or at
least be seen, in all its moods of happiness or terror. That weary
figure who, unconscious of his cross, unconscious of the world, absorbed
in his own destiny, in the scroll of his fate, trudges through the
wilderness without a thought of the way, is as far from the ideal
abstract beauty of the Greeks as from the romantic splendour of Gothic
art. Only with him the soul has lost touch with particular things, even
as the beauty of the Greeks was purged of all the accidents and feeling
that belonged alone to the individual. Like a ghost he passes by, intent
on some immortal sorrow; he is like a shadow on a day of sun, a dark
cloud over the moon, the wind in the desert. And in a moment, we knew
not why, our hearts are restless suddenly, we know not why, we are
unhappy, we know not why, we desire to be where we are not, or only to

So in the bronze David now in the Bargello we seem to see youth itself
dreaming after the first victory of all the conquests to come, while a
smile of half-conscious delight, is passing from the lips; tyranny is
dead. It is the first nude statue of the Renaissance made for Cosimo de'
Medici before his exile. For Cosimo, too, the Amorino was made that
study of pure delight, where we find all the joy of the children of the
Cantoria, but without their unction and seriousness. And then in the
portrait busts the young Gattemalata, and the terra-cotta of Niccolò da
Uzzano, we may see Donatello's devotion to mere truthfulness without an
afterthought, as though for him Truth were beauty in its loyalty, at any
rate, to the impression of a moment that for the artist is eternity.

His marvellous equestrian statue of Gattemalata is in Padua, his tomb
and reliefs and statues lie in many an Italian city, but here in the
Bargello we have enough of his work to enable us to divine something at
least of his secret. And this seems to me to have been Donatello's
intention in the art of sculpture: his figures are like gestures of
life, of the soul, sometimes involuntary and full of weariness,
sometimes altogether joyful, but always the expression of a mood of the
soul which is dumb, that in its agony or delight has in his work
expressed itself by means of the body, so that, though he never carves
the body for its own sake, or for the sake of beauty, he is as faithful
in his study of it for the sake of the truth, as he is in his study of
those moods of the soul which through him seem for the first time to
have found an utterance. His life was full of wanderings; beside the
journey to Rome with Brunellesco he went to Siena to make the tomb in
the Duomo there of Bishop Pecci of Grosseto, and in 1433, when Cosimo
de' Medici went into exile, he was again in Rome, and even in Naples.
Returning to Florence after no long time, in 1444, he went to Padua,
where he worked in S. Antonio and made the equestrian statue that was
the wonder of the world. On his return to Florence, an old man, a
certain decadence may be found in his work, so that his reliefs in S.
Lorenzo are not altogether worthy of him, are perhaps the work of a man
who is losing his sight and is already a little dependent on his
pupils. One of these, Bertoldo di Giovanni, who died in 1491, has left
us a beautiful relief of a battle, now in the Bargello, and later we
catch a glimpse of him in the garden of Lorenzo's villa directing the
studies in art of a number of young people, among whom was the youthful
Michelangelo. But of the real disciples of Donatello, those who, without
necessarily being his pupils, carried his art a step farther, we know
nothing. His influence seems to have died with him. Tuscan art after his
death, and even before that, had already set out on another road than

Something of that expressiveness, that _intimité_, which Pater found so
characteristic of Luca della Robbia, seems to have inspired all the
sculptors of the fifteenth century save Donatello himself. Not vitality
merely, but a wonderful sort of expressiveness--it is the mood of all
their work. It is perhaps in Luca della Robbia and his school that we
first come upon this strange sweetness, which is really a sort of
clairvoyance, as it were, to the passing aspect of the world, of men, of
the summer days that go by so fast, bringing winter behind them. What
the Greeks had striven to attain, that naturalness in sculpture, as
though the god were really about to breathe and put out its hand, that
wonderful vagueness of Michelangelo akin to nature, by which he attained
the same life giving effect, a something more than mere form, bloomed in
Luca's work like a new wild flower. Expression, life, the power to
express the spirit in marble and terra-cotta, these are what he really
discovered, and not the mere material of his art, that painted
earthenware, as Vasari supposes.

Of his two great works in marble, the tomb of Benozzo Federighi, Bishop
of Fiesole, at San Miniato, and the Cantoria for the Duomo, of his
bronze doors for the sacristy there, and his work on the Campanile, I
speak elsewhere; but here in the Bargello, and all over Tuscany too, you
may see those terra-cotta reliefs of Madonna, of the Annunciation, of
the Birth of our Lord, painted first just white, and then blue and
white, and later with many colours which are peculiar to him and his
school--could such flower-like things have been born anywhere but in
Italy?--and then, if you take them away they fade in the shadows of the

Among the first to give Luca commissions for this exquisite work in clay
was Piero de' Medici. For him Luca decorated a small book-lined chamber
in the great Medici palace that Cosimo had built. His work was for the
ceiling and the pavement, the ceiling being a half sphere. For the hot
summer days of Italy, when the streets are a blaze of light and the sun
seems to embrace the city, this terra-cotta work with its cool whites
and blues, was particularly delightful bringing really, as it were,
something of the cool morning sea, the soft sky, into a place confined
and shut in, so that where they were, coolness and temperance might find
a safe retreat. And it was in such work as this that he found his fame.
Andrea della Robbia, his nephew, the best artist of his school, follows
him, and after come a host of artists, some little better than
craftsmen, who add colour to colour, till Luca's blue and white has been
almost lost amid the greens and yellows and reds which at last
altogether spoil the simplicity and beauty of what was really as
delicate as a flower peeping out from the shadow into the sun and the

But of one of the pupils of Luca, Agostino di Duccio, 1418-81(?),
something more remains than these fragile and yet hardy works in
terra-cotta. He has carved in marble with something of Luca's gentleness
at Perugia and Rimini. He left Florence, it is said, in 1446, after an
accusation of theft, returning there to carve the lovely tabernacle of
the Ognissanti. It is said that he had tried unsuccessfully to deal with
that block of marble which stood in the Loggia dei Lanzi, and from which
Michelangelo unfolded the David. Two panels attributed to him remain in
the Bargello, a Crucifixion and a Pietà, which scarcely do him justice.
The last sculptor of the first half of the fifteenth century, his best
work seems to me to be at Rimini, where he worked for Sigismondo
Malatesta in the temple Alberti had built in that fierce old city by the

It is with the second half of the fifteenth century that the art
contrived for the delight of private persons, for the decoration of
palaces, of chapels, and of tombs, begins. Already Donatello had worked
for Cosimo de' Medici, and had made portrait busts, and, as it might
seem, the work of Luca della Robbia was especially suited for private
altars or oratories, or the cool rooms of a people which had not yet
divided its religion from its life. And then, in Florence at any rate,
all the great churches were finished, or almost finished; it was
necessary for the artist to find other patrons. Among those workers in
metal who had assisted Ghiberti when he cast the reliefs of his first
baptistery gate was the father of a man who had with his brother learned
the craft of the goldsmiths. His name was Antonio Pollajuolo. Born in
1429, he was the pupil of his father and of Paolo Uccello, learning from
the latter the art of painting, which he practised, however, like a
sculptor, his real triumph being, in that art at any rate, one of
movement and force. His best works in sculpture seem to me to be his
tombs of Sixtus IV and Innocent VII in S. Pietro in Rome; but here in
the Bargello you may see the beautiful bust in terra-cotta of a young
condottiere in a rich and splendid armour, and a little bronze group of
Hercules and Antaeus. In the Opera del Duomo his silver relief of the
Birth of St. John Baptist is one of the finest works of that age; but
his art is seen at its highest in that terra-cotta bust here in the
Bargello, perhaps a sketch for a bronze, where he has expressed the
infinite confidence and courage of one of those captains of adventure,
who, with war for their trade, carried havoc up and down Italy.

It is, however, in the work of another goldsmith--or at least the pupil
of one, whose name he took--that we find the greatest master of the new
age, Andrea Verrocchio. Born in 1435, and dead in 1488, he was
preoccupied all his life with the fierce splendour of his art, the
subtle sweetness that he drew from the strength of his work. The master,
certainly, of Lorenzo di Credi and Leonardo, and finally of Perugino
also, he was a painter as well as a sculptor; and though his greatest
work was achieved in marble and bronze, one cannot lightly pass by the
Annunciation of the Uffizi, or the Baptism of the Accademia. Neglected
for so long, he is at last recognised as one of the greatest of all
Italian masters of the Renaissance.

The pupil of a goldsmith practising the craft of a founder, he cast the
sacristy gates of the Duomo for Luca della Robbia. In sculpture he
appears to have studied under Donatello, though his work shows little of
his influence; and working, as we may suppose, with his master in S.
Lorenzo, he made the bronze plaque for the tomb of Cosimo there before
the choir, and the monument of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici beside the
door of the sacristy. It was again for Lorenzo de' Medici that he made
the exquisite Child and Dolphin now in the court of Palazzo Vecchio, and
the statue of the young David now in Bargello. The subtle grace and
delight of this last seem not uncertainly to suggest the strange and
lovely work of Leonardo da Vinci. There for the first time you may
discern the smile that is like a ray of sunshine in Leonardo's shadowy
pictures. More perfect in craftsmanship and in the knowledge of anatomy
than Donatello, Verrocchio here, where he seems almost to have been
inspired by the David of his master, surpasses him in energy and beauty,
and while Donatello's figure is involved with the head of Goliath, so
that the feet are lost in the massive and almost shapeless bronze,
Verrocchio's David stands clear of the grim and monstrous thing at his
feet. Simpler, too, and less uncertain is the whole pose of the figure,
who is in no doubt of himself, and in his heart he has already "slain
his thousands."

In the portrait of Monna Vanna degli Albizi, the Lady with the Nosegay,
Verrocchio is the author of the most beautiful bust of the Renaissance.
She fills the room with sunshine, and all day long she seems to whisper
some beloved name. A smile seems ever about to pass over her face under
her clustering hair, and she has folded her beautiful hands on her
bosom, as though she were afraid of their beauty and would live ever in
their shadow.


_In the Bargello. Andrea Verrocchio_


In two reliefs of Madonna and Child, one in marble and one in
terra-cotta, you find that strange smile again, not, as with Leonardo,
some radiance of the soul visible for a moment on the lips, but the
smile of a mother happy with her little son. In the two Tornabuoni
reliefs that we find here too in the Bargello, it is not Verrocchio's
hand we see; but in the group of Christ and St. Thomas at Or San
Michele, and in the fierce and splendid equestrian statue of Bartolomeo
Colleoni at Venice, you see him at his best, occupied with a subtle
beauty long sought out, and with an expression of the fierce ardour and
passion that consumed him all his life. He touches nothing that does not
live with an ardent splendour and energy of spirit because of him. If he
makes only a leaf of bronze for a tomb, it seems to quiver under his
hands with an inextinguishable vitality.

Softly beside him, untouched by the passion of his style, grew all the
lovely but less passionate works of the sculptors in marble, the sweet
and almost winsome monuments of the dead. Bernardo Rossellino, born in
1409, his elder by more than twenty years, died more than twenty years
before him, in 1464, carving, among other delightful things, the lovely
Annunciation at Empoli, the delicate monument of Beata Villana in S.
Maria Novella, and creating once for all, in the tomb of Leonardo Bruni
in S. Croce, the perfect pattern of such things, which served as an
example to all the Tuscan sculptors who followed, till Michelangelo
hewed the great monuments in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo. His brother
Antonio, born in 1427, worked with him at Pistoja certainly in the tomb
of Filippo Lazzari in S. Domenico, surpassing him as a sculptor, under
the influence of Desiderio da Settignano. His finest work is the
beautiful tomb in S. Miniato of the young Cardinal of Portugal, who died
on a journey to Florence. In that strange and lovely place there is
nothing more beautiful than that monument under the skyey work of Luca
della Robbia, before the faintly coloured frescoes of Alessio
Baldovinetti. Under a vision of Madonna borne by angels from heaven,
where two angels stoop, half kneeling, on guard, the young Cardinal
sleeps, supported by two heavenly children, his hands--those delicate
hands--folded in death. Below, on a frieze at the base of the tomb,
Antonio has carved all sorts of strange and beautiful things--a skull
among the flowers over a garland harnessed to two unicorns; angels too,
youthful and strong, lifting the funeral vases. At Naples, again, he
carved the altar of the Cappella Piccolomini in S. Maria at Montoliveto.
Here in the Bargello some fragments of beautiful things have been
gathered--a tabernacle with two adoring angels, a little St. John made
in 1477 for the Opera, a relief of the Adoration of the Shepherds,
another of Madonna in an almond-shaped glory of cherubim, and, last of
all, the splendid busts of Matteo Palmieri and Francesco Sassetti; but
his masterpiece in pure sculpture is the S. Sebastian in the Collegiata
at Empoli, a fair and youthful figure without the affectation and
languor that were so soon to fall upon him.

Perhaps the greatest of these sculptors in marble, whose works, as
winsome as wild flowers, are scattered over the Tuscan hills, was
Desiderio da Settignano, born in 1428. He had worked with Donatello in
the Pazzi Chapel, and his tabernacle in the chapel of the Blessed
Sacrament in S. Lorenzo is one of the most charming things left in that
museum of Tuscan work. Of his beautiful tomb of Carlo Marsuppini in S.
Croce I speak elsewhere: it is worthy of its fellows--Bernardo
Rosellino's tomb of Leonardo Bruni in the same church, and the tomb of
the Cardinal of Portugal by Antonio Rossellino at S. Miniato. Desiderio
has not the energy of Rossellino or the passionate ardour of Verrocchio.
He searches for a quiet beauty full of serenity and delight. His work in
the Bargello is of little account. The bust of a girl (No. 198 in the
fifth room on the top floor) is but doubtfully his: Vasari speaks only
of the bust of Marietta Strozzi, now in Berlin. He died in 1464, and his
work, so rare, so refined and delicate in its beauty, comes to its own
in the perfect achievement of Benedetto da Maiano, born in 1442, who
made the pulpit of S. Croce, the ciborium of S. Domenico in Siena. It
was for Pietro Mellini that he carved the pulpit of S. Croce, and here
in the Bargello we may see the bust he made of his patron. In his youth
he had carved in wood and worked at the intarsia work so characteristic
a craft of the fifteenth century; but on bringing some coffers of this
work to the King of Hungary, Vasari relates that he found they had
fallen to pieces on the voyage, and ever after he preferred to work in
marble. Having acquired a competence, of this work too he seems to have
tired, devoting himself to architectural work--porticos, altars, and
such--buying an estate at last outside the gate of Prato that is towards
Florence; dying in 1497.

It is with a prolific master, Mino da Fiesole, the last pupil, according
to Vasari, of Desiderio da Settignano, that the delicate and flower-like
work of the Tuscan sculptors may be said to pass into a still lovely
decadence. His facile work is found all over Italy. The three busts of
the Bargello are among his earliest and best works--the Piero de'
Medici, the Giuliano de' Medici, and the small bust of Rinaldo della
Luna. There, too, are two reliefs from his hand, and some tabernacles
which have no great merit. A relief of the Madonna and Child is a finer
achievement in his earlier manner, and in the Duomo of Fiesole there
remains a bust of the Bishop, Leonardo Salutati, while in the same
chapel, an altar and relief, from his hand, seem to prove that it was
only a fatal facility that prevented him from becoming as fine an artist
as Benedetto da Maiano.

With Andrea Sansovino, born in 1460, we come to the art of the sixteenth
century, very noble and beautiful, at any rate in its beginning, but so
soon to pass into a mere affectation. The pupil, according to Vasari, of
Antonio Pollaiuolo, Sansovino's work is best seen in Rome. Here in
Florence he made in his youth the altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the
left transept of S. Spirito, and in 1502 the Baptism of Christ, over the
eastern gates of the Baptistery, but this was finished by another hand.
And there followed him Benedetto da Rovezzano, whose style has become
classical, the sculptor of every sort of lovely furniture,--mantelpieces,
tabernacles, and such,--yet in his beautiful reliefs of the life of
S. Giovanni Gualberto you see the work of the sixteenth century at its
best, without the freshness and delicate charm of fifteenth-century
sculpture, but exquisite enough in its perfect skill, its real

There follows Michelangelo (1475-1564). It is with a sort of surprise
one comes face to face with that sorrowful, heroic figure, as though,
following among the flowers, we had come upon some tragic precipice,
some immense cavern too deep for sight. How, after the delight, the
delicate charm of the fifteenth century, can I speak of this beautiful,
strong, and tragic soul? It might almost seem that the greatest Italian
of the sixteenth century has left us in sculpture little more than an
immortal gesture of despair, of despair of a world which he has not been
content to love. His work is beautiful with the beauty of the mountains,
of the mountains in which he alone has found the spirit of man. His
figures, half unveiled from the living rock, are like some terrible
indictment of the world he lived in, and in a sort of rage at its
uselessness he leaves them unfinished, and it but half expressed;--an
indictment of himself too, of his own heart, of his contempt for things
as they are. Yet in his youth he had been content with beauty--in the
lovely Pietà of S. Pietro, for instance, where, on the robe of Mary,
alone in all his work he has placed his name; or in the statue of
Bacchus, now here in the Bargello, sleepy, half drunken with wine or
with visions, the eyelids heavy with dreams, the cup still in his hand.
But already in the David his trouble is come upon him; the sorrow that
embittered his life has been foreseen, and in a sort of protest against
the enslavement of Florence, that nest where he was born, he creates
this hero, who seems to be waiting for some tyranny to declare itself.
The Brutus, unfinished as we say, to-day in the Bargello, he refused to
touch again, since that city which was made for a thousand lovers, as he
said, had been enjoyed by one only, some Medici against whom, as we
know, he was ready to fight. If in the beautiful relief of Madonna we
find a sweetness and strength that is altogether without bitterness or
indignation, it is not any religious consolation we find there, but such
comfort rather as life may give when in a moment of inward tragedy we
look on the stars or watch a mother with her little son. What secret and
immortal sorrow and resentment are expressed in those strange and
beautiful figures of the tombs in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo! The names
we have, given them are, as Pater has said, too definite for them; they
suggest more than we know how to express of our thoughts concerning
life, so that for once the soul of man seems there to have taken form
and turned to stone. The unfinished Pietà in the Duomo, it is said, he
carved for his own grave: like so much of his great, tragical work, it
is unfinished, unfinished though everything he did was complete from the
beginning. For he is like the dawn that brings with it noon and evening,
he is like the day which will pass into the night. In him the spirit of
man has stammered the syllables of eternity, and in its agony of longing
or sorrow has failed to speak only the word love. All things particular
to the individual, all that is small or of little account, that endures
but for a moment, have been purged away, so that Life itself may make,
as it were, an immortal gesticulation, almost monstrous in its
passionate intensity--a mirage seen on the mountains, a shadow on the
snow. And after him, and long before his death, there came Baccio
Bandinelli and the rest, Cellini the goldsmith, Giovanni da Bologna, and
the sculptors of the decadence that has lasted till our own day. With
him Italian art seems to have been hurled out of heaven; henceforth his
followers stand on the brink of Pandemonium, making the frantic gestures
of fallen gods.

[Illustration: "LA NOTTE"

_From Tomb of Giulinto de' Medici. Michelangelo_



[115] It seems necessary to note that probably Arnolfo Fiorentino and
Arnolfo di Cambio are not the same person. Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle,
_op. cit._ vol. i. p. 127, note 4.

[116] Eccellenza della Statua di S. Giorgio di Donatello: Marescotti,



Florentine art, that had expressed itself so charmingly, and at last so
passionately and profoundly, in sculpture, where design, drawing, that
integrity of the plastic artist, is everything, and colour almost
nothing at all, shows itself in painting, where it is most
characteristic, either as the work of those who were sculptors
themselves, or had at least learned from them--Giotto, Orcagna,
Masaccio, the Pollaiuoli, Verrocchio, and Michelangelo--or in such work
as that of Fra Angelico, Fra Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, and Leonardo,
where painting seems to pass into poetry, into a canticle or a hymn, a
Trionfo or some strange, far-away, sweet music. The whole impulse of
this art lies in the intellect rather than in the senses, is busied
continually in discussing life rather than in creating it, in discussing
one by one the secrets of movement, of expression; always more eager to
find new forms for ideas than to create just life itself in all its
splendour and shadow, as Venice was content to do. Thus, while Florence
was the most influential school of art in Italy, her greatest sons do
not seem altogether to belong to her: Leonardo, a wanderer all his life,
founds his school in Milan, and dies at last in France; Michelangelo
becomes almost a Roman painter, the sculptor, the architect in paint of
the Sistine Chapel; while Andrea del Sarto appears from the first as a
foreigner, the one colourist of the school, only a Florentine in this,
that much of his work is, as it were, monumental, composing itself
really--as with the Madonna delle Arpie or the great Madonna and Saints
of the Pitti, for instance--into statuesque groups, into sculpture. So
if we admit that Leonardo and Michelangelo were rather universal than
Florentine, the most characteristic work of the school lies in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in the work of Giotto, so full of
great, simple thoughts of life; in that of the Pollaiuoli, so full of
movement; but most of all perhaps in the work of Angelico, Lippo Lippi,
and Botticelli, where the significance of life has passed into beauty,
into music.

The rise of this school, so full of importance for Italy, for the world,
is very happily illustrated in the Accademia della Belle Arti; and if
the galleries of the Uffizi can show a greater number of the best works
of the Florentine painters, together with much else that is foreign to
them; if the Pitti Palace is richer in masterpieces, and possesses some
works of Raphael's Florentine period and the pictures of Fra Bartolomeo
and Andrea del Sarto, as well as a great collection of the work of the
other Italian schools, it is really in the Accademia we may study best
the rise of the Florentine school itself, finding there not only the
work of Giotto, his predecessors and disciples, but the pictures of Fra
Angelico, of Verrocchio, of Filippo Lippi, of Botticelli, the painters
of that fifteenth century which, as Pater has told us, "can hardly be
studied too much, not merely for its positive results in the things of
the intellect and the imagination, its concrete works of art, its
special and prominent personalities with their profound aesthetic charm,
but for its general spirit and character, for the ethical qualities of
which it is a consummate type."

The art of the Sculptors had been able to free itself from the beautiful
but sterile convention of the Byzantine masters earlier than the art of
Painting, because it had found certain fragments of antiquity scattered
up and down Southern Italy, and in such a place as the Campo Santo of
Pisa, to which it might turn for guidance and inspiration. No such
forlorn beauty remained in exile to renew the art of painting. All the
pictures of antiquity had been destroyed, and though in such work as
that of the Cavallini and their school at Assisi there may be found a
faint memory of the splendour that had so unfortunately passed away, it
is rather the shadow of the statues we find there--in the Abraham of the
upper church of S. Francesco, for instance--than the more lyrical and
mortal loveliness of the unknown painters of Imperial Rome. Yet it is
there, in that lonely and beautiful church full of the soft sweet light
of Umbria, that Giotto perhaps learned all that was needed to enable him
not only to recreate the art of painting, but to decide its future in

Here in the Accademia in the Sala dei Maestri Toscani you may see an
altarpiece that has perhaps come to us from his hands, amid much
beautiful languid work that is still in the shadow of the Middle Age, or
that, coming after him, has almost failed to understand his message, the
words of life which may everywhere be found in his frescoes in Assisi,
in Florence, in Padua, spoiled though they be by the intervention of
fools, the spoliation of the vandals.

Those strange and lovely altarpieces ruthlessly torn from the convents
and churches of Tuscany still keep inviolate the secret of those who,
not without tears, made them for the love of God: once for sure they
made a sunshine in some shadowy place. Hung here to-day in a museum,
just so many specimens that we number and set in order, they seem rude
and fantastic enough, and in the cold light of this salone, crowded
together like so much furniture, they have lost all meaning or
intention. They are dead, and we gaze at them almost with contempt; they
will never move us again. That rude and almost terrible picture of
Madonna and Saints with its little scenes from the life of our Lord,
stolen from the Franciscan convent of S. Chiara at Lucca, what is it to
us who pass by? Yet once it listened for the prayers of the little nuns
of S. Francis, and, who knows, may have heard the very voice of Il
Poverello. That passionate and dreadful picture of St. Mary Magdalen
covered by her hair as with a robe of red gold, does it move us at all?
Will it explain to us the rise of Florentine painting? And you, O
learned archaeologist, you, O scientific critic, you, O careless and
curious tourist, will it bring you any comfort to read (if you can) the

    "Ne desperetis, vos qui peccare soletis
    Exemploque meo vos reperate Deo."

Those small pictures of the life of St. Mary, which surround her still
with their beauty, do you even know what they mean? And if you do, are
they any more to you than an idle tale, a legend, which has lost even
its meaning? No, we look at these faint and far-off things merely with
curiosity as a botanist looks through his albums, like one who does not
know flowers.

Then there is the great Ancona (102) from S. Trinità attributed to
Cimabue about which the critics have been so eloquent, till under their
hands Cimabue has vanished into a mere legend; and Madonna too, is she
now any more than a tale that is told? Beside it you find another
Madonna (103) from Ognissanti which they agree together is really from
the hand of Giotto, though with how much intervention and repainting;
but they confess too that there is little to be learnt from it, since
Giotto may be seen to better advantage and more truly himself in his
frescoes, which yet remain in the churches as of old. And it is for this
we have robbed the lowly and stolen away the images of their gods.

It is a lesser because a merely imitative art that you see in the work
of Taddeo Gaddi and the Madonna and Child with six saints of his son
Agnolo, or the Entombment ascribed to Taddeo but really the work of an
inferior painter, Niccolò di Pietro Gerini from Or San Michele. Yet
those twelve scenes from the lives of Christ and St. Francis are lovely
enough; and in the Crucifixion there (112) we seem to see the work of a
master. A host of painters, "the Giottesques," as we may call them,
followed: Puccio Capanna, Buffalmacco, Francesco da Volterra, Stefano
Fiorentino, the grandson of Giotto, Giottino, and Spinello Aretino, all
of whom were painting about the middle of the fourteenth century in
Giotto's manner but without his genius, or any true understanding of his
art. The gradual passing of this derivative work, the prophecy of such
painters as Masolino, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico may be found in the
work of Orcagna, of Antonio Veneziano, and Starnina, and possibly too in
the better-preserved paintings of Lorenzo Monaco of the order of S.
Romuald of Camaldoli, in the Annunciation (143), for instance, here in
this very room.

Andrea Orcagna was born about 1308. He was a man of almost universal
genius, but his altarpiece in S. Maria Novella is nearly all that
remains to us of his painting, and splendid though it be, has been
perhaps spoiled by a later hand than his. In the Accademia here there is
a Vision of St. Bernard (No. 138), faint, it is true, but still soft and
charming in colour, while in the Uffizi there is in the corridor an
altarpiece with St. Matthew in the midst that is certainly partially his
own. Nothing at all remains to us of the work of Starnina, the master of
Masolino, and thus we lose the link which should connect the art of
Giotto and the Giottesques with the art of Masolino and Angelico.[117]
It was about the same time as Starnina was painting in the chapel of S.
Girolamo at the Carmine that Lorenzo Monaco was working in the manner of
Agnolo Gaddi. His work is beautiful by reason of its delicacy and
gentleness, but it is so completely in the old manner that Vasari gives
his altarpiece of the Annunciation now here in the Accademia (No. 143)
to Giotto, praising that master for the tremulous sweetness of Madonna
as she shrinks before the Announcing Angel just about to alight from
heaven. It is a very different scene you come upon in his altarpiece in
S. Trinità, where Gabriel, his beautiful wings furled, has already
fallen on his knees, and our Lord Himself, still among the Cherubim,
speeds the Dove to Mary, who has looked up from her book suddenly in an


_By Domenico Ghirlandajo, Accademia_


No work that we possess of the fourteenth century, save Giotto's,
prepares us for the frescoes of Masolino: they must be sought in the
Brancacci Chapel of the Carmine. But of the work of Masaccio his pupil,
though his best work remains in the same place, there may be found here
in the Accademia an early altarpiece of Madonna and Child with St.
Anne (Sala III, No. 70). Born in 1401, dying when he was but
twenty-seven years of age, he recreated for himself that reality in
painting which it had been the chief business of Giotto to discover.
Influenced by Donatello, his work is almost as immediate as that of
sculpture. Impressive and full of an energy that seems to be life
itself, his figures have almost the sense of reality. "I feel," says Mr.
Berenson, "that I could touch every figure, that it would yield a
definite resistance ... that I could walk round it." There follow Paolo
Uccello, whose work will be found in the Uffizi, and Andrea del
Castagno, who painted the equestrian portrait of Niccolò da Tolentino in
the Duomo, and the frescoes in S. Apollonia.

Thus we come really into the midst of the fifteenth century, to the work
of Fra Angelico, Fra Lippo Lippi, and Botticelli, which we have loved so

It is really the Middle Age, quite expressed for once, by one who,
standing a little way off perhaps, could almost scorn it, that we come
upon in Gentile da Fabriano's picture, on an easel here, of the
Adoration of the Shepherds. It is one of the loveliest of all early
Umbrian pictures, full of a new kind of happiness that is about to
discover the world. And if with Gentile we seem to look back on the
Middle Age from the very dawn of the Renaissance, it is the Renaissance
itself, the most simple and divine work it achieved in its earliest and
best days, that we see in the work of Fra Angelico. One beautiful and
splendid picture, the Descent from the Cross, alas! repainted, stands
near Gentile's Adoration, among several later pictures, of which
certainly the loveliest is a gentle and serene work by Domenico
Ghirlandajo, an Adoration of the Shepherds; but the greater part of
Angelico's work to be found here is in another room. There, in many
little pictures, you may see the world as Paradise, the very garden
where God talked with Adam. Or he will tell us the story of S. Cosmas
and S. Damian, those good saints who despised gold, so that with their
brethren they were cast into a furnace, but the beautiful bright flames
curled and leaped away from them as at the breath of God, licking
feverishly at the persecutors, who with iron forks try to thrust the
faggots nearer, while one hides from the heat of the fire behind his
shield, and another, already dead, is consumed by the flames. Above in a
gallery of marble, decked with beautiful rugs and hangings of
needlework, the sultan looks on astonished amid his courtiers. Or it is
the story of our Lord he tells us: how in the evening Mary set out from
Nazareth mounted on a mule, her little son in her arms, Joseph following
afoot, with a pipkin for the fire in the wilderness, and a _fiasco_ of
wine lest they be thirsty, a great stick over his shoulder for the
difficult way, and a cloak too, for our Lady. Or it is the Annunciation
he shows us: how in the dawn of that day of days, his bright wings still
tremulous with flight, Gabriel fell like a snowflake in the garden, in
the silence of the cypresses between two little loggias, light and fair,
where Madonna was praying; far and far away in the faint clear sky the
Dove hovers, that is the Spirit of God, the Desire of all Nations. Or it
is Hosanna he sings, when Christ rides under the stripped palms into
Jerusalem, while the people strew the way with branches. Or again he
will tell us of Paradise, beneath whose towers, in a garden of wild
flowers, the saints dance with the angels, crowned with garlands, in the
light that streams through the gates of heaven from the throne of God.

How may we rightly speak of such a man, who in his simplicity has seen
angels on the hills of Tuscany, the flowers and trees of our world
scattered in heaven? Truly his master is unknown, for, as perhaps he was
too simple to say, St. Luke taught him in an idle hour, after the vision
of the Annunciation, when he was tired of writing the Magnificat of
Mary: and Angelico was his only pupil. That such things as these could
come out of the cloister is not so marvellous as that, since they grew
there, we should have suppressed the convents and turned the friars
away. For just as the lily of art towered first and broke into blossom
on the grave of St. Francis, so here in the convent of S. Marco of the
Dominicans was one who for the first time seems to have seen the world,
the very byways and hills of Tuscany, and dreamed of them as heaven.

