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still further protected from the sun by large red silk umbrellas, urged on their little ambling mules, evidently anxious to reach Catania before the sun had become very powerful. Now was to be seen a bevy of blackeyed and black-skinned damsels, who, covered with their veils and carrying their baskets of fruit and market-produce before them, pressed on their donkeys, and seemed to vie with the others of the passing throng as to who should go the fastest, and favoured the Inglesi with laughing glances. Now was met a long string of gaily-caparisoned mules, heavily laden with the dirty-looking pig-skins, distended by the wine which they contained, and whose bells jingled merrily as they were hastily driven forward by the jaunty muleteer. Again, these were followed by a gaudy yellow-painted cart, on which were bedaubed red and blue figures of the Virgin and a whole host of saints, and which was filled with the rich produce of a vineyard. All of this motley crowd seemed goodtempered and cheerful ; and many of them, as we passed by, greeted us with the “Come state, signori !” which we of course returned. Altogether, this was one of the most picturesque and animated scenes—backed, too, as it was by lofty Etna and gloriously white Catania—that I have ever seen of the kind. In about half an hour we had passed the motley throng, and I was just pointing out a small field of cotton to my friend, when he suddenly exclaimed
" I say, H-, have you got those piastres ?” “ What piastres ?”
Why, the piastres you asked me for, and which I put out for you." “ Me!-no, I have not got them."
“ Then I must have left them on the table! What shall we do? Here !--hie!-stop!-arretez! Fermate, cocchiere !" these two last words brought our voiturier up, and my friend then explained the matter to him; and he was in the act of turning round to drive back to Catania, when he shouted out, “ Vedete, signori!" and looking back, we saw a man with nothing on but his trousers and a belt round his waist racing after us and flourishing his right hand high in the air. As he approached I recognised in him the “ Boots” at Abates, and on his coming up, he handed to my friend, with an air of triumph, the missing piastres. Honest Placido had found them shortly after we had left, and immediately despatched Boots after us with them, who grinned with delight as we handed him a few carlini for his trouble.
Our cocchiere now drove on; and we, standing up and leaning against the back of the carriage, enjoyed the beautiful scenery about the base of Etna. The plain we were now traversing is one of the best points from which to gain a view, and be able to judge of the immensity of the base of Mount Etna, and its exceedingly rich and fertile appearance. It is this grandeur of size of the base which gives such a peculiarly noble and solid appearance to the mountain, rising as it does so completely from the plain, and takes off greatly from the steepness of the ascent. We could easily distinguish the different zones or regions into which the mountain is divided, and the numerous villages which lie around the lowest one.
We now crossed by a rickety wooden bridge the river Giaretta, the ancient Simetus, supposed to be the one into which the nymph Thalia was changed after her amour with Jupiter; and shortly after met for the
first time the gay letiga. This is a kind of sedan-chair, without wheels, most gaudily painted and decorated; but instead of being carried by men, two mules, covered with gay trappings and small bells, are harnessed to it, one in front, the other behind ; but as they seldom, if ever, keep an even pace, I should think the motion must be horrible, and quite pitied the occupant of it—who, however, seemed tolerably at his ease.
Continuing our route, sometimes walking up the steep hills, which evidently formed the inner ridge of mountains which I had before observed appeared to surround Etna, we shortly after arrived at Leutini, one of the most ancient cities in Sicily. The soil about here is remarkably fertile, but the town itself is unhealthy, owing to its vicinity to the lake of Biveri. As our horses slowly dragged us up the steep streets, we passed a number of women just coming out of church from high mass. Two or three of the younger ones had bright eyes, and, notwithstanding their very dark complexions, rather pleasing features. They all wore the long black Spanish mantilla, which gave them a very sombre appearance.
Ascending the steep mountains that rise behind Leutini, we arrived at Carlentini, a small town on the top of this ridge of mountains. The surrounding country is very pleasing, particularly when, looking back over the vast plain we had just traversed, we saw Catania in the distance, and the horizon bounded by cloud-capped Etna, the Straits of Messina, and the coast of Calabria.
At about one o'clock we stopped at a small village to rest our cattle for an hour ; and in order to get out of the merciless heat of the sun, entered a small cottage, the owner of which set before us some of the largest grapes I ever saw, and some very passable wine. With these, and a crust of bread Abate had given us, we made a very tolerable luncheon.
