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Florence and Northern Tuscany with Genoa
by Edward Hutton
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Spezia is a modern city which has obliterated the more ancient fortresses, whose ruins still guard the two promontories of her gulf. The chief naval station in Italy, she has crowned all the heights and islands with forts, and in many a little creek hidden away, you continually come upon warships, naval schools, hospitals, and such, while in her streets the sailors and soldiers mingle together, giving the town a curiously modern character, for indeed there is little else to call your attention. The beautiful bay which lies between Porto Venere and Lerici behind the line of islands, that are really fortifications, is, in spite of every violation, a spectacle of extraordinary beauty, and in the old days—not so long ago, after all—when the woods came down to the sea, and Spezia was a tiny village, less even than Lerici is to-day, it must have been one of the loveliest and quietest places in the world. Shut out from Italy by the range of hills that runs in a semicircle from horn to horn of her bay, in those days there were just sun and woods and sea, with a few half pagan peasants and fishermen to break the immense silence. And, as it seems to me, by reason of some magic which still haunts this mysterious seashore, it is ever that world half pagan that you seek, leaving Spezia very gladly every morning for San Terenzo and Lerici for Porto Venere and the enchanted coast.

Leaving Spezia very early in the morning, there is nothing more delightful than the voyage across the land-locked bay, past the beautiful headlands and secret coves, to San Terenzo and Lerici. If you leave the steamer at San Terenzo, you may walk along a sort of seawall, built out of the cliff and boulders of the shore, round more than one little promontory, to Lerici, whose castle seems to guard the Tuscan sea. Walking thus along the shore, you pass the Villa Magni, Shelley's house, standing, not as it used to do, up out of the sea, for the road has been built really in the waves; but in many ways the same still, for instance with the broad balcony on the first storey, which pleased Shelley so much; and though a second storey has been added since, and even the name of the house changed, a piece of vandalism common enough in Italy to-day, where, since they do not even spare their own traditions and ancient landmarks, it would be folly to expect them to preserve ours, still you may visit the rooms in which he lived with Mary, and where he told Claire of the death of Allegra.

The house stands facing the sea in the deepest part of the bay, nearer to San Terenzo than to Lerici. Both Trelawney and Williams had been searching all the spring for a summer villa for the Shelleys, who, a little weary perhaps of Byron's world, had determined to leave Pisa and to spend the summer on the Gulf of Spezia. Byron was about to establish himself just beyond Livorno, on the slopes of Montenero, in a huge and rambling old villa with eighteenth century frescoes on the walls, and a tangled park and garden running down to the dusty Livorno highway. The place to-day is a little dilapidated, and its statues broken, but in the summer months it becomes the paradise of a school of girls, a fact which I think might have pleased Byron.

However, the Shelleys were thinking of no such faded splendour as Villa Dupoy for their summer retreat. "Shelley had no pride or vanity to provide for," says Trelawney, "yet we had the greatest difficulty in finding any house in which the humblest civilised family could exist.

"On the shores of this superb bay, only surpassed in its natural beauty and capability by that of Naples, so effectually had tyranny paralysed the energies and enterprise of man, that the only indication of human habitation was a few most miserable fishing villages scattered along the margin of the bay. Near its centre, between the villages of San Terenzo and Lerici, we came upon a lonely and abandoned building called the Villa Magni, though it looked more like a boat or bathing house than a place to live in. It consisted of a terrace or ground-floor unpaved, and used for storing boat-gear and fishing-tackle, and of a single storey over it, divided into a hall or saloon and four small rooms which had once been white-washed; there was one chimney for cooking. This place we thought the Shelleys might put up with for the summer. The only good thing about it was a verandah facing the sea, and almost over it. So we sought the owner and made arrangements, dependent on Shelley's approval, for taking it for six months."

Shelley at once decided to accept the offer of this house, though it was unfurnished. Mary and Claire presently set out for Spezia, Shelley remaining in Pisa to manage the removal of the furniture. He reached Lerici on 28th April, writing, immediately on his arrival, to Mary in Spezia.