It was another friar who was, as it were, to people that world, a little
more human perhaps, a little less than Paradise, which Angelico had
seen; to people it at least with children, little laughing rascals from
the street corner, caught with a soldo and turned into angels. Another
friar, but how different. The story, so romantic, so full of laughter
and tears, that Vasari has told us of Fra Lippo Lippi, is one of his
best known pages; I shall not tell it again. Four little panels painted
by him are here in this room, beside the work of Fra Angelico. While not
far away you come upon two splendid studies by Perugino of two monks of
the Vallombrosa, Dom Biagio Milanesi and Dom Baldassare, the finest
portraits he ever painted, and in some sort his most living work.[118]
Four other works by Perugino may also be found here,--the Assumption of
the Blessed Virgin, a Pietà, and the Agony in the Garden in the Sala di
Perugino, a Crucifixion in the Sala di Botticelli. The Assumption was
painted at Vallombrosa late in the year 1500, and is a fine piece of
work in Perugino's more mannered style. Above, God the Father, in a
glory of cherubim with a worshipping angel on either side, blesses
Madonna, who in mid-heaven gazes upward, seated on a cloud, in a
mandorla of cherubs, surrounded by four angels playing musical
instruments, while two others are at her feet following her in her
flight; below, three saints, with St. Michael, stand disconsolate. In
the Pietà, painted much earlier, where the dead Christ lies on His
Mother's knees, while an angel holds the head of the Prince of Life on
his shoulders, and Mary Magdalen weeps at his feet, and two saints, St.
John and St. Joseph, perhaps, watch beside Him, there might seem to be
little to hold us or to interest us at all; the picture is really
without life, just because everything is so unreal, and if we gather any
emotion there, it will come to us from the soft sky, full of air and
light, that we see through a splendid archway, or from a tiny glimpse of
the valley that peeps from behind Madonna's robe. And surely it was in
this valley, on a little hill, that, as we may see in another picture
here, Christ knelt; yes, in the garden of the world, while the disciples
slept, and the angel brought Him the bitter cup. Not far away is
Jerusalem, and certain Roman soldiers and the priests; but it is not
these dream-like figures that attract us, but the world that remains
amid all interior changes still the same, and, for once in his work,
those tired men, really wearied out, who sleep so profoundly while
Christ prays. In the Crucifixion all the glamour, the religious
impression that, in Perugino's work at least, space the infinite heaven
of Italy, the largeness of her evening earth, make on one, is wanting,
and we find instead a mere insistence upon the subject. The world is
dark under the eclipsed sun and moon, and the figures are full of
affectation. Painted for the convent of St. Jerome, it was necessary to
include that saint and his lion, that strangely pathetic and sentimental
beast, so full of embarrassment, that looks at one so wearily from many
an old picture in the galleries of the world. If something of that
clairvoyance which created his best work is wanting here, it has
vanished altogether in that Deposition which Filippino Lippi finished,
and instead of a lovely dream of heaven and earth, one finds a laboured
picture full of feats of painting, of cleverness, and calculated
arrangement. This soft Umbrian world of dreamy landscape, which we find
in Perugino's pictures, is like a clearer vision of the land we already
descry far off with Fra Angelico, where his angels sing and his saints
dance for gladness.

It is a different and a more real life that you see in the work of Fra
Lippo Lippi. Realism, it is the very thought of all Florentine work of
the fifteenth century. Seven pictures by the Frate have been gathered in
this gallery,--the Madonna and Child Enthroned, the St. Jerome in the
Desert, a Nativity, a Madonna adoring Her Son, and the great Coronation
of the Virgin, the Archangel Gabriel and the Baptist, and a Madonna and
St. Anthony.

Here in the Accademia you may see Lucrezia Buti, that pale beauty whom
he loved, very fair and full of languor and sweetness. She looks at you
out of the crowd of saints and angels gathered round the feet of
Madonna, whom God crowns from His throne of jasper. Behind her, looking
at her always, Lippo himself comes--_iste perfecit opus_,--up the steps
into that choir where the angels crowned with roses lift the lilies, as
they wait in some divine interval to sing again Alleluia. And for this
too he should be remembered, for his son was Filippino Lippo and his
pupil Sandro Botticelli.

The Accademia possesses some five pictures by Botticelli,--the
Coronation of the Virgin and its predella (Nos. 73, 74), the Madonna
with saints and angels (No. 85), the Dead Christ (No. 157), the Salome
(No. 161), and the Primavera (No. 80). The Coronation is from the
Convent of S. Marco, and seems to have been painted after Botticelli had
fallen under the strange, unhappy influence of Savonarola; much the same
might be said of the Madonna with saints and angels, where his
expressiveness, that quality which in him was genius, seems to have
fallen almost into a mannerism, a sort of preconceived attitude; and
certainly here, where such a perfect thing awaits us, it is rather to
the Spring we shall turn at once than to anything less splendid.

The so-called Primavera was painted for Lorenzo de' Medici, and in some
vague way seems to have been inspired by Poliziano's verses in praise of
Giuliano de' Medici and Bella Simonetta--

    "Candida è ella, e Candida la vesta,
    Ma pur di rose e fior dipinta e d'erba:
    Lo innanellato crin dell' aurea testa
    Scende in la fronte umilmente superba.
    Ridele attorno tutta la foresta,
    E quanto può sue cure disacerba.
    Nell' atto regalmente è mansueta;
    E pur col ciglio le tempeste acqueta."[119]

Here at last we see the greatest, the most personal artist of the
fifteenth century really at his best, in that fortunate moment of
half-pensive joy which was so soon to pass away. How far has he
wandered, and through what secret forbidden ways, from the simple
thoughts of Angelico, the gay worldly laughter of Lippo Lippi. On that
strange adventurous journey of the soul he has discovered the modern
world, just our way of looking at things, as it were, with a sort of
gift for seeing in even the most simple things some new and subtle
meaning. And then, in that shadowy and yet so real kingdom in which, not
without a certain timidity, he has ventured so far, he has come upon the
very gods in exile, and for him Venus is born again from the foam of the
sea, and Mars sleeping in a valley will awake to find her beside him,
not as of old full of laughter, disdain, and joy; but half reconciled,
as it were, to sorrow, to that change which has come upon her so that
men now call her Mary, that name in which bitter and sweet are mingled
together. With how subtly pensive a mien she comes through the spring
woods here in the Primavera, her delicate hand lifted half in protest,
half in blessing of that gay and yet thoughtful company,--Flora, her
gown full of roses, Spring herself caught in the arms of Aeolus, the
Graces dancing a little wistfully together, where Mercurius touches
indifferently the unripe fruit with the tip of his caducaeus, and Amor
blindfold points his dart, yes almost like a prophecy of death.... What
is this scene that rises so strangely before our eyes, that are filled
with the paradise of Angelico, the heaven of Lippo Lippi. It is the new
heaven, the ancient and beloved earth, filled with spring and peopled
with those we have loved, beside whose altars long ago we have hushed
our voices. It is the dream of the Renaissance. The names we have given
these shadowy beautiful figures are but names, that Grace who looks so
longingly and sadly at Hermes is but the loveliest among the lovely,
though we call her Simonetta and him Giuliano. Here in the garden of the
world is Venus's pleasure-house, and there the gods in exile dream of
their holy thrones. Shall we forgive them, and forget that since our
hearts are changed they are changed also? They have looked from
Olympus upon Calvary; Dionysus, who has borne the youngest lamb on his
shoulders, has wandered alone in the wilderness and understood the
sorrow of the world; even that lovely, indifferent god has been
crucified, and she, Venus Aphrodite, has been born again, not from the
salt sea, but in the bitterness of her own tears, the tears of Madonna
Mary. It is thus Botticelli, with a rare and personal art, expresses the
very thought of his time, of his own heart, which half in love with Pico
of Mirandola would reconcile Plato with Moses, and since man's
allegiance is divided reconcile the gods. You may discern something,
perhaps, of the same thought, but already a little cold, a little
indifferent in its appeal, in the Adoration of the Shepherds which Luca
Signorelli painted, now in the Uffizi, where the shepherds are fair and
naked youths, the very gods of Greece come to worship the Desire of all
Nations. But with Botticelli that divine thought is altogether fresh and
sincere. It is strange that one so full of the Hellenic spirit should
later have fallen under the influence of a man so singularly wanting in
temperance or sweetness as Savonarola. One pictures him in his sorrowful
old age bending over the _Divina Commedia_ of Dante, continually
questioning himself as to that doctrine of the Epicureans, to wit, that
the soul dies with the body; at least, one reads that he abandoned all
labour at his art, and was like to have died of hunger but for the
Medici, who supported him.[120]


_By Sandro Botticelli. Accademia_



[117] Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _History of Painting in Italy_, 1903,
vol. ii. p. 290.

[118] For a full consideration of these and other works of Perugino,
Gentile da Fabriano, and the Umbrian masters, see my _Cities of Umbria_.

[119] Poliziano, Stanza I, str. 43, 44, 46, 47 68, 72, 85, 94; and
Alberti, Opere Volgari, _Della Pittura_, Lib. III (Firenze, 1847).

[120] Of the work of Verrocchio in this gallery, the Baptism of Christ,
in which Leonardo is said, I think mistakenly, to have painted an angel
in the left hand kneeling at the feet of Jesus, I speak in the chapter
on the Uffizi.



If it is difficult to speak with justice and a sense of proportion of
the Accademia delle Belle Arti, how may I hope to succeed with the
Uffizi Gallery, where the pictures are infinitely more varied and
numerous. It might seem impossible to do more than to give a catalogue
of the various works here gathered from royal and ducal collections,
from many churches, convents, and monasteries, forming, certainly, with
the gallery of the Pitti Palace, the finest collection of the Italian
schools of painting in the world. And then in this palace, built for
Cosimo I, by Giorgio Vasari, the delightful historian of the Italian
painters, you may find not only paintings but a great collection of
sculpture also, a magnificent collection of drawings and jewels,
together with the Archives, the Biblioteca Nazionale, which includes the
Palatine and the Magliabecchian Libraries. It will be best, then, seeing
that a whole lifetime were not enough in which to number such treasures,
to confine ourselves to a short examination of the sculpture, which is
certainly less valuable to us than to our fathers, and to a brief
review, hardly more than a personal impression, of the Italian pictures,
which are its chiefest treasure.

Of the rooms in which are hung the portraits of painters, those
unfortunate self-portraits in which some of the greatest painters have
not without agony realised their own ugliness, exhibiting themselves in
the pose that they have hoped the world would mistake for the very
truth, I say nothing. It is true, the older men, less concerned perhaps
at staring the word in the face, are not altogether unfortunate in their
self-revelation; but consider the portrait of Lord Leighton by
himself,--it must have been painted originally as a signboard for
Burlington House, for the summer exhibition of the Academy there, as who
should say to a discerning public: Here you may have your fill of the
impudent and blatant commonplace you love so much. And if such a thing
is really without its fellow in these embarrassing rooms, where Raphael,
Leonardo, Titian, and Velasquez are shouted down by some forgotten
German, some too well remembered English painter, it is but the perfect
essence of the whole collection, as though for once Leighton had really
understood what was required of him and had done his marvellous best.

It is on the top floor of this palace of Cosimo I, after passing the
busts of the lords and dukes of the Medici family, that one enters the
gallery itself, which, running round three sides of a parallelogram,
opens into various rooms of all shapes and sizes. It was Francesco I,
second Grand Duke of Tuscany, who began to collect here the various
works of art which his predecessors had gathered in their villas and
palaces. To this collection Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, his brother,
added, on his succession to the Grand-Dukedom, the treasures he had
collected in the villa which he had built in Rome, and which still bears
the name of his house. To Cosimo II, it might seem, we owe the covered
way from this Palazzo degli Uffizi across Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo
Pitti, while Ferdinand II began the collection of those self-portraits
of the painters of which I have spoken. Inheriting, as he did through
his wife, Vittoria della Rovere, the treasures of Urbino, he brought
them here, while it is to his son, Cosimo III, that we owe the presence
of Venus de' Medici, which had been dug up in the gardens of Hadrian's
villa, and bought by Ferdinando I when he was Cardinal. Most of the
Flemish pictures were brought here by Anna, the sister of Gian Gastone,
and daughter of Cosimo III, when she returned a widow to Florence from
the North. The house of Lorraine also continued to enrich the gallery,
which did not escape Napoleon's generals. They took away many priceless
pictures, all of which we were not able to force them to restore, though
we spent some £30,000 in the attempt. We were, however, able to send
back to Italy the Venus de' Medici, which Napoleon had thought to marry
to the Apollo Belvedere.

As may be supposed, the Gallery of the Uffizi, gathered as it has thus
been from so many sources, is as various as it is splendid. It is true
that it possesses no work by Velasquez, and if we compare it with such
collections as those of the National Gallery or the Louvre, we shall
find it a little lacking in proportion as a gallery of universal art. It
is really as the chief storehouses of Italian painting that we must
consider both it and the Pitti Palace. And both for this reason, and
because under its director, Signor Corrado Ricci, a new and clearer
arrangement of its contents is being carried out, I have thought it
better to speak of the pictures in no haphazard fashion, but, as is now
becoming easy, under their respective schools, as the Florentine, the
Sienese, the Umbrian, the Venetian, thus suggesting an unity which till
now has been lacking in the gallery itself.


Florentine painting in the fourteenth century may be seen to best
advantage in the churches of Florence and in the Accademia delle Belle
Arti, for here in the Uffizi there is nothing from Giotto's or Orcagna's
hand, though the work of their schools is plentiful. In the first long
gallery, among certain Sienese pictures of which I speak elsewhere, you
may find these works; and there, too, like antique jewels slumbering in
the accustomed sunlight, you come upon the tabernacles and altar-pieces
of Don Lorenzo Monaco, monk of the Angeli of Florence, as Vasari calls
him, the pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, who has most loved the work of the
Sienese. Lorenzo was of the Order of Camaldoli, and belonged to the
monastery of the Angeli, which was founded in 1295 by Fra Guittone
d'Arezzo, himself of the Military Order of the Virgin Mother of Jesus,
whose monks were called Frati Gaudenti, the Joyous Brothers. Born about
1370, seventeen years before Angelico, and dying in 1425, his works,
full of an ideal beauty that belongs to some holy place, are altogether
lost in the corridors of a gallery. Those works of his, the Virgin and
St. John, both kneeling and holding the body of our Lord (40), dated
1404; the Adoration of the Magi (39), or the triptych (41), where
Madonna is in the midst with her little Son standing in her lap, while
two angels stand in adoration, and St. John Baptist and St. Bartholemew,
St. Thaddeus and St. Benedict, wait on either side, was painted in 1410,
and was brought here from the subterranean crypt of S. Maria of Monte
Oliveto, not far away. Another triptych (1309), the Coronation of the
Virgin, in the Sala di Lorenzo Monaco, is perhaps his masterpiece. In
the midst is the Coronation of our Lady, surrounded by a glory of
angels, while on either side stand ten saints, and on the frames are
angels, cherubs, saints, and martyrs, scattered like flowers. Painted in
1413 for the high altar of the Monastery of the Angels, it was lost on
the suppression of the Order, and only found about 1830 at the Badia di
S. Pietro at Cerreto, in Val d'Elsa. Though it has doubtless suffered
from repainting, for we read of a restoration in 1866, it remains,
lovely and exquisite beyond any other work of the master.

Fra Angelico may well have been the pupil of Lorenzo Monaco. Here in the
Uffizi are two of his works, the great Tabernacle (17), with its
predella (1294), and the great Coronation of the Virgin (1290), with its
predelle (1162 and 1178). The Tabernacle was painted in 1433 for the
Arte de' Linaioli, which paid a hundred and ninety gold florins for it.
It is an early work, but such an one as in Florence at any rate, only
Fra Angelico could have achieved. Within the doors is the Virgin
herself, with Christ standing on her knee between two saints, surrounded
by twelve angels of heavenly beauty playing on various instruments of
music In the doors themselves are St. John Baptist and St. Mark while
outside are St. Peter and St. Jerome. In the predella St. Peter preaches
at Rome, St. Mark writes his Gospel, the Kings come to adore Jesus in
Bethlehem, and St. Mark is martyred. The whole is like some marvellous
introit for St. Mark's day, in which the name of Mary has passed by.

The Coronation of the Virgin (1290) is like a litany of the saints and
of the Virgin herself, chanted in antiphon, ending in the simpler
splendour of Magnificat, sung to some Gregorian tone full of gold, of
faint blues as of a far-away sky, of pale rose-colours as of roses
fading on an altar in the sunlight, and the candles of white are more
spotless than the lily is. Amidst a glory of angels, the piping voices
of children, she in whose name all the flowers are hidden is crowned
Queen of Angels by the Prince of Life. This marvellous dead picture
lived once in S. Maria Nuova; its predelle have been torn away from it,
but may be found here, nevertheless, in the Birth of St. John Baptist
(1162) and the Spozalizio (1178).

It is to a painter less mystical, but not less visionary, that we come
in the work of Paolo Uccello, the great "Battle" (52), of which two
variants exist, one in the Louvre, the other, the most beautiful of the
three, in the National Gallery. It is, as some have thought, a picture
of the Battle of S. Egidio, where Braccio da Montone made Carlo
Malatesta and his nephew Galeotto prisoners in 1416. Splendid as it is,
something has been lost to us by restoration. Paola Uccello, the friend
of Donatello and of Brunellesco, was all his life devoted to the study
of perspective. Many marvellous drawings in which he traced that
baffling vista, of which he was wont to exclaim when, labouring far into
the night, his wife poor soul, would entreat him to take rest and
sleep: "Ah, what a delightful thing is this perspective." And then, much
beautiful work of his has perished. It was on this art he staked his
life. "What have you there that you are shutting up so close?" Donatello
said to him one day when he found him alone at work on the Christ and
St. Thomas, which he had been commissioned to paint over the door of the
church dedicated to that saint in the Mercato Vecchio. "Thou shalt see
it some day,--let that suffice thee," Uccello answered. "And it
chanced," says Vasari, "that Donato was in the Mercato Vecchio buying
fruit one morning when he saw Paolo Uccello, who was uncovering his
picture." Saluting him courteously, therefore, his opinion was instantly
demanded by Paolo, who was anxiously curious to know what he would say
of the work. But when Donato had examined it very minutely, he turned to
Paolo and said: "Why, Paolo, thou art uncovering thy picture just at the
very time when thou shouldst be shutting it up from the sight of all."
These words wounded Paolo so grievously that he would no more leave his
house, but shut himself up, devoting himself only the more to the study
of perspective, which kept him in poverty and depression to the day of
his death.

Paolo had been influenced, it is said, by Domenico Veneziano, who in his
turn was influenced by the work of Masolino and Masaccio. Nothing is
known of the birthplace of this painter, who appears first at Perugia,
and was the master of Piero della Francesca. His work is very rare; in
Florence there are two heads of saints in the Pitti, and Mr. Berenson
speaks of a fresco of the Baptist and St. Francis in S. Croce. Here in
the Uffizi, however, we have a Madonna and four Saints (1305) from his
hand, formerly in the Church of S. Lucia de' Magnoli in the Via de'
Bardi. It is a very splendid work, and certainly his masterpiece;
something of Piero della Francesca's later work may perhaps be discerned
there, in a certain force and energy, a sort of dry sweetness in the
faint colouring that he seems to have loved. The Virgin is enthroned,
and in her lap she holds our Lord; on the left stands St. John Baptist
and S. Francis, on the right St. Nicholas and S. Lucia.

In the only work by Filippo Lippi in the Uffizi, the beautiful Madonna
and Child (1307) that has been so much beloved, we come again to a
painter who has been influenced by Masaccio, and thought at least to
understand and perhaps transform the work of Lorenzo Monaco and Fra
Angelico It is once more in the work of his pupil, Botticelli, that we
find some of the chief treasures of the gallery. There are some nine
works here by Sandro,--the Birth of Venus (39), the Madonna of the
Magnificat (1269 bis), the Madonna of the Pomegranate (1269), the Judith
and Holofernes (1158), the Calumny (1182), the Adoration of the Magi
(1286), and a Madonna and Child, a Portrait of Piero de' Medici (1154),
and St. Augustine (1179).

Painted for Pierfrancesco de' Medici, the Birth of Venus is perhaps the
most beautiful, the most expressive, and the most human picture of the
Quattrocento. She is younger than the roses which the south-west wind
fling at her feet, the roses of earth to the Rose of the sea. Not yet
has the Shepherd of Ida praised her, nor Adon refused the honey of her
throat; not yet has Psyche stolen away her joy, nor Mars rolled her on a
soldier's couch amid the spears and bucklers; for now she is but a maid,
and she cometh in the dawn to her kingdom dreaming over the sea. If we
compare her for a moment with the Madonna of the Magnificat, with the
Mary of the Pomegranate, she seems to us more virgin than the Virgin
herself; less troubled by a love in which all the sorrow and desire of
the world have found expression, less weary of the prayers that will be
hers no less than Mary's. How wearily and with what sadness Madonna
writes Magnificat, or dreams of the love that even now is come into her
arms! Is it that, as Pater has thought, the honour is too great for her,
that she would have preferred a humbler destiny, the joy of any other
mother of Israel? Who is she, this woman of divine and troubling beauty
that masquerades as Venus, and with Christ in her arms is so sad and
unhappy. Tradition tells us that he was Simonetta, the mistress of
Giuliano de' Medici, who, dying still in her youth, was borne through
Florence with uncovered face to her grave under the cypresses. Whoever
she may be, she haunts all the work of Botticelli, who, it might seem,
loved her as one who had studied Dante, and, one of the company of the
Platonists of Lorenzo's court, might well love a woman altogether remote
from him. As Venus she is a maid about to step for the first time upon
the shores of Cypris, and her eyes are like violets, wet with dew that
have not looked on the sun; her bright locks heavy with gold her maid
has caught about her, and the pale anemones have kissed her breasts, and
the scarlet weeds have kissed her on the mouth. As Mary, her destiny is
too great for her, and her lips tremble under the beauty of the words
she is about to utter; the mystical veils about her head have blinded
her, her eyelids have fallen over her eyes, and in her heart she seems
to be weeping. But it is another woman not less mysterious who, as
Judith, trips homeward so lightly in the morning after the terrible
night, her dreadful burden on her head and in her soul some too brutal
accusation. Again you may see her as Madonna in a picture brought here
from S. Maria Nuova, where she would let Love fall, she is so weary, but
that an angel's arm enfolds Him.

[Illustration: THE BIRTH OF VENUS

_By Sandro Botticelli. Uffizi Gallery_


In the Calumny you see a picture painted from the description Alberti
had given in his treatise on painting of the work of Apelles. "There was
in this picture," says Alberti, "a man with very large ears, and beside
him stood two women; one was called Ignorance, the other Superstition.
Towards him came Calumny. This was a woman very beautiful to look upon,
but with a double countenance (_ma parea nel viso troppo astuta_). She
held in her right hand a lighted torch, and with the other hand she
dragged by the hair a young man (_uno garzonotto_), who lifted his hands
towards heaven. There was also a man, pale, _brutto_, and gross, ... he
was guide to Calumny, and was called Envy. Two other women accompanied
Calumny, and arranged her hair and her ornaments, and one was Perfidy
and the other Fraud. Behind them came Penitence, a woman dressed in
mourning, all ragged. She was followed by a girl, modest and sensitive,
called Truth."[121]

The Birth of Venus was the first study of the nude that any painter had
dared to paint; but profound as is its significance, Florentine painting
was moving forward by means less personal than the genius, the great
personal art of Botticelli. Here in the Uffizi you may see an
Annunciation (56) of Baldovinetti (1427-99), in which something of that
strangeness and beauty of landscape which owed much to Angelico, and
more perhaps in its contrivance to Paolo Uccello, was to come to such
splendour in the work of Verrocchio and Leonardo. Baldovinetti's pupil,
Piero Pollaiuoli (1443-96), the younger brother of Antonio (1429-98),
whose work in sculpture is so full of life, was, with his brother's help
and guidance, giving to painting some of the power and reality of
movement which we look for in vain till his time. In a picture of St.
James, with St. Vincent and St. Eustace on either side (1301), you may
see Piero's work, the fine, rather powerful than beautiful people he
loved. It is, however, in the work of one whom he influenced, Andrea
Verrocchio, the pupil of Donatello and Baldovinetti, that, as it seems
to me, what was best worth having in his work comes to its own,
expressed with a real genius that is always passionate and really
expressive. The Baptism in the Accademia, a beautiful but not very
charming work, perhaps of his old age, received, Vasari tells us, some
touches from the brush of Leonardo, and for long the Annunciation of the
Uffizi (1286) passed as Leonardo's work. Repainted though it is, in
almost every part (the angel's wings retain something of their original
brightness), this Annunciation remains one of the loveliest pictures in
the gallery, full of the eagerness and ardour of Verrocchio. In a garden
at sunset, behind the curiously trimmed cypresses under a portico of
marble, Madonna sits at her _prie dieu_, a marvellously carved
sarcophagus of marble, while before her Gabriel kneels, holding the
lilies, lifting his right hand in blessing. The picture comes from the
Church of Monte Oliveto, not far away.


_By Andrea Verrocchio, Uffizi Gallery_


Verrocchio was the master of Lorenzo di Credi and of Leonardo, while,
as it is said, Perugino passed through his bottega. There are many works
here given to Lorenzo, who seems to have been a better painter than he
was a sculptor: the Madonna and Child (24), the Annunciation (1160), the
Noli me Tangere (1311), and above all, the Venus (3452), are beautiful,
but less living than one might expect from the pupil of Verrocchio.
Verrocchio's true pupil, if we may call him a pupil of any master at all
who was an universal genius, wayward and altogether personal in
everything he did, was Leonardo da Vinci. Of Leonardo's rare work (Mr.
Berenson finds but nine paintings that may pass as his in all Europe)
there is but one example in the Uffizi, and that is unfinished. It is
the Adoration of the Magi (1252), scarcely more than a shadow, begun in
1478. Leonardo was a wanderer all his life, an engineer, a musician, a
sculptor, an architect, a mathematician, as well as a painter. This
Adoration is the only work of his left in Tuscany, and there are but
three other paintings from his hand in all Italy. Of these, the fresco
of the Last Supper, at Milan, has been restored eight times, and is
about to suffer another repainting; while of the two pictures in Rome,
the St. Jerome of the Vatican is unfinished, and the Profile of a Girl,
in the possession of Donna Laura Minghetti, is "not quite finished"
either, Mr. Berenson tells us. It is to the Louvre that we must go to
see Leonardo's work as a painter.

Tuscan painting at its best, its most expressive, in the work of
Botticelli, fails to convince us of sincerity in the work of his pupil
Filippino Lippi, the son of Fra Filippo. Of all his pictures here in the
Uffizi, the two frescoes--the portrait of himself (286), the portrait of
an old man (1167), the Adoration of the Magi (1217), painted in 1496,
the Madonna and Saints (1268), painted in 1485, it is rather the little
picture of Madonna adoring her Son (1549) that I prefer, for a certain
sweetness and beauty of colour, before any of his more ambitious works.
Ghirlandajo too, that sweet and serene master, is not so lovely here as
in the Adoration of the Shepherds at the Accademia. In his so-called
Portrait of Perugino (1163),[122] the Adoration of the Magi (1295), and
the Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels (1297), his work seems to
lack sincerity, in all but the first, at any rate, to be the facile work
of one not sufficiently convinced of the necessity for just that without
which there is no profound beauty.

But the age was full of misfortune; it was necessary, perhaps, to
pretend a happiness one did not feel. Certainly in the strangely
fantastic work of Pier di Cosimo, the Rescue of Andromeda (1312), for
instance, there is nothing of the touching sincerity and beauty of his
Death of Procris, now in the National Gallery, which remains his one
splendid work. His pupil Fra Bartolommeo, who was later so unfortunately
influenced by Michelangelo, may be seen here at his best in a small
diptych (1161); in his early manner, his Isaiah (1126) and Job (1130),
we see mere studies in drapery and anatomy. His most characteristic work
is, however, in the Pitti Gallery, where we shall consider it.

Much the same might be said of his partner Albertinelli, and his friend
Andrea del Sarto, whom again we shall consider later in the Pitti
Palace. It will be sufficient here to point out his beautiful early Noli
me Tangere (93), The Portrait of his Wife (188), the Portrait of Himself
(280), the Portrait of a Lady, with a Petrarch in her hands (1230), and
the Madonna dell' Arpie (1112), that statuesque and too grandiose
failure that is so near to success.

Michelangelo, that Roman painter--for out of Rome there are but two of
his works, and one of these, the Deposition in the National Gallery, is
unfinished--has here in the Uffizi a very splendid Holy Family (1139),
splendid perhaps rather than beautiful, where in the background we may
see the graceful nude figures which Luca Signorelli had taught him to
paint there. Luca Signorelli, born in Cortona, the pupil of Piero della
Francesca, passes as an Umbrian painter, and indeed his best work may
be found there. But he was much influenced by Antonio Pollaiuolo, and is
altogether out of sympathy with the mystical art of Umbria. Here in the
Uffizi are two of his early works, the Holy Family (1291) and a Madonna
and Child (74), where, behind the Virgin holding her divine Son in her
lap, you may see four naked shepherds, really the first of their race.
This picture was painted for Lorenzo de' Medici, and doubtless
influenced Michelangelo when he painted his Holy Family for Messer
Angelo Doni, who haggled so badly over his bargain.

It is really the decadence, certainly prophesied in the later work of
Andrea del Sarto, that we come to in the work of that pupil of his, who
was influenced by what he could understand of the work of Michelangelo.
Jacopo Pontormo's work almost fails to interest us to-day save in his
portraits. The Cosimo I (1270), the Cosimo dei Medici (1267), painted
from some older portrait, the Portrait of a Man (1220), have a certain
splendour, that we find more attenuated but still living in the work of
his pupil Bronzino, who also failed to understand Michelangelo. Fine
though his portraits are, his various insincere and badly coloured
compositions merely serve to show how low the taste of the time--the
time of the end of the Republic--had fallen.

Thus we have followed very cursorily, but with a certain faithfulness
nevertheless, the course of Florentine Art. With the other schools of
Italy we shall deal more shortly.


It is as a divine decoration that Sienese art comes to us in the
profound and splendid work of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the delicate and
lovely work of Simone Martini, the patient work of the Lorenzetti. The
masterpiece, perhaps, of Duccio is the great Rucellai Madonna of S.
Maria Novella. There is none of his work in the Uffizi; but one of the
most beautiful paintings in the world, the Annunciation of Simone
Martini (23), from the Church of S. Ansano in Castelvecchio, is in the
first Long Gallery here. On a gold ground under three beautiful arches,
in the midst of which the Dove hovers amid the Cherubim, Gabriel
whispers to the Virgin the mysterious words of Annunciation. In his hand
is a branch of olive, and on his brow an olive crown. Madonna, a little
overwhelmed by the marvel of these tidings, draws back, pale in her
beauty, the half-closed book of prayer in her hands, catching her robe
about her; between them is a vase of campanulas still and sweet. Who may
describe the colour and the delicate glory of this work? The hand of man
can do no more; it is the most beautiful of all religious paintings,
subtle and full of grace. Simone was the greatest follower of Duccio.
Born in 1284, in 1324 he married Vanna di Memmo, and his brother, Lippo
Memmi, sometimes assisted him in his work. Lippo's hand cannot be
discerned in the Annunciation--none but Simone himself could have
achieved it; but the two saints, who stand one on either side, are his
work, as well as the four little figures in the frame.

Of the other early Sienese painters, only Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti
are represented in the Uffizi. The first, by a Madonna (15) and a
Thebaid; the second (16), in the two predella pictures for the
altar-piece of S. Procolo, Sassetta, the best of the Sienese
Quattrocento painters, is absent, and Vecchietta is only represented by
a predella picture (47); it is not till we came to Sodoma, whose famous
St. Sebastian (1279) suggests altogether another kind of art, a sensuous
and sometimes an almost hysterical sort of ecstasy, as in the Swooning
Virgin or the Swoon of St. Catherine at Siena, that we find Sienese
painting again.


Influenced in the beginning by the Sienese, the Umbrian school of
painting remained almost entirely religious. The Renaissance passed it
by as in a dream, and although in the work of Perugino you find a
wonderful and original painter, a painter of landscape too, it is rather
in the earlier men, Ottaviano Nelli, whose beautiful work at Gubbio is
like a sunshine on the wall of S. Maria Nuova; Gentile da Fabriano,
whose Adoration of the Magi is one of the treasures of the Accademia
delle Belle Arti; of Niccolò da Foligno, and of Bonfigli whose
flower-like pictures are for the most part in the Pinacoteca at Perugia,
than in Perugino, or Pinturicchio, or Raphael, that you come upon the
most characteristic work of the school.