Resuming our journey, we sometimes passed over vast tracts of moor, covered with flocks of small black sheep with long hairy wool ; at other times we descended into the steep ravines, which continually presented the most romantic landscapes imaginable. In one in particular, the road wound down the almost precipitous side of the hill to the bottom of the ravine, through which ran a clear rapid torrent, whose banks were clothed with the beautiful oleander, and a number of flowers and shrubs of great beauty whose names we knew not. In the stream stood the timehonoured buttresses of an old bridge, which had evidently been swept away by a storm. Crossing the stream higher up, the picturesque character of the scene was heightened by a party of gensd'armes, some of whom were watering their horses in the stream, whilst others were passing up the steep sides of the ravine, their glazed cocked hats and bright arms glistening in the sun among the luxuriant foliage that covered the hillside. Now we came in sight of Agosta, situated on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the sea, and passed not far from the column of Marcellus. Still further'on we passed through a country in which is cultivated the sugar-cane—the oleander and the castor-oil plant lining the side of the road. Now we traversed a road hardly yet laid out, and which nearly shook us to pieces; and then ascending a ridge of high rocks, we obtained from the summit a fine view of Syracuse, which once spread over the face of the country for some distance, but is now confined to the small island of Ortygia. With the appearance of few towns have I been more pleased at first sight than with Syracuse. It is peculiarly dissimilar from most
others that I have seen: not a tree appears near it; and it has a very Asiatic appearance, particularly when seen from the ridge on which we then were. Below us extended a vast sandy plain, bounded on the right by a lofty range of hills, on the left by the Mediterranean; and Syracuse rising from the sea, by which it is surrounded, appearing before us. This scene was greatly enhanced by the sun, already declining, throwing its golden rays
Arrived at the outer gates, we could hardly make our way through the crowd of peasants, who, seated on their donkeys, kicked up
a tremendous row as they chattered to each other, and pointed out the Forestieri
. They all had a very Oriental cast of countenance, and were much darker than the people of Catania. Passing through the triple, or I believe quadruple, line of fortifications, we arrived at the inner gate, when we were stopped by the doganiers, or rather octroi officers : we saw at once that they wanted to extract some tari out of our pockets, but, determined to amuse ourselves with them, we at once took out our keys and proceeded to open our traps to show that we had no provisions, when they said, “Si! si ! signori, tutti vestiti ! tutti vestiti!" " All clothes! all clothes !” and looked very knowingly at us. Pretending not to understand the look, we told the voiturier to drive on, which he did, much to the discomfiture of our friends, who stared with astonishment at our coolness, and whose discomfort we still more increased by being unable to stifle our laughter, in which the bystanders heartily joined. Arrived at the hotel, an exceedingly good one, and in which we were the only guests, we took possession of two comfortable rooms, and immediately threw open the windows and enjoyed the lovely prospect as the sun sank beneath the Mediterranean. Whilst mutually expressing our pleasure at the superb sunset, my friend suddenly exclaimed,
“Why, —, one of the doganiers, who stopped us at the gate, is in my room! I wonder what he wants ?”
« To arrest you for baving insulted his dignity."
I then heard my friend blusteriug away with his Irish at him, and he answering in his Sicilian patois. At last,
" I say, H--, he keeps putting his hand to his mouth as if he was eating maccaroni, and wants something to drink. I'll send him to you.”
“So, do, and we will have some fun with him." Accordingly the fellow came into my room, but, as I was leaning out of window, I did not take any notice of him until he had repeated“ Signore ! signore!" some dozen of times, when, turning round, I asked him, "What the d-l do you want?"
“ Ah! signore," said the fellow, and began muttering his unintelligible dialect, the only words which I could understand being “mangiare, bere;" he, however, made himself intelligible by grimacing as if he was eating and drinking, and by holding out his hand.
My friend now called out, “ Send him in again to me;" I therefore told him that
my friend wanted him, and he had better go back to him, as he was very rich. Back accordingly he went, and I heard his whining tone, and my friend roaring with laughter, in which it was impossible to do otherwise than join.
In another minute in came my friend, followed by our persecutor, who, in the same whining tone, and with the same grimaces, begged for some
“piccolo danaro" for him and his companions. I felt thoroughly disgusted with the fellow, and tired with his antics. To get rid of him, and feeling also that he had afforded us some amusement, and further insight into the incorruptibility and fine manly feeling of Syracusan octroi officers, I
gave him some tari, when I thought he would have gone on his knees, and continued his thanks so long that I was obliged to shut the door in his face. So much for Syracusan doganiers. Not that I think them much worse than the Neapolitan, or even Roman; but it certainly struck me as being rather too bad to be thus followed into an hotel—aye, even into our bed-rooms—by a fellow wearing a very smart uniform, yet who was not ashamed to beg a few halfpence: which he had not the slighest pretence to demand, and who, according to our guide, had no right to have stopped us at the gate. Released from our tormentor, we examined some of the papyrus which grows in the neighbourhood, and is prepared by one of the cicerones ; and after a slight dinner, or rather supper, we took a short stroll through the almost deserted streets, and then returning to our quarters, gladly availed ourselves of our comfortable beds, having first requested that a muleteer might be in attendance the following morning.