April 28, 1822.

"DEAREST MARY,—I am this moment arrived at Lerici, where I am necessarily detained waiting the furniture, which left Pisa last night at midnight; and as the sea has been calm and the wind fair, may expect them every moment.... Now to business—Is the Magni House taken? if not pray occupy yourself instantly in finishing the affair, even if you are obliged to go to Sarzana, and send a messenger to me to tell me of your success. I, of course, cannot leave Lerici, to which place the boats (for we were obliged to take two) are directed. But you can come over in the same boat that brings this letter, and return in the evening.

"I ought to say that I do not think there is accommodation for you all at this inn; and that even if there were, you would be better off at Spezia; but if the Magni House is taken, then there is no possible reason why you should not take a row over in the boat that will bring this, but don't keep the men long. I am anxious to hear from you on every account.—Ever yours, S."

Shelley's fears as to the accommodation of Lerici were by no means without foundation. Within the last two years a decent inn has been open there in the summer, but before that the primitive and not very clean hostelry in which, as I suppose, Shelley lodged, was all that awaited the traveller.[8] It was not for long, however, that Shelley was left in doubt about the house. Villa Magni became his, and, after much trouble with the furniture, for the officials put the customs duty at L300 sterling, they were allowed to bring it ashore, the harbour-master agreeing to consider Villa Magni "as a sort of depot, until further leave came from the Genoese Government."

It was here that, very soon after they had taken possession of the house, Claire learned from Shelley's lips of the death of her child, and on 21st May set out for Florence. A few evenings later, Shelley, walking with Williams on the terrace, and observing the effect of the moonshine on the water, grasped Williams, as he says, "violently by the arm and stared steadfastly on the white surf that broke upon the beach at our feet. Observing him sensibly affected, I demanded of him if he were in pain; but he only answered by saying, 'There it is again—there!' He recovered after some time, and declared that he saw, as plainly as he then saw me, a naked child (Allegra) rise from the sea and clap its hands as in joy, smiling at him." Was this a premonition of his own death, a hint, as it were, that in such a place one like Shelley might well hope for from the gods? Certainly that shore was pagan enough. Sometimes on moonlight nights, in the hot weather, the half savage natives of San Terenzo would dance among the waves, singing in chorus; while Mrs. Shelley tells us that the beauty of the woods made her "weep and shudder." So strong and vehement was her dread that she preferred to go out in the boat which she feared, rather than to walk among the paths and alleys of the trees hung with vines, or in the mysterious silence of the olives.

Thus began that happy last summer of Shelley's life. Day by day, he, with Trelawney and Williams, watched for that fatal plaything, the little boat Ariel, which Trelawney had drawn in her actual dimensions for him on the sands of Arno, while he, with a map of the Mediterranean spread before him, sitting in this imaginary ship, had already made wonderful voyages. And one day as he paced the terrace with Williams, they saw her round the headland of Porto Venere. Twenty-eight feet long by eight she was: built in Genoa from an English model that Williams, who had been a sailor, had brought with him. Without a deck, schooner-rigged, it took, says Trelawney, "two tons of iron ballast to bring her down to her bearings, and then she was very crank in a breeze, though not deficient in beam." Truly Shelley was no seaman. "You will do no good with Shelley," Trelawney told Williams, "until you heave his books and papers overboard, shear the wisps of hair that hang over his eyes, and plunge his arms up to the elbows in a tar bucket." But he said, "I can read and steer at the same time." Read and steer! But indeed it was on this very bay, and almost certainly in the Ariel, that he wrote those perfect lines: "She left me at the silent time."

It was here too, in Lerici, that Shelley wrote "The Triumph of Life," that splendid fragment in terza rima, which is like a pageant suddenly broken by the advent of Death: that ends with the immortal question—

"Then, what is life? I cried,"

which was for ever to remain unanswered, for he had gone, as he said, "to solve the great mystery." Well, the story is an old one, I shall not tell it again; only here in the bay of Lerici, with his words in my ears, his house before me, and the very terrace where he worked, the ghost of that sorrowful and splendid spirit seems to wander even yet. What was it that haunted this shore, full of foreboding, prophesying death?