There was no Giotto, no Duccio even, in Umbria. Painting for its own
sake, or for the sake of beauty or life, never seems to have taken root
in that mystical soil; it is ever with a message of the Church that she
comes to us, very simply and sweetly for the most part, it is true, but
except in the work of Piero della Francesca, who was not really an
Umbrian at all, and in that of his pupil Melozzo da Forli, the work of
the school is sentimental and illustrative, passionately beautiful for a
moment with Gentile da Fabriano; clairvoyant almost in the best work of
Perugino; most beloved, though maybe not most lovely, in the marvellous
work of Raphael, who, Umbrian though he be, is really a Roman painter,
full of the thoughts of a world he had made his own.

Here, in the Uffizi, Gentile da Fabriano is represented by parts of an
altar-piece, four isolated saints, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Nicholas of
Bari, St. John Baptist, and St. George. It is rather in the beautiful
work of Piero della Francesca, and of Signorelli, in the rare and lovely
work of Melozzo da Forli, in the sweet and holy work of Perugino, the
perfect work of Raphael, that Umbria is represented in the Uffizi, than
in the mutilated altar-piece of Gentile da Fabriano.

Piero della Francesca was born about 1416 at the little town of Borgo
San Sepolcro, just within the borders of Tuscany towards Arezzo.[124] He
was a great student of perspective, a friend of mathematicians, of Fra
Luca Paccioli, for instance, who later became the friend of Leonardo da
Vinci. His work has force, and is always full of the significance of
life. Influenced by Paolo Uccello, founding his work on a really
scientific understanding of certain laws of vision, of drawing, his work
seems to have been responsible for much that is so splendid in the work
of Signorelli and Perugino. Nor is he without a faint and simple beauty,
which is altogether delightful in his pictures in the National Gallery,
for instance the Nativity and the Baptism of our Lord. Here, in the
Uffizi, are two portraits from his hand--Count Federigo of Urbino, and
his wife Battista Sforza (1300), painted in 1465. Splendid and full of
confidence, they are the work of a man who is a consummate draughtsman,
and whose drawing here, at any rate, is a thing of life. On the back of
these panels Piero has painted an allegory, or a trionfo, whose meaning
no one has yet read. The Uffizi has lately been enriched by a work of
his pupil, that rare painter, Melozzo da Forli. Two panels of the
Annunciation, very beautiful in Colour and full of something that seems
strange, coming from that Umbrian country, so mystical and simple, hang
now with the portraits of Piero. Nor is the work of Melozzo da Forli's
pupil, Marco Palmezzano, whose facile work litters the Gallery of Forli,
wanting, for here is a Crucifixion (1095) from his hand, certainly one
of his more important pictures.

Pietro Vanucci, called Il Perugino, was born about 1446 at Castel della
Pieve, some twenty-six miles from Perugia. The greatest master of the
Umbrian School, for we are content to call Raphael a Roman painter, his
work, so sweet and lovely at its best, is at its worst little better
than a repetition of his own mannerisms. Here, in the Uffizi, however,
we have four of his best works--the three great portraits, Francesco
delle Opere (287), Alessandro Braccesi (1217), and the Portrait of a
Lady (1120), long given to Raphael, but which Mr. Berenson assures us is
Perugino's; and the Madonna and Child of the Tribuna, painted in 1493.
The Francesco delle Opere was perhaps his first portrait, full of
virility beyond anything else in his work, save his own portrait at
Perugia. For many years this picture, owing, it might seem, to a mistake
of the Chevalier Montalvo, was supposed to represent Perugino himself,
so that the picture was hung in the Gallery of the Portraits of
Painters. At last an inscription was discovered on the back of the
picture, which reads as follows: _1494, D'Luglio Pietro Perugino Pinse
Franco Delopa_.

Francesco delle Opere was a Florentine painter, the brother of Giovanni
delle Corniole. He died at Venice, and it may well be that it was at
Venice that Perugino first met him. Perugino's picture shows us
Francesco, a clean-shaven and young person, holding a scroll on which is
written, "Trineta Deum;" the portrait is a half-length, and the hands
are visible. In the background is a characteristic country of hill and
valley under the deep serene sky, the light and clear golden air that we
see in so much of his work. The Portrait of a Lady (1120), long given to
Raphael, comes to the Uffizi from the Grand Ducal Villa of Poggio a
Caiano; it was supposed to be the portrait of Maddalena Strozzi, wife of
Angela Doni. The portrait shows us a young woman, in a Florentine dress
of the period, while around her neck is a gold chain, from which hangs a
little cross. The Portrait of a Young Man (1217) is painted on wood, and
is life size.

The Madonna and Child, with two Saints, was painted in 1493 for the
Church of S. Domenico at Fiesole, and was placed in the Uffizi by the
Grand Duke Peter Leopold in 1756. Madonna sits a little indifferent on a
throne under an archway, holding the Child, who turns towards St. John
Baptist as he gazes languidly on the ground; while St. Sebastian, a
beautiful youth, stands on the other side, looking upwards, and though
the arrows have pierced his flesh, he is still full of affected grace,
and is so occupied with his prayers that he has not noticed them. On the
base of the throne, Perugino has written his name, _Petrus Perusinus
Pinxit, An. 1493_. It is in such a work as this that Perugino is really
least great. Painted to order, as we may think, it is so full of
affectation, of a kind of religiosity, that there is no room left for
sincerity. And yet how well he has composed this picture after all, so
that there is no sense of crowding, and the sun and sky are not so far
away. Is it perhaps that in an age that has become suspicious of any
religious emotion we are spoiled for such a picture as this, finding in
what it may be was just a natural expression of worship to the simple
Friars of S. Domenico long ago, all the ritualism and affectation in
which we should find it necessary to hide ourselves before we might
approach her, as she seemed to them, a Queen enthroned, _causa nostrae
Laetitiae_, between two saints whose very names we find it difficult to
remember? How often in our day has Perugino been accused of insincerity,
yet it was not so long ago when he lived. Almost all his life he was
engaged in painting for the Church those things which were most precious
in her remembrance. If men found him insincere, it is strange that among
so much that was eager and full of sincerity his work was able to hold
its own. His pupil Raphael, that most beloved name, is represented here
in the Uffizi only by the Madonna del Cardellino (1129); for the other
works attributed to him in the Tribuna are not his. The picture is in
his early manner, and was painted about 1548. It has, like so much of
Raphael's work, suffered restoration; and indeed these compositions from
his hand no longer hold us as they used to do, whether because of that
repainting or no, I know not. It is as a portrait painter we think of
Raphael to-day, and as the painter of the Stanze at Rome; and therefore
I prefer to speak of him with regard to his work in the Pitti Gallery
rather than here. With him the Umbrian School passed into the world.


Nearly all the Venetian pictures were bought in 1654 by Cardinal
Leopoldo de' Medici from Messer Paolo del Sera, a Florentine merchant in
Venice. More truly representative of the Renaissance, its humanism and
splendour, than any other school of painting in Italy, the earlier works
of that great Venetian School are not seen to advantage in the Uffizi.
There is nothing here by Jacopo Bellini, nothing by his son Gentile; nor
any work from the hands of Antonio or Bartolommeo Vivarini, or Antonello
da Messina, who apparently introduced oil painting into Venice. It is
not till we come to Giovanni Bellini, born about 1430, that we find a
work of the Quattrocento in the delightful but puzzling Allegory (631),
where Our Lady sits enthroned beside a lagoon in a strange and lovely
landscape of rocks and trees; while beside her kneels St. Catherine of
Alexandria, and again, St. Catherine of Siena; farther away stand St.
Peter and St. Paul, while below children are playing with fruit and a
curious tree; on the other side are Job and St. Sebastian, while in the
background you may see the story of the life of St. Anthony. This
mysterious picture certainly stands alone in Giovanni Bellini's work,
and suggests the thoughts at least of Mantegna; and while it is true
that Giovanni had worked at Padua, one is surprised to come upon its
influence so late in his life.[125]

The influence of the Bellini is to be found in almost all the great
painters of Venice in the Cinquecento. We come upon it first in the work
of Vittore Carpaccio, of which there is but a fragment here, the
delicate little picture, the Finding of the True Cross (583 _bis_);
while in two works attributed to Bissolo and Cima da Conegliano (584,
564 _bis_), we see too the influence of Bellini.

If Carpaccio was the greatest pupil of Gentile Bellini, in Giorgione we
see the first of those marvellous painters who were taught their art by
his brother Giovanni. Giorgio Barbarelli, called Giorgione, was born at
Castelfranco, a little town in the hills not far from Padua, in 1478.
Three of his rare works--there are scarcely more than some fifteen in
the world--are here in the Uffizi, the two very early pictures--but all
his works were early, for he died in 1510--the Trial of Moses (621), and
the Judgment of Solomon (630), and the beautiful portrait of a Knight of
Malta (622). Giorgione was the dayspring of the Renaissance in Venice.
His work, as Pater foretold of it, has attained to the condition of
Music. And though in the portrait of the Knight of Malta, for instance,
we have to admit much repainting, something of the original glamour
still lingers, so that in looking on it even to-day we may see to how
great a place the painters of Venice had been called. It is in the work
of his fellow-pupil and Titian that the great Venetian treasure of the
Uffizi lies. In the Madonna with St. Anthony (633) we have a picture in
Giorgione's early manner, and a later, but still early work, in the
Flora (626). The two portraits, Eleonora Gonzaga and Francesco Maria
della Rovere, Duke and Duchess of Urbino, were painted in Venice in 1536
or 1538, and came into the Uffizi with the other Urbino pictures, with
the Venus of Urbino (1117), for instance, where Titian has painted the
Bella of the Pitti Palace naked on a couch, a little dog at her feet,
and in her hand a chaplet of roses. In the background two maids search
for a gown in a great chest under a loggia. This picture, first
mentioned in a letter of 1538, was painted for Duke Guidobaldo della
Rovere. The Venus with the little Amor (1108) appears to have been
painted about 1545. It is not from Urbino. Dr. Gronau thinks it may be
identical with the Venus "shortly described in a book of the Guardaroba
of Grand Duke Cosimo II in the year 1621." The Portrait of Bishop
Beccadelli (1116) was painted in July 1552, and is signed by Titian. It
was bought, with the other Venetian pictures, by Cardinal Leopoldo de'
Medici in 1654. I say nothing of Titian here: preferring to speak of him
in dealing with his more various and numerous work in the Pitti Palace.
Other pupils of Giovanni Bellini, beside Giorgione and Titian, are found
here--Palma Vecchio for instance--in a poor picture of Judith with the
Head of Holofernes (619); Rondinelli in a Portrait of a Man (354) and a
Madonna and two Saints (384); Sebastiano del Piombo in the Farnesina
(1123), long given to Raphael, and the Death of Adonis (592). All these
men, whose work is so full of splendour, came under the influence of
Giorgione after passing through Bellini's bottega. Nor did Lorenzo
Lotto, the pupil of Alvise Vivarini, escape the authority of that serene
and perfect work, whose beauty lingered so quietly over the youth of the
greatest painter of Italy, Tiziano Vecelli: his Holy Family (575) seems
to be a work of Giorgione himself almost, that has suffered some change;
that change was Lotto.

Titian's own pupils, Paris Bordone, Tintoretto, and Schiavone, may also
be found here; the first in a Portrait of a Young Man (607), full of
confidence and force. Tintoretto has five works here, beside the
portrait of himself (378): the Bust of a Young Man (577), the Portrait
of Admiral Vernier (601), the Portrait of an Old Man (615), the Portrait
of Jacopo Sansovino (638), and a Portrait of a Man (649). His portraits
are full of an immense splendour; they sum up often rhetorically enough
all that was superficial in the subject, representing him as we may
suppose he hardly hoped to see himself. Without the subtle distinction
of Titian's art, or the marvellous power of characterisation and
expression that he possessed with the earlier men, Tintoretto's work is
noble, and almost lyrical in its confidence and beauty. In his day
Venice seems to have been the capital of the world, peopled by a race of
men splendid and strong, beside whom the men of our time, even the best
of them, seem a little vulgar, a little wanting in dignity and life.

Two pictures by Paolo Veronese, the early Martyrdom of S. Giustina
(589), and the Holy Family and St. Catherine (1136), bring the period
to a close. It is a different school of painting altogether that we see
in the Piazzetta of Canaletto (1064), perhaps the last picture painted
by a Venetian in the gallery.


Andrea Mantegna was born, not at Padua, where his greatest work is to be
found--three frescoes in the Eremitani--but at Vicenza. Here in the
Uffizi, however, we have two works of his middle period, certainly among
the best, if not the most beautiful, of his easel pictures. In one we
see Madonna and Child in a rocky landscape, where there are trees and
flowers (1025); the other is a triptych (1111), one of the many
priceless things to be found here. In the midst you may see the Three
Kings at the feet of Jesus Parvulus in his Mother's arms, while on one
side Mantegna has painted the Presentation in the Temple, and on the
other the Resurrection. Long ago this marvellous miniature, that even
to-day seems to shine like a precious stone, was in the possession of
the Gonzagas of Mantua, from whom it is supposed the Medici bought it.

Five male portraits by the Bergamesque master Moroni are to be found
here. One (360) is said to be a portrait of himself, though it certainly
bears no resemblance to the portrait at Bergamo. I cannot forbear from
mentioning the Portrait of a Scholar, which seems to me one of his best
works. Moroni was born at Bondo, not far from Albino, in 1525. It is
probable that Moretto, who, as Morelli suggests, was a Brescian by
birth, though his parents originally came from the same valley as
Moroni, Valle del Serio, was his master. Moretto is, I think, a greater
painter than Moroni, though perhaps we are only beginning to appreciate
the latter.

Three pictures here are from the hand of Correggio: the early small
panel of Madonna and Child with Angels (1002), once ascribed to Titian,
a naïve and charming little work; the Repose in Egypt (1118), grave and
beautiful enough, but in some way I cannot explain a little
disappointing; and the Madonna adoring her little Son (1134), which is
rather commonplace in colour, though delightful in conception.

It might seem impossible within the covers of one book to do more than
touch upon the enormous wealth of ancient art in the possession of
almost every city in Italy; and here in Florence, more than anywhere
else, I know my feebleness. If these few notes, for indeed they are
nothing more, serve to group the pictures hung in the Uffizi into
Schools, to win a certain order out of what is already less a chaos than
of old, to give to the reader some idea almost at a glance of what the
Uffizi really possesses of the various schools of Italian painting, they
will have served their purpose.[126]

Of the sculpture, too, I say nothing. Vastly more important and beloved
of old than to-day, when the work of the Greeks themselves has come into
our hands, and above all the Greek work of the fifth century B.C., there
is not to be found in the Uffizi a single marble of Greek workmanship,
and but few Roman works that are still untampered with. For myself, I
cannot look with pleasure on a Roman Venus patched by the Renaissance,
for I have seen the beauty of the Melian Aphrodite; and there are
certain things in Rome, in Athens, in London, which make it for ever
impossible for us to be sincere in our worship at this shrine.


[121] Alberti, _Opere Volgari_ (Firenze, 1847), vol. iv. p. 75.

[122] Mr. Berenson calls it a Portrait of Perugino, though for long it
passed as a Portrait of Verrocchio by Lorenzo di Credi.

[123] For a full account of the Umbrian school see my _Cities of

[124] In 1416, Borgo S. Sepolcro was not just within the borders of
Tuscany of course, as it is to-day, but just without: it was part of the
Papal State till Eugenius IV sold it to Florence.

[125] Mr. Berenson calls the picture An Allegory of the Tree of Life,
and adds that it is certainly a late work of Giovanni.

[126] Of the Flemish, Dutch, German, and French pictures here I intend
to say no more than to name a few among them. The most valuable foreign
picture in Florence for the student of Italian art is Van der Goes'
(1425-82) great triptych (1525) of the Adoration of the Shepherds, with
the Family of the donor Messer Portinari, agent of the Medici in Bruges.
In the same sala are two Memlings (703, 778), and a Roger van der Weyden
(795). Two Holbeins, the Richard Southwell (765), and Sir Thomas More
(799), are in the German room; while Dürer's noble and lovely Adoration
of the Magi (1141) is still in the Tribuna, and his portrait of his
Father (766) is with the other German pictures in the German room. Some
too eloquent works of Rubens hang apart, while here and there you may
see a Vandyck--Lord John and Lord Bernard Stuart (1523), for instance,
or Jean de Montfort (1115), a little pensive and proud amid the
splendour of Italy.



During the last years of Cosimo de' Medici, Luca Pitti, that rare old
knight, sometime Gonfaloniere of Justice, thought to possess himself of
the state of Florence, and to this end, besides creating a new Balia
against the wishes of Cosimo, distributed, as it is said, some 20,000
ducats in one day, so that the whole city came after him in flocks, and
not Cosimo, but he, was looked upon as the governor of Florence. "So
foolish was he in his own conceit, that he began two stately and
magnificent houses," Machiavelli tells us, "one in Florence, the other
at Rusciano, not more than a mile away: but that in Florence was greater
and more splendid than the house of any other private citizen
whatsoever. To finish this latter, he baulked no extraordinary way, for
not only the citizens and better sort presented him and furnished him
with what was necessary for it, but the common people gave him all of
their assistance; besides, all that were banished or guilty of murder,
felony, or any other thing which exposed them to punishment, had
sanctuary at that house provided they would give him their labour."

Now, when Cosimo was dead, and Piero de' Medici the head of that family,
Niccolò Soderini was made Gonfaloniere of Justice, and thinking to
secure the liberty of the city he began many good things, but perfected
nothing, so that he left that office with less honour than he entered
into it. This fortified Piero's party exceedingly, so that his enemies
began to resent it and work together to consider how they might kill
him, for in supporting Galeazzo Maria Sforza to the Dukedom of
Milan--which his father Francesco, just dead, had stolen for
himself--they saw, or thought they saw, the way in which Piero would
deal if he could with Florence. Thus the Mountain, as the party of his
enemies was called, leaned threatening to crush him more surely every
day. But Piero, who lay sick at Careggi, armed himself, as did his
friends, who were not few in the city. Now the leaders of his enemies
were Luca Pitti, Dietosalvi Neroni, Agnolo Acciaiuoli, and most
courageous of all, Niccolò Soderini. He, taking arms, as Piero had done,
and followed by most of the people of his quarter, went one morning to
Luca's house, entreating him to mount and ride with him to Palazzo
Vecchio for the security of the Senate, who, as he said, were of his
side. "To do this," said he, "is victory." But Luca had no mind for this
game, for many reasons,--for one, he had already received promises and
rewards from Piero; for another, he had married one of his nieces to
Giovanni Tornabuoni,--so that, instead of joining him, he admonished
Soderini to lay aside his arms and return quietly to his house. In the
meantime the Senate, with the magistrates, had closed the doors of
Palazzo Vecchio without appearing for either side, though the whole city
was in tumult. After much discussion, they agreed, since Piero could not
be present, for he was sick, to go to him in his palace, but Soderini
would not. So they set out without him; and arrived, one was deputed to
speak of the tumult, and to declare that they who first took arms were
responsible; and that understanding Piero was the man, they came to be
informed of his design, and to know whether it were for the advantage of
the city. Piero made answer that not they who first took arms were
blameworthy, but they who gave occasion for it: that if they considered
their behaviour towards him, their meetings at night, their
subscriptions and practices to defeat him, they would not wonder at what
he had done; that he desired nothing but his own security, and that
Cosimo and his sons knew how to live honourably in Florence, either with
or without a Balia. Then, turning on Dietosalvi and his brothers, who
were all present, he reproached them severely for the favours they had
received from Cosimo, and the great ingratitude which they had returned;
which reprimand was delivered with so much zeal, that, had not Piero
himself restrained them, there were some present who would certainly
have killed them. So he had it his own way, and presently new senators
being chosen and another gonfaloniere, the people were called together
in the Piazza and a new Balia was created, all of Piero's creatures.
This so terrified "the Mountain" that they fled out of the city, but
Luca Pitti remained, trusting in Giovanni Tornabuoni and the promises of
Piero. Now mark his fall. He quickly learned the difference betwixt
victory and misfortune, betwixt honour and disgrace. His house, which
formerly was thronged with visitors and the better sort of citizens, was
now grown solitary and unfrequented. When he appeared abroad in the
streets, his friends and relations were not only afraid to accompany
him, but even to own or salute him, for some of them had lost their
honours for doing it, some their estates, and all of them were
threatened. The noble structures which he had begun were given over by
the workmen, the good deeds requited with contumely, the honours he had
conferred with infamy and disgrace. For many persons, who in the day of
his authority had loaded him with presents, required them again in his
distress, pretending they were but loans and no more. Those who before
had cried him to the skies, cursed him down as fast for his ingratitude
and violence; so that now, when it was too late, he began to repent
himself that he had not taken Soderini's advice and died honourably,
seeing that he must now live with dishonour.

So far Machiavelli. The unfinished, half-ruinous palace, designed in
1444 by Brunellesco, was a century later sold by the Pitti, quite ruined
now, to Eleonora, the wife of Grand Duke Cosimo, and was finished by
Ammanati. The great wings were added later. In May 1550, Cosimo I
entered Palazzo Pitti as his Grand-Ducal residence. To-day it is the
King of Italy's Palace in Florence.

The Galleria Palatina is a gallery of the masterpieces of the high
Renaissance, formed by the Grand Dukes, who brought here from their own
villas and from the Uffizi the greatest works in their possession. Like
other Italian galleries, it suffered from Napoleon's generals; but
though sixty or more pictures were taken to Paris, they all seem to have
been returned. Here the Grand Dukes gathered ten pictures by Titian
eight by Raphael, as well as two, the Madonna del Baldacchino and the
Vision of Ezekiel, which he designed, ten by Andrea del Sarto, six by
Fra Bartolommeo, two lovely Peruginos, two splendid portraits by Ridolfo
Ghirlandajo, four portraits by Tintoretto, several pictures by Rubens,
two portraits, one of himself, by Rembrandt, a magnificent Vandyck, and
many lesser pictures. In the royal apartments, among other interesting
or beautiful things, is Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur, painted, as
some have thought, to celebrate Lorenzo's return from Naples in 1480. It
is, then, rather as a royal gallery than as a museum that we must
consider the Galleria Palatina, a more splendid if less catholic Salon
Carré, the Tribuna of Italian painting. It is strange that, among all
the beautiful and splendid pictures with which the Grand Dukes
surrounded themselves, there is not one from the hand of Leonardo, nor
one that Michelangelo has painted. And then, of the many here that pass
under the name of Botticelli, only the Pallas and the Centaur in the
royal apartments seems to be really his; so that when we look for the
greatest pictures of the Florentine school, we must be content with the
strangely unsatisfactory work of Andrea del Sarto, often lovely enough
it is true, but as often insincere, shallow, not at one with itself, and
certainly a stranger here in Florence.

The work of Andrea del Sarto, as we are assured, might but for his
tragic story have been so splendid; but in truth that sentimental and
pathetic tale neither excuses nor explains his failure, if failure it
be. He is the first artist who has worked badly because he loved a
woman. He was born in 1456, and became the pupil of Piero di Cosimo.
There in that fantastic bottega he must have met Fra Bartolommeo, who
later influenced him so deeply. Nor was Michelangelo, or at least his
grand and tremendous art, without its effect upon one so easily moved,
so subject to every passing mood, as Andrea. Yet he never seems to have
expressed just himself, save in those tragic portraits of himself and of
his wife, of which there are three here in the Pitti (188, 280, 1176).
He has been called the faultless painter, and indeed he seems to be
incapable of fault, to be really a little effeminate, a little vague,
bewildered by the sculpture of Michelangelo, the confusion of art in
Florence, the advent of the colourists, of whom here in Tuscany he is
perhaps the chief. It is no intellectual passion you find in that soft,
troubled work, where from every picture Lucrezia del Fede looks out at
you, posing as Madonna or Magdalen or just herself, and even so,
discontented, unhappy, unsatisfactory because she is too stupid to be
happy at all. If she were Andrea's tragedy, one might think that even
without her his life could scarcely have been different. If we compare,
here in the Pitti Gallery, the two pictures of the Annunciation from his
hand, we shall see how completely the enthusiasm of his early work is
wanting in his later pictures. Something, some divine energy, seems to
have gone out of his life, and ever after he is but trying to revive or
to counterfeit it. Now and then, as in the Disputa (172), which marks
the very zenith of his art, he is almost a great painter, but the
Madonna with six Saints (123), painted in 1524, is already full of
repetitions,--the kneeling figures in the foreground, for instance, that
we find again in the Deposition (58) painted in the same year. Nor in
the Assumption (225) painted in 1526, nor in the later picture (191) of
1531, is there any significance, energy, or beauty: they are
arrangements of draperies, splendid luxurious pictures without sincerity
or emotion. It is not fair to judge him by the St. John Baptist, which
has suffered too much from restoration to be any longer his work. Thus
it is at last as the painter of the Annunziata and the Scalzo that we
must think of him, which, full of grandiose and heavy forms and
draperies though they are, still please us better than anything else he
achieved, save the great Last Supper of S. Salvi and the portraits of
himself and his wife. As a Florentine painter he seems ever among
strangers: it is as an exiled Venetian, one who had been forced by some
irony of circumstances to forego his birthright in that invigorating and
worldly city, which might have revealed to him just the significance of
life which we miss in his pictures, that he appears to us; a failure
difficult to explain, a weak but beautiful nature spoiled by mediocrity.

Fra Bartolommeo was another Florentine who seems, for a moment at any
rate, to have been bewildered by the influence of Michelangelo, but as a
profound conviction saved him from insincerity, so his splendid
sensuality preserved his work from sentimentalism. Born about 1475 at
Savignano, not far from Prato, his father sent him to Florence, placing
him in the care of Cosimo Rosselli, according to Vasari, but more
probably, as we may think, under Piero di Cosimo. Here he seems to have
come under the influence of Leonardo, and to have been friends with
Mariotto Albertinelli. The great influence of his life, however, was Fra
Girolamo Savonarola, whom he would often go to S. Marco to hear.
Savonarola was preaching as ever against vanities,--that is to say,
pictures, statues, verses, books: things doubtless anathema to one whose
whole future depended upon the amount of interest he could awaken in
himself. At this time, it seems, Savonarola was asserting his conviction
that "in houses where young maidens dwelt it was dangerous and improper
to retain pictures wherein there were undraped figures." It seems to
have been the custom in Florence at the time of the Carnival to build
cabins of wood and furze, and on the night of Shrove Tuesday to set them
ablaze, while the people danced around them, joining hands, according to
ancient custom, amid laughter and songs. This Savonarola had denounced,
and, winning the ear of the people for the moment, he persuaded those
who were wont to dance to bring "pictures and works of sculpture, many
by the most excellent masters," and to cast them into the fire, with
books, musical instruments, and such. To this pile, Vasari tells us,
Bartolommeo brought all his studies and drawings which he had made from
the nude, and threw them into the flames; so also did Lorenzo di Credi
and many others, who were called Piagnoni, among them, no doubt, Sandro
Botticelli. The people soon tired, however, of their new vanity, as they
had done of the beautiful things they had destroyed at his bidding, and,
the party opposed to Savonarola growing dangerous, Bartolommeo with
others shut themselves up in S. Marco to guard Savonarola. Fra
Girolamo's excommunication, torture, and death, which followed soon
after, seem finally to have decided the gentle Bartolommeo to assume the
religious habit, which he did not long after at S. Domenico in Prato.
Later we find him back in Florence in the Convent of S. Marco, where he
is said to have met Raphael and to have learned much from him of the art
of perspective. However that may be, he continued to paint there in S.
Marco really--saving a journey to Rome where he came under the influence
of Michelangelo, a visit to S. Martino in Lucca, and his journey to
Venice in 1506--for the rest of his life, being buried there at last in

Six pictures from his hand hang to-day in the Pitti,--a Holy Family
(256), the beautiful Deposition (64), an Ecce Homo in fresco (377), the
Marriage of St. Catherine, painted in 1512 (208), a St. Mark, painted in
1514 (125), and Christ and the Four Evangelists, painted in 1516 (159).
The unpleasing "Madonna appearing to St. Bernard," painted in 1506, now
in the Accademia, was his first work after he became a friar.

Here, in the Pitti, Bartolommeo is not at his best; for his earlier and
more delicate manner, so full of charm and a sort of daintiness, one
must go to Lucca, where his picture of Madonna with St. Stephen and St.
John Baptist hangs in the Duomo. The grand and almost pompous works in
Florence, splendid though they may be in painting, in composition, in
colour, scarcely move us at all, so that it might almost seem that in
following Savonarola he lost not the world only but his art also, that
refined and delicate art which comes to us so gently in his earliest
pictures. Something passionate and pathetic, truly, may be found in the
Pietà here, together with a certain dramatic effectiveness that is rare
in his work. With what an effort, for instance, has St. John lifted the
body of his Master from the great cross in the background, how
passionately Mary Magdalen has flung herself at His feet; yet the
picture seems to be without any real significance, without spirituality
certainly, only another colossal group of figures that even Michelangelo
has refused to carve.

[Illustration: PIETÀ

_By Fra Bartolomeo. Pitti Gallery_


On coming to the work of Raphael, to the work of Titian, we find the
great treasure of the Pitti Gallery, beside which the rest is but a
background: it is for them really, after all, that we have come here.

Raphael Sanzio, the "most beloved name in the history of painting," was
born at Urbino in 1483. The pupil first of his father maybe, though
Giovanni died when his son was but eleven years old, and later of
Timoteo Viti, we hear of Raphael first in the bottega of the greatest of
the Umbrian painters, Perugino, at Perugia. Two works of Perugino hang
to-day in the Pitti Gallery, the Madonna and Child (219) and the
Entombment (164), painted in 1495, for the nuns of S. Chiara. Vasari has
much to say of the latter, relating how Francesco del Pugliare offered
to give them three times as much as they had paid Perugino for the
picture, and to cause another exactly like it to be executed for them by
the same hand; but they would not consent, because Pietro had told them
he did not think he could equal the one they possessed. It is really
Umbria itself we see in that lovely work, which has impressed
Bartolommeo so profoundly, the Lake of Trasimeno, surrounded by villages
that climb the hills just as Perugino has painted the little city in
this picture. And it is in this mystical and smiling country, where the
light is so soft and tender, softer than on any Tuscan hills, that the
most perfect if not the greatest painter of the Renaissance grew up.
You may find some memory of that beautiful land of hills and quiet
valleys even in his latest work, after he had learned from every master,
and summed up, as it were, the whole Renaissance in his achievement. But
in four pictures here in the Pitti, it is the influence of Florence you
find imposing itself upon the art of Umbria, transforming it,
strengthening it, and suggesting it may be, the way of advance.
Something of the art of Pietro you see in the portraits of Madallena
Doni (59), Angelo Doni (61), and La Donna Gravida (229), something so
akin to the Francesco delle Opere of the Uffizi that it would not be
surprising to find the Madallena Doni, at any rate, attributed to
Perugino. Yet superficial though they be in comparison with the later
portraits, they mark the patient endeavour of his work in Florence, the
realism that this city, so scornful of _forestieri_, was forcing upon
him as it had already done on Perugino, who in the Francesco, the
Bracessi, and the two monks of the Accademia, touches life itself,
perhaps, only there in all his work. It is the influence of Florence we
seem to find too in the simplicity of the Madonna del Granduca (178).
Here is a picture certainly in the manner of Perugino, but with
something lost, some light, some beatitude, yet with something gained
also, if only in a certain measure of restraint, a real simplicity that
is foreign to that master. And then, if we compare it with the Madonna
della Sedia (151), which is said to have been painted on the lid of a
wine cask, we shall find, I think, that however many new secrets he may
learn Raphael never forgot a lesson. It is Perugino who has taught him
to compose so perfectly, that the space, small or large, of the picture
itself becomes a means of beauty. How perfectly he has placed Madonna
with her little Son, and St. John praying beside them, so that until you
begin to take thought you are not aware how difficult that composition
must have been, and indeed you never remember how small that _tondo_
really is. How eagerly these easel pictures of Madonna have been loved,
and yet to-day how little they mean to us; some virtue seems to have
gone out of them, so that they move us no longer, and we are indeed a
little impatient at their fame, and ready to accuse Raphael of I know
not what insincerity or dreadful facility. Yet we have only to look at
the portraits to know we are face to face with one of the greatest and
most universal of painters. Consider, then, La Donna Velata (245), or
the Pope Julius II (79), or the Leo X with the two Cardinals (40), how
splendid they are, how absolutely characterised and full of life, life
seen in the tranquillity of the artist, who has understood everything,
and with whom truth has become beauty. In the Leo X with the Cardinals,
Giulio de' Medici and Lorenzo dei Rossi, how tactfully Raphael has
contrived the light and shadow so that the fat heavy face of the Pope is
not over emphasised, and you discern perfectly the beauty of the head,
the delicacy of the nostrils, the clever, sensual, pathetic, witty
mouth. And the hands seem to be about to move, to be a little tremulous
with life, to be on the verge of a gesture, to have only just become
motionless on the edge of the book. It is in these portraits that the
art of Raphael is at its greatest, becomes universal, achieves

There remains to be considered the splendid ever-living work of Titian.
The early work of the greatest painter of Italy, of the world, greatest
in the variety, number, and splendour of his pictures, is represented in
the Pitti, happily enough by one of the most lovely of all Italian
paintings, the Concert (185), so long given to Giorgone. A monk in cowl
and tonsure touches the keys of a harpsichord, while beside him stands
an older man, a clerk and perhaps a monk too, who grasps the handle of a
viol; in the background, a youthful, ambiguous figure, with a cap and
plume, waits, perhaps on some interval, to begin a song. Yet, indeed,
that is not the picture, which, whatever its subject may be, would seem
to be more expressive than any other in the world. Some great joy, some
great sorrow, seems about to declare itself. What music does he hear,
that monk with the beautiful sensitive hands, who turns away towards his
companion? Something has awakened in his soul, and he is transfigured.
Perhaps for the first time, in some rhythm of the music, he has
understood everything, the beauty of life which passeth like a sunshine,
now that it is too late, that his youth is over and middle age is upon
him. His companion, on the threshold of old age, divines his trouble and
lays a hand on his shoulder quietly, as though to still the tumult of
his heart. Like a vision youth itself, ambiguous, about to possess
everything, waits, like a stranger, as though invoked by the music, on
an interval that will never come again, that is already passed.