Sept. 26.— The summit of Eina covered with snow, which had evidently fallen heavily in the night, was the first object that presented itself to us this morning ; and we congratulated ourselves on our good fortune in having made the ascent the day we did.
Whilst we were discussing a capital breakfast of several kinds of fish, fresh eggs, Hybla honey, and superb grapes, figs, and all the etceteras of tea and coffee except butter (which the waiter assured us was not made at Syracuse, at which my friend, a capital caterer, grumbled greatly), a muleteer entered and offered his services to us. He was a smart, open-countenanced little man ; wore the usual long black nightcap; and his hands, fingers and breast, were covered with charms. I told him we wished to go to Girgenti, by Palazzuola, Biscari and Alicata, and asked what time it would take us ; when he answered that it was impossible to that way-that there were no roads, and no inns; that the only way of going to Girgenti was by way of Leutini, and that it would take at least five days. This the waiter corroborated; but not feeling satisfied, we dismissed him for the present, determined to make further inquiries, as I felt certain that I had read in some travels that the road was practicable, and I had understood from Abate that it could be done in two or three days. We now sallied forth in quest of antiquities and adventures, and had no sooner left the salle-à-manger than we were beset by two valetsde-place, whose services, however, as they had the coolness to demand more than double the usual charge made by their brethren at Naples, we partly declined. Just as we got into the street, a tall white-headed old man, dressed very neatly as an English sailor, and whom we had previously seen in the hotel, with the valet-de-place, shouted out
“Com along a me, gen'lemen ; follow me—me show you way.".
Somewhat surprised at this address, we asked him where he had learnt English.
"On board ship; me speak English vare well. Tutti Inglesi com along a me-com along a me, gen'lemen.”
“But where to ? and what is your charge ?"
“ Where to ? Oh, all places. Me know all antiquities, and you give me nothing."
“Oh, very well, my old boy,” said my friend; “we will not give you anything."
“ Oh yes, you give me something; all English pay vare well. Come along, gen'lemen, follow old boy."
And almost splitting our sides with laughter, in which the numerous Syracusans who had gathered round heartily joined, and who evidently enjoyed the fun, we walked off towards the cathedral. This being Sunday, the streets were crowded with the inhabitants dressed in holiday costume, which is certainly sombre enough ; the men generally wore black jackets and knee-breeches, high boots, and the everlasting black nightcap. The women were enveloped in their large black silk Spanish mantillas ; amongst them we perceived one or two rather pretty faces, but their complexions were exceedingly dark. We attracted on our parts some attention, most of the inhabitants turning round to look at us ; indeed, we seemed to be the only strangers in the town. way we entered the church of the Jesuits—as usual, the most highly ornamented and most frequented of any; and a short distance further arrived at the cathedral. . This cathedral was formerly the Temple of Minerva, and the fine massive pillars are still to be seen, partly enclosed in the walls. The facade is new, but heavy and in bad taste. Entering the church, we were at once delighted with the fine mass that was being performed ; and making our way among the black-robed damsels, we seated ourselves opposite the organ, and listened with rapture to its swelling tones, and the fine manly voices of the choristers, unbroken by the harsh scraping of the violin and other instruments, that generally spoil the service in Italian churches. To my mind there is a want of solemnity in a full orchestra when you hear the crashing of all kinds of instruments. The mass appeared to be perfornied differently here from what it is in Italy. The three priests, in bright ornamented robes, were seated some distance from the altar, to which they occasionally, but very seldom, went, and after a few mysterious ceremonies returned to their seats; but on no occasion whilst I was in the church did they pray. The host elevated, the organ changed its solemn strain for, if I am not very greatly mistaken, the “Suoni la Tromba,” out of “ I Puritani,” and we therefore left. Close to the cathedral the museum, which contains a fine torso and some vases-as usual, called Etruscan—which have been found in the tombs of the ancient city. We now made our way to the far-famed fountain of Arethusa. But how, alas ! are its fortunes changed ! for, instead of a mighty gush of pure water, whose exquisite situation was a favourite theme with poets, it is now a pool of dirty water surrounded by solid masonry, and to which no romance can be attached but the soft name and the ancient fable of the fair nymph and her lover Alpheus. We now desired Old Boy to take us to the latomiæ and the Capuchin monastery, on the main land. He accordingly led the way; but we had not proceeded far when we espied a rather pretty face, with sparkling black eyes, peeping at us from behind a kind of curtain, which, suspended over the verandah of a house, shaded the interior of the room where she was sitting from the sun. My friend's romantic notions were at once excited, and he stopped to admire the lady, who seemed nothing