It was to meet Leigh Hunt that Shelley set out on 1st July with Williams in the Ariel for Leghorn. For weeks the sky had been cloudless, full of the mysterious light, which is, as it seems to me, the most beautiful and the most splendid thing in the world. In all the churches and by the roadsides they were praying for rain. Shelley had been in Pisa with Hunt showing him that most lovely of all cathedrals, and, listening to the organ there, he had been led to agree that a truly divine religion might even yet be established if Love were really made the principle of it instead of Faith. On the afternoon following that serene day at Pisa, he set sail for Lerici from Leghorn with Williams and the boy Charles Vivian. Trelawney was on the Bolivar, Byron's yacht, at the time, and saw them start. His Genoese mate, watching too, turned to him and said, "They should have sailed this morning at three or four instead of now; they are standing too much inshore; the current will set them there." Trelawney answered, "They will soon have the land-breeze." "Maybe," continued the mate, "she will soon have too much breeze; that gaff topsail is foolish in a boat with no deck and no sailor on board." Then, pointing to the south-west,—"Look at those black lines and the dirty rags hanging on them out of the sky—they are a warning; look at the smoke on the water; the devil is brewing mischief." Then the mist which had hung all day in the offing swallowed the Ariel for ever.

It was not until many days after this, Trelawney tells us, "that my worst fears were confirmed. Two bodies were found on the shore—one near Viareggio, which I went and examined. The face and hands and parts of the body not protected by the dress were fleshless. The tall, slight figure, the jacket, the volume of Aeschylus in one pocket, and Keats' poems[9] in the other, doubled back, as if the reader, in the act of reading, had hastily thrust it away, were all too familiar to me to leave a doubt in my mind that this mutilated corpse was any other than Shelley's."

A certain light has been thrown on the manner in which Shelley and his friend met their death in a letter which Mr. Eyre wrote to the Times in 1875.[10] Trelawney had always believed that the Livorno sailors knew more than they cared to tell of that tragedy. For one thing, he had seen an English oar in one of their boats just after the storm; for another the laws were such in Tuscany, that had a fishing-boat gone to the rescue of the Ariel and brought off the poet and his companions, she would with her crew have been sent into quarantine for fear of cholera. It is not, however, to the Duchy of Tuscany that Shelley owes his death, but to the cupidity of the Tuscan sailors, one of them having confessed to the crime of running down the boat, seeing her in danger, in the hope of finding gold on "the milord Inglese." There seems but little reason for doubting this story, which Vincent Eyre communicated to the Times in 1875: Trelawney eagerly accepts it, and though Dr. Garnett and Professor Dowden politely forbear to accuse the Italians, such crimes appear to have been sufficiently common in those days to confirm us, however reluctantly, in this explanation. Thus died perhaps the greatest lyric poet that even England had ever borne, an exile, and yet not an exile, for he died in Italy, the fatherland of us all. Ah! "'tis Death is dead, not he," for in the west wind you may hear his song, and in the tender night his rare mysterious music; when the skylark sings it is as it were his melody, and in the clouds you may find something of the refreshment of his spirit.

"Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange."

FOOTNOTES:

[8] For the identity of this inn see Leigh Hunt, Autobiography. Constable, 1903, vol. ii. p. 123.

[9] The Keats was doubled open at the "Lamia."

[10] Trelawney Records. Pickering, 1878, pp. 197-200, accepts this story, as clearing up what for fifty years had been a mystery to him.