If Titian is really the sole painter of this picture, how loyal he has
been to his friend, to that new spirit which lighted Venetian art as the
sun makes beautiful the world. But indeed one might think that, even
with Morelli, Crowe, and Cavalcaselle, and Berenson against us, not to
name others who have done much for the history of painting in Italy, we
might still believe, not altogether without reason, that Giorgone had
some part in the Concert, which, after all, passed as his altogether for
two hundred and fifty years; was bought, indeed, as his in 1654, only
seventy-eight years after Titian's death, by Cardinal Leopoldo de'
Medici from Paolo del Sera, the Florentine collector in Venice. That
figure of a youth, ambiguous in its beauty--could any other hand than
Giorgone's have painted it; does it ever appear in Titian's innumerable
masterpieces at all? Dying as he did at the age of thirty-three,
Giorgone must have left many pictures unfinished, which Titian, his
friend and disciple almost, may well have completed, and even signed, in
an age when works, almost wholly untouched by a master, were certainly
sold as his.

Titian's other pictures here, with the exception of the Head of Christ
(228) and the Magdalen (67), are portraits, all, save the so-called
Tommaso Mosti, painted certainly before 1526, of his great middle
period. The Magdalen comes from Urbino, where Vasari saw it in the
Guardaroba of the great palace. The quality of the picture is one of
sheer colour; there is here no other "subject" than a beautiful nude
woman,--it is called a Magdalen because it is not called a Venus.
Consider, then, the harmony of the gold hair and the fair flesh and the
blue of the sky: it is a harmony in gold and rose and blue.

The earliest of the great portraits is the Ippolito de' Medici (201); it
was painted in Venice in October 1532.[127] Vasari saw this picture in
the Guardaroba of Cosimo I. It is a half-length portrait of a
distinguished man, still very young, that we see. The Cardinal is not
dressed as a Churchman, but as a grandee of Hungary. In the sad and
cunning face we seem to foresee the fate that awaited him at Gaeta
scarcely three years later, where he was imprisoned and poisoned. The
beautiful dull red of the tunic reminds one of the unforgetable red of
the cloth on the table beside which Philip II stands in the picture in
the Prado. From this profound and almost touching portrait we come to
the joy of the Bella (18). It is a hymn to Physical Beauty. There is
nothing in the world more splendid or more glad than this portrait,
perhaps of Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino. How often Titian has
painted her!--once as it might seem as the Venus of the Tribune (1117),
and again in her own character in the portrait now in the Uffizi (599),
where certainly she is not so fair as she we see here as Bella and there
as Venus. If this, indeed, be the Duchess of Urbino, then the Venus is
also her portrait, for the Bella is described in the list of fine
pictures which were brought to Florence in 1631 as a portrait of the
same person we know as the Venus of the Tribune. But the first we hear
of the Bella is in a letter of the Duke of Urbino in 1536, while the
portrait in the Uffizi of Eleonora Gonzaga was painted in Venice in that
year; and since the Duchess is certainly an older woman than the Bella,
we must conclude either that the Bella was painted many years earlier,
which seems impossible, or that it is not a portrait of Eleonora
Gonzaga. And, indeed, the latter conclusion seems likely, for who can
believe that the Duke would have cared for a nude portrait of his wife
as Venus? It seems probable that the Bella is a portrait of his mistress
rather than his wife, a mistress whom, since she was so fair, he did not
scruple to ask Titian to paint as Venus herself. A harmony in blue and
gold, Dr. Gronau calls the picture; adding that, "in spite of its faults
or of the restorations which have made it a mere shadow of its former
splendour, it remains an immortal example of what the art of the
Renaissance at its zenith regarded as the ideal of feminine beauty."

If it is beauty and joy we find in the Bella, it is a profound force and
confidence that we come upon in the portrait of Aretino painted before
1545,--and life above all. Here is one of the greatest blackguards of
history, the "Scourge of Princes," the blackmailer of Popes, the
sensualist of the Sonnetti Lussuriosi, the witty author of the
_Ragionamenti_. We seem to see his vulgarity, his immense ability, his
splendour, and his baseness, and to understand why Titian was wise
enough to take him for his friend. What energy, almost bestial in its
brutality, you find in those coarse features and over-eloquent lips, and
yet the head is powerful, really intellectual too, though without any
delicacy or fineness. Aretino himself presented this portrait to Cosimo
I in October 1545, inexplicably explaining that the rendering of the
dress was not perfect.[128]

In another portrait of about the same time, the Young Englishman (92),
we have Titian at his best. The extraordinarily beautiful English face,
fulfilled with some incalculable romance, is to me at least by far the
most delightful portrait in Florence. One seems to understand England,
her charm, her fascination, her extraordinary pride and persistence, in
looking at this picture of one of her sons. All the tragedy of her
kings, the adventure to be met with on her seas, the beauty and culture
of Oxford, and the serenity of her country places, come back to one
fresh and unsullied by memories of the defiling and trumpery cities
that so lately have begun to destroy her. Who this beautiful figure may
be we know not, nor, indeed, where the picture may have come from; for
if it comes from Urbino it is not well described in the inventory of

After looking upon such a work as this, the Philip II (200), fine though
it is, and only less splendid than the Madrid picture, the Portrait of a
Man (215), both painted in Augsburg in 1548, and even the lovely
portrait of Giulia Varana, Duchess of Urbino, in the royal apartments,
seem to lose something of their splendour. Yet if we compare them with
the work of Raphael or Tintoretto, they assuredly possess an energy and
a vitality that even those masters were seldom able to express. For
Titian seems to have created life with something of the ease and
facility of a natural force; to have desired always Beauty as the only
perfect flower of life; and while he was not content with the mere
truth, and never with beauty divorced from life, he has created life in
such abundance that his work may well be larger than the achievement of
any two other men, even the greatest in painting; yet in his work, in
the work that is really his, you will find nothing that is not living,
nothing that is not an impassioned gesture reaching above and beyond our
vision into the realm of that force which seems to be eternal.


[127] Gronau, _Titian_ (London, 1904), p. 291, where Dr. Gronau suggests
it may belong to the following year; see also p. 104.

[128] Cf. _Lettere di Pietro Aretino_ (1609), vol. iii. p. 238.


How weary one grows of the ways of a city,--yes, even in Florence, where
every street runs into the country and one may always see the hills and
the sky! But even in Athens, when they built the Parthenon, often, I
think, I should have found my way into the olive gardens and vineyards
about Kephisos: so to-day, leaving the dead beauty littered in the
churches, the palaces, the museums, the streets of Florence, very often
I seek the living beauty of the country, the whisper of the poplars
beside Arno, the little lovely songs of streams. And then Florence is a
city almost without suburbs;[129] at the gate you find the hills, the
olive gardens bordered with iris, the vineyards hedged with the rose.

Many and fair are the ways to Fiesole: you may go like a burgess in the
tram, or like a lord in a coach, but for me I will go like a young man
by the bye ways, like a poor man on my feet, and the dew will be yet on
the roses when I set out, and in the vineyards they will be singing
among the corn--

    "Fiorin fiorello,
    La mi' Rosina ha il labbro di corallo
    E l'occhiettino suo sembra un gioiello."

And then, who knows what awaits one on the way?

    "E quando ti riscontro per la via
    Abbassi gli occhi e rassembri una dea,
    E la fai consumar la vita mia."

Of the ways to Fiesole, one goes by Mugnone and one by S. Gervasio, but
it will not be by them that I shall go, but out of Barriera delle Cure;
and I shall pass behind the gardens of Villa Palmieri, whither after the
second day of the _Decamerone_ Boccaccio's fair ladies and gay lords
passed from Poggio Gherardo by a little path "but little used, which was
covered with herbs and flowers, that opened under the rising sun, while
they listened to the song of the nightingales and other birds." Thus
between the garden walls I shall come to S. Domenico.

S. Domenico di Fiesole is a tiny village half way up the hill of
Fiesole, and on one side of the way is the Dominican convent, and on the
other the Villa Medici, while in the valley of Mugnone is an abbey of
Benedictines, the Badia di Fiesole, founded in 1028. The convent of
Dominican friars, where Fra Angelico and S. Antonino, who was the first
novice here, lived, and Cosimo de' Medici walked so often, looking down
on Florence and Arno there in the evening, was founded in 1405.
Suppressed in the early part of the nineteenth century, the convent was
despoiled of its frescoes, but in 1880 it was bought back by the
Dominicans, so that to-day it is fulfilling its original purpose as a
religious house. The church too has suffered many violations, and to-day
there are but two frescoes left of all the work Angelico did here,--a
triptych in a chapel, a Madonna and Saints restored by Lorenzo di Credi,
and a Crucifixion in the sacristy. Of old, Perugino's Baptism now in the
Uffizi hung here, but that was taken by Grand Duke Leopold, who gave in
exchange Lorenzo di Credi's picture; but the French stole Angelico's
Coronation of the Virgin, now in the Louvre, and gave nothing in return,
so that of all the riches of this little place almost nothing remains,
only (and this is rare about Florence at any rate) the original owners
are in possession, and you may hear Mass here very sweetly.

It is down a lane, again between garden walls, that you must go to the
Badia, once the great shrine of the Fiesolans, but since the eleventh
century an abbey of Benedictines, where S. Romolo once upon a time lay
in peace, till, indeed, the oratory not far from the church was
stupidly destroyed. The Badia itself was rebuilt in the fifteenth
century for Cosimo de' Medici, by the hand, as it is said, of
Brunellesco. Here in the loggia that looks over the city the Platonic
Academy often met, so that these very pillars must have heard the gentle
voice of Marsilio Ficino, the witty speech of the young Lorenzo, the
beautiful words of Pico della Mirandola, the laughter of Simonetta, the
footsteps of Vanna Tornabuoni. It was, however, not for the Benedictines
but for the Augustinians that Cosimo rebuilt the place, giving them,
indeed, one of the most beautiful convents in Italy, and one of the
loveliest churches too, a great nave with a transept under a circular
vaulting, while the façade is part really of the earlier building, older
it may be than S. Miniato or the Baptistery itself, as we now see it;
and there the pupils of Desiderio da Settignano have worked and Giovanni
di S. Giovanni has painted, while Brunellesco is said to have designed
the lectern in the sacristy. Later, Inghirami set up his printing press
here, while in the church Giovanni de' Medici in 1452 was made Cardinal,
and in the convent Giuliano, the Due de Nemours, died in 1516. Returning
from this quiet and beautiful retreat to S. Domenico, one may go very
well on foot, though not otherwise, by the old road to Fiesole, still
between the garden walls; but then, who would go by the new way, noisy
with the shrieking of the trams, while by the old way you may tread in
the footsteps of the Bishops of Fiesole? They would rest on the way from
Florence at Riposo de' Vescovi, and leave their coach at S. Domenico. By
the old way, too, you pass Le Tre Pulzelle, the hostel of the Three
Maidens, or at least the place where it stood, and where Leo X stayed in
1516. Farther, too, is the little church of S. Ansano, where there is a
host of fair pictures, and then suddenly you are in the great Piazza,
littered with the booths of the straw-plaiters, in the keen air of
Fiesole, among a ruder and more virile people, who look down on Florence
all day long.

[Illustration: COSTA S. GEORGIO]

And indeed, whatever the historians may say, scorning wise tales of
old Villani, the Fiesolani are a very different people from the
Florentines; and whether Atlas, with Electra his wife, born in the fifth
degree from Japhet son of Noah, built this city upon this rock by the
counsel of Apollinus, midway between the sea of Pisa and Rome and the
Gulf of Venice, matters little. The Fiesolani are not Florentines,
people of the valley, but Etruscans, people of the hills, and that you
may see in half an hour any day in their windy piazzas and narrow
climbing ways. Rough, outspoken, stark men little women keen and full of
salt, they have not the assured urbanity of the Florentine, who, while
he scorns you in his soul as a barbarian, will trade with you, eat with
you, and humour you, certainly without betraying his contempt. But the
Fiesolano is otherwise; quarrelsome he is, and a little aloof, he will
not concern himself overmuch about you, and will do his business whether
you come or go. And I think, indeed, he still hates the Fiorentino, as
the Pisan does, as the Sienese does, with an immortal, cold, everlasting
hatred, that maybe nothing will altogether wipe out or cause him to
forget. All these people have suffered too much from Florence, who
understood the art of victory as little as she understood the art of
empire. From the earliest times, as it might seem, Florence, a Roman
foundation after all, hated Fiesole, which once certainly was an
Etruscan city. Time after time she destroyed it, generally in
self-defence. In 1010, for instance, Villani tells us that "the
Florentines, perceiving that their city of Florence had no power to rise
much while they had overhead so strong a fortress as the city of
Fiesole, one night secretly and subtly set an ambush of armed men in
divers parts of Fiesole. The Fiesolani, feeling secure as to the
Florentines, and not being on their guard against them, on the morning
of their chief festival of S. Romolo, when the gates were open and the
Fiesolani unarmed, the Florentines entered into the city under cover of
coming to the festa; and when a good number were within, the other armed
Florentines which were in ambush secured the gates; and on a signal made
to Florence, as had been arranged, all the host and power of the
Florentines came on horse and on foot to the hill, and entered into the
city of Fiesole, and traversed it, slaying scarce any man nor doing any
harm, save to those who opposed them. And when the Fiesolani saw
themselves to be suddenly and unexpectedly surprised by the Florentines,
part of them which were able fled to the fortress, which was very
strong, and long time maintained themselves there. The city at the foot
of the fortress having been taken and over run by the Florentines, and
the strongholds and they which opposed themselves being likewise taken,
the common people surrendered themselves on condition that they should
not be slain nor robbed of their goods; the Florentines working their
will to destroy the city, and keeping possession of the bishop's palace.
Then the Florentines made a covenant, that whosoever desired to leave
the city of Fiesole and come and dwell in Florence might come safe and
sound with all his goods and possessions, or might go to any place which
pleased him, for the which thing they came down in great numbers to
dwell in Florence, whereof there were and are great families in
Florence. And when this was done, and the city was without inhabitants
and goods, the Florentines caused it to be pulled down and destroyed,
all save the bishop's palace and certain other churches and the
fortress, which still held out, and did not surrender under the said
conditions." Fifteen years later we read again: "In the year of Christ
1125 the Florentines came with an army to the fortress of Fiesole, which
was still standing and very strong, and it was held by certain gentlemen
_cattani_ which had been of the city of Fiesole, and thither resorted
highwaymen and refugees and evil men, which sometimes infested the roads
and country of Florence; and the Florentines carried on the siege so
long that for lack of victuals the fortress surrendered, albeit they
would never have taken it by storm, and they caused it to be all cast
down and destroyed to the foundations, and they made a decree that none
should ever dare to build a fortress again at Fiesole."[130]

Now whether Villani is strictly right in his chronicle matters little
or nothing. We know that Fiesole was an Etruscan city, that with the
rise of Rome, like the rest, she became a Roman colony; all this too her
ruins confirm. With the fall of Rome, and the barbarian invasions, she
was perfectly suited to the needs of the Teutonic invader. What hatred
Florence had for her was probably due to the fact that she was a
stronghold of the barbarian nobles, and the fact that in 1010, as
Villani says, the Fiesolani were content to leave the city and descend
to Florence, while the citadel held out and had to be dealt with later,
goes to prove that the fight was rather between the Latin commune of
Florence and the pirate nobles of Fiesole than between Florence and
Fiesole itself. Certainly with the destruction of the alien power at
Fiesole the city of Florence gained every immediate security; the last
great fortress in her neighbourhood was destroyed.

To-day Fiesole consists of a windy Piazza, in which a campanile towers
between two hills covered with houses and churches and a host of narrow
lanes. In the Piazza stands the Duomo, founded in 1028 by Bishop Jacopo
Bavaro, who no doubt wished to bring his throne up the hill from the
Badia, where of old it was established. Restored though it is, the
church keeps something of its old severity and beauty, standing there
like a fortress between the hills and between the valleys. It is of
basilica form, with a nave and aisles flanked by sixteen columns of
sandstone. As at S. Miniato, the choir is raised over a lofty crypt.
There is not perhaps much of interest in the church, but over the west
door you may see a statue of S. Romolo, while in the choir in the
Salutati Chapel there is the masterpiece of Mino da Fiesole, the tomb of
Bishop Salutati, who died in 1465, and opposite a marble reredos of
Madonna between S. Antonio and S. Leonardo, by the same master. The
beautiful bust of Bishop Leonardo over his tomb is an early work, and
the tomb itself is certainly among the most original and charming works
of the master. If the reredos is not so fine, it is perhaps only that
with so splendid a work before us we are content only with the best of

But it is not to see a church that we have wandered up to Fiesole, for
in the country certainly the churches are less than an olive garden, and
the pictures are shamed by the flowers that run over the hills. Lounging
about this old fortress of a city, one is caught rather by the aspect of
natural things--Val d'Arno, far and far away, and at last a glimpse of
the Apennines; Val di Mugnone towards Monte Senario, the night of
cypresses about Vincigliata, the olives of Maiano--than by the churches
scattered among the trees or hidden in the narrow ways that everywhere
climb the hills to lose themselves at last in the woodland or in the
cornlands among the vines. You wander behind the Duomo into the Scavi,
and it is not the Roman Baths you go to see or the Etruscan walls and
the well-preserved Roman theatre: you watch the clouds on the mountains,
the sun in the valley, the shadows on the hills, listen to a boy singing
to his goats, play with a little girl who has slipped her hand in yours
looking for soldi, or wonder at the host of flowers that has run even
among these ruins. Even from the windows of the Palazzo Pretorio, which
for some foolish reason you have entered on your way to the hills, you
do not really see the statues and weapons of these forgotten Etruscan
people, but you watch the sun that has perhaps suddenly lighted up the
Duomo, or the wind that, like a beautiful thought, for a moment has
turned the hills to silver. Or if it be up to S. Francesco you climb,
the old acropolis of Fiesole, above the palace of the bishop and the
Seminary, it will surely be rather to look over the valley to the
farthest hills, where Val di Greve winds towards Siena, than to enter a
place which, Franciscan though it be, has nothing to show half so fair
as this laughing country, or that Tuscan cypress on the edge of that
grove of olives.

That love of country life, no longer characteristic of the Florentines,
which we are too apt to consider almost wholly English, was long ago
certainly one of the most delightful traits of the Tuscan character; for
Siena was not behind Florence in her delight in the life of the
villa.[131] It is perhaps in the Commentaries of Pius II that a love of
country byways, the lanes and valleys about his home, through which,
gouty and old, he would have himself carried in a litter, is expressed
for the first time with a true understanding and appreciation of things
which for us have come to mean a good half of life. No such lovely
descriptions of scenery may be found perhaps in any Florentine writer
before Lorenzo Magnifico, unless indeed it be in the verse of Sacchetti.
Yet the Florentine burgess of the fifteenth century, the very man whose
simple and hard common-sense got him wealth, or at least a fine
competence, and, as he has told us, a good housewife, and made him one
of the toughest traders in Europe, would become almost a poet in his
country house. Old Agnolo Pandolfini, talking to his sons, and teaching
them his somewhat narrow yet wholesome and delightful wisdom,
continually reminds himself of those villas near Florence, some like
palaces,--Poggio Gherardo for instance,--some like castles,--Vincigliata
perhaps,--"in the purest air, in a laughing country of lovely views,
where there are no fogs nor bitter winds, but always fresh water and
everything pure and healthy." Certainly Cosimo de' Medici was not the
first Florentine to retire from the city perhaps to Careggi, perhaps to
S. Domenico, perhaps farther still; for already in Boccaccio's day we
hear the praise of country life,--his description of Villa Palmieri, for
instance, when at the end of the second day of the _Decamerone_ those
seven ladies and their three comrades leave Poggio Gherardo for that
palace "about two miles westward," whither they came at six o'clock of a
Sunday morning in the year 1348. "When they had entered and inspected
everything, and seen that the halls and rooms had been cleaned and
decorated, and plentifully supplied with all that was needed for sweet
living, they praised its beauty and good order, and admired the owner's
magnificence. And on descending, even more delighted were they with the
pleasant and spacious courts, the cellars filled with choice wines, and
the beautifully fresh water which was everywhere round about.... Then
they went into the garden, which was on one side of the palace and was
surrounded by a wall, and the beauty and magnificence of it at first
sight made them eager to examine it more closely. It was crossed in all
directions by long, broad, and straight walks, over which the vines,
which that year made a great show of giving many grapes, hung gracefully
in arched festoons, and being then in full blossom, filled the whole
garden with their sweet smell, and this, mingled with the odours of the
other flowers, made so sweet a perfume that they seemed to be in the
spicy gardens of the East. The sides of the walks were almost closed
with red and white roses and with jessamine so that they gave sweet
odours and shade not only in the morning but when the sun was high, so
that one might walk there all day without fear. What flowers there were
there how various and how ordered, it would take too long to tell, but
there was not one which in our climate is to be praised, which was not
to be found there abundantly. Perhaps the most delightful thing therein
was a meadow in the midst, of the finest grass and all so green that it
seemed almost black, all sprinkled with a thousand various flowers, shut
in by oranges and cedars, the which bore the ripe fruit and the young
fruit too and the blossom, offering a shade most grateful to the eyes
and also a delicious perfume. In the midst of this meadow there was a
fountain of the whitest marble marvellously carved, and within--I do not
know whether artificially or from a natural spring--it threw so much
water and so high towards the sky through a statue which stood there on
a pedestal, that it would not have needed more to turn a mill. The water
fell back again with a delicious sound into the clear waters of the
basin, and the surplus was carried away through a subterranean way into
little waterways most beautifully and artfully made about the meadow,
and afterwards ran into others round about, and so watered every part of
the garden; it collected at length in one place, whence it had entered
the beautiful garden, turning two mills, much to the profit, as you may
suppose, of the signore, and pouring down at last in a stream clear and
sweet into the valley."

If this should seem a mere pleasaunce of delight, the vision of a poet,
the garden of a dream, we have only to remember how realistically and
simply Boccaccio has described for us that plague-stricken city,
scarcely more than a mile away, to be assured of its truthfulness: and
then listen to Alberti--or old Agnolo Pandolfini, is it?--in his
_Trattato del Governo della Famiglia_, one of the most delightful books
of the fifteenth century. He certainly was no poet, yet with what
enthusiasm and happiness he speaks of his villa, how comely and useful
it is, so that while everything else brings labour, danger, suspicion,
harm, fear, and repentance, the villa will bring none of these, but a
pure happiness, a real consolation. Yes, it is really as an escape from
all the care and anxiety of business, of the wool or silk trade, which
he praised so much, that he loves the country. "_La Villa_, the country,
one soon finds, is always gracious, faithful, and true; if you govern it
with diligence and love, it will never be satisfied with what it does
for you, always it will add [**Transcriber's Note: undecipherable] to
recompense. In the spring the villa gives you continual delight; green
leaves, flowers, odours, songs and in every way makes you happy and
jocund: all smiles on you and promises a fine harvest, filling you with
good hope, delight, and pleasure. Yes indeed, how courteous is the
villa! She gives you now one fruit, now another, never leaving you
without some of her own joy. For in autumn she pays you for all your
trouble, fruit out of all proportion to your merit, recompense, and
thanks; and how willingly and with what abundance--twelve for one: for a
little sweat, many barrels of wine, and for what is old in the house,
the villa will give you new, seasoned, clear, and good. She fills the
house the winter long with grapes, both fresh and dry, with plums,
walnuts, pears, apples, almonds, filberts, giuggiole, pomegranates, and
other wholesome fruits, and apples fragrant and beautiful. Nor in winter
will she forget to be liberal; she sends you wood, oil, vine branches,
laurels, junipers to keep out snow and wind, and then she comforts you
with the sun, offering you the hare and the roe, and the field to follow
them...." Nor are the joys of summer less, for you may read Greek and
Latin in the shadow of the courtyard where the fountains splash, while
your girls are learning songs and your boys are busy with the contadini,
in the vineyards or beside the stream. It is a spirit of pure delight,
we find there in that old townsman, in country life, simple and quiet,
after the noise and sharpness of the market-place. And certainly, as we
pass from Fiesole down the new road where the tram runs, turning into
the lanes again just by Villa Galetta, on our way to Maiano, we may
fancy we see many places where such a life as that has always been
lived, and, as I know, in some is lived to-day. Everywhere on these
hills you find villas, and every villa has a garden, and every garden
has a fountain, where all day long the sun plays with the slim dancing
water and the contadine sing of love in the vineyards.

Maiano itself is but a group of such places, among them a great villa
painted in the manner of the seventeenth century, spoiled a little by
modernity. You can leave it behind, passing into a lane behind Poggio
Gherardo, where it is roses, roses all the way, for the podere is hedged
with a hedge of roses pink and white, where the iris towers too,
streaming its violet banners. Presently, as you pass slowly on your
way--for in a garden who would go quickly?--you come upon the little
church of S. Martino a Mensola, built, as I think indeed, so lovely it
is, by Brunellesco, on a little rising ground above a shrunken stream,
and that is Mensola on her way to Arno. She lags for sure, because, lost
in Arno, she will see nothing again so fair as her own hills.

[Illustration: OUTSIDE THE GATE]

S. Martino a Mensola is very old, for it is said that in the year 800 an
oratory stood here, dedicated to S. Martino, and that il Beato Andrea di
Scozia, Blessed Andrew of Scotland, then archdeacon to the bishopric of
Fiesole, rebuilt it and endowed a little monastery, where he went to
live with a few companions, taking the rule of St. Benedict. Carocci
tells us that about 1550 it passed from the Benedictines to certain
monks who already had a house at S. Andrea in Mercato Vecchio of
Florence. In 1450 the monastery returned to Benedictines, coming into
the possession of the monks of the Badia. Restored many times, the
church was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, it may well be by
Brunellesco; the portico, restored in 1857, was added in the sixteenth
century. Within, the church is charming, having a nave and two aisles,
with four small chapels and a great one, which belonged to the Zati
family. And then, not without a certain surprise, you come here upon
many pictures still in their own place, over the altars of what is now a
village church. Over the high altar is a great ancona divided into many
compartments: the Virgin with our Lord, S. Maria Maddalena, S. Niccolò,
St. Catharine of Alexandria, S. Giuliano, S. Amerigo of Hungary, S.
Martino, S. Gregorio, S. Antonio, and the donor, Amerigo Zati. Carocci
suggests Bernardo Orcagna as the painter; whoever he may have been, this
altarpiece is beautiful, and the more beautiful too since it is in its
own place. In the Gherardi Chapel there is an Annunciation given to
Giusto d'Andrea, while in another is a Madonna and Saints by Neri di
Bicci. In the chapel of the Cecchini there is a fine fifteenth-century
work attributed to Cosimo Rosselli. The old monastery is to-day partly
the canonica and partly a villa. Following the stream upwards, we pass
under and then round the beautiful Villa I Tatti that of old belonged to
the Zati family whose altarpiece is in S. Martino, and winding up the
road to Vincigliata, you soon enter the cypress woods. All the way to
your left Poggio Gherardo has towered over you, Poggio Gherardo where
the two first days of the _Decamerone_ were passed. How well Boccaccio
describes the place: "On the top of a hill there stood a palace which
was surrounded by beautiful gardens, delightful meadows, and cool
springs, and in the midst was a great and beautiful court with
galleries, halls, and rooms which were adorned with paintings...." Not
far away, Boccaccio himself lived on the podere of his father. You come
to it if you pass out of the Vincigliata road by a pathway down to
Frassignaja, a little stream which, in its hurry to reach Mensola, its
sister here, leaps sheer down the rocks in a tiny waterfall. This is the
"shady valley" perhaps where in the evening the ladies of the
_Decamerone_ walked "between steep rocks to a crystal brook which poured
down from a little hill, and there they splashed about with bare hands
and feet, and talked merrily with one another." Crossing this brook and
following the path round the hillside, where so often the nightingale
sings, you pass under a little villa by a stony way to Corbignano, and
there, in what may well be the oldest house in the place, at the end of
the street, past the miraculous orange tree, just where the hill turns
out of sight, you see Boccaccio's house, Casa di Boccaccio, as it is
written; and though the old tower has become a loggia, and much has been
rebuilt, you may still see the very ancient stones of the place jutting
into the lane, where the water sings so after the rain, and the olives
whisper softly all night long, and God walks always among the vines.

Turning then uphill, you come at last to a group of houses, and where
the way turns suddenly there is the Oratorio del Vannella, in the parish
of Settignano: it is truly just an old wayside tabernacle, but within is
one of the earliest works, a Madonna and Child, of Botticelli, whose
father had a podere hereabout. If you follow where the road leads, and
turn at last where you may, past the cemetery, you come to Settignano,
founded by Septimus Severus or by the Settimia family, it matters little
which, for its glory now lies with Desiderio the sculptor, who was born,
it seems, at Corbignano, and Antonio and Bernardo Rossellino, who were
born here. There is no other village near Florence that has so smiling a
face as Settignano among the gardens. There is little or nothing to see,
though the church of S. Maria has a lovely terra-cotta of Madonna with
Our Lord between two angels in the manner of the della Robbia; but the
little town is delightful, full of stonecutters and sculptors, still at
work in their shops as they were in the great days of Michelangelo. Far
away behind the hill of cypresses Vincigliata still stands on guard, on
the hilltop Castel di Poggio looks into the valley of Ontignano and
guards the road to Arezzo and Rome. Here there is peace; not too far
from the city nor too near the gate, as I said: and so to Firenze in the

NOTE.--_I have said little of the country places about Florence,
Settimo, the Certosa in Val d'Ema, the Incontro and such, because there
seemed to be too much to say, and I wanted to treat of them in a book
that should be theirs only. See my_ Country Walks Round Florence
(_Methuen_, 1908).


[129] This perhaps is open to criticism: there is a huge suburb of
course towards Prato, the other barriere are still fairly in the

[130] Villani, _Cronica_, translated by R.E. Selfe (London, 1906), pp.
71-3, 97.

[131] Cf. Fortini and Sermini for instance. See Symonds' _New Italian
Sketches_ (Tauchnitz Ed.), p. 37.



