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the stonepine overhang the gorge, and enrich its sublimity, with a touch of objects in such situations beautiful: some hamlets are passed in this savage ravine. At length the road emerges, winds up a steep and rugged path, crosses the torrent of Seillac, and descends upon Guillestre, a little bourg which was one of the stations, during the war, for English prisoners.

A little below, the road passes beneath the fort of Mont Dauphin, which guards this entrance to France a garrison singularly placed on a rock that is insulated at the mouth of the Guil, at its confluence with the Durance. Here the great route from Grenoble to Briançon is entered; and the course down the valley to Embrun (2 hours) is by an admirably formed and well-kept road.

ROUTE 133.


From Embrun to Abries (Route 132.)

After passing Ristolas and ascending the valley of the Guil to La Monta-where the path to the Col de Croix turns off to the left-the route to the Monte Viso continues up the valley to the highest village, l'Echalp, about a mile and half above La Monta. At l'Echalp guides may be obtained for excursions either across the Monte Viso to Saluzzo, or into the valleys and recesses of this remarkable mountain.

The valley of the Guil above Abries is narrow and savage: bare and precipitous escarpments descend to the torrent, and form its left boundary: the bed of the Guil is filled with enormous rocks. The path to the Col de Viso ascends above the right bank over steep acclivities and pasturages. Above these the head of the Monte Viso is continually presented, filling the open space in the view, formed by the sides of the valley of the Guil. After a long and fatiguing ascent to the châlets and the Bergerie de Monviso, the pasturages are at length left, and the ascent lies over the remains of a road rudely paved with large rough stones, so destroyed in many places by the rocks which have fallen from the impending precipices, that the ascent is dangerous and impracticable for inules-the danger lies in their liability to slip between the rocks and stones, and thus break their legs. This paved road formerly reached to the Gallery of the Traversette, which pierced the mountain 250 feet below the present crest, but its entrance has been closed by the débris of the precipices which overhang the pass; masses from these have fallen and destroyed the path within its range. From the last traces of the road, the traveller must scramble up the trackless slope,

towards the mountain which overhangs him; this steep ascent, over beds of snow, keeping close to the impending rocks, leads up to the col of the Viso, 5 hours distant from Abries. From the col, the view down the valley of the Po and over the plains of Piedmont, is one of the most magnificent in the world. This vast expanse, seen from a height of 10,156 English feet above the level of the sea, commands a view. which extends to 100 miles distant in the horizon. The rocks and vast precipices in the foreground and on the col, the deep subsidences of the mountains which bound the valley of the Po immediately below the observer, till they sink lower and lower into the plains, are most impressive. On the plain, bright but indistinct masses, mark the positions of the towns and cities of Piedmont within the view, and this indistinctness contrasted with the sharp and defined forms of the enormous peak of the Viso, rising yet 3000 feet higher and in close proximity to the observer, produce an indescribable | effect upon his mind and feelings; this view extending to an indistinct horizon, is one of the most magnificent and sublinie scenes in the world. The traveller who would enjoy it should leave Abries so as to be on the Col de Viso by 10 o'clock or earlier. This can only be made certain by starting soon after 4 in the morning from Abries; before mid-day, vapour gererally rises in the plains and the valley of the Po, and obscures the prospect.

The col is a mere ridge, so narrow that it is traversed in a few paces. On it are the remains of a redoubt; and here, during the wars of the Revolution, many struggles were made and battles fought for the possession of this position.

Some, with no better foundation than the fact that the plains of the Po could be seen from the col, have supposed that this was the route of Hannibal; but the same authority that records his having shown the plains to his army, states that the army encamped on the summit, and waited three days for stragglers. Here, 100 men could not have encamped, and the pass must then have been impracticable to elephants, and even horses,-for the gallery, which pierced the mountain 250 feet below, to avoid the traverse of the last and steepest part of the crest, was only made in the 15th century; but this too was imputed to Hannibal, as if a mountain could be pierced more rapidly by an army than by as many men as could be brought to apply their labour efficiently upon a point so limited.

But the question about the construction of this gallery has been recently settled by the discovery of documents at Saluces. It had been attributed to Hannibal-to Pompey-to the Dauphin Humbert of Vienne-to the Saracens and to Francis I., and the advocates for each found arguments to

support their opinions. It was, however, executed under the Orders of Ludovico II., Marquis of Saluces; who, with a spirit beyond his age, undertook this extraordinary work for the commercial interests of his people, by making a route three days shorter than any other from Saluces to Dauphiny. By treaty with Rene, king of Provence, who contributed towards the expenses on his side of the mountain, this road was opened to receive from France by laden mules, salt, drapery, and metal wares, in return for nut oil, wine, rice, and flax from the marquisate of Saluces. By means of this gallery, and the roads constructed as approaches, this intercourse was open 6 or 8 months in the year.

The length of the gallery was about 250 English feet, and 10 feet high and 10 wide. It was begun in 1478, and was completed in 1480;-an extraordinary work to accomplish in that time, especially as they could only labour, at that height, about 7 or 8 months in the year.

At present not a trace of the gallery remains the rocks have fallen and buried the entrance on both sides. This had frequently occurred-in 1620, 1676, 1798, and 1812-and the fallen masses had been removed by the people of the communes on either side of the mountain. In 1823 a mass fell, and so entirely closed the entrance on the side of Piedmont, that where it was, cannot be clearly seen; it had some time before been buried on the side of France. It has ceased to be important for commercial objects since the opening of the route by the Mont Genèvre, and it will now in all probability remain for ever closed.

