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The foam of the cascade, thrown up to an amazing height, is seen at a considerable distance, and has a fine effect, contrasted with the vivid green of the verdure of the surrounding woods. The Velino, after its stupendous fall, rushes into the Nera, where its rapid course may be traced by the froth and globules it throws up, even as the course of a conqueror may be discovered by the marks of his impetuosity.
SPOLETTO.— The country about Spoletto is picturesque, and the town, like most of those in Italy, boasts its share of antiquities. The principal inn, though large, has made little progress in the modern art of comfort, for the dinner was more copious than palatable, and the apartments are more roomy than clean, or furnished. Our cicerone, for even Spoletto has its guide, rehearsed, in a monotonous tone, the claims of his native place on our attention. He told us, with a proud air, that this had been the capital of Umbria, and, of what our eyes could not fail to inform us, that it was built on the crater of an extinct volcano.
Some fine columns, and an edifice dignified by the sonorous title of the Temple of Concord, afforded him subjects for a harangue, in which all his erudition was called into play; and on some fragments, said to have formed part of a temple of Jupiter, he was eloquent.
The aqueduct, which he insisted was a Roman work, bears evident proof of belonging to a much
later date; and the pointed arches seem to establish its origin as being due to the Goths. No structure forms a more picturesque object in a landscape than does an aqueduct; and seen spanning a rich country, always reminds me of one of those fine pictures of Claude Lorraine or the Poussins, who delighted to represent them.
We saw the church of St. Filippo Neri and the cathedral, which contains some pictures considered by our cicerone to be chefs-d'ouvre of art, but which are not remarkable.
The ruins of a castle, said to have been built by Theodoric, drew forth a philippic from our cicerone, on the inferiority of the buildings erected by the Goths to those of the Romans. He boasted that he, unlike many pretenders to antiquarian lore, could at a glance discern the one from the other, and added, with no little self-complacency, that if there was any thing of which he felt vain, it was his skill on this point.
I was glad that I had not even hinted a doubt about the aqueduct and its pointed arches, for I should have been sorry to wound the vanity of the poor cicerone on a point in which it was so vulnerable.
There are some good houses at Spoletto, and all these are styled palaces. Their inhabitants must lead dull lives unless they are fond of study, as I have seen no town in Italy so monotonous as this, or where the stream of life seems to stagnate so much. A Neapolitan, accustomed to the animation and gaiety of his native city, would die of ennui at Spoletto.
Loretto.— Returned from viewing the Santa Casa, and its treasures. In no place are greater demands made on the credulity of beholders than here, where a miracle is attested to have occurred for which no motive can be assigned, or no object be effected, except it be the enrichment of Loretto; and the employment of an innumerable quantity of jewels for the decoration of Notre Dame, which decoration increases the number of those who flock to her shrine. A considerable portion of the jewels, however, are said to have. disappeared during the time that Loretto was in the possession of the French. Whether taken from religious feeling, as relics, or from motives of cupidity, is a question not quite easy to be satisfactorily answered; the goodnatured part of the community being disposed to believe the first, and the ill-natured, the second motive.
Robbing the Virgin would be too heinous a crime to suspect catholics to perpetrate," said the cicerone who conducted us to the Santa Casa, “ nevertheless, that so much, and such valuable property should have disappeared, does look suspicious;” and he shook his head gravely.
The church which enshrines the Santa Casa is a large, if not a fine building, and owes its decorations to Giacomo della Porta, and Bramante. One side
has arcades, and over the entrance is a statue of the Virgin, from the chisel of Lombardi. The bronze gates are fine, and ornamented by bassi rilievi, the lower range of which have been nearly effaced by the religious pressure of the lips of the pious frequenters.
The church contains not less than twenty chapels, exclusive of that which has acquired it such celebrity, and which stands in its centre. The Santa Casa is of an oblong shape, about thirty-one or thirty-two feet long, and something less than half that number of feet in breadth. Its height is eighteen or nineteen feet. It is incrusted with marble, richly decorated with sculpture, illustrating the history of the Virgin, 'executed by Sansovino, San Gallo, and Bandinelli.
The interior of the walls are left in their primitive state, and are of brick, mixed with fragments of stone, offering a striking contrast to the costly decoration of the exterior. A silver screen of trellicework separates the portion called the sanctuary from the rest of the room ; and here stands the image worshipped by so many adorers, and said to be the work of St. Luke. This image is decked in glittering robes, wears a triple crown, and her neck and robe were plentifully ornamented with precious stones. She holds an image of the infant Jesus, and a globe. The face is of an Ethiopian hue, and looks like that of some Eastern idol adorned with
barbaric pomp, rather than that of the meek and lowly mother of Christ.
The end opposite to the sanctuary contains an altar, under a window through which it is averred the angel entered to announce the blessed tidings of the glorious destiny that awaited the Virgin.
Though the immense wealth that once belonged to the Santa Casa has disappeared, our Lady of Loretto has not been neglected by the catholic crowned heads of modern times; for a goodly array of embroidered robes, jewelled ornaments, pearl necklaces, and gemmed crowns, have been provided for her. Nor have her less elevated devotees been sparing of presents, for many were the costly gifts shown to us, offered up at this shrine within the last few
years. The list of the treasures once belonging to Loretto, was exhibited to us; and the priest who keeps it, looked sorrowfully as he remarked that war was indeed a fearful thing, when it caused even the property of the Mother of the King of Heaven, to be as little respected as that of the sovereigns of the earth.
“ Time was,” said the priest, “ when our Lady of Loretto possessed treasures greater than all the kings and princes of Europe. Read the list, and see the countless jewels of inestimable price, the golden and silver ornaments that were hers. She might have each day clothed herself three times in