There are many ways that lead from Florence to Vallombrosa--by the
hills, by the valley, and by rail--and the best of these is by the
valley, but the shortest is by rail, for by that way you may leave
Florence at noon and be in your inn by three; but if you go by road you
must set out at dawn, so that when evening falls you may hear the
whispering woods of the rainy valley Vallis Imbrosa at your journey's
end. That is a pleasant way that takes you first to Settignano out of
the dust of Via Aretina by the river. Thence you may go by the byways to
Compiobbi, past Villa Gamberaja and Terenzano, among the terraced vines
and the old olives, coming to the river at last at Compiobbi, as I said,
just under Montacuto with its old castle, now a tiny village, on the
road to the Incontro, that convent on the hilltop where, as it is said,
St. Francis met St. Dominic on the way to Rome. The Via Aretina, deep in
dust that has already whitened the cypresses, passes through Compiobbi
on its way southward and west; but for me I will cross the river, and go
once more by the byways through the valley now, where the wind whispers
in the poplars beside Arno, and the river passes singing gently on its
way. It is a long road full of the quiet life of the country--here a
little farm, there a village full of children; a vineyard heavy with
grapes, where a man walks leisurely, talking to his dog, the hose on his
shoulders; a little copse that runs down to the stones of Arno, where a
little girl sits spinning with her few goats, singing softly some
endless chant; a golden olive garden among the corn, where there is no
sound but the song of the cicale that sing all day long. And there are
so many windings, and though the road leaves the river, it seems always
to be returning, always to be bidding good-bye: sometimes it climbs high
up above the stream, which just there is very still, sleeping in the
shadow under the trees; sometimes it dips quite down to the river bank,
a great stretch of dusty shingle across which the stream passes like a
road of silver. Slowly in front of me a great flat-bottomed boat crossed
the river with two great white oxen. And then at a turning of the way a
flock of sheep were coming on in a cloud of dust, when suddenly, at a
word from the shepherd who led them, they crossed the wide beach to
drink at the river, while he waited under the trees by the roadside.
There were trees full of cherries too, so full that in the sunshine they
seemed to dance for joy, clothed all in scarlet, so red, so ripe was the
fruit. Presently I came upon an old man high up in a tree gathering them
in a great basket, and since I was thirsty I asked him for drink, and
since I was hungry I asked him for food. He climbed down the great
ladder, coming towards me kindly enough, and drew me into the shadow.
"Eat as you will, signore, and quench your thirst," said he, as he
lifted a handful of the shining fruit, a handful running over, and
offered it to me. And he stayed with me and gave me his conversation. So
I dined, and when I had finished, "Open that great sack of yours," said
he, "and I will send you on your way," but I would not. Just then four
others came along in the sun, and on their heads were great bags of
leaves, and he bade them come and eat in the shade. Then said I, "What
are those leaves that you have there, and what are you going to do with
them?" And they laughed, making answer that they were silk. "Silk?" said
I. "Silk truly," said they, "since they are the leaves of the mulberry
on which the little worm lives that presently will make it." So I went
on my way with thanks, thinking in my heart: Are we too then but leaves
for worms, out of which, as by a miracle will pass the endless thread of
an immortal life?

So I came to Pontassieve, crossing the river again where the road begins
to leave it. There is nothing good to say of Pontassieve, which has no
beauty in itself, and where folk are rough and given to robbery. A
glance at the inn--for so they call it--and I passed on, glad in my
heart that I had dined in the fields. A mile beyond the town, on the Via
Aretina, the road of the Consuma Pass leaves the highway on the left,
and by this way it is good to go into Casentino; for any of the inns in
the towns of the valley will send to Pontassieve to meet you, and it is
better to enter thus than by railway from Arezzo. However, I was for
Vallombrosa; so I kept to the Aretine way. I left it at last at S.
Ellero, whence the little railway climbs up to Saltino, passing first
through the olives and vines, then through the chestnuts, the oaks, and
the beeches, till at last the high lawns appeared, and evening fell at
the last turn of the mule path over the hill as I came out of the forest
before the monastery itself, almost like a village or a stronghold, with
square towers and vast buildings too, fallen, alas! from their high
office, to serve as a school of forestry, an inn for the summer visitor
who has fled from the heat of the valleys. And there I slept.

It is best always to come to any place for the first time at evening or
even at night, and then in the morning to return a little on your way
and come to it again. Wandering there, out of the sunshine, in the
stillness of the forest itself, with the ruin of a thousand winters
under my feet, how could I be but angry that modern Italy--ah, so small
a thing!--has chased out the great and ancient order that had dwelt here
so long in quietness, and has established after our pattern a
utilitarian school, and thus what was once a guest-house is now a
pension of tourists. But in the abbey itself I forgot my anger, I was
ashamed of my contempt of those who could do so small a thing. This
place was founded because a young man refused to hate his enemy; every
stone here is a part of the mountain, every beam a tree of the forest,
the forest that has been renewed and destroyed a thousand times, that
has never known resentment, because it thinks only of life. Yes, this is
no place for hatred; since he who founded it loved his enemies, I also
will let them pass by, and since I too am of that company which thinks
only of life, what is the modern world to me with its denial, its doubt,
its contemptible materialism, its destruction, its misery? Like winter,
it will flee away before the first footsteps of our spring.

It was S. Giovanni Gualberto who founded the Vallombrosan Order and
established here an abbey, whose daughter we now see. Born about the
year 1000, he was the son of Gualberto dei Visdomini, Signore of Petroio
in Val di Pesa, of the great family who lived in St. Peter's Gate in
Florence, and were, according to Villani, the patrons of the bishopric.
In those days murder daily walked the streets of every Tuscan city, and
so it came to pass that before Giovanni was eighteen years old his
brother Ugo had been murdered by one of that branch of his own house
which was at feud with Gualberto. Urged on by his father, who, we may be
sure, did not spare himself or his friends in seeking revenge, Giovanni
was ever on the watch for his enemy, his brother's murderer; and it
chanced that as he came into Florence on Good Friday morning in 1018,
just before he got to S. Miniato al Monte, at a turning of that steep
way he came upon him face to face suddenly in the sunlight. Surely God
had delivered him into his hands! Giovanni was on horseback with his
servant, and then the hill was in his favour; the other was alone.
Seeing he had no chance, for the steel was already cold on his jumping
throat, he sank on his knees, and, crossing his arms in the form of Holy
Cross, he prayed hard to the Lord Jesus to save his soul alive. Hearing
that blessed, beautiful name in the stillness of that morning, when all
the bells are silent and the very earth hushed for Christ's death,
Giovanni could not strike, but instead lifted up his enemy and embraced
him, saying, "I give you not your life only, but my love too for ever.
Pray for me that God may pardon my sin." So they went on their way; but
Giovanni, when he came to the monastery of S. Miniato of the
Benedictines, stole into the church and prayed before the great
Crucifix,[132] begging God to pardon him; and while he prayed thus, the
Christ miraculously bowed his head, "as it were to give him a token how
acceptable was this sacrifice of his resentment."

How little that sacrifice seems to us! But it was a great, an unheard-of
thing in those days. And for this cause, maybe, Giovanni proposed to
remain with the monks, to be received as a novice among them, and to
forsake the world for ever. And they received him. Now when Gualberto
heard it, he was first very much astonished and then more angry, so that
he went presently to take Giovanni out of that place; but he would not,
for before his father he cut off his hair and clothed himself in a habit
which he borrowed. Then, seeing his purpose, his father let him alone.
So for some four years Giovanni lived a monk at S. Miniato; when, the
old Abbot dying, his companions wished to make him their Abbot, but he
would not, setting out immediately with one companion to search for a
closer solitude. And to this end he went to Camaldoli to consult with S.
Romualdo; but even there, in that quiet and ordered place, he did not
seem to have found what he sought. So he set out again, not without
tears, coming at last, on this side of Casentino, upon this high valley,
Acqua Bella, as it was then called, because of its brooks. It belonged,
with all the forest, to the Contessa Itta dei Guidi, the Abbess of S.
Ellero, who gladly presented Giovanni with land for his monastery, and
that he built of timber. Nor was he alone, for he had found there
already two hermits, who agreed to join him; so under the rule of St.
Benedict the Vallombrosan Order was founded.[133] Of S. Giovanni's work
in Florence, of his fight with Simony and Nicolaitanism, this is no
place to speak. He became the hero of that country; yet such was his
humility that he never proceeded further than minor orders, and, though
Abbot of Vallombrosa, was never a priest. He founded many houses, S.
Salvi among them, while his monks were to be found at Moscetta,
Passignano, and elsewhere in Tuscany and Umbria; while his Order was the
first to receive lay brothers who, while exempt from choir and silence,
were employed in "external offices." It was in July 1073 that he fell
sick at Passignano, and on the 12th of that month he died there. Pope
Celestine III enrolled him among the saints in 1193. After S. Giovanni's
death the Order seems to have flourished by reason of the bequests of
the Countess Matilda.

There is but little of interest in the present buildings at Vallombrosa,
which date from the seventeenth century; nor does the church itself
possess anything of importance, unless it be the relic of S. Giovanni
enshrined in a casquet of the sixteenth century, a work of Paolo

About three hundred feet above the monastery is the old Hermitage--the
_Celle_--now an hotel. Here those who sought solitude and silence found
their way, and indeed it seems to have been a spot greatly beloved, for
a certain Pietro Migliorotti of Poppi passed many years there, and
refused to think of it as anything but a little paradise; thus it was
called Paradisino, the name which it bears to-day. Far and far away lies
Florence, with her beautiful domes and towers, and around you are the
valleys, Val d'Arno, Val di Sieve, while behind you lies the strangest
and loveliest of all, Val di Casentino, hidden in the hills at the foot
of the great mountain, scattered with castles, holy with convents; and
there Dante has passed by and St. Francis, and Arno is continually born
in the hills. And indeed, delightful as the woods of Vallombrosa are,
with their ruined shrines and chapels, their great delicious solitude,
their unchangeable silence under everything but the wind, that
valley-enclosed Clusendinum calls you every day; perhaps in some strange
smile you catch for a moment in the sunshine on the woods, or in the
aspect of the clouds; it will not be long before you are compelled to
set out on your way to seek

    "Li ruscelletti, che dei verdi colli
    Del Casentin discendon giuso in Arno."


And the path lies through the woods. You make your way under the
mountain towards S. Miniato in Alpe, leaving it at Villa del Lago for a
mule-track, which leads you at last to Consuma and the road from
Pontassieve. The way is beautiful, and not too hard to find, the world
about you a continual joy. If you start early, you may breakfast at
Consuma (though it were better, perhaps, to carry provisions), for it is
but two and a half hours from Vallombrosa. Once at Consuma, the way is
easy and good. You climb into the pass, and in another three hours you
may be in Romena, Pratovecchio, or Stia. But there are other ways, too,
of which the shortest is that by the mountains from Vallombrosa to
Montemignajo--that lofty, ruined place; and the loveliest, that from
Vallombrosa to Raggiola of the forests; but there be rambles,
pilgrimages, paths of delight unknown to any but those who hide for long
in the forests of Vallombrosa. Your tourist knows them not; he will go
by rail from S. Ellero to Arezzo, and make his way by train up the
valley to Stia; your traveller will walk from Vallombrosa to Consuma,
where Giuseppe Marari of Stia will send a _vettura_ to meet him. For
myself I go afoot, and take a lift when I can, and a talk with it, and
this is the happiest way of all to travel. Thus those who are young and
wise will set out, putting Dante in their knapsack and Signor Beni's
little book[134] in their pocket, and with these two, a good stick, a
light heart, and a companion to your liking, the Casentino is yours. And
truly there is no more delightful place in which to spend a Tuscan
summer. The Pistojese mountains are fine; the air is pure there, the
woods lovely with flowers; but they lack the sentimental charm of
Casentino. The Garfagnana, again, cannot be bettered if you avoid such
touristry as Bagni di Lucca; but then Castelnuovo is bare, and though
Barga is fine enough, Piazza al Serchio is a mere huddle of houses,
and it is not till you reach Fivizzano on the other side of the
pass that you find what you want. In Casentino alone there is
everything--mountains, rivers, woods, and footways, convents and
castles. And then where is there a better inn than Albergo Amorosi of
Bibbiena, unless, indeed, it be the unmatched hostelry at Fivizzano?

As for inns, in general they are fair enough; though none, I think, so
good as the Amorosi. You may sleep and eat comfortably at Stia, either
at Albergo Falterona or Albergo della Stazione Alpina. At Pratovecchio
there is Albergo Bastieri; at Poppi the Gelati pension; at Bibbiena the
Amorosi, as I say. These will be your centres, as it were. At La Verna
you may sleep for one night--not well, but bearably; at Camaldoli, very
well indeed in summer; and then, wherever you may be, you will find a
fine courtesy, for rough though they seem, these peasants and such, are
of the Latin race, they understand the amenities. Saints have been here,
and poets: these be no Teutons, but the good Latin people of the Faith;
they will give you greeting and welcome.


Stia is a picturesque little city with a curious arcaded Piazza, a
church that within is almost beautiful; yet it is certainly not for
anything to be found there that one comes to so ancient and yet so
disappointing a place, but because from thence one may go most easily to
Falterona to see the sun rise or to find out the springs of Arno, or to
visit Porciano, S. Maria delle Grazie, Papiano, and the rest in the
hills that shut in this little town at the head of the long valley.

Through the great endless sheepfolds you go to Falterona where the girls
are singing their endless chants all day long guarded by great
sheep-dogs, not the most peacable of companions. All the summer long
these pastures nourish the sheep, poor enough beasts at the best. One
recalls that in the great days the Guild of Wool got its material from
Flanders and from England, because the Tuscan fleece was too hard and
poor. Through these lonely pastures you climb with your guide, through
forests of oak and chestnut, by many a winding path, not without
difficulty, to the steeper sides of the mountain covered with brushwood,
into the silence where there is no voice but the voice of the streams.
Here in a cleft, under the very summit of Falterona, Arno rises, gushing
endlessly from the rock in seven springs of water, that will presently
gather to themselves a thousand other streams and spread through

    "Botoli trova poi, venendo giuso
    Ringhiosi più che non chiede lor possa
    Ed, a lor, disdegnosa, torce il muso"

at the end of the valley.

Climbing above that sacred source to the summit of Falterona itself, you
may see, if the dawn be clear, the Tyrrhene sea and the Adriatic, the
one but a tremor of light far and far away, the other a sheet of silver
beyond the famous cities of Romagna. It is from this summit that your
way through Casentino should begin.

It was there I waited the dawn. For long in the soft darkness and
silence I had watched the mountains sleeping under the few summer stars.
Suddenly the earth seemed to stir in her sleep, in every valley the dew
was falling, in all forests there was a rumour, and among the rocks
where I lay I caught a flutter of wings. The east grew rosy; out of the
mysterious sea rose a golden ghost hidden in glory, till suddenly across
the world a sunbeam fell. It touched the mountains one by one; higher
and higher crept the tremulous joy of light, confident and ever more
confident, opening like a flower, filling the world with gladness and
light. It was the dawn: out of the east once more had crept the beauty
of the world.

Then in that clear and joyful hour God spread out all the breadth of
Italy before me: the plains, the valleys, and the mountains. Far and far
away, shining in the sun, Ravenna lay, and lean Rimini and bartered
Pesaro. There, the mountains rose over Siena, in that valley Gubbio
slept, on that hill stood S. Marino, and there, like a golden angel
bearing the Annunciation of Day, S. Leo folded her wings on her
mountain. Southward, Arezzo smiled like a flower, Monte Amiata was
already glorious; northward lay a sea of mountains, named and nameless,
restless with light, about to break in the sun. While to the west
Florence lay sleeping yet in the cusp of her hills, her towers, her
domes, perfect and fresh in the purity of dawn that had renewed her

It was an altogether different impression, an impression of sadness, of
some tragic thing, that I received when at evening I stood above the
Castle of Porciano on a hill a little way off, and looked down the
valley. It was not any joyful thing that I saw, splendid though it was,
but the ruined castles, blind and broken, of the Counts Guidi: Porciano
itself, line a jagged menace, rises across Arno, which is heard but not
seen; farther, on the crest of a blue hill, round which evening gathers
out of the woods, rises the great ruin of Romena like a broken oath;
while farther still, far away on its hill in a fold of the valley, Poppi
thrusts its fierce tower into the sky, a cruel boast that came to
nothing. They are but the ghosts of a forgotten barbarism these gaunt
towers of war; they are nothing now, less than nothing, unreconciled
though they be with the hills; they have been crumbling for hundreds of
years: one day the last stone will fall. For around them is life; the
children of Stia, laughing about the fountain, will never know that
their ancestors went in fear of some barbarian who held Porciano by
murder and took toll of the weak. These shepherd girls, these
_contadini_ and their wives and children, they have outlived the Conti
Guidi, they have outlasted the greatest of the lords; like the flowers,
they run among the stones without a thought of that brutal greatness
that would have enslaved them if it could. Not by violence have they
conquered, but by love; not by death, but by life. It is just this which
I see round every ruin in the Casentino. Force, brute force, is the only
futile thing in the world. Why has La Verna remained when Romena is
swept away, that strong place, when Porciano is a ruin, when the castle
of Poppi is brought low, but that life which is love has beaten hate,
and that a kiss is more terrible than a thousand blows.

Yes, as one wanders about these hills where life itself is so hard a
master, it is just that which one understands in almost every village.
You go to S. Maria delle Grazie--Vallombrosella, they call it, since it
was a daughter of the monastery of Vallombrosa--and there in that
beautiful fifteenth-century church you still find the simple things of
life, of love; work of the della Robbia; pictures, too, cheerful
flowerlike things, with Madonna like a rose in the midst. Well, not far
away across Arno, where it is little, the ruins of Castel Castagnajo and
of Campo Lombardo are huddled, though Vallucciole, that tiny village, is
laughing with children. It is the same at Romena, where the church still
lives, though the castle is ruined. You pass to Pratovecchio; it is the
same story, ruins of the Guidi towers, walls, fortifications; but in the
convent church of the Dominican sisters they still sing Magnificat:

    Deposuit potentes de sede: et exaltavit humiles.

So on the road to Poppi you come to Campaldino, where Dante fought,
where Corso Donati saved the day, where Buonconte fell, and died with
the fog in his throat in the still morning air after the battle. Well,
that famous field is now a vineyard; you may see the girls gathering the
grapes there any morning in early October. Where the horses of the
Aretines thundered away, the great patient oxen draw the plough; or a
man walks, singing beside his wife, her first-born in her arms. It is
the victory of the meek; here, at least, they have inherited the earth.
And Certomondo, as of old, sings of our sister the earth. Poppi
again--ah, but that fierce old place, how splendid it is, it and its
daughter! Like all the rest of these Guidi strongholds, the Rocca of
Poppi stands on a hill; it can be seen for miles up and down the valley:
and indeed the whole town is like a fortress on a hill, subject only to
the ever-changing sky, the great tide of light ebbing and flowing in the
valley between the mountains. Poppi is the greatest of the Guidi
fortresses; built by Arnolfo, it has much of the nobility of its
daughter the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence. Of all these castles it is the
only one that is not a ruin. It is true it has been restored, But you
may still find frescoes on its walls in the chapel and in the great
hall, work, it is said, of Jacopo da Casentino: and then it has one of
the loveliest courtyards in Italy.

It is from Poppi one may go very easily in a summer day to Camaldoli,
some eight miles or so to the north-west, where the valley comes up in a
long arm into the mountains. On that lovely road you pass many an old
ruin of the Guidi before you come at last to that monastery of the
Camaldolese Order "so beloved of Dante," which was confiscated with the
rest in 1866. The monks now hire their own house from the Government,
which has let out their hospice for an hotel. About an hour above the
monastery, among the pine trees, is the Sacro Eremo, the Holy Hermitage,
where in some twenty separate cells the Hermits of Camaldoli live; for,
as their arms go to show, the Order is divided into two parts,
consisting of monks who live in community, and hermits who live alone.

S. Romuald, the founder of the Order, of the family of the Dukes of
Ravenna called Honesti, was born in that city in 956. He seems to have
grown up amid a certain splendour, and to have been caught by it, but by
a love of nature no less; so that often when he was hunting, and found a
beautiful or lonely place in the woods away from his companions, he
would almost cry out, "How happy were the old hermits, who lived always
in such places!" The romance of just that: it seems to have struck him
from the first. Not long after, when he was but twenty years old, his
father, deciding a dispute with a relation by fighting, fell, and
Romuald, who had been compelled to witness this dreadful scene, was so
overwhelmed by the result that he retired for a time to the Benedictine
Monastery at Classis, not far from Ravenna. After some difficulties had
been disposed of, for he was his father's heir, he spent seven years in
that monastery; but his sincerity does not appear to have pleased
certain of the fathers, so that we find him at last obliged to retire to
Venice, where, in fulfilment of his earliest wishes, he placed himself
under the guidance of Marinus, a hermit. After many years, in which he
seems to have gone to Spain, he returned at last, and took up his hermit
life in a marsh near Classis, where the monks of his old monastery
sought him, and with the help of Otho III made him their Abbot. This
office, however, he did not long retain, for he found it useless to try
to reform them. He seems to have wandered about, famous all over Italy,
founding many houses, but the most famous of all is this house of
Camaldoli, which he founded in 1009. The land was given him by a certain
Conte Maldolo, it is said, an Aretine, by whose name the place was ever
after known, Campus Maldoli; while another gift, Campus Arrabile, the
gift of the same man, is that place where the Hermitage stands. There,
in Camaldoli, Romuald built a monastery, "and by several observances he
added to St. Benedict's rule, gave birth to a new Order, in which he
united the cenobite and eremetical life." It is said that it was after a
vision, in which he saw his monks mounting up into heaven dressed in
white, that he changed their habit from black to white--the habit they
still wear.

Whether it be that the hills and valley are indeed more lovely here
than anywhere else in Casentino, and that the monks and the hermits lure
some indefinable sweet charm to the place, I know not; yet I know that
I, who came for a day, stayed a month, returning here again and again
from less lovely, less quiet places. Camaldoli is one of the loveliest
places in Tuscany in which to spend a summer. Here are mountains, woods,
streams, valleys, a monastery, and a hermitage; to desire more might
seem churlish, to be content with less when these may be had in quiet,


Some eight miles away down the valley, enclosed above a coil of Arno,
stands Bibbiena, just a little Tuscan hill city with a windy towered
Piazza in which a great fountain plays, and all about the tall cypresses
tower in the sun among the vineyards and the corn. Here Cardinal
Bibbiena, the greatest ornament of the court of Urbino, was born, of no
famous family, but of the Divizi. It is not, however, any memory of so
famous and splendid a person that haunts you in these stony streets, but
the remembrance rather of a greater if humbler humanist, St. Francis of
Assisi. You may see work of the della Robbia in the Franciscan church of
S. Lorenzo in the little city, but it is La Verna which to-day
overshadows Bibbiena, La Verna where St. Francis nearly seven hundred
years ago received the Stigmata from Our Lord, and whence he was carried
down to Assisi to die. The way thither is difficult but beautiful: you
climb quite into the mountains, and there in a lonely and stony place
rises the strange rock, set with cypress and with fir, backed by
marvellous great hills.

    "Mons in quo beneplacitum est Deo habitare in eo."

It was on the morning of the 14th September 1224, in the Feast of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross, that Francesco Bernadone received the
Stigmata of Christ's passion while keeping the Lent of St. Michael
Archangel on this strange and beautiful mountain. "Ye must needs know,"
says the author of the _Fioretti_, "that St. Francis, being forty and
three years of age in the year 1224, being inspired of God, set out from
the valley of Spoleto for to go into Romagna with brother Leo his
companion: and as they went they passed by the foot of the castle of
Montefeltro; in the which castle there was at that time a great company
of gentlefolk.... Among them a wealthy gentleman of Tuscany, by name
Orlando da Chiusi of Casentino, who by reason of the marvellous things
which he had heard of St. Francis, bore him great devotion and felt an
exceeding strong desire to see him and to hear him preach. Coming to the
castle St. Francis entered in and came to the courtyard, where all that
great company of gentlefolk was gathered together, and in fervour of
spirit stood up upon a parapet and began to preach.... And Orlando,
touched in the heart by God through the marvellous preaching of St.
Francis ... drew him aside and said, 'O Father, I would converse with
thee touching the salvation of my soul.' Replied St. Francis: 'It
pleaseth me right well; but go this morning and do honour to thy friends
who have called thee to the feast, and dine with them, and after we will
speak together as much as thou wilt.' So Orlando got him to the dinner;
and after he returned to St. Francis and ... set him forth fully the
state of his soul. And at the end this Orlando said to St. Francis, 'I
have in Tuscany a mountain most proper for devotion, the which is called
the Mount La Verna, and is very lonely and right well fitted for whoso
may wish to do penance in a place remote from man, or whoso may desire
to live a solitary life; if it should please thee, right willingly would
I give it to thee and thy companions for the salvation of my soul.' St.
Francis hearing this liberal offer of the thing that he so much desired,
rejoiced with exceeding great joy; and praising and giving thanks first
to God and then to Orlando, he spake thus: 'Orlando, when you have
returned to your house, I will send you certain of my companions, and
you shall show them that mountain; and if it shall seem to them well
fitted for prayer and penitence, I accept your loving offer even now.'
So Orlando returned to Chiusi, the which was but a mile distant from La

"Whenas St. Francis had returned to St. Mary of the Angels, he sent one
of his companions to the said Orlando ... who, desiring to show them the
Mount of La Verna, sent with them full fifty men-at-arms to defend them
from the wild beasts of the forest; and thus accompanied, these brothers
climbed up the mountain and searched diligently, and at last they came
to a part of the mountain that was well fitted for devotion and
contemplation, for in that part there was some level ground, and this
place they chose out for them and for St. Francis to dwell therein; and
with the help of the men-at-arms that bore them company, they made a
little cell of branches of trees; and so they accepted, in the name of
God, and took possession of, the Mount of La Verna, and of the
dwelling-place of the brothers on the mountain, and departed and
returned to St. Francis. And when they were come unto him, they told him
how, and in what manner, they had taken a place on the mountain ... and,
hearing these tidings, St. Francis was right glad, and praising and
giving thanks to God, he spake to these brothers with joyful
countenance, and said, 'My sons, our forty days' fast of St. Michael the
Archangel draweth near: I firmly believe that it is the will of God that
we keep this fast on the Mount of Alvernia, which, by divine decree,
hath been made ready for us to the end, that to the honour and glory of
God, and of His mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, and of the holy
Angels, we may, through penance, merit at the hands of Christ the
consolation of consecrating this blessed mountain.' Thus saying, St.
Francis took with him Brother Masseo da Marignano of Assisi ... and
Brother Angelo Tancredi da Rieti, the which was a man of very gentle
birth, and in the world had been a knight; and Brother Leo, a man of
exceeding great simplicity and purity, for the which cause St. Francis
loved him much. So they set out. 'And on the first night they came to a
house of the brothers, and lodged there. On the second night, by reason
of the bad weather, and because they were tired, not being able to reach
any house of the brothers, or any walled town or village, when the night
overtook them and bad weather, they took refuge in a deserted and
dismantled church, and there laid them down to rest.' But St. Francis
spent the night in prayer. 'And in the morning his companions, being
aware that, through the fatigues of the night which he had passed
without sleep, St. Francis was much weakened in body and could but ill
go on his way afoot, went to a poor peasant of these parts, and begged
him, for the love of God, to lend his ass for Brother Francis, their
Father, that could not go afoot. Hearing them make mention of Brother
Francis, he asked them: 'Are ye of the brethren of the brother of
Assisi, of whom so much good is spoken?' The brothers answered 'Yes,'
and that in very truth it was for him that they asked for the sumpter
beast. Then the good man, with great diligence and devotion, made ready
the ass and brought it to St. Francis, and with great reverence let him
mount thereon, and they went on their way, and he with them behind his
ass. And when they had gone on a little way, the peasant said to St.
Francis, 'Tell me, art thou Brother Francis of Assisi?' Replied St.
Francis, 'Yes.' 'Try, then,' said the peasant, 'to be as good as thou
art by all folk held to be, seeing that many have great faith in thee;
and therefore I admonish thee, that in thee there be naught save what
men hope to find therein.' Hearing these words, St. Francis thought no
scorn to be admonished by a peasant, and said not within himself, 'What
beast is this doth admonish me?' as many would say nowadays that wear
the habit, but straightway threw himself from off the ass upon the
ground, and kneeled down before him and kissed his feet, and then humbly
thanked him for that he had deigned thus lovingly to admonish him. Then
the peasant, together with the companions of St. Francis, with great
devotion lifted him from the ground and set him on the ass again, and
they went on their way.... As they drew near to the foot of the rock of
Alvernia itself, it pleased St. Francis to rest a little under the oak
that was by the way, and is there to this day; and as he stood under it,
St. Francis began to take note of the situation of the place and the
country around. And as he was thus gazing, lo! there came a great
multitude of birds from divers parts, the which, with singing and
flapping of their wings, all showed joy and gladness exceeding great,
and came about St. Francis in such fashion, some settled on his head,
some on his shoulders, and some on his arms, some in his lap and some
round his feet. When his companions and the peasant marvelled, beholding
this, St. Francis, all joyful in spirit, spake thus unto them: 'I
believe, brethren most dear, that it is pleasing unto Our Lord Jesus
Christ that we should dwell in this lonely mountain, seeing that our
little sisters and brothers, the birds, show such joy at our coming.' So
they went on their way and came to the place the companions had first

It is not in any other words than those of the writer of the _Fioretti_
that we should care to read of that journey.

"Arrived there not long after, Orlando and his company came to visit
Francis, bringing with them bread and wine and other victuals; and St.
Francis met him gladly and gave him thanks for the holy mountain. Then
Orlando built a little cell there, and that done, 'as it was drawing
near to evening and it was time for them to depart, St. Francis preached
unto them a little before they took leave of him.' Ah, what would we not
give just for a moment to hear his voice in that place to-day? There, in
this very spot, angels visited him, which said, when he, thinking upon
his death, wondered what would become of 'Thy poor little family' after
his death, 'I tell thee, in the name of God, that the profession of the
Order will never fail until the Day of Judgment, and there will be no
sinner so great as not to find mercy with God if, with his whole heart,
he love thine Order.'

"Thereafter, as the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady drew near, St.
Francis sought how he might find a place more solitary and secret,
wherein he might the more solitary keep the forty days' fast of St.
Michael the Archangel, which beginneth with the said Feast of the
Assumption.... And as they searched, they found, on the side of the
mountain that looks towards the south, a lonely place, and very proper
for his purpose; but they could not win there because in front there was
a horrid and fearful cleft in a huge rock; wherefore with great pains
they laid a piece of wood over it as a bridge, and got across to the
other side. Then St. Francis sent for the other brothers and told them
how he was minded to keep the forty days' fast of St. Michael in that
lonely place; and therefore he besought them to make him a little cell
there, so that no cry of his could be heard of them. And when the cell
was made, St. Francis said to them: 'Go ye to your own place and leave
me here alone, for, with the help of God, I am minded to keep the fast
here without disturbance or distraction, and therefore let none of you
come unto me, nor suffer any lay folk to come to me. But Brother Leo,
thou alone shalt come to me once a day with a little bread and water,
and at night once again at the hour of Matins; and then shalt thou come
to me in silence, and when thou art at the bridgehead thou shalt say:
"Domine, labia mea operies," and if I answer thee, cross over and come
to the cell, and we will say Matins together; and if I answer thee not,
then depart straightway.' And so it was. But there came a morning when
St. Francis made him no answer, and, contrary to St. Francis's desire,
but with the very best of intentions, dear little brother Leo crossed
the bridge over the chasm, which you may see to this day, and entered
into St. Francis's cell. There he found him in ecstasy, saying, 'Who art
Thou, O most sweet, my God? What am I, most vile worm, and Thine
unprofitable servant?' Again and again brother Leo heard him repeat
these words, and wondering thereat, he lifted his eyes to the sky, and
saw there among the stars, for it was dark, a torch of flame very
beautiful and bright, which, coming down from the sky, rested on St.
Francis's head. So, thinking himself unworthy to behold so sweet a
vision, he softly turned away for to go to his cell again. And as he
was going softly, deeming himself unseen, St. Francis was aware of him
by the rustling of the leaves under his feet. Surely, even to the most
doubtful, that sound of the rustling leaves must bring conviction. Then
St. Francis explains to brother Leo all that this might mean.

