Page images

bia, or cross it to the promontory of Bellagio, or to the op posite shore at Varenna, at all which places there are good inns. Near Tremezzo, a little way beyond Cadenabbia, is the Villa Sommariva, among terraces bordered with myrtle hedges and perfumed with citron groves. This palace contains several remarkable works of art-paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari, B. Luini, and others; also the Palamedes of Canova, and, above all, Thorwaldsen's grand bas-relief the Triumph of Alexander, executed for Napoleon when Emperor, and designed by him to decorate the Simplon arch at Milan.

Bellagio is a charming spot, commanding perhaps the most splendid views to be met with on any of the Italian lakes. The prospect is double, extending upwards, as well as down towards Como and Lucco. The best points for enjoying it are the terraces and delightful gardens of the Villa Serbelloni.

The Villa Melzi, another palace in this neighbourhood, is a charming mansion, elegantly fitted up, chiefly visited on account of its beautiful flower-garden.

Varenna (where the Post-house is most agreeable quarters) may be visited on account of the remarkable galleries near it excavated in the solid rock, to allow that magnificent work of art, the Road to the Stelvio Pass, to traverse the E. shore of the lake.

The Comasques emigrate all over Europe, as venders of Plaster of Paris figures, barometers, and looking-glasses.

A steam-boat starts every morning at 8 from Como, and ascends the lake to Domaso, returning the same evening, and touching at all the principal places on its shores. The fare is 5 fr. 22 c.

The steamer returns to Como about 5, corresponding, both in the hour of arrival and departure, with the omnibus (called Velocifera), which runs to and from Milan daily.

They who wish to explore the beauties of the lake at their leisure had better take a row-boat.

There cannot be a more delightful voyage than that along the S. W. arm of the lake to Como; the shores are literally speckled with villages and with white villas, the summer resort of the Milanese nobility, during the season of the Villeggiatura.

The places most worth mentioning on the E. shore are Nesso, backed by a dark wooded gully, out of which dashes a cascade, and near it the Villa Lenno, supposed to stand on the side of Pliny's Villa, which, from its sombre situation, he called Tragedia; an opinion confirmed by the discovery of broken columns, etc., in the lake. Beyond Lenno (Lemnos), in a retired bay, is the Villa Pliniana, a square

melancholy building, so called, not because Piiny lived here, but because an intermittent spring rising behind it, is asserted to be the one minutely described by him Beyond the wooded promontory Torno is Blevio, near which a monument is erected to Mr. Lake, who was drowned here in 1833. Nearer to Como is the Villa Pasta, the residence of the celebrated singer.

On the opposite, or W. shore, beginning from Cadenabbia, we may mention Balbiano, on a projecting promontory, the Isola Concacina, Urio, the Villa Passalacqua, with its terraced gardens; and near Cernobia, the Villa d'Este, so named by Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, who resided here some time, also the Villa Odescalchi, the largest on the lake.

The Lake of Como, called by the ancients Lacus Larius, (te, Lari maxime !-Virg.), is about 40 miles long, from N. to S. Its S. extremity is divided into two branches by the promontory of Bellagio, at the bottom of one of these bays lies Como (Comum), the birth-place of Pliny and Volta; and, at the extremity of the other, on the E., Lecco. The chief feeder of the lake is the Adda, which enters it at the N., and flows out at Lecco. The bay of Como has no outlet, so that its waters must also find their way out by the Adda. Taken altogether, it perhaps surpasses in beauty of scenery, and in the richness of its almost tropical vegetation, every other lake in Italy. It enjoys a classical reputation, as the residence of the two Plinys, and the scene of the scientific researches of the elder Pliny, the naturalist. Claudian describes the voyage up the lake in the following elegant lines:

"Protinus umbrosâ quà vestit littus olivâ
Larius, et dulci mentitur Nerea fluctu,
Parvâ puppe lacum prætervolat ocius, inde
Scandit inaccessos brumali sidere montes."





As the traveller in Switzerland, who has fully enjoyed the scenery of the Alps, and inhaled fresh spirit with the mountain air, must desire information upon such routes as are often or occasionally visited across the great chain of the Alps south of the Simplon, and which would lie within his summer's excursion, the following information upon such passes as debouche into the course of the route of the Simplon, furnished by a traveller who has himself examined all upon which he has written, will be found useful to those who are disposed, not only to examine the lateral valleys which fall into the Route of the Simplon, but such other alpine passes and retreats as the traverses of the great chain present, from Savoy and France into Piedmont--even to the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean.