The ascent to the col on either side, but particularly on that of Piedmont, was greatly relieved by the gallery; for though the perpendicular difference of height was not more than 300 feet, this was the most difficult part, for even now, in the descent towards Piedmont, its inclination exceeds 45 degrees.

Down this steep and difficult path the traveller has to proceed towards the valley of the Po. To descend thither he moves beneath precipices that every moment threaten to bury him, and these subtend such vast angles above him, that the precipices are a thousand times more impressive than loftier ones at a greater distance.

About 1000 feet below the col, a mass of rock is turned abruptly, and on the right there lies a scene unsurpassed for the immensity of the objects above, below, and around the observer. On looking up to the right towards the Monte Viso, this mountain rises in all its magnificence on one side of a deep valley, in which are some little dark lakes, the source of the Po, which below them is seen to trickle in a silver line down the black rocks, from the base of the Viso into the val

he hastily left Carmagnole to join a body of Swiss troops under the cardinal Schinner at Pignerol. On his way thither he stopped to dine at Villefranche, where the French surprised him and made him prisoner. The gallant party then fell back upon Fossano to await the descent of the French army under Francis; who, whilst other passes from France were carefully guarded, descended by this from the Argentière. The Swiss, who were at Coni, hastened to join Schinner's troops at Pignerol. Their defeat at Marignano by Francis soon followed, and their long-sustained reputation for invincible soldiers was there lost.*

Soon after passing Rocca Sparviera the road winds down to the river, crosses the Stura, and continues on its left bank almost throughout the valley. The cultivated land which borders the Stura is very rich and luxuriant: the chestnut trees are of great magnitude; and the forms of the mountains which bound the valley are highly picturesque.

About four leagues from St. Dalmazio the traveller reaches Demont, a town formerly remarkable for its fort, which guarded the valley of the Stura and the communication with France by the Col d'Argentière it was built by Charles Emanuel I. in the sixteenth century, upon the ruins of an old castle which had been razed by the Austrians in 1559. It has been memorable for its sieges in almost every war between France and Sardinia In that of 1744, when the Spanish and French armies, commanded by the Infant Don Philip and the Prince of Condé, invaded Piedmont, they forced the narrow pass of the Barricades, descended the valley of the Stura, and took the fort of Demont by the use of red-hot shot. Afterwards they besieged Coni, and fought a battle which they won from Charles Emanuel III., who succeeded, however, in throwing supplies into the city, which was gallantly defended. After a long and tedious investment, the storms of autumn and the want of supplies-which were cut off by the Piedmontese peasantry-compelled the allies to raise the siege and recross the Alps towards the latter end of November, when they suffered the severest privations from cold, hunger, and fatigue. Though pursued by the troops, assailed by the peasants, and exposed to storms, yet they returned to France, over frozen roads and through deep snow, with all their artillery, and with a few guns taken from their enemies,the miserable trophies for which they sacrificed thousands of lives and millions of treasure: on their way, they destroyed the fort of Demont. It was again restored, but finally demo

* Sismondi has made sad rigmarole of the topography of this


Val Stura-Col d'Argentière. 485 1ished in 1801; when Piedmont having become a part of France, the forts that guarded the defiles on the frontiers of Dauphiny were razed. Since the restoration of Piedmont the reconstruction of many has been contemplated, some are begun, and this among them. The mound upon which the ruins stand is situated in the middle of the valley,-the river passing on one side, and the road on the other. Further up the valley, and not far from the fort, is the bourg of Demont, where there is a tolerable inn. From Demont to

Venadio, the scenery is in many places highly picturesque, -a charm for which it is much indebted to the magnificent old trees which form fore-grounds to beautiful views of the river and the mountains; and these are heightened by the festoons of vines and gourds which decorate the branches. From the town of Venadio the scene down the valley is very fine. Here it is necessary to leave the char; but mules may be hired for continuing the journey up the valley, and across the Argentière into France.

Above Venadio the change is rapid to wild and alpine scenery, varying from a road by the stream which ripples through quiet meadows, to narrow paths which overhang the course of the torrent-a course, too narrow in the ravine for a path by the river, it is therefore carried on ledges of the precipices above, and forms in some places fearful mule paths for the traveller's ascent of the valley. Such scenes are observed near Zambucco. Above are the villages of Pied de Port and Pont Bernardo. At a place called the Barricadesa narrow defile, where defences of the valley were formerly erected, and which was often the scene of desperate conflicts -the road is carried along a shelf of rock above the river, and has been cut out of the precipices which darken and overhang the ravine, and offers an almost impregnable barrier to the passage of the valley. Above the Barricades the road, or rather path, lies amidst the debris of the mountains which bound the valley, and offer a scene of wild desolation. Above it lie the villages of Praynard and Bersesio; the latter is the principal place between the Barricades and the Col d'Argentière; here accommodation may be found, after a long day's journey from Coni, preparatory to another from Bersesio, across the mountain to Barcelonnette.

Bersesio. Above this village the scenery is wild and rugged, the mountains presenting a thousand pinnacles of rock, blighted and scathed. Still in the valley barley is cultivated, and the pastures are rich; and the villages of Argentière and La Madelaine are found. Soon after passing the latter of these the path leads abruptly to the Col d'Argentière, 7200 feet above the level of the sea. Before arriving at the crest, the path skirts a little lake, the source of the Stura, called

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