"And as he thus continued a long time in prayer, he came to know that
God would hear him, and that so far as was possible for the mere
creature, so far would it be granted him to feel the things
aforesaid.... And as he was thus set on fire in his contemplation on
that same morn, he saw descend from heaven a Seraph with six wings
resplendent and aflame, and as with swift flight the Seraph drew nigh
unto St. Francis so that he could discern him, he clearly saw that he
bore in him the image of a man crucified; and his wings were in such
guise displayed that two wings were spread above his head, and two were
spread out to fly, and other two covered all his body. Seeing this, St.
Francis was sore adread, and was filled at once with joy and grief and
marvel. He felt glad at the gracious look of Christ, who appeared to him
so lovingly, and gazed on him so graciously; but, on the other hand,
seeing Him crucified upon the cross, he felt immeasurable grief for
pity's sake.... Then the whole mount of Alvernia appeared as though it
burned with bright shining flames that lit up all the mountains and
valleys round as though it had been the sun upon the earth; whereby the
shepherds that were keeping watch in these parts, seeing the mountains
aflame, and so great a light around, had exceeding great fear, according
as they afterwards told unto the brothers, declaring that this flame
rested upon the mount of Alvernia for the space of an hour and more. In
like manner at the bright shining of this light, which through the
windows lit up the hostels of the country round, certain muleteers that
were going into Romagna arose, believing that the day had dawned, and
saddled and laded their beasts; and going on their way, they saw the
said light die out and the material sun arise. In the seraphic vision,
Christ, the which appeared to him, spake to St. Francis certain high
and secret things, the which St. Francis in his lifetime desired not to
reveal to any man; but after his life was done he did reveal them, as it
set forth below; and the words were these: 'Knowest thou,' said Christ,
'what it is that I have done unto thee? I have given thee the Stigmata
that are the signs of My Passion, to the end that thou mayest be My
standard-bearer. And even as in the day of My death I descended into
hell and brought out thence all souls that I found there by reason of
these My Stigmata: even so do I grant to thee that every year on the day
of thy death thou shalt go to Purgatory, and in virtue of thy Stigmata
shalt bring out thence all the souls of thy three Orders,--to wit,
Minors, Sisters, Continents,--and likewise others that shall have had a
great devotion for thee, and shalt lead them unto the glory of Paradise,
to the end that thou mayest be confirmed to Me in death as thou art in
life.' Then this marvellous image vanished away, and left in the heart
of St. Francis a burning ardour and flame of love divine, and in his
flesh a marvellous image and copy of the Passion of Christ. For
straightway in the hands and feet of St. Francis began to appear the
marks of the nails in such wise as he had seen them in the body of Jesus
Christ the crucified, the which had shown Himself to him in the likeness
of a Seraph; and thus his hands and feet appeared to be pierced through
the middle with nails, and the heads of them were in the palms of his
hands and the soles of his feet outside the flesh, and their points came
out in the back of his hands and of his feet, so that they seemed bent
back and rivetted in such a fashion that under the bend and rivetting
which all stood out above the flesh might easily be put a finger of the
hand as a ring; and the heads of the nails were round and black.
Likewise in the right side appeared the image of a wound made by a
lance, unhealed, and red and bleeding, the which afterwards oftentimes
dropped blood from the sacred breast of St. Francis, and stained with
blood his tunic and his hose. Wherefore his companions, before they knew
it of his own lips, perceiving nevertheless that he uncovered not his
hands and feet, and that he could not put the soles of his feet to the
ground ... knew of a surety that in his hands and feet, and likewise in
his side, he bore the express image and similitude of Our Lord Jesus
Christ crucified." On the day after the feast of St. Michael, St.
Francis left La Verna never to return.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was with a certain hesitation that I first came to La Verna, as
though something divine that was hidden in the life of the Apostle of
Humanity might be lost for me in the mere realism of his sacred places.
But it was not so. In Italy, it might seem even to-day, St. Francis is
not a stranger, and, in fact, I had got no farther than the Cappella
degli Uccelli before I seemed to understand everything, and in a place
so lonely as this to have found again, yes, that Jesus whom I had lost
in the city.

On a high precipitous rock on the top of the mountain you come to the
convent itself, through a great court, il Quadrante, under a low
gateway. The buildings are of the end of the fifteenth century, simple,
and with a certain country beauty about them, strong and engaging. In
the dim corridors the friars pass you on their way to church at all
hours of the day, smiling faintly at you, whom they, in their simple
way, receive without question as a friend. It is for St. Francis you
have come: it is enough. You pass into the Cappella della Maddalena,
where the angel appeared to S. Francesco promising such great things,
and it is with a certain confidence you remind yourself, yes, it is
true, the Order still lives, here men still speak S. Francesco's name
and pray to God. And there, as it is said, Jesus Himself spoke with him,
and he wrote the blessing for Frate Leone. Then you enter the Chiesina,
the first little church of the Mountain that St. Francis may have built
with his own hands, and that S. Bonaventura certainly enlarged; and thus
into the great Church of S. Maria Assunta, built in 1348 by the Conte di
Pietramala, with its beautiful della Robbias. Coming out again, you
pass along the covered way into the Cappella della Stigmata, built in
1263 by the Conte Simone da Battifolle, where behind the high altar is
the great Crucifixion by one of the della Robbia. Next to this chapel is
the Cappella della Croce, where of old the cell stood in which St.
Francis kept the Lent of St. Michael. Close by are the Oratories of S.
Antonio di Padua and S. Bonaventura, where they prayed and worked. Below
the Chapel of the Stigmata is the Sasso Spicco, whence the devil hurled
one of the brethren. For during that Lent, "Francis leaving his cell one
day in fervour of spirit, and going aside a little to pray in a hollow
of the rock, from which down to the ground is an exceeding deep descent
and a horrible and fearful precipice, suddenly the devil came in
terrible shape, with a tempest and exceeding loud roar, and struck at
him for to push him down thence. St. Francis, not having where to flee,
and not being able to endure the grim aspect of the demon, he turned him
quickly with hands and face and all his body pressed to the rock,
commending himself to God and groping with his hands, if perchance he
might find aught to cling to. But as it pleased God, who suffereth not
His servants to be tempted above that they are able to bear, suddenly by
a miracle the rock to which he clung hollowed itself out in fashion as
the shape of his body.... But that which the demon could not do then
unto St. Francis ... he did a good while after the death of St. Francis
unto one of his dear and pious brothers, who was setting in order some
pieces of wood in the self-same place, to the end that it might be
possible to cross there without peril, out of devotion to St. Francis
and the miracle that was wrought there. On a day the demon pushed him,
while he had on his head a great log that he wished to set there, and
made him fall down thence with the log upon his head. But God, that had
preserved and delivered St. Francis from falling, through his merits
delivered and preserved his pious brother from the peril of his fall;
for the brother, as he fell, with exceeding great devotion commanded
himself in a loud voice to St. Francis, and straightway he appeared
unto him, and, catching him, set him down upon the rocks without
suffering him to feel a shock or any hurt." Can it have been this "pious
brother" who wrote the _Fioretti_? Everywhere you go in La Verna you
feel that S. Francesco has been before you; and where there is no
tradition to help you, surely you will make one for yourself. Can he who
loved everything that had life have failed to love, too, that world he
saw from La Penna--

    "Nel crudo sasso, intra Tevere ed Amo"

--Casentino and its woods and streams, Val d'Arno, Val di Tevere, the
hills of Perugia, the valleys of Umbria, the lean, wolfish country of
the Marche, the rugged mountains of Romagna. There, on the summit of La
Verna, you look down on the broken fortresses of countless wars, the
passes through which army after army, company upon company, has marched
to victory or fled in defeat; every hill-top seems to bear some ruined
Rocca, every valley to be a forgotten battlefield, every stream has run
red with blood. All is forgotten, all is over, all is done with. The
victories led to nothing; the defeats are out of mind. In the midst of
the battle the peasant went on ploughing his field; somewhere not far
away the girls gathered the grapes. All this violence was of no account;
it achieved nothing, and every victory was but the tombstone of an idea.
Here, on La Verna, is the only fortress that is yet living in all
Tuscany of that time so long ago. It is a fortress of love. The man who
built it had flung away his dagger, and already his sword rusted in its
scabbard in that little house in Assisi; he conquered the world by love.
His was the irresistible and lovely force, the immortal, indestructible
confidence of the Idea, the Idea which cannot die. If he prayed in
Latin, he wrote the first verses of Italian poetry. Out of his tomb grew
the rose of the Renaissance, and filled the world with its sweetness. He
was the son of a burgess in Assisi, and is now the greatest saint in our
heaven. With the sun he loved his name has shone round the world, and
there is no land so far off that it has not heard it. And we, who loot
upon the ruined castles of the Conti Guidi, are here because of him, and
speak with his brothers as we gaze.


Slowly, as the summer waned, I made my way up through the Casentino,
once more past the strongholds and the little towns. Now and then on my
way I met the herds, already setting out for the winter pastures of
Maremma. The grapes were plucking or gathered in, and everywhere there
were songs.

    "Come volete faccia che non pianga,
      Sapendo che da voi devo partire?
    E tu, bello, in Maremma, ed io 'n montagna!
      Chesta partenza mi farà morire."

So I came once more over Falterona, down to Castagno, that mountain
village where Andrea del Castagno, the follower of Masaccio, was born,
to S. Godenzo, between two streams, where Dante knew the castle of the
Guidi, and where Conte Tegrimo of Porciano received Henry VII. Here, at
last, I was in the very footsteps of Dante; for in the church there, in
the choir set high above the old crypt, he signed the deed of alliance
between the Guidi and the Ubaldini on 8th June 1302, "Actum in choro
Sancti Gaudentii de pede Alpium."

Nothing remains of the place as it was in those days, I suppose, save
the church, and that has been for the most part rebuilt; but the choir
stands, so that we may say here, on 8th June 1302, Dante took quill and
signed and spoke with his fellow-exiles.

Thence I followed the way to Dicomano by Sieve, at the foot of the
Consuma, and then up stream to Borgo S. Lorenzo, the capital of the
Mugello, and so by the winding road above the valley under the hills to
Fiesole, to Florence, wrapped in rain, through which an evening sun was


[132] Now in S. Trinità in Firenze.

[133] Mr. Montgomery Carmichael (_On the Old Road_, etc., p. 293),
quoting from Don Diego de' Franchi (_Historia del Patriarcha S.
Giovangualberto_, p. 77: Firenze, 1640), says that S. Romuald and S.
Giovanni Gualberto vowed eternal friendship between their Orders, "and
for a long time, if a Camaldolese was visiting Vallombrosa, he would
take off his own and put on a Vallombrosan habit as a symbol that the
monks of the two Orders were brothers."

[134] _Guida Illustrata del Casentino da C. Beni_: Firenze, 1889. This
perhaps the best guide-book in the Tuscan language, is certainly the
best for the Casentino. Those who cannot read it must fall back on the
charming and delightful book by Miss Noyes, _The Casentino and its
Story_: Dent, 1905. It is too good a book to be left useless in its
heavy bulky form. Perhaps Miss Noyes will give us a pocket edition.


Prato is like a flower that has fallen by the wayside that has faded in
the dust of the way. She is a little rosy city, scarcely more than a
castello, full of ruined churches; and in the churches are ruined
frescoes, ruined statues, broken pillars, spoiled altars. You pass from
one church to another--from S. Francesco, with its façade of green and
white, its pleasant cloister and old frescoes, to La Madonna delle
Carceri, to S. Niccolò da Tolentino, to S. Domenico--and you ask
yourself, as you pass from one to another, what you have come to see:
only this flower fallen by the wayside.

But in truth Prato is the child of Florence, a rosy child among the
flowers--in the country, too, as children should be. Her churches are
small. What could be more like a child's dream of a church than La
Madonna delle Carceri? And the Palazzo Pretorio--it is a toy palace
wonderfully carved and contrived, a toy that has been thrown aside. In
the Palazzo Comunale the little daughter of Florence has gathered all
her broken treasures: here a discarded Madonna, there a Bambino long
since forgotten; flowers, too, flowers of the wayside, faded now, such
as a little country girl will gather and toss into your vettura at any
village corner in Tuscany; a terra-cotta of Luca della Robbia, and that
would be a lily; a Madonna by Nero di Bicci, and that might have been a
rose; a few panels by Lippo Lippi, and they were from the convent
garden. In Via S. Margherita you come still upon a nosegay of such
country blossoms, growing still by the wayside--Madonna with St.
Anthony, S. Margherita, S. Costanza, and S. Stefano about her, painted
by Filippino Lippo, a very lovely shrine, such as you cannot find in
Florence, but which Prato seems glad to possess, on the way to the
country itself.

And since Prato is a child, there are about her many children;
mischievous, shy, joyful little people, who lurk round the coppersmiths,
or play in the old churches, or hide about the corridors of Palazzo
Comunale. And so it is not surprising that the greatest treasures of
Prato are either the work of children--the frescoes, for instance, of
Lippo Lippi and Lucrezia Buti in the Duomo--or the presentment of them,
yes, in their happiest moments; some dancing, while others play on
pipes, or with cymbals full of surprising sweetness, in the open-air
pulpit of Donatello; a pulpit from which five times every year a
delightful and wonderful thing is shown, not without its significance,
too, in this child-city of children--Madonna's Girdle, the Girdle of the
Mother of them all, shown in the open air, so that even the tiniest may

The Duomo itself, simple and small, so that you may not lose your way
there, however little you may be, was built in 1317, though a church has
stood there apparently since about 750, while the façade, all in ivory
and green, is a work of the fifteenth century. Donatello's pulpit, for
which a contract was made in 1425 which named Michelozzo with him as one
of those _industriosi maestri_ intent on the work, is built into the
south-west corner of the church overlooking the Piazza. Almost a
complete circle in form, it is separated, unfortunately we may think,
into seven panels divided by twin pilasters, where on a mosaic ground
groups, crowds almost, of children dance and play and sing. It is the
very spirit of childhood you see there, a naïve impetuosity that
occasionally almost stumbles or forgets which way to turn; and if these
panels have not the subtler rhythm of the Cantoria at Florence, they are
more frankly just children's work, so that any day you may see some
little maid of Prato gazing at those laughing babies, babies who dance
really not without a certain awkwardness and simplicity, as though they
were her own brothers, as indeed they are. Under the pulpit, Michelozzo
has forged in bronze a relief of one face of a capital, where other
children gaze with all the serious innocence of childhood at the
pleasant world of the Piazza.

Passing under the terra-cotta of Madonna with St. Stephen and St.
Laurence, made by Andrea della Robbia in 1489, you enter the church
itself, a little dim and mysterious, and full of wonderful or precious
things, those pillars, for instance, of green serpentine or the Sacra
Cintola, the very Girdle of Madonna herself, in its own chapel there on
the left behind the beautiful bronze screen of Bruno di Ser Lapo. There,
too, you will always find a group of children, and surely it was for
them that Agnolo Gaddi painted those frescoes of the life of Madonna and
the gift of her Girdle to St. Thomas. For it seems that doubting Thomas
was doubting to the last; he alone of all the saints was the least a
child. How they wonder at him now, for first he could not believe that
Jesus was risen from the dead, when the flowers rise, when the spring
like Mary wanders to-day in tears in the garden. Was she not, indeed,
the spring, who at break of day stood trembling on the verge of the
garden, looking for the sun, the sun that had been dead all winter long?
"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him."
After all, is it not the cry of our very hearts often enough at Easter,
when the summer for which we have waited too long seems never to be
coming at all? It came at last, and St. Thomas, like to us maybe, but
unlike the children, would not believe it till he had touched the very
dayspring with his hands, and felt the old sweetness of the sunshine.
And so, when the sun was set and the world desolate, Madonna too came to
die, and was received into heaven amid a great company of angels, and
they were the flowers, and there she is eternally. Now, when all this
came to pass, St. Thomas was not by, and when he came and saw Winter in
the world he would not believe that Madonna was dead, nor would he be
persuaded that she was crowned Queen of Angels in heaven. And Mary, in
pity of his sorrow, sent him by the hands of children "the girdle with
which her body was girt,"--just a strip of the blue sky sprinkled with
stars,--"and therefore he understood that she was assumpt into heaven."
And if you ask how comes this precious thing in Prato, I ask where else,
then, could it be but in this little city among the children, where the
promise of Spring abides continually, and the Sun is ever in their
hearts. Ah, Rose of the world, dear Lily of the fields, you will return;
like Spring you will come from that heaven where you are, and in every
valley the flowers will run before you and the poppies will stray among
the corn, and the proud gladiolus will bow its violet head; then on the
hillside I shall hear again the silver laughter of the olives, and in
the wide valleys I shall hear all the rivers running to the sea, and the
sweet wind will wander in the villages, and in the walled cities I shall
find the flowers, and I too, with the children, shall wait on the hills
at dawn to see you pass by with the Sun in your arms because it is
spring--Stella Matutina, Causa nostrae laetitiae.

It was a certain lad of Prato, Michele by name, who, wandering in the
wake of the great army in Palestine in 1096 at evening, by one of the
wells of the desert, kissed the little daughter of a great priest, who
gave him the Girdle of Madonna for love. Returning to Prato with this
precious thing, and having nowhere to hide it, he put it, as a child
might do, under his bed, and every night the angels for fear mounted
guard about it. He died, and it came into the hands of a certain Uberto,
a priest of the city; then, one tried to steal it, but he was put to
death, and after, the Girdle was placed in the Duomo in a casket of
ivory in a chapel of marble between the pillars of serpentine and lamps
of gold. And Andrea Pisano carved a statue of Madonna, and they dressed
her in silk and placed her on an altar, in which lay hidden the promise
of spring. Then Ridolfo Ghirlandajo painted a fresco over the west door,
of Madonna with her Girdle, and indeed they did all they knew in honour
of their treasure: so that Mino da Fiesole and Rossellino made a pulpit
and set it there in the nave, and there, too, you may see Madonna
giving her Girdle to St. Thomas, and St. Stephen, the boy martyr, stoned
to death, and other remembrances. In the south transept Benedetto da
Maiano carved a Madonna and Child, while his brothers carved a Pietà;
but it is not such work as this which calls you to the Duomo to-day, but
certainly the Girdle itself, which, however, you can only see on certain
occasions.[135] And then there is the work of those two children, Fra
Lippo Lippi and the little girl who ran away from her convent for love
of him, Lucrezia Buti; for though it was Lippo Lippi who painted, it was
Lucrezia who served him for model, and since with him painting, for the
first time perhaps, came to need life to inspire it, Lucrezia has her
part in his work which it would be ungenerous to ignore.

Filippo Lippi was born in 1406 in a by-street of Florence called
Ardiglione, behind the convent of the Carmelites, where he painted his
first frescoes. His mother, poor soul, died in giving him life, and his
father died too before he was three years old. For some time he lived in
the care of a certain Mona Lapaccia, his aunt, who hardly brought him up
till he was eight years old, when, as Vasari tells us, no longer able to
support the burden of his maintenance, she took him to the Carmelites,
who promised to make a friar of him. Florence was at the moment of its
all too brief spring, in which painting and sculpture were to grow
almost like flowers at every street corner, with a delicate beauty that
is characteristic of wild flowers, which yet are hardy enough in
reality. Reality, it is just that which is so touching in the work of
this naïve, observant painter, whose work has much of the beauty of a
folk-song, one of those rispetti which on every Tuscan hill you may hear
any summer day above the song of the cicale. He went about, like the
child he was his whole life long, looking at things out of curiosity,
and remembering them for love. His adventures, those marvellous
adventures of his childhood so carefully related by Vasari,--his capture
by pirates on the beach of Ancona, his sojourn in Barbary, his escape
hardly won by the astonishment of his art, are tales which, whether true
or not, have a real value for us because they are indicative of his
life, his view of the world: his life was in itself so daring, so
delightful an adventure, that nothing that could have happened to him
can seem marvellous beside it. For he has for the first time in Italy
seen the things we have seen, and loved them: the children at the street
corner, the flowers by the wayside, the girls grouped in a doorway
looking sideways up the street, a mother nursing her little struggling
son. In 1421 he had taken the habit, and then Masaccio had come to the
convent to paint in the Brancacci Chapel, and Fra Filippo watched him,
helping him perhaps, certainly fired by his work, till he who had played
in the streets of Florence decided that he must be a painter. It is
characteristic of his whole method that from the very beginning the
cloister was too strait for him; he had the passion for seeing things,
people, the life of the city, of strange cities too, for we hear of him
vaguely in Naples, but soon in Florence again, where he painted in S.
Ambrogio for the nuns the Coronation of the Virgin, now in the
Accademia. It was this picture which Cosimo came upon, and, finding the
painter, took him into his house. And truly, it was something very
different from the holy work of Angelico, a painter Cosimo loved so
well, that he found in that picture of the Coronation. That Virgin, was
she Queen of Angels or some Florentine girl?--and then those angels, are
they not the very children of the City of Flowers? But Lippo was not
content; he who had found the convent too narrow for him in his
insatiable desire for life, was not likely to be content with any
burgher's palace. Cosimo ordered pictures, Lippo laughed in the streets,
so they locked him in, and he knotted the sheets of the bed together and
let himself out of the window, and for days he lived in the streets. So
Cosimo let him alone, "labouring to keep him at his work by kindness,"
understanding, perhaps that it was a child with whom he had to deal, a
child full of the wayward impulses of children, the naïve genius of
youth, the happiness of all that;--the passions, too, a passion, in
Filippo's case, for kisses. He was never far from a girl's arms; and
then how he has painted them, shy, roguish, wanton daughters of
Florence, with their laughing, obstinate, kicking babies, half laughing,
half smiling, altogether serious too, while Lippo paints them with a
kiss for payment.

He spent some months in Prato with his friend Fra Diamante, who had been
his companion in novitiate. The nuns of S. Margherita commissioned him
to paint a picture for their high altar, and it was while at work there
that he caught sight of Lucrezia Buti. "Fra Filippo," says Vasari,
"having had a glance at the girl, who was very beautiful and graceful,
so persuaded the nuns that he prevailed upon them to permit him to make
a likeness of her for the figure of their Virgin." The picture, now in
Paris, was finished, not before Filippo had fallen in love with Lucrezia
and she with him, so that he led her away from the nuns; and on a
certain day, when she had gone forth to do honour to the Cintola, he
bore her from their keeping. "Take us the foxes, the little foxes that
spoil the vineyards; for our vineyards have tender grapes."

Vasari tells us that Lucrezia never returned, but remained with Filippo,
bearing him a son,--that Filippino "who eventually became a most
excellent and very famous painter like his father."

And it is said that not Lucrezia alone was involved in that adventure,
for she had a sister not less lovely than herself, called Spinetta; she
also fled away, and this again brought disgrace on the nuns, so that the
Pope himself was compelled to interfere, for they were all living in
Prato, not in disgrace but happily, children in a city of children.
Cosimo, however, befriended them, and would laugh till the tears came in
telling the tale, till Pius II, not altogether himself guiltless of the
love of women, at his request unfrocked Filippo and authorised his union
with Lucrezia. However this may be, and however strange it may seem,
this wolf, who had stolen the lamb from the fold of Holy Church, was
engaged by the Duomo authorities in this very city of the theft to
paint in fresco there in the choir the story of St. John Baptist and of
St. Stephen. It is a masterpiece. As we look to-day on the faded beauty
of his work, it is with surprise we ask ourselves why he has signed the
fresco of the death of St. Stephen, for instance, Frater Filippus;
surely he was frater no longer, but Sponsus. He worked for four years at
those frescoes, Fra Diamante coming from Florence to help him. He was a
child, and the children of Prato understood him--the Medici too; for
when the work in Prato was finished, Piero de' Medici roused himself to
find him work, again in a church, the Duomo of Spoleto, where he has
painted very sweetly the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Shepherds,
the Coronation of the Virgin. Could these things have happened in any
other city save Prato, or to any other than a child in the days not so
long before Savonarola was burned? No; Fra Lippo played among the
children of Italy, and has told us of them with simplicity and
sweetness,--little stumbling fellows of the house doors, the laughing
children about the fountains, the slim, pale girls who walk arm-in-arm,
smiling faintly, in every Tuscan city at sunset, the flowers by the
wayside, the shepherds of the hills. And he has made Jesus in the image
of his little son; and Madonna is but Lucrezia Buti, whom he kissed into
the world. You may see them to-day if you will go to Prato.


[135] The occasions are Christmas Day, Easter Day, May 1, August 15, and
September 8.


If St. Francis of Assisi dreamed his whole life long of the resurrection
of love among men, and in the valleys of Umbria went about like a second
Jesus doing good, with an immense love in his heart singing his Laudes
Creaturarum by the wayside; Dante Alighieri, the greatest poet of his
country, might almost seem to have been overwhelmed with hatred, a
hatred which is perhaps but the terrible reverse of an intolerable love,
but which is an impeachment, nevertheless, not only of his own time, of
the cities of his country, but of himself too, for while he thus sums up
the Middle Age and judges it, he is himself its most marvellous child,
losing himself at last in one of its ideals. St. Francis of Assisi,
concerned only with humanity, has by love contrived the Renaissance of
man, assured as he was by the love of God, His delight in us His
creatures. But for Dante, bitter with loneliness, wandering in the Hell,
the Purgatory, the Paradise of his own heart, any such wide and
overwhelming love might seem to have been impossible. Imprisoned in the
adamant of his personality, he has little but hatred and contempt for
the world he knew so well. How scornful he is! Some secret sorrow seems
to have burnt up the wells of sweetness in his nature, from which he
once drew a love for all mankind. He seems to have gone about hating
people, so that if he speaks of Florence it is with a passionate enmity,
if of Siena with scorn, Pisa has only his contempt, Arezzo is to him
abominable and beastly. He has judged his country as God Himself will
not judge it, and he kept his anger for ever. And since the great
Florentine can bring himself to bid Florence

    "Godi, Fiorenza poi che sei si grande
    Che per mare, e per terra batti l'ali,
    E per l'Inferno il tuo nome si spande,"

it is not wonderful that Pistoja is lost in his scorn. Coming upon Vanni
Fucci continually consumed by the adder, he hears him say

    "Ahi Pistoja, Pistoja, chè non stanzi
    D'incenerarti, si che più non duri
    Poi che in mal far lo seme tuo avanzi?"

"O Giustizia di Dio, quanto è severa,..." yet Dante's will beggar it.

The origin of Pistoja is obscure. Some ascribe its foundation to the
Boian Gauls, some to the Romans; however that may be, it was here in
Pistoria, as the city was then called, that the army of the Republic
came up with Cataline, and defeated him and slew him in B.C. 62. There
follows an impenetrable silence, unbroken till, by the will of the
Countess Matilda, Tuscany passed, not without protest as we know, to the
Pope, when Pistoja seems to have vindicated its liberty in 1117, its
commune contriving her celebrated municipal statutes. In 1198 she made
one of the Tuscan League against the empire, and in the first year of
the thirteenth century she had extended her power over the neighbouring
strongholds from Fucecchio to the Arno. After the death of Frederic II,
in 1250, she became Guelph with the greater part of Tuscany, and in 1266
took part with Charles of Anjou and fought on his side at Benevento
under the Pistojese captains, Giovanni and Corrado da Montemagno. About
this time we first hear the name Cancellieri, Cialdo de' Cancellieri
being Potestà. At Campaldino the Pistojese fought under Corso Donati,
and turned the battle against the Aretines; and it was under the Potestà
Giano della Bella in 1294[136] that the Priore of the twelve _anziani_,
established after Campaldino, was named Gonfaloniere of Justice.
Villani gives us a vivid picture of Pistoja in 1300. "In these times,"
says the prince of Florentine chroniclers, "the city of Pistoja being in
happy and great and good estate, among the other citizens there was one
family very noble and puissant, not, however, of very ancient lineage,
which was called Cancellieri, born of Ser Cancelliere, which was a
merchant and gained much wealth, and by his two wives had many sons,
which, by reason of their riches, all became knights and men of worth
and substance, and from them were born many sons and grandsons, so that
at this time they numbered more than one hundred men in arms, rich and
puissant and of many affairs; and indeed, not only were they the leading
citizens of Pistoja, but they were among the more puissant families of
Tuscany. There arose among them, through their exceeding prosperity, and
through the suggestion of the devil, contempt and enmity, between them
which were born of one wife and them which were born of the other; and
the one took the name of the Black Cancellieri, and the other of the
White, and this grew until they fought together, but it was not any
great affair. And one of those on the side of the White Cancellieri,
having been wounded, they on the side of the Black Cancellieri, to the
end they might be at peace and concord with them, sent him which had
done the injury and handed him over to the mercy of them which had
received it, that they should take amend, and vengeance for it at their
will; they on the side of the White Cancellieri, ungrateful and proud,
having neither pity nor love, cut off the hand of him which had been
commended to their mercy on a horse-manger. By which sinful beginning
not only was the house of Cancellieri divided, but many violent deaths
arose thereupon, and all the city of Pistoja was divided, for some held
with one part and some with the other, and they called themselves the
Whites and the Blacks, forgetting among themselves the Guelph and
Ghibelline parties; and many civil strifes and much peril and loss of
life arose therefore in Pistoja...." The Whites seem to have been
little more than Ghibellines, to which party they presently allied
themselves, when Andrea Gherardini was captain. This party soon got the
upper hand in Pistoja, thus bringing down the hatred of the Lucchesi and
the Fiorentini; a cruel siege and pillage--touchingly described by Dino
Campagni--following in 1305. Exiled, the Whites thronged to the banner
of Uguccione, and helped to win the battle of Montecatini in 1305. This
done, Uguccione became tyrant of Pistoja till Castruccio Castracani
flung him out, and by the will of Lewis of Bavaria became himself tyrant
of the city, defeating the Florentines again in 1325. In his absence the
Florentines besieged Pistoja again three years later, and took it; the
fortunate death of Castruccio confirming them in their conquest, which
thus became the vassal of the Lily.

Such in brief is the story of Pistoja; but if we look a little more
closely into the mere confusion of those wars, two facts will perhaps
emerge clearly, and help us to understand the position.

Florence, a city of merchants, was the last power in Italy to make war
for the pleasure of fighting, yet in turn she conquered every city in
Tuscany, save Lucca alone.[137] What can have been the overmastering
necessity that drove her on so bloody a path? Certainly not a love of
empire, for she, who was so unfortunate in the art of government, was
not likely to lust for dominion. Like all the Florentine wars, that
which at last brought Pisa under her yoke was a war on behalf of the
guilds of Florence, a war of merchants. Florence humbled Pisa because
Pisa held the way to the sea, she brought Arezzo and Siena low and
bought Cortona because they stood on the roads to Rome, whose banker she
was.[138] And did not Pistoja guard the way to the north, to Bologna, to
Milan, to Flanders, and England, whence came the wool that was her
wealth?[139] Thus in those days as to-day, war was not a game which one
might play or not as one pleased, but the inexorable result of the
circumstances of life. When Bologna closed the passes, Florence was
compelled to fight or to die; when Pisa taxed Florentine merchandise she
signed her own death.

On the other hand, the passionate desire of Pistoja was to be free.
Liberty--it was the dream of her life; not the liberty of the people,
but the essential liberty of the State, of the city. So she was
Ghibelline because Florence was Guelph. All her life long she feared
lest Florence should eat her up: that death was ever before her eyes.
This and this alone is the cause of the hate of the great Florentine: he
hated Florence with an intolerable love because she thrust him out; he
hated Pisa, Arezzo, Siena, and Pistoja because they feared or rivalled
Florence, and would not be reconciled. His dream of an Italy united
under a foreign Emperor, the ghost of the Roman Empire, remained a
dream, noble and yet ignoble too. For it is for this that we may accuse
him of a lack of clairvoyance, a real failure to appreciate the future,
which in the innumerable variety of her cities gave Italy an
intellectual life less sustained and clear than the intellectual life of
Greece, but more spiritual and more various. In Italy Antiquity and
Hebraism became friends, to our undoubted benefit, to the gain of the
whole world.