III. PORTO VENERE

It is perhaps a more joyful day that may be spent at Porto Venere, the little harbour on the northern shores of the gulf. Starting early you come, still before the sea is altogether subject to the sun, to a little bay of blue clear still water flanked by gardens of vines, of agaves and olives. Here, in silence save for the lapping of the water, the early song of the cicale, the far-away notes of a reed blown by a boy in the shadow by the sea, you land, and, following the path by the hillside, come suddenly on the little port with its few fishing-boats and litter of ropes and nets, above which rises the little town, house piled on house, from the ruined church rising high, sheer out of the sea to the church of marble that crowns the hill. Before you stands the gate of Porto Venere, a little Eastern in its dilapidation, its colour of faded gold, its tower, and broken battlement. Passing under the ancient arch past a shrine of Madonna, you enter the long shadowy street, where red and green vegetables and fruits, purple grapes, and honey-coloured nespoli and yellow oranges are piled in the cool doorways, and the old women sit knitting behind their stalls. Climbing thus between the houses under that vivid strip of soft blue sky, the dazzling rosy beauty of the ruined ramparts suddenly bursts upon you, and beyond and above them the golden ruined church, and farther still, the glistening shining splendour of the sea and the sun that has suddenly blotted out the soft sky. A flight of broken steps leads to a ruined wall, along which you pass to the old church, or temple is it, you ask yourself, so fair it looks, and without the humility of a Christian building. To your right, across a tossing strip of blue water, full of green and gold, rises the island of Palmaria, and beyond that two other smaller islands, Tisso and Tissetto, while to your left lies the whole splendid coast shouting with waves, laughing in the sunshine and the wind of early morning, and all before you spreads the sea. As I stood leaning on the ruined wall looking on all this miracle of joy, a little child, who had hidden among the wind-blown cornflowers and golden broom on the slope of the cliffs, slowly crept towards me with many hesitations and shy peerings; then, no longer afraid, almost naked as he was, he ran to me and took my hand.



"Will the Signore see the church?" said he, pulling me that way.

The Signore was willing. Thus it was, hand in hand with Eros, that I mounted the broken steps of the tower of Venus, his mother.

How may I describe the wonder of that place? For at last, he before, I following, though he still held my hand, we came out of the stairway on to a platform on the top of the tower surrounded by a broken battlement. It was as though I had suddenly entered the last hiding-place of Aphrodite herself. On the floor sat an old and lame man sharpening a scythe, and beside him a little child lay among the broken corn that was strewn over the whole platform. Where the battlements had once frowned, now stood sheaves of smiling corn, golden and nodding in the wind and the sun. Suddenly the lad who had led me hither seized the flail and began to beat the corn and stalks strewn over the floor, while the old man, quavering a little, sang a long-drawn-out gay melody, and the little girl beat her tiny hands in time to the work and the music. Then, unheard, into this miracle came a young woman,—ah, was it not Persephone,—slim as an osier in the shadow, walking like a bright peacock straight above herself, climbing the steps, and her hands were on her hips and on her black head was a sheaf of corn. Then she breathed deep, gazed over the blue sea, and set her burden down with its fellows on the parapet, smiling and beating her hands at the little girl.

Porto Venere rises out of the sea like Tintagel—but a classic sea, a sea covered with broken blossoms. It was evening when I returned again to the Temple of Venus The moon was like a sickle of silver, far away the waves fawned along the shore as though to call the nymphs from the woods; the sun was set; out of the east night was coming. In the great caves, full of coolness and mystery, the Tritons seemed to be playing with sea monsters, while from far away I thought I heard the lamentable voice of Ariadne weeping for Theseus. Ah no, they are not dead, the beautiful, fair gods. Here, in the temple of Aphrodite, on the threshold of Italy, I will lift up my heart. Though the songs we made are dead and the dances forgotten, though the statues are broken, the temples destroyed, still in my heart there is a song and in my blood a murmur as of dancing, and I will carve new statues and rebuild the temples every day. For I have loved you, O Gods, in the forests and on the mountains and by the seashore. I, too, am fashioned out of the red earth, and all the sea is in my heart, and my lover is the wind. As the rivers sing of the sea, so will I sing till I find you. As the mountains wait for the sun, so will I wait in the night of the city.

