Radicofani, Oct. 28th.
I BEGIN to despair of magical adventures, since none happened at Radicofani,
which nature seems wholly to have abandoned. Not a tree, not an acre
of soil, has she bestowed upon its inhabitants, who would have more
excuse for practising the gloomy art than the rest of mankind. I was
very glad to leave their black hills and stony wilderness behind, and,
entering the Papal territory, to see some shrubs and cornfields at a
distance, near Aquapendente, which is situated on a ledge of cliffs
mantled with chesnut copses and tufted ilex. The country grew varied
and picturesque. St. Lorenzo, the next post, built upon a hill, overlooks
the lake of Bolsena, whose woody shores conceal many ruined buildings.
We passed some of them in a retired vale, with arches from rock to rock,
and grottos beneath, half lost in thickets, from which rise craggy pinnacles
crowned by mouldering towers; just such scenery as Polemburg and Peter
de Laer introduce in their paintings. Beyond these truly Italian prospects,
which a mellow evening tint rendered still more interesting, a forest
of oaks presents itself upon the brows of hills, which extends almost
the whole way to Monte Fiascone. It was late when we ascended it. The
whole country seems full of inhabited caverns, that began as night drew
on to shine with fires. We saw many dark shapes glancing before them,
and perhaps a subterraneous people like the Cimmerians lurk in their
recesses. The crackling of flames, and confused hum of voices, struck
our ears as we passed along. I wished to have mixed in these nocturnal
assemblies; but prudently repressed my curiosity, lest I might have
intruded upon some mysterious rites, and have suffered the punishment
due to sacrilege. As we drew near Viterbo, the lights in the fields
grew less and less frequent; and when we entered the town, all was total
darkness. Tomorrow I hope to pay my vows before the high altar of St.
Peter, and tread the Vatican. My heart beats quick with the idea of
approaching Rome. Why are you not here to usher me into that imperial
city: to watch my first glance of the Coliseo: and lead me up the stairs
of the Capitol? I shall rise before the sun, that I may see him set
from Monte Cavallo.