But little is left in the smiling, gracious city to-day to recall those
bitter quarrels so long ago. Pistoja, beyond any other Tuscan town
perhaps, is full of grace, and gives one always, as it were, a smiling
salutation. La Ferrignosa she was called of old, but it is the last
title that fits her now, for the clank of her irons has long been
silent, and nothing any longer disturbs the quiet of her days. S. Atto
is her saint, and it is by his street that you enter the city, walled
still, coming at last into the Piazza Cino, Cino da Pistoja, one of the
sweetest and least fortunate of Tuscan poets. Turning thence into Via
Cavour, you come to S. Giovanni Evangelista, once without the walls, but
now not far from the middle of the city, really the earliest of her
churches, a Lombard building of about 1160, the façade decorated
somewhat in the Pisan manner with rows of pillars, while over the gates
is a relief of the Last Supper, by Gruamonte, whom some have thought to
be the architect of the church. Within is the beautiful pulpit of Fra
Guglielmo, disciple of Niccolò Pisano, and there on the east he has
carved the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus; on the north, the
Washing of the Disciples' Feet, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, and
Christ in Hades; while on the west is the Ascension and the Death of the
Virgin. And just as at Bologna, in the tomb of St. Dominic, Fra
Guglielmo's work is but an inferior copy of the style of his master, so
here in this pulpit, built most probably in 1270, we find just Niccolò's
work spoiled, in a mere repetition, feeble, and without any of the
devotional spirit we might expect in the work of a friar. Beside it,
near the next altar, is a very beautiful group in glazed terra-cotta, in
the manner of the della Robbia, by Fra Paolino. The holy water basin
supported by figures of the Virtues is a much-injured work by Giovanni

Following Via Cavour, past Palazzo Panciatichi-Cellesi, through Via
Francesco Magni, into Piazza del Duomo, you are in the midst of all that
was most splendid in Pistoja of old: the Duomo, with its old fortified
tower, Torre del Potestà, which still carries the arms of those
captains; the Baptistery, high above the way, designed by Andrea Pisano,
with its open-air pulpit and broken sculptures; the magnificent Palazzo
del Comune; and opposite, the not less splendid Palazzo Pretorio, the
palace of the Podestà. Of old the Piazza was less spacious, but in 1312
it was enlarged, and later, too, the palace of the Capitano, on the
north, was destroyed. Here every Wednesday they still hold the
corn-market, and every Saturday a market of stuffs, silks, and tissues.

It was S. Romolo who first brought the gospel to Pistoja, and the
tradition is that he converted a temple built by the Romans to the God
Mars into a church, on the spot where now the Duomo stands,[140] and
indeed in 1599 certain inscriptions were found, and the capitals of some
Roman columns. It is generally thought that a church was built here in
the early part of the fifth century, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours,
on whose day Stilicho, that Roman general who was by birth a Vandal,
gained a victory over Radaugasius and his army of some 400,000 Goths,
who had ravaged the country as far as Florence in 406. However this may
be, in 589 the church was finally rebuilt, and certainly re-dedicated to
S. Zenone, the Bishop of Verona, who, so it was said, had saved the
Pistojese from the floods by breaking through the Gonfolina Pass, that
narrow defile beyond Signa through which the Arno flows, with the
Ombrone in her bosom, into the Empolese. After being dedicated at
various times to many saints, in 1443 it was given to S. Zenone, whose
name it still bears. The present church is for the most part a work of
the twelfth century, and certainly not the work of Niccolò Pisano. The
façade, like the rest of the church, has suffered an unfortunate
restoration. The marble loggia is a work of the fifteenth century, and
the two statues are, one of S. Jacopo, by Scarpellino, the other of S.
Zenone, by Andrea Vaccà. The beautiful terra-cotta over the great door
of Madonna and Child with Angels, and the roof above, are the work of
Andrea della Robbia. The frescoes of the story of S. Jacopo are
fourteenth-century work of Giovanni Balducci the Pisan.

The splendid and fierce Campanile, still called Torre del Potestà, stood
till about the year 1200, alone, a stronghold of the city. Giovanni
Pisano converted it to its present form in 1301.

Within, the church has been greatly spoiled. The monument to Cino da
Pistoja, poet and professor, was decreed in 1337 by the Popolo
Pistojese, and was moved about the church from one place to another,
till in 1839 it was erected in its present position. There you may see
him lecturing to his students, and one of them is a woman; can it be
that Selvaggia whom he loved?

    "Ay me, alas! the beautiful bright hair ..."

"Weep, Pistoja," says Petrarch, in not the least musical of his perfect
sonnets, in celebrating the death of his master--

    "Pianga Pistoia e i cittadin perversi
    Che perdut' hanno si dolce vicino;
    E rallegres' il ciel or' ello è gito."

Dante, who exchanged sonnets with Cino and rallied him about his
inconstancy, calls the Pistojese worthy of the Beast[141] who dwelt
among them; Petrarch calls them _i cittadin perversi_; the truth being
that the Neri were in power and had exiled "il nostro amoroso messer

Close by, against the west wall, is the great font of Andrea Ferrucci,
the disciple of Bernardo Rossellino, with five reliefs of the story of
St. John Baptist. Opposite Cino's monument is the tomb of Cardinal
Fortiguerra. For long this disappointing monument, so full of
gesticulation, passed as the work of Verrocchio; it is to-day attributed
rather to Lorenzetto, his disciple.

Passing up the north aisle, we enter at last the Cappella del
Sacramento, under whose altar St. Felix, the Pistojese, sleeps, while on
the south wall hangs one of the best works of Lorenzo di Credi, Madonna
with Jesus in her arms, and St. John Baptist and S. Zenone on either
side. Opposite is the bust of Bishop Donato de' Medici, by Antonio
Rossellino. The little crypt under the high altar is scarcely worth a
visit, but the great treasure of the church, the silver frontal of the
high altar, is now to be found in the Cappella della Città, and over it,
in a chest within the reredos, is the body, still uncorrupted, of S.
Atto, Bishop of Pistoja, who died in 1155. The silver frontal, certainly
the finest in Italy, with its wings and reredos of silver and enamel,
was removed from the high altar in 1786. It is the work of Andrea di
Puccio di Ognibene, the Pistojese goldsmith: it was finished in 1316. It
is carved with fifteen stories from the New Testament, and with many
statues of prophets and pictures of saints. Of the two wings, that on
the left, consisting of stories from the Old Testament, with the
Nativity, the Presentation and the Marriage of the Virgin, is the work
of Pietro of Florence--it was finished about 1357; that on the right,
carved in 1371 by Leonardo di Ser Giovanni, consists of the story of St.
James and the finding of his body at Campostella. All the guide-books
tell you that it was this treasure that Vanni Fucci stole on Shrove
Tuesday in 1292, but, as I suppose, since this altar was not begun till
1314, it must have been the earlier treasure which this replaced. Vanni
Fucci is famous because of his encounter with Dante in Hell.

            "Vanni Fucci am I called,
    Not long since rained down from Tuscany
    To this dire gullet. Me the bestial life
    And not the human pleased, mule that I was,
    Who in Pistoja found my worthy den."

Dante tell us--

            "I did not mark
    Through all the gloomy circles of the abyss,
    Spirit that swelled so proudly 'gainst his God."[142]

It is in Pistoja better almost than anywhere else in Italy that these
early sculptors--men who were at work here before Niccolò Pisano came
from Apulia--may be studied. Rude enough as we may think, they are yet
in their subtle beauty, if we will but look at them, the marvellous
product of a time which many have thought altogether barbarous.
Consider, then, the reliefs over the door of S. Giovanni Fuorcivitas, or
the sculptures on the fagade of S. Bartolommeo in Pantano, the work of
Rodolfinus and Guido Bigarelli of Como: they are all works of the
twelfth century, and it is, as I think, no naïve beginning we see, but
the last hours of an art that is already thousands of years old, about
to be born again in the work of Pisano. And indeed we may trace very
happily the rise of Tuscan sculpture in Pistoja. Though she possesses no
work of Niccolò himself, his influence is supreme in the pulpit of S.
Giovanni Fuorcivitas, and it is the beautiful work of his son Giovanni
we see in the great pulpit of S. Andrea, where you enter by a door
carved in 1166 by Gruamonte with the Adoration of the Magi. Unlike the
work of Fra Guglielmo in S. Giovanni, the pulpit of S. Andrea is
hexagonal, and there Giovanni has carved in high relief the Birth of Our
Lord, the Adoration of the Magi, the Murder of the Innocents, the
Crucifixion, and the Last Judgment. They were carved in 1301, before
Giovanni began the Pisan pulpit now in the Museo in that city. And if we
see here the first impulse of the Gothic, the Romantic spirit, in
Italian art, as in Niccolò's work we have seen the classic inspiration,
it is the far result of these panels that we may discover in the
terra-cotta frieze on the vestibule of the Ospedale del Ceppo. That is a
work of the sixteenth century, and thus the fifteenth-century work, ever
present with us in Florence, is missing here. It is not, however, to any
member of the della Robbia clan that we owe this beautiful work, I
think, but to some unknown sculptor with whom Buglioni may have worked.
For the seven reliefs representing works of Charity and divided by
figures of the Virtues are of a surprising splendour, a really classic
beauty, and Burckhardt wishes to compare them with the frescoes of
Andrea del Sarto and his companions rather than with the sculpture of
that time.

One wanders about this quiet, alluring city, where the sculptures are
scattered like flowers on every church porch and municipal building,
without the weariness of the sightseer. One day you go by chance to S.
Francesco al Prato, a beautiful and spacious church in a wilderness of
Piazza, built in 1294. And there suddenly you come upon the little
flowers of St. Francis, faded and fallen--here a brown rose, there a
withered petal; here a lily broken short, there a nosegay drooped and
dead: and you realise that here you are face to face with something real
which has passed away, and so it is with joy you hurry out into the
sun, which will always shine with splendour and life, the one thing
perhaps that, if these dead might rise from their tombs in S. Francesco,
they would recognise as a friend, the same yesterday, to-day, and for

Other churches too there are in Pistoja: S. Piero Maggiore, where, as in
Florence, so here, the Bishop, coming to the city, was wedded in a
lovely symbol to the Benedictine Abbess--there too are the works of
Maestro Bono the sculptor; S. Salvadore, which stands in the place
where, as it is said, they buried Cataline; S. Domenico, where you may
find the beautiful tombs of Andrea Franchi and of Filippo Lazzeri the
humanist--this made by Rossellino in 1494. Pistoja is a city of
churches; one wanders into them and out again always with new delight;
and indeed, they lend a sort of gravity to a place that is light-hearted
and alluring beyond almost any other in this part of Tuscany certainly.
Thinking thus of her present sweetness, one is glad to find that one
poet at least has thought Dante too hard with men. It is strange that it
should be Cino who sings--

    "This book of Dante's, very sooth to say,
    Is just a poet's lovely heresy,
    Which by a lure as sweet as sweet can be
    Draws other men's concerns beneath its sway;
    While, among stars' and comets' dazzling play,
    It beats the right down, let's the wrong go free,
    Shows some abased, and others in great glee,
    Much as with lovers is Love's ancient way.
    Therefore his vain decrees, wherein he lied,
    Fixing folks' nearness to the Fiend their foe,
    Must be like empty nutshells flung aside.
    Yet through the vast false witness set to grow,
    French and Italian vengeance on such pride
    May fall, like Antony's on Cicero."[143]


[136] Cf. Dino Campagni, _Cronica Fiorentina_, Book 1, p. 62. When
appointed Podestà of Pistoja, Giano rather raised strife than pacified
the factions. Cf. also Villari, _History of Florence_, p. 445.

[137] Strictly speaking, she never conquered Siena; Charles V did that.

[138] In the Middle Age, Cortona and Arezzo were not on the road to
Rome, but so far as Florence was concerned, Siena, her holding that she
acquired these cities to keep Via Aretina open. Cf. Repetti, v. 715.

[139] That Pistoja was not on the great Via Francesca goes for nothing,
she threatened it.

[140] There is a most excellent little book, _Nuova Guida di Pistoja_,
by Cav. Prof. Giuseppe Tigri (Pistoja, 1896), which I strongly recommend
to the reader's notice. I wish to acknowledge my debt to it. Unlike so
many guides, it is full of life itself, and makes the city live for us

[141] Bestia, probably a nickname of Vanni Fucci's; cf. _Inferno_, xxiv,

[142] _Inferno_, xxiv. 125, 126; xxv. 13, 14.

[143] "Cino impugns the verdicts of Dante's _Commedia_," a sonnet
translated by D.G. Rossetti.

_Note_.--No English writers have written well of Pistoja, for first they
always write from a Florentine point of view, and then they quit too
soon. I plead guilty too. The key-note to Pistoja is given in that
saying of Macchiavelli's, that the Florentine people "per fuggire il
nome di crudele lascio distruggere Pistoia." Il Principe, cap. xvii. Cf.
also Discorsi iii. 27. It is, of course, all a matter of Panciatichi and
Cancellieri. Cf. Zdekauer Statuti Pistoiesi dei Secoli xii. e xiii.


Who that has ever seen the Pistojese the Val di Lima, the country of S.
Marcello, the Val di Reno, the country about Pracchia, does not love
it--the silent ways through the chestnut woods, the temperance of the
hill country after the heat of the cities, the country ways after the
ways of the town? And there are songs there too. But to-day my way lies
through the valley, Val di Nievole, towards Lucca, lost in the plain at
the gate of the Garfagnana. Serravalle, with its old gateway and high
Rocca, which fell to Castruccio Castracani; Monsummano, far on the left,
with its old church in the valley; Montecatini, with its mineral
springs; Buggiano, and Pescia with its mulberries, where the Church of
S. Francesco hides and keeps its marvellous portrait of S.
Francesco--these are the towns at the foot of the mountains that I shall
pass before I turn into the plain between the island hills and come at
last to Lucca, Lucca l'Ombrosa, round whose high ramparts that have
stood a thousand sieges now in whispering ranks there stand the cool
planes of the valley, the shadowy trees that girdle the city with a
cintola of green and gold.

Lucca is the city of a great soldier, of one of the most charming of
Tuscan sculptors, and of Santa Zita. Lucca l'Ombrosa I call her, but she
is the city of light too--Luce, light; it is the patriotic derivation of
her name. For One came to her with a star in His bosom, the Star of
Bethlehem, that heralded the sweet dawn which crept through the valleys
and filled them with morning; so Lucca was the first city in Italy, as
they say, to receive the light of the gospel.

The foundation of this city, which alone of all the cities of Tuscany
was to keep in some sort her independence till Napoleon wrested it from
her, is obscure. She was not Etruscan, but possibly a Ligurian
settlement that came into the power of Rome about 200 B.C., and by 56
B.C. we have certain news of her, for it was here that Caesar, Pompeius,
and Crassus formed the triumvirate. Overwhelmed by the disasters that
befell the Empire, we hear something of her in the sixth century, when
S. Frediano came from Ireland, from Galway, and after a sojourn in Rome
became a hermit in the Monti Pisani, till in 565 John III made him
Bishop of Lucca. It seems to have been about this time that Lucca began
to be of importance, after the fall of the Lombard rule, governed by her
own Dukes. And then the Bishops of Lucca, those Bishop Counts who
governed her so long, had a jurisdiction which extended to the confines
of the Patrimony of St. Peter. The same drama no doubt was played in
Lucca as in Pisa or Florence, a struggle betwixt nobles of foreign
descent and the young commune of the Latin population. We find Lucca on
the papal side in 1064, but in 1081 she joins the Emperor with Siena and
Ferrara; but for the most part after Pisa became Ghibelline Lucca was
Guelph, for her friends were the enemies of Pisa. Thus the fight went
on, a fight really of self-preservation, of civic liberty as it were,
each city prizing its ego above every consideration of justice or unity.

It was the fourteenth century that gave Lucca her great captain,
Castruccio Castracani, the hero of Machiavelli's remarkable sketch, the
sketch perhaps for the Prince. It is strange that Machiavelli should
have cared to write of the only two men who might in more favourable
circumstances have forged a kingdom out of various Republics, Lordships,
Duchies, and Marquisates of the peninsula, Castruccio degli Intelminelli
and Cesare Borgia.

It seems, to follow the virile yet subtle tale of Machiavelli, that at
the end of the thirteenth century there was born out of the family of
Castracani one Antonio, who, entering himself into Orders, was made a
Canon of S. Michele in Lucca, and was even called Messer Antonio. He had
for sister a widow of Buonaccorso Cinami, who at the death of her
husband had come to live with him, resolved to marry no more. Now behind
the house where he lived, Messer Antonio, good man, had a vineyard, and
it happened one morning about sunrise that Donna Dianora (for that was
the sister's name) walking in the vineyard to gather herbs for a salad
(as women frequently do), heard a rustling under the leaves, and turning
toward it she fancied it cried, and going towards it she saw the hands
and face of a child, which, tumbling up and down in the leaves, seemed
to call for relief. Donna Dianora, partly astonished and partly afraid,
took it up very tenderly, carried it home, washed it, and having put it
in clean clothes, presented it to Messer Antonio. "_Eccololi_!" says
she, "and what will Messere do with this?" "Dianora," says he, with a
gasp, "Dianora...!" "No, it is not," says she, fluttering suddenly with
rage, "and I'll thank you, Messer Antonio," and that she said for spite,
"I'll thank you to keep your lewd thoughts to yourself," says she, "and
for the fine ladies, fine ladies," says she, "that come to see you at S.
Michele," and she fell to weeping, holding the child in her arms. "I
that might have had little hands (_manine_) under my chin many's the
time if Buonaccorso had not died so old." And she carried the child out
of his sight. Then Messer Antonio later, when he understood the case,
being no less affected with wonder and compassion than his sister before
him, debated with himself what to do, and presently concluded to bring
the little fellow up; for, as he said, "I, Antonio, am a priest, and my
sister hath no children." So he christened the child Castruccio after
his own father, and Dianora looked to him as carefully as if he had been
her own. Now Castruccio's graces increased with his years, and therefore
in his heart Messer Antonio designed him for a priest; but Dianora would
not have it so, and indeed he showed as yet but little inclination to
that kind of life, which was not to be wondered at, his natural
disposition, as Dianora said, tending quite another way. For though he
followed his studies, when he was scarce fourteen years old he began to
run after the soldiers and knights, and always to be wrestling and
running, and soon he troubled himself very little with reading, unless
it were such things as might instruct him for war. And Messer Antonio
was sore afflicted.

Now the great house in Lucca at that time was Guinigi, and Francesco was
then head of it. Ah! a handsome gentleman, rich too, who had borne arms
all his life long under the Visconti of Milan. With them he had fought
for the Ghibellines till the Lucchesi looked upon him as the very life
of that party. This Francesco was used to walk in Piazza S. Michele,
where one day he watched Castruccio playing among his companions. Seeing
his strength and confidence, he called him to him, and asked him if he
did not prefer a gentleman's family, where he could learn to ride the
great horse and exercise his arms, before the cloister of a churchman.
Guinigi had only to look at him to see which way his heart jumped, so
not long after he made a visit to Antonio and begged Castruccio of him
in so pressing and yet so civil a manner, that Antonio, finding he could
not master the natural inclinations of the lad, let him go.

Often after that, Dianora and Antonio too, seeing him ride by in
attendance on Francesco, would admire with what address he sat his
horse, with what grace he managed his lance, with what comeliness his
sword; and indeed scarce any of his age dare meet him at the _Barriere_.
He was about eighteen years old when he made his first campaign. For the
Guelphs had driven the Ghibellines out of Pavia, and Visconti sought the
help of his friends, among them of Francesco Guinigi. Francesco gave
Castruccio a company of foot, and marched with him to help Visconti: and
Castruccio won such reputation in that fight, that his name galloped
through Lombardy, and when he returned to Lucca the whole city had him
in respect.

Not long after, Guinigi fell sick; in truth he was about to die. Seeing,
then, that he had a son scarcely thirteen years old, called Pagolo, he
gave him into Castruccio's charge, begging him to show the same
generosity to his son as he had received from him. And all this
Castruccio promised.

Now the head of the Guelph party in Lucca was a certain Signor Giorgio
Opizi, who hoped when Francesco was dead to get the city into his power,
so that when he saw Castruccio so well thought of and so strong, he
began to speak secretly of a new tyranny, by which he meant the growing
favour of Castruccio. Pisa at this time was under the government of
Uguccione della Faggiuola of Arezzo, whom the Pisans had chosen as their
captain, but who had made himself their lord. He had befriended certain
Ghibellines banished from Lucca, and therefore Castruccio entered into
secret treaty with him in order that these exiles might be restored. So
he furnished in Lucca the Tower of Honour, which was in his charge, in
case he might have to defend it. He met Uguccione on the night
appointed, between Lucca and the hills towards Pisa, and, agreeing with
him, Uguccione marched on the city to St. Peter's Gate and set fire to
it, while he attacked another on the other side of the town. Meanwhile,
his friends within the city ran about in the night calling _To your
arms_, and filled the streets with confusion; so that Uguccione easily
entered, and, having seized the city, caused all the Opizi to be
murdered as well as all the Guelphs he could find. Nor did he stop
there, for he exiled one hundred of the best families, who immediately
fled to Florence and Pistoja. The Florentines, seeing the Guelph power
tottering, put an army in the field, and met the Pisans and Lucchesi at
Montecatini. There followed the memorable battle called after that
place, in which the Florentines lost some ten thousand men.[144] This
was in 1315. Now whether, as Villani says, Uguccione won that battle,
or, as Machiavelli asserts, was sick, so that the honour fell to
Castruccio, there was already of necessity much jealousy between the two
captains; for certainly Castruccio had not called on Uguccione to make
him Lord of Lucca, nor had Uguccione obeyed that call for mere love of
Castruccio. He therefore, being returned to Pisa, sent his son Nerli to
seize Lucca and kill Castruccio, but the lad bungled it: when Uguccione
himself set out to repair this, he found the city ready, demanding the
release of Castruccio, whom Nerli had imprisoned. Seeing, then, the mood
of the city, and that he had but four hundred horse with him, he was
compelled to agree to this. And at once Castruccio, who was in no wise
daunted, assembled his friends and flung Uguccione out of Lucca.
Meantime the Pisans had themselves revolted, so that this tyrant was
compelled to retire into Lombardy.

It was now that Castruccio saw his opportunity. He got himself chosen
Captain-General of all the Lucchese forces for a twelvemonth, and began
to reduce the surrounding places near and far which had come under the
rule of Uguccione. The first of these to be attacked was Sarzana in
Lunigiana. But first he agreed with Pisa, who in hatred of Uguccione
sent him men and stores. Sarzana proved very strong, so that before he
won it he was compelled to build a fortress beyond the walls, which we
may see to this day. Thus Sarzana was taken, and later Massa, Carrara,
and Avenza easily enough, until the whole of Lunigiana was in his power,
even Fosdinovo, and later Remoli, and that was to secure his way to
Lombardy. Then he returned to Lucca, and was received with every sort of

About this time Ludovic of Bavaria came into Italy seeking the Imperial
Crown, and Castruccio went to meet him with 500 horse, leaving Pagolo
Guinigi his Deputy in Lucca. Ludovic received him with much kindness,
making him Lord of Pisa and his vicar in all Tuscany: and thus
Castruccio became the head of the Ghibelline party both in Lombardy and
Tuscany. But Castruccio's aim went higher yet, for he hoped not only to
be vicar but master indeed of Tuscany, and to this end he made a league
with Matteo Visconti of Milan; and seeing that Lucca had five gates, he
divided the country into five parts, and to every part he set a captain,
so that presently he could march with 20,000 men beside the Pisans. Now
the Florentines were already busy in Lombardy against Visconti, who
besought Castruccio to make a diversion. This he readily did, taking
Fucecchio and S. Miniato al Tedesco. Then hearing of trouble in Lucca,
he returned and imprisoned the Poggi, who had risen against him; an old
and notable family, but he spared them not. Meanwhile Florence retook S.
Miniato; and Castruccio, not caring to fight while he was insecure at
home, made a truce carefully enough, that lasted two years.

He now set himself first to make Lucca secure, and for this he built a
fortress in the city; and then to possess himself of Pistoja--for he
even thought thereby to gain a foothold in Florence herself--and for
this he entered into correspondence secretly with both the Neri and the
Bianchi there. These two factions did not hesitate to use the enemy of
their city to help their ambitions, so that while the Bianchi expected
him at one gate, the Neri waited at the other, the one receiving Guinigi
and the other Castruccio himself with their men into the city. Not
content with thus winning Pistoja, he thought to control the city of
Rome also, which he did in the name of the Emperor, the Pope being in
Avignon; and this done, he went through the city with two devices
embroidered on his coat: the one before read, "He is as pleaseth God,"
and that behind, "And shall be what God will have him." Now the
Florentines were furious at the cunning breach of their truce by which
Castruccio had got himself Pistoja; so, while he was in Rome, they
determined to capture the place: which they did one night by a ruse,
destroying all Castruccio's party. And when he heard it, Castruccio came
north in great anger. But at first the Florentines were too quick for
him: they got together all of the Guelph league, and before Castruccio
was back again, held Val di Nievole. Seeing their greatness--for they
were 40,000 in number, while he on his return could muster but 12,000
men at most--he would not meet them in the plain, nor in the Val di
Pescia, but resolved to draw that great army into the narrow ways of
Serravalle, where he could deal with them. Now Serravalle is a Rocca not
on the road but on the hillside above, and the way down into the valley
is rather strait than steep till you come to the place where the waters
divide: so strait that twenty men abreast take up all the way. That
Rocca belonged to a German lord called Manfredi, whose throat Castruccio
cheerfully cut. The Florentines, who were eager not only to hold all Val
di Nievole but to carry the war away from Pistoja towards Lucca, knew
nothing of Serravalle having fallen to Castruccio, so on they came in
haste, and encamped above it, hoping to pass the straits next day. There
Castruccio fell upon them about midnight, putting all to confusion.
Horse and foot fell foul upon one another, and both upon the baggage.
There was no way left for them but to run, which they did helter-skelter
in the plain of Pistoja, where each man shifted for himself. But
Castruccio followed them even to Peretola at the gates of Florence,
carrying Pistoja and Prato on the way; there he coined money under their
walls,[145] while his soldiers insulted over the conquered; and to make
his triumph more remarkable, nothing would serve the turn but naked
women must run Corsi on horseback under the very walls of the city. And
to deliver their city from Castruccio, the Florentines were compelled to
send to the King of Naples, and to pay him annual tribute.

But Castruccio's business was always spoiled by revolt, and this time it
was Pistoja which rose, and later Pisa. Then the Guelphs raised a great
army--30,000 foot and 10,000 horse it was--and after a little, while
Castruccio was busy with Pisa, they seized Lastra, Signa, Montelupo,
Empoli, and laid siege to S. Miniato: this in May 1328. Castruccio, in
no wise discomposed, thought at last Tuscany was in his grasp; therefore
he went to Fucecchio and entrenched himself with 20,000 foot and 4000
horse, leaving 5000 foot in Pisa with Guinigi. Fucecchio is a walled
city on the other side of Arno opposite S. Miniato. There Castruccio
waited; nor could he have chosen better, for the Florentines could not
attack him without fording the river from S. Miniato, which they had
taken, and dividing their forces. This they were compelled to do, and
Castruccio fell upon and beat them, leaving some 20,000 of them dead in
the field, while he lost but fifteen hundred. Nevertheless, that proved
to be his last fight, for death found him at the top of his fortune;
riding into Fucecchio after the battle, he waited a-horseback to greet
his men at the great gate of the place which is still called after him.
Heated as he was with the fight, it was the evening wind that slew him;
for he fell into an ague, and, neglecting it, believing himself
sufficiently hardened, it presently killed him, and Pagolo Guinigi ruled
in his stead, but without his fortune.

Following that strangely successful career, that for Macchiavelli at any
rate seemed like a promise of the Deliverer that was to come, the first
of modern historians gives us many of Castruccio's sayings set down at
haphazard, which bring the man vividly before us. Thus when a friend of
his, seeing him engaged in an amour with a very pretty lass, blamed him
that he suffered himself to be so taken by a woman--"You are deceived,
signore," says Castruccio, "she is taken by me." Another desiring a
favour of him with a thousand impertinent and superfluous words--"Hark
you, friend," says Castruccio, "when you would have anything of me, for
the future send another man to ask it." Something of his dream of
dominion may be found in that saying of his when one asked him, seeing
his ambition, how Caesar died, and he answered, "Would I might die like
him!" Blamed for his severity, perhaps over the Poggi affair, one said
to him that he dealt severely with an old friend--"No," says he, "you
are mistaken; it was with a new foe." Something of his love for
Uguccione--who certainly hated him, but whom he held in great
veneration--may be found in his answer to that man who asked him if for
the salvation of his soul he never thought to turn monk. "No," says he,
"for to me it will be strange if Fra Nazarene should go to Paradise and
Ugguccione della Faggiuola to Hell." And Macchiavelli says that what was
most remarkable was that, "having equalled the great actions of
Scipio and Philip, the father of Alexander, he died as they did, in the
forty-fourth year of his age, and doubtless he would have surpassed them
both had he found as favourable dispositions at Lucca as one of them did
in Macedon and the other in Rome." Just there we seem to find the desire
of the sixteenth century for unity that found expression in the deeds of
Cesare Borgia, the Discorsi of Niccolò Macchiavelli.


_By Jacopo della Quercia. Duomo, Lucca_


The rest of the history of Lucca is a sort of unhappy silence, out of
which from time to time rise the cry of Burlamacchi, a fool, yes, but a
hero, the howling of the traitors, the whisper of feeble conspiracies,
the purr of an ignoble prosperity, till in 1805 Napoleon came and made
her his prey.


But to-day Lucca is like a shadowy pool hidden behind the Pisan hills,
like a forgotten oasis in the great plain at the foot of the mountains,
a pallid autumn rose, smiling subtly among the gardens that girdle her
round about with a sad garland of green, a cincture of silver, a tossing
sea of olives. However you come to her, you must pass through those
delicate ways, where always the olives whisper together, and their
million leaves, that do not mark the seasons, flutter one by one to the
ground; where the cicale die in the midst of their song, and the flowers
of Tuscany scatter the shade with the colours of their beauty. In the
midst of this half-real world, so languidly joyful, in which the sky
counts for so much, it is always with surprise you come upon the
tremendous perfect walls of this city--walls planted all round with
plane-trees, so that Lucca herself is hidden by her crown--a crown that
changes as the year changes, mourning all the winter long, but in spring
is set with living emeralds, a thousand and a thousand points of green
fire that burst into summer's own coronet of flame-like leaves, that
fades at last into the dead and sumptuous gold of autumn.

It is by Porta S. Pietro that we enter Lucca, coming by rail from
Pistoja, and from Pisa too, then crossing La Madonnina and Corso
Garibaldi by Via Nazionale, we come almost at once into Piazza Giglio,
where the old Palazzo Arnolfi stands--a building of the sixteenth
century that is now Albergo Universo. Thence by the Via del Duomo, past
S. Giovanni, we enter the Piazza S. Martino, that silent, empty square
before the Duomo. The little Church of S. Giovanni that we pass on the
way is the old cathedral, standing on the site of a pagan temple, and
rebuilt by S. Frediano in 573, after the Lombards had destroyed the
first Christian building. The present church dates, in part at least,
from the eleventh century, and the three white pillars of the nave are
from the Roman building; but the real interest of the church lies in its
Baptistery--Lombard work dug out of the earth which had covered it, the
floor set in a waved pattern of black and white marble, while in the
midst is the great square font in which the people of Lucca were
immersed for baptism. Little else remains of interest in this the most
ancient church in Lucca--only a fresco of Madonna with St. Nicholas and
others, a fifteenth-century work in the north transept, and a beautiful
window of the end of the sixteenth century in the Baptistery itself.

All that is best in Lucca, all that is sweetest and most naïve, may be
found in the beautiful Duomo, which Pope Alexander II consecrated in
1070,--Pope Alexander II, who had once been Bishop of Lucca. _Non è
finito_, the sacristan, himself one of the most delightful and simple
souls in this little forgotten city, will tell you--it is not finished;
and indeed, the alteration that was made in the church in the early part
of the fourteenth century--when the nave was lengthened and the roof
raised--was never completed; and you may still see where, through so
many centuries, that which was so well begun has awaited a second S.