Piedmont has on its northern, western, and south-western sides, a clearly-defined frontier in the ridge of the great chain of the Alps. From the valley of the Toccia, which lies within its frontier, to the Col de Ferret, near Mont Blanc, the Pennine Alps divide it from Switzerland; from the Col de Ferret to Mont Tabor, the Graian Alps separate Piedmont from Savoy; from Mont Tabor to the Col d'Argentière, at the head of the valley of the Stura, the Cottian Alps separate it from France; and from the Argentière to the source of the Tanaro in the Monte Cassino, the Maritime Alps divide the southern Piedmont from the county of Nice. East of the Monte Cassino the great alpine chain passes insensibly into the Apennines.

The eastern boundary-the frontier of the Milanese and the States of Parma is not within the object of this section, which is to furnish to travellers useful information for excursions in the Alps of Piedmont.

On the side of Italy, the Alps offer a striking difference in their appearance to that presented in the approaches from Switzerland, Savoy, or France. From these the intervention of secondary ranges, and the long valleys preclude any great

extent of the chain from being seen at the same time; but from the plains of Piedmont, even as near as Turin-not 30 miles in a direct line from the nearest point in the crest of the chain-a range of the central peaks and passes, extending through 200 miles, is clearly seen.

A day's journey is sufficient, from almost every accessible part of the crest of the Alps, for a descent into the plains of Piedmont; whilst on the western side of the chain, two or three days of approach from the plains, in deep valleys amidst the mountains, are requisite for its attainment.

The rambler in the Piedmontese Alps will generally find accommodation equal to any in Switzerland, except perhaps in the beaten routes of the Bernese Alps, and sight-seeing excursions, as on the Righi. Crowds would find provisions short and want of room, but parties of two or three would fare well, be received with civility without obsequiousness, and meet with less extortionate hosts than in Switzerland. Fleecing the traveller has not yet grown into a system as among that independent people; and, generally, a traveller may devote more time, and visit more sublime scenes, at a less expense, and with nearly as much facility as in Switzerland. Piedmont only requires to be more known to turn the current of ramblers, and induce them to spend a part at least of their time and money among its romantic valleys and passes.

The roads skirting the Alps, and the approaches to them from the plains of Piedmont, are generally excellent. Wherever there is intercourse there is a good road adapted to the wants of the inhabitants: if fit for volantins or chars, these may always be obtained at moderate charges, usually 12 francs a day. Mules may readily be obtained in all mountain routes accessible to them, at charges varying from 4 to 6 francs a day; and guides at 4 or 5 francs a day may be had in every alpine village of Piedmont. It is desirable to get men known to, or recommended by, the innkeepers or the Cures of their villages; for they are so fond of the employment, that few scruple to avow their acquaintance with passes and places of which they really know nothing: their only use then to the traveller is to bear his luggage, and talk Piedmontese, a jargon which few travellers are acquainted with. In Piedmont French and Italian are often unknown; among those, however, who act as guides, French is generally spoken, especially in those valleys on the frontiers of Savoy and France.

If mules, horses, or a char be taken across the frontier, a boleta, or permission to pass the douane, is necessary; here the animal is registered, the course of the traveller stated, and money for the horse deposited as a duty upon the entrée, which is returned to the owner when he leaves the place on

the frontier, indicated in the boleta, to return to his own country.

As there is much smuggling on the frontier of France, the traveller is often subjected to vexatious delay, but time will always be gained by submitting to it. The French can rarely be bribed-the Piedmontese easily-to facilitate the passage from one country to another.

It is almost unnecessary to advise a traveller not to sleep in the plains, if he can reach the mountains. His own love of that

"Health in the breeze and freshness in the gale,"

which is so exciting and invigorating in the mountains, he would seek for the pleasure and spirit of breathing it; but the suggestion is offered to induce young travellers to avoid sleeping near the rice grounds of Piedmont, or near the ponds, where in the summer the Piedmontese steep their hemp; these are deleterious, and may produce fever-fatal to the continuance and enjoyment of an alpine journey.

The wines of Piedmont are generally wholesome, often fine, and sometimes of great celebrity; and there is scarcely a hut in a village on the mountains where grisane-a fine sort of biscuit, long, like pipes, and made of excellent flour,cannot be obtained. The traveller should never fail to supply his pockets with some of this, broken to convenient lengths; this, with a quaff from a fresh cold spring, having a dash of Kirschenwasser in it, will bear him, if taken at his intervals of rest, through a long day's journey.

The money of Piedmont is the same as of France; i. e., of the same quality, denomination, and value.

The measures of distance are very difficult to understand. The mile of Italy, 60 to a degree, is sometimes meant; but more frequently the mile of Piedmout, 40 to a degree: the difference is enough to add a weary length to a day's journey, when the mile is nearly double that of the mile of England. The French league of 25 to a degree is a common measure by which they estimate distances; but all these are vague as applied to mountain rambles, and it is best to estimate distance by trial. There can be no mistake where from point to point is stated as so many hours distant; and what has been accomplished in a day or six hours by one traveller, may be safely recommended as the time required for another.

« PreviousContinue »