It is, however, the façade that takes you at once by its ancient smiling
aspect, its three great unequal arches, over which, in three tiers,
various with beautiful columns, rise the open galleries we have so loved
at Pisa. Built, as it is said, in 1204 by Guidetto, much work remains
in that beautiful frontispiece to one of the most beautiful churches in
Italy that is far older than itself: the statue of S. Martino, the
patron, for instance; that labyrinth, too, on the great pier to the
right; and perhaps the acts of St. Martin carved between the doors, and
below them three reliefs of the months, where in January you see man
sitting beside the fire; in February, as is most right, fishing in the
Serchio; in March, wisely pruning his trees; in April, sowing his seed;
in May, plucking the spring flowers; in June, cutting the corn; in July,
beating it out with the flail--the flail that is used to-day in every
country place in Tuscany; in August, plucking the fruits; in September,
treading the wine-press; in October, storing the wine; in November,
ploughing; and in December, for the festa killing a pig. Over the door
to the left is the earliest work, as it is said, of Nicolò Pisano, and
beneath it an Adoration of the Magi, in which some have found the hand
of Giovanni, his son; while above the great door itself Our Lord is in
glory, with the Twelve Apostles beneath, and Madonna herself in the
midst. Not far away, to the north beside the church, the rosy Campanile
towers over Lucca, calling city and country too, to pray at dawn and at
noon and at evening.

Within, the church is of a great and simple beauty; in the form of a
Latin cross, divided into three naves by columns supporting round
arches, over which the triforium passes across the transepts, lighted by
beautiful Gothic windows: the glass is certainly dreadful, but far away
in the choir the windows are filled still with the work of the old

The most beautiful and the most wonderful treasure that the church
holds, that Lucca itself can boast of, is the great tomb in the north
transept, carved to hold for ever the beautiful Ilaria del Caretto, the
wife of Paolo Guinigi, whose tower still blossoms in the spring, since
she has sat there. It is the everlasting work of Jacopo della Quercia,
the Sienese. On her bed of marble the young Ilaria lies, like a lily
fallen on a rock of marble, and in her face is the sweet gravity of all
the springs that have gone by, and in her hand the melody of all the
songs that have been sung; her mouth seems about to speak some lovely
affirmation, and her body is a tower of ivory. Can you wonder that the
sun lingers here softly, softly, as it steps westward, or that night
creeps over her, kissing her from head to foot slowly like a lover? Who
was the vandal who robbed so great and noble a thing as this of the
relief of dancing children which was found in the Bargello in 1829, and
returned here only in 1887?

It is, however, the work of another man, a Lucchese too, that fills the
Duomo and Lucca itself with a sort, of lyric sweetness in the delicate
and almost fragile sculpture of Matteo Civitali. In the south transept
he has carved the monument to Pietro da Noceto, the pupil of Pope
Nicholas V, and close by, the tomb of Domenico Bertini, his patron,
while in the Cappella del Sacramento are two angels from his hands,
kneeling on either side the tabernacle. It was he who built the marble
parapet, all of red and white, round the choir, the pulpit, and the
Tempietto in the nave, gilded and covered with ornaments to hold the
Volto Santo, setting there the beautiful statue of St. Sebastian, which
we look at to-day with joy while we turn away from that strange and
marvellous shrine of the holy face of Jesus which we no longer care to
see. Yet one might think that crucifix strange and curious enough for a
pilgrimage, beautiful, too, as it is, with the lost beauty of an art as
subtle and lovely as the work of the Japanese. "It is really," says
Murray, "a work of the eleventh century"; but the Lucchesi will not have
it so, for they tell you that it was carved at the bidding of an angel
by Nicodemus, and that he, unable to finish his work, since his memory
was too full of the wonder of the reality, returning to it one day,
perhaps to try again, found it miraculously perfect. At his death it
passed into the hands of certain holy men, who, to escape from the fury
of the iconoclasts, hid it, till in 782 a Piedmontese bishop found it by
means of a vision, and put it aboard ship and abandoned it to the sea.
So the tale runs. Cast hither and thither in the waves, the ship at last
came ashore at Luna, where the Bishop of Lucca was staying in the
summer heat. So, led by God, he would have borne it to Lucca; but the
people of Luna, who had heard of its sanctity, objecting, it was placed
in a cart drawn by two white oxen, and, as it had been abandoned to the
sea, so now it was given to the world. But the oxen, which in fact came
from the fields of Lucca, returned thither, to the disgust of the people
of Luna, and to the great and holy joy of the Bishop of Lucca, as we may
imagine. Such is the tale; but the treasure itself is a crucifix of
cedar wood of a real and strange beauty. Whether it be European work or
Asiatic I know not, nor does it matter much, since it is beautiful.
Dante, who spent some time in Lucca, and there loved the gentle
Gentucca, whose name so fortunately chimed with that of the city, speaks
of the Volto Santo in _Inferno_, xxi. 48, when in the eighth circle of
Hell, over the lake of boiling pitch, the devils cry--

    "... Qui non ha luogo il Santo Volto:
    Qui si nuota altrimenti che nel Serchio."

Matteo Civitali, the one artist of importance that Lucca produced, was
born in 1435. He remains really the one artist, not of the territory of
Florence, who has worked in the manner of the fifteenth-century
sculptors of that city. His work is everywhere in Lucca,--here in the
Duomo, in S. Romano, in S. Michele, in S. Frediano, and in the Museo in
Palazzo Mansi. Certainly without the strength, the constructive ability
that sustains even the most delicate work of the Florentines, he has yet
a certain flower-like beauty, a beauty that seems ever about to pass
away, to share its life with the sunlight that ebbs so swiftly out of
the great churches where it is; and concerned as it is for the most part
with the tomb, to rob death itself of a sort of immortality, to suggest
in some faint and subtle way that death itself will pass away and be
lost, as the sun is lost at evening in the strength of the sea. The
sentiment that his work conveys to us of a beauty fragile at best, and
rather exquisite than splendid, lacks, perhaps, a certain originality
and even freshness; yet it preserves very happily just the beauty of
flowers, of the flowers that grow everywhere about his home in the
slowly closing valleys, the tender hills that lead to Castelnuovo of the
Garfagnana, to Barga above the Bagni di Lucca. More and more as you
linger in Lucca it is his work you seek out, caught by its sweetness,
its delicate and melancholy joy, its strangeness too, as though he had
desired to express some long thought-out, recondite beauty, and, half
afraid to express himself after all, had let his thoughts pass over the
marble as the wind passes over the sand between the Pineta and the sea.
It is a beauty gone while we try to apprehend it that we find in his
work, and though at last we may tire of this wayward and delicate
spirit, while we shall ever return with new joy to the great and noble
figure of the young Ilaria del Caretto or to the serene Madonna of
Ghirlandajo, hidden in the Sacristy, yet we shall find ourselves seeking
for the work of Matteo Civitali as for the first violets of the spring,
without a thought of the beauty that belongs to the roses that lord it
all the summer long.

It is a Madonna of Civitali that greets you at the corner of the most
characteristic church of Lucca, S. Michele. There, under the great
bronze S. Michele, whose wings seem to brood over the city, you come
upon that strange fantastic and yet beautiful fagade which Guidetto
built in 1188. Just Pisan work you think, but lacking a certain
simplicity and sincerity even, that you find certainly in the Duomo. But
if it be true that this fagade was built in 1188, and that the fagade of
the Duomo of Pisa was built in 1250, and even that of S. Paolo a Ripa
d'Arno there, in 1194, Guidetto's work here in Lucca is the older, and
the Pisan master has made but a difficult simplification, perhaps, of
this very work. A difficult simplification!--simplicity being really the
most difficult achievement in any art, so that though it seem so easy it
is really hard to win. Guidetto seems to have built here at S. Michele
as a sort of trial for the Duomo, which is already less like an
apparition. And if the façade of S. Michele has not the strength or
the naturalness of that, leading as it does to nothing but poverty in
the midst of which still abides a mutilated work by a great Florentine,
Fra Lippo Lippi, it is because Guidetto has gradually won to that
difficult simplicity from such a strange and fantastic dream as this.


_Matteo Civitali_


It is quite another sort of beauty we see when, passing through the
deserted, quiet streets, we come to S. Frediano, just within the Porta
S. Maria, on the north side of the city. Begun by Perharlt, the Lombard,
in 671, with the stones of the amphitheatre, whose ruins are still to be
seen hard by, it stood without the city till the great wall was built in
the twelfth century, the apse being set where formerly the great door
had stood, and the marvellously impressive fagade taking the place of
the old apse. Ruined though it be by time and restoration, that mosaic
of Our Lord amid the Apostles and Angels still surprises us with a
sudden glory, while the Campanile that rises still where of old the door
stood is one of the most beautiful in Italy. Within, the church has
suffered too from change and restoration. Once of basilical form, it is
now spoiled by the chapels that thrust themselves into the nave, but
cannot altogether hide the nobility of those ancient pillars or the
simplicity of the roof. A few beautiful ancient things may still be
found there. The font, for instance, with its rude sculptures, that has
been forsaken for a later work by Niccolò Civitali, the nephew of
Matteo; the Assumption, carved in wood by that master behind the pulpit;
the lovely reliefs of Madonna and Child with Saints, by Jacopo della
Quercia, in the Cappella del Sacramento; or the great stone which, as it
is said, S. Frediano, that Irishman, lifted into a cart.

But it is not of S. Frediano we think in this dark and splendid place,
though the stone of his miracle lies before us, but of little S. Zita,
patron of housemaids, little S. Zita of Lucca, born in 1211. "Anziani di
Santa Zita," the devil calls the elders of Lucca in the eighth circle of
Hell; but in her day, indeed, she had no such fame as that. She was
born at Montesegradi, a village of the Lucchese, and was put to service
at twelve years of age, in the family of the Fantinelli, whose house was
close to this church, where now she has a chapel to herself at the west
end of the south aisle, with a fine Annunciation of the della Robbia. To
think of it!--but in those days it was different; it would puzzle Our
Lord to find a S. Zita among our housemaids of to-day. For hear and
consider well the virtues of this pearl above price, whose daughters,
alas! are so sadly to seek while she dusts the Apostles' chairs in
heaven. She was persuaded that labour was according to the will of God,
nor did she ever harbour any complaint under contradictions, poverty,
hardships; still less did she ever entertain the least idle, inordinate,
or worldly desire! She blessed God for placing her in a station where
she was ever busy, and where she must perpetually submit her will to
that of others. "She was even very sensible of the advantages of her
state, which afforded all necessaries of life without engaging her in
anxious cares, ... she obeyed her master and mistress in all things, ...
she rose always hours before the rest of the family, ... she took care
to hear Mass every morning before she was called upon by the duties of
her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and
fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied to
anticipate them!" Is it any wonder her fellow-servants hated her, called
her modesty simplicity, her want of spirit servility? Ah, we know that
spirit, we know that pride, S. Zita, and for those wings that bore you,
for that thoughtfulness and care, S. Zita, we should be willing to pay
you quite an inordinate wage! Nor would your mistress to-day be
prepossessed against you as yours was, neither would your master be
"passionate," and he would see you, S. Zita, without "transports of
rage." Your biographer tells us that it is not to be conceived how much
you had continually to suffer in that situation. Unjustly despised,
overburdened, reviled, and often beaten, you never repined nor lost
patience, but always preserved the same sweetness in your countenance,
and abated nothing of your application to your duties. Moreover, you
were willing to respect your fellow-servants as your superiors. And if
you were sent on a commission a mile or two, in the greatest storms, you
set out without delay, executed your business punctually, and returned
often almost drowned, without showing any sign of murmuring. And at
last, S. Zita, they found you out, they began to treat you better, they
even thought so well of you that a single word from you would often
suffice to check the greatest transports of your master's rage; and you
would cast yourself at the feet of that terrific man, to appease him in
favour of others. And all these and more were your virgin virtues, lost,
gone, forgotten out of mind, by a world that dreams of no heavenly
housemaid save in Lucca where you lived, and where they still keep your
April festa, and lay their nosegays on your grave.

So I passed in Lucca from church to church, finding here the body of a
little saint, there the tomb of a soldier, or the monument of some dear
dead woman. In S. Francesco, that desecrated great mausoleum that lies
at the end of the Via di S. Francesco not far from the garden tower of
Paolo Guinigi, I came upon the humble grave of Castruccio Castracani. In
S. Romano, at the other end of the city behind the Palazzo Provinciale,
it was the shrine of that S. Romano who was the gaoler of S. Lorenzo I
found, a tomb with the delicate flowerlike body of the murdered saint
carved there in gilded alabaster by Matteo Civitali.

It is chiefly Civitali's work you seek in the Museo in Palazzo
Provinciale, for, fine as the work of Bartolommeo is in two pictures to
be found there, it is for something more of the country than that you
are to come to Lucca. There, in a Madonna Assunta carved in wood and
plaster, and daintily painted as it seems he loved to do, you have
perhaps the most charming work that has come from his bottega. He was
not a great sculptor, but he had seen the vineyards round about, he had
wandered in the little woods at the city gates, he had watched the dawn
run down the valleys, and the wind that plays with the olives was his
friend. He has loved all that is delicate and lovely, the wings of
angels, the hands of children, the long blown hair of St. John in his
Death of the Virgin, the eyelids that have fallen over the eyes. He is
full of grace, and his virtues seem to me to be just those which Lucca
herself possesses. Hidden away between the mountains, between the plains
and the sea, she achieved nothing, or almost nothing. Castracani for a
moment forced her into the pell-mell of awakened Italy, but with his
death, and certainly with the fall of the House of Guinigi, she returned
to herself, to her own quiet heart, which was enough for her. This one
sculptor is almost her sole contribution to Italian art, but she was
content that his works should scatter her ways, and that hidden away in
her churches his shy flowers should blossom. Civitali and S. Zita, they
are the two typical Lucchesi; they sum up a city composed of such as
Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife, whom Van Eyck painted, that great
bourgeoisie which made Italy without knowing it, and, unconcerned while
the great men and the rabble fought in the wars or lost their lives in a
petty revolution, were eager only to be let alone, that they might
continue their labour and gather in wealth. And of them history is
silent, for they made her.


[144] See p. 94 et seq.

[145] This coining of money was as much as to prove that he had a sort
of sovereign right over their territory.


So in the long August days, that are so fierce in the city, I sought
once more the hills, the hills that are full of songs, those songs which
in Italy have grown with the flowers and are full of just their wistful
beauty, their expectancy and sweetness.

    "Fiorin di grano,
    Lasciatemi cantar, chè allegra sono,
    Ho rifatto la pace col mio damo."

There in the Garfagnana, as I wandered up past Castelnuovo to the little
village of Piazza al Serchio, and then through the hills to Fivizanno,
that wonderful old town in a cup of the mountains, I heard the whole
drama of love sung by the "vaghe montanine pastorelle" in the chestnut
woods or on the high lawns where summer is an eternal spring.

    "O rosa! O rosa! O rosa gentillina!
    Quanto bella t'ha fatta la tua mamma!
    T'ha fatto bella, poi t'ha messo un fiore;
    T'ha messo alla finestra a far l'amore.
    T'ha fatto bella e t'ha messo una rosa:
    T'ha messo alla finestra a far la sposa."

sings the young man one morning as he passes the cottage of his beloved,
and she, scarcely fourteen, goes to her mother, weeping perhaps--

    "Mamma, se non mi date il mio Beppino,
    Vo' andar pel mondo, e mai più vo' tornare.
    Se lo vedessi quanto gli è bellino,
    O mamma, vi farebbe innamorare.
    E' porta un giubboncin di tre colori,
    E si chiama Beppino Ruba--cori:
    E' porta un giubboncin rosso incarnato,
    E si chiama Beppino innamorato:
    E' porta un giubboncin di mezza lana;
    Quest' è Beppino, ed io son la sua dama."

Then the _damo_ comes to serenade his mistress--

    "Vengo di notte e vengo appassionato,
    Vengo nell'ora del tuo bel dormire.
    Se ti risveglio, faccio un gran peccato
    Perchè non dormo, e manco fo dormire.
    Se ti risveglio, un gran peccato faccio:
    Amor non dorme, e manco dormir lascia."

And she, who doubtless has heard it all in her little bed, sings on the

    "Oh, quanto tempo l'ho desiderato
    Un damo aver che fosse sonatore!
    Eccolo qua che Dio me l'ha mandato
    Tutto coperto di rose e viole;
    Eccolo qua che vien pianin pianino,
    A capo basso, e suona il violino."

Then they sing of Saturday and Sunday--

    "Quando sara sabato sera, quando?
    Quando sara domenica mattina,
    Che vedrò l'amor mio spasseggiando,
    Che vedrò quella faccia pellegrina,
    Che vedrò quel bel volto, e quel bel viso,
    O fior d'arancio côlto in paradiso!
    Che vedrò quel bel viso e quel bel volto,
    O fior d'arancio in paradiso côlto!"

So all the summer long they play at love; but with October Beppino must
go to the Maremma with the herds, and she thinks over this as the time
draws near--

    "E quando io penso a quelle tante miglia,
    E che voi, amor mio, l'avete a fare,
    Nelle mie vene il sangue si rappiglia,
    Tutti li sensi miei sento mancare;
    E li sento mancare a poco a poco,
    Come la cera in sull'ardente foco:
    E li sento mancare a dramma, a dramma,
    Come la cera in sull'ardente fiamma."

Or again, with half a sob--

    "Come volete faccia che non pianga
    Sapendo che da voi devo partire?
    E tu bello in Maremma ed io 'n montagna!
    Chesta partenza mi farà morire...."

And at last she watches him depart, winding down the long roads--

    "E vedo e vedo e non vedo chi voglio,
    Vedo le foglie di lontan tremare.
    E vedo lo mio amore in su quel poggio,
    E al piano mai lo vedo calare.
    O poggio traditor, che ne farete?
    O vivo o morto me lo renderete.
    O poggio traditor, che ne farai?
    O vivo o morto me lo renderai."

Then she dreams of sending a letter in verses, which recall, how
closely, the Swallow song of "The Princess"--

    "O Rondinella che passi monti e colli,
    Se trovi l'amor mio, digli che venga;
    E digli: son rimasta in questi poggi
    Come rimane la smarrita agnella.
    E digli: son rimasta senza nimo
    Come l'albero secco senza 'l cimo.
    E digli: son rimasta senza damo,
    Come l'albero secco senza il ramo.
    E digli: son rimasta abbandonata
    Come l'erbetta secca in sulle prata."

At length she sends a letter with the help of the village scrivener, and
in time gets an answer--

    "Salutatemi, bella, lo scrivano;
    Non lo conosco e non so chi si sia.
    A me mi pare un poeta sovrano
    Tanto gli è sperto nella poesia ..."

Signor Tigri in his excellent collection of _Canti Toscani_, from which
I have quoted, gives some examples too of these letters and their
replies, but they are too long to set down here.

With spring the lover returns. You may see the girls watching for the
lads any day of spring in those high far woods through which the roads
wind down to the plains.

    "Eccomi, bella, che son già venuto
    Che li sospiri tuoi m'hanno chiamato,
    E tu credevi d'avermi perduto,
    Dal ben che ti volevo son tornato.
    Quando son morto, mi farai un gran pianto;
    Dirai: è morto chi mi amava tanto!
    Quando son morto, un gran pianto farai,
    Padrona del mio cor sempre sarai."

Then in the early summer days the promises are given, and long and long
before autumn the good priest marries Beppino to his Annuziatina, and
doubtless they live happy ever after in those quiet and holy places.

It is into this country of happiness you come, a happiness so vaguely
musical, when, leaving Lucca in the summer heat, you climb into the
Garfagnana. For to your right Bagni di Lucca lies under Barga, with its
church and great pulpit; and indeed, the first town you enter is Borgo a
Mozzano by Serchio; then, following still the river, you come to
Gallicano, and then by a short steep road to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
at the foot of the great pass. The mountains have clustered round you,
bare and threatening, and though you be still in the woods it is their
tragic nudity you see all day long, full of the disastrous gestures of
death, that can never change or be modified or recalled. It is under
these lonely and desolate peaks that the road winds to Piazza al

Castelnuovo is a little city caught in a bend of Serchio, which it spans
by a fantastic high bridge that leaps across the shrunken torrent. A
mere huddle of mediaeval streets and piazzas in an amphitheatre of
mountains, its one claim on our notice is that here is a good inn, kept
by a strange tragical sort of man with a beautiful wife, the only
sunshine in that forbidding place. She lies there like a jewel among the
inhuman rocks, and Serchio for ever whispers her name. Here too,
doubtless, came Ariosto, most serene of poets, when in 1522 he was sent
to suppress an insurrection in the Garfagnana. But even Ariosto will not
keep you long in Castelnuovo, since she whom he would certainly have
sung, and whose name you will find in his poem, cannot hold you there.
So you follow the country road up stream, a laughing, leaping torrent in
September, full of stones longing for rain, towards Camporgiano.

It is very early in the morning maybe, as you climb out of the shadow
and receive suddenly the kiss of the morning sun over a shoulder of the
great mountains, a kiss like the kiss of the beloved. From the village
of Piazza al Serchio, where the inn is rough truly but _pulito_, it is a
climb of some six chilometri into the pass, where you leave the river,
then the road, always winding about the hills, runs level for four
miles, and at last drops for five miles into Fivizzano. All the way the
mountains stand over you frighteningly motionless and threatening, till
the woods of Fivizzano, that magical town, hide you in their shadow, and
evening comes as you climb the last hill that ends in the Piazza before
the door of the inn.

Here are hospitality, kindness, and a welcome; you will get a great room
for your rest, and the salone of the palace, for palace it is, for your
sojourn, and an old-fashioned host whose pleasure is your comfort, who
is, as it were, a daily miracle. He it will be who will make your bed in
the chamber where Grand Duke Leopold slept, he will wait upon you at
dinner as though you were the Duke's Grace herself, and if your sojourn
be long he will make you happy, and if your stay be short you will go
with regret. For his pride is your delight, and he, unlike too many more
famous Tuscans, has not forgotten the past. Certainly he thinks it not
altogether without glory, for he has carved in marble over your bed one
of those things which befell in his father's time. Here it is--

    "Qui stette per tre giorni
    Nel Settembre del MDCCCXXXII
    Leopoldo Il Granduca di Toscana
    E i fratelli Cojari da Fivizzano
    L'imagine dell' Ottimo Principi vi possero
    Perchè rimanesse ai posteri memoria
    Che la loro casa fu nobilitata
    Dalle presenza dell' ospite augusto."

But nature had ennobled the House of Cojari already. There all day long
in the pleasant heat the fountain of Cosimo in plays in the Piazza
outside your window, cooling your room with its song. And, indeed, in
all Tuscany it would be hard to find a place more delightful or more
lovely in which to spend the long summer that is so loath to go here in
the south. Too soon, too soon the road called me from those meadows and
shadowy ways, the never-ending whisper of the woods, the sound of
streams, the song of the mountain shepherd girls, the quiet ways of the

It was an hour after sunrise when I set out for Fosdinovo of the
Malaspina, for Sarzana, for Spezia, for England. The way lies over the
rivers Aulella and Bardine, through Soliero in the valley, through
Ceserano of the hills. Thence by a way steep and dangerous I came into
the valley of Bardine, only to mount again to Tendola and at last to
Foce Cuccù, where on all sides the valleys filled with woods fell away
from me, and suddenly at a turning of the way I spied out Fosdinovo,
lordly still on its bastion of rock, guarding Val di Magra, looking
towards Luna and the sea.

Little more than an eyrie for eagles, Fosdinovo is an almost perfect
fortress of the Middle Age. It glowers in the sun like a threat over the
ways that now are so quiet, where only the bullocks dragging the marble
from Carrara pass all day long from Massa to Spezia, from the valley to
the sea.

It was thence for the first time for many months I looked on a land that
was not Tuscany. Already autumn was come in that high place; a flutter
of leaves and the wind of the mountains made a sad music round about the
old walls, which had heard the voice of Castruccio Castracani, whose
gates he had opened by force. And then, as I sat there above the woods
towards evening, from some bird passing overhead there fell a tiny
feather, whiter than snow, that came straight into my hand. Was it a
bird, or my angel, whose beautiful, anxious wings trembled lest I should
fall in a land less simple than this?


Agostino di Duccio
Alberti, Leon
Alessi, Galeazzo
Angelico, Beato
Apuan Alps
Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo Fiorentino

Bagni di Lucca
Bartolommeo, Frate
Bellini, Giovanni
Benedetto da Maiano
Benedetto da Rovezzano
Benozzo, Gozzoli
Bertoldo di Giovanni
Borgo a Mozzano
Borgo S. Lorenzo
Bracco, Passo di

   S. Andrea
   Campo Lombardo
   Castel Castagnajo
   La Verna
   The way to
Castagno, Andrea del
Castel del Bosco
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
Castelnuovo di Magra
Castracani, Castruccio
Cellini, Benvenuto
Children in Italy
Cino da Pistoja
Civitali, Matteo
Consuma Pass
Country Life, Love of

Desiderio da Settignano
Doria, the
Duccio of Siena

Evelyn's approach to Genoa

Faggiuola, Uguccione della
Ferrucci, Andrea
   S. Ansano
   S. Domenico
   S. Francesco
   Palazzo Pretorio
   The way to
   View from
   Albizzi, the
   S. Antonino
   Beata Villana
   Boboli gardens
   Bocca degli Abati
   Campanile, the
   Capponi, Piero
   Charles VIII. in
      S. Ambrogio
      SS. Annunziata
      SS. Apostoli
      S. Appolonia
      S. Caterina
      Chiostro dello Scalzo
      S. Croce
      S. Donato a Torri
         Best aspect of
         Character of
         Nave, aspect of
      S. Felice
      S. Frediano in Castello
      S. Jacopo
      S. Lorenzo
         Laurentian library
         New Sacristy
         Old Sacristy
      S. Lucia sul Prato
      S. Marco
      S. Maria degli Angioli
      S. Maria degli Innocenti
      S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi
      S. Maria Novella
      S. Miniato
      S. Onofrio
      Or San Michele
      S. Piero Maggiore
      S. Piero Scheraggio
      S. Salvatore
      S. Salvi
      S. Simone
      S. Spirito
      S. Stefano
      S. Trinità
   Corso Donati
   Duke of Athens
  Farinata degli Uberti
    Porta Alla Croce
    S. Frediano
    S. Giorgio
    S. Miniato
    S. Niccola
  Liberty in Florence
  Loggia de' Lanzi
  Marsilio Ficino
  Medici, the--
    Cosimo I.
    Ferdinando II.
    Gian Gastone
    Giovanni di Bicci
    Piero the exile
  Mercato Nuovo
  Monte Senario
    Bargello, the
    Opera del Duomo
    Pitti Palace
    The curse of
  Neri and Bianchi
  Niccolò Uzzano
  Ospedale degli Innocenti
    Bargello, _see_ Museums
    Bartolini Salimbeni
    Falconieri, _see_ Opera del Duomo, under Museums
    del Podestà, _see_ Bargello
    Uffizi, _see_ under Museums
    SS. Annunziata
    S. Croce
    S. Lorenzo
    S. Maria Novella
    S. Piero
    S. Trinità
    Vittorio Emanuele
  Pico della Mirandola
  Pitti, the family of
    delle Belle Donne
    Borgo Allegri
    Borgo degli Albizzi
    Borgo SS. Apostoli
    Borgo S. Jacopo
    Borgo S. Lorenzo
    Por S. Maria
    Porta Rossa
    dei Serpi
    Viale dei Colli
Foce La (di Spezia)
Foce La (di Carrara)

Gaddi, Agnolo
Gaddi, Taddeo
Garfagnana Pass
  A living city
  Acqua Sole
  Alfonso of Aragon
  Approach to
  Bank of S. George
  Boccanegra, Doge
  Briglia, the
  Castelletto, the
  Catino, the
  Charles V and
    S. Agostino
    S. Ambrogio
    Duomo (S. Lorenzo)
    S. Fruttuoso
    S. Giovanni di Prè
    S. Maria di Castello
    S. Matteo
    S. Siro
    S. Stefano
  Cross of S. George
  Doria, the
  Doria, Andrea
    Tower of
  Godfrey of Bouillon
  History of
  Libro d'Oro
  Loggia dei Banchi
  Moors, expedition against
    della Casa
    Doria, Giorgio
    Durazzo Pallavicini
    Giorgio Doria
    Spinola (via Garibaldi)
    Spinola (S. di S. Catrina)
    della Università
    Fontane Marose
  Pictures in Genoa--
    David (Gerard)
    Guido Reni
    Luca Cambiasi
  Porta S. Andrea
  Sforza, the
  Slums of
      Salita di S. Caterina
      Strada degli Orefici
   Vandyck in
   Visconti in
   War with Pisa
   War with Venice
Gentile da Fabriano
Gerini Niccola di Pietro
Gherardesca Conte Ugolino della
Giovanni da Bologna
Guelph and Ghibelline
Guglielmo, Fra
Guidi, Conti
Guido da Como


Italy, approach to

Jacopo della Quercia

Laurentian Library
La Verna
Lippi (Fra Lippo)
Lippi, Filippino
  Monte Nero
Lorenzetti, the
Lorenzo di Credi
  Castruccio Castracane
    S. Francesco
    S. Frediano
    S. Giovanni
    S. Michele in Borgo
    S. Romano
  Matteo Civitali
  S. Zita

Magni, Villa
Magra, the
Manetti, Gianozzo
Marco Polo
Martini, Simone
Matilda Contessa
Meloria, battle of
Melozzo da Forli
Mino da Fiesole
Monaco, Lorenzo

Nanni di Banco
Neri and Bianchi
Niccolò d'Arezzo
Nicholas V

Oratorio della Vannella

Pandolfini, Agnolo
Paris Bordone
Perugino, Pietro
Piazza al Serchio
Piero della Francesco
Piero di Cosimo
Piero di Giovanni Tedesco
Pietro a Grado, S.
Pineta di Pisa
Pineta di Viareggio
  Agnello, Doge
  Archbishop Peter
  Assumption, Feast of, in
  Balearic Islands
  Benozzo Gozzoli
  Bergolini and Raspanti
  S. Bernard in
  Borgo, The
  Campagnia di S. Michele
  Campo Santo
  Casa dei Trovatelli
  Castruccio Castracane
    S. Anna
    S. Caterina
    S. Francesco
    S. Frediano
    Madonna della Spina
    S. Maria Maddalena
    S. Martino
    S. Michele in Borgo
    S. Niccola
    S. Paolo al Orto
    S. Paolo a Ripa
    S. Pierino
    S. Pietro a Grado
    S. Ranieri
    S. Sepolcro
    S. Sisto
    S. Stefano
  Cintola del Duomo
  Cosimo I
  Divisions in Twelfth Century
  Etruscan Pisa
  Gentile da Fabriano
  Gherardesca, Ugolino della
  Guelph and Ghibelline
  Guglielmo, Frate
  History of
  Knights of S. Stephen
  Loggia dei Banchi
  Lung' Arno
  Martini, Simone
  Montefeltro, Guido di
    dei Cavalieri
    del Comune
    del Consiglio
    del Granduca
    del Podestà
  Palio and Ponte
    dei Cavalieri
    del Duomo
    di S. Francesco
    di S. Paolo
  Pisano Giovanni
  Pisano, Giunta
  Pisano, Niccolò
  Ponte di Mezzo
  Ponte Solferino
  Porta Aurea
  Porto Pisano
  Roman Pisa
  Torre Guelfa
  Tower of Hunger
  "Triumph of Death"
  Uguccione della Faggiuola
    S. Andrea
    S. Bartolommeo
    S. Domenico
    S. Francesco al Prato
    S. Giovanni Evangelista
    S. Piero Maggiore
    S. Salvatore
  Origin of Pistoia
  Palazzo del Comune
  Palazzo Pretorio
  Torre del Podestà
Poggio Gherardo
Pollaiuolo, Ant.
Porto Pisano
Prisons, position of

Riviera di Levante
Robbia della
Robbia Luca della
Rossellino, Antonio
Rossellino, Bernardo

S. Domenico di Fiesole
S. Ellero
S. Francesco
S. Fruttuoso
S. Giovanni Gualberto
S. Godenzo
S. Marcello
S. Margherita
S. Martino a Mensola
S. Michele di Pagana
S. Miniato al Tedesco
S. Romano
S. Romualdo
S. Terenzano
Sansovino, Andrea
Sarto, Andrea del
Sestri Levante
Simone Martini
South, Praise of the
Stagi, Stagio

Tuscany, entrance to
Tuscany, the road to

Uccello, Paolo

Val di Lima
Val di Nievole
Val di Reno
Villa Palmieri

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