For my joy, and my lord the sun, I give you thanks, that he is splendid and strong and beautiful beyond beauty. For the sea and all mysterious things I give you thanks, that I have understood and am reconciled with them. For the earth when the sun is set, for the earth when the sun is risen, for the valleys and the hills, for the flowers and the trees, I give you thanks, that I am one with them always and out of them was I made. For the wind of morning, for the wind of evening, for the tender night, for the growing day, take, then, my thanks, O Gods, for the cypress, for the ilex, for the olive on the road to Italy in the sunset and the summer.



IV. SARZANA AND LUNA

It was very early in the morning when I came into Tuscany. Leaving Spezia overnight, I had slept at Lerici, and, waking in the earliest still dawn, I had set out over the hills, hoping to cross the Macra before breakfast.

In this tremulous and joyful hour, full of the profound gravity of youth hesitating on the threshold of life, the day rose out of the sea; so, a lily opening in a garden while we sleep transfigures it with its joy.

As I climbed the winding hill among the olives, while still a cool twilight hung about the streets of Lerici, the sun stood up over the sea, awakening it to the whole long day of love to come. Far away in the early light, over a sea mysterious of blue and silver and full of ecstasy, the coast curved with infinite beauty into the golden crest of Porto Venere. Spezia, like a broken flower, seemed deserted on the seashore, and Lerici itself, far below me, waking at morning, watched the sleeping ships, the deep breathing of the sea, the shy and yet proud gesture of the day.

Then as I crossed the ridge of the hill and began to follow the road downward towards Tuscany between the still olives, where as yet the world had not seen the sun, suddenly all that beautiful world, about to be so splendid, was hidden from me, and instead I saw the delta of a great river, the uplifted peaks of the marble mountains, and there was Tuscany.

Past Arcola, that triumphal arch of the middle age, built on high like a city on an aqueduct, I went into the plain; then far away in the growing day I saw the ancient strongholds of the hills, the fortresses of the Malaspina, the castles of the Lunigiana, the eyries of the eagles of old time. There they lay before me on the hills like le grandi ombre of which Dante speaks, Castelnuovo di Magra, Fosdinovo of the Malaspina, Niccola over the woods. Then at a turning of the way at the foot of the hills I had traversed, under that long and lofty bridge that has known so well the hasty footstep of the fugitive, flowed Magra.

... Macra, che, per cammin corto Lo genovese parte dal Toscano.

Thus with Dante's verses in my mouth I came into Tuscany.

Now the way from Macra to Sarzana lies straight across that great delta which hides behind the eastern horn of the Gulf of Spezia. At the Macra bridge you meet the old road from Genoa to Pisa, and entering Tuscany thus, Sarzana is the first Tuscan city you will see. Luna Nova the Romans called the place, for it was built to replace the older city close to the sea, the ruins of which you may still find beside the road on the way southward, but of Roman days there is nothing left in the new city.

It was a fortress of Castruccio Castracani, the birthplace of a great Pope. Of Castruccio, that intolerant great man, I shall speak later, in Lucca, for that was the rose in his shield. Here I wish only to remind the reader who wanders among the ruins of his great castle, that Castracani took Sarzana by force and held it against any; and perhaps to recall the words of Machiavelli, where he tells us that the capture of Sarzana was a feat of daring done to impress the Lucchesi with the splendour of their liberated tyrant. For when the citizens had freed him from the prison of Uguccione della Faggiuola, who had seized the government of Lucca, Castruccio, finding himself accompanied by a great number of his friends, which encouraged him, and by the whole body of the people, which flattered his ambition, caused himself to be chosen Captain-General of all their forces for a twelvemonth; and resolving to perform some eminent action that might justify their choice, he undertook the reduction of several places which had revolted following the example of Uguccione. Having for this purpose entered into strict alliance with the city of Pisa, she sent him supplies, and he marched with them to besiege Sarzana; but the place being very strong, before he could carry it, he was obliged to build a fortress as near it as he could. This new fort in two months' time rendered him master of the whole country, and is the same fort that at this day is called Sarzanella, repaired since and much enlarged by the Florentines. Supported by the credit of so glorious an exploit, he reduced Massa, Carrara, and Lavenza very easily: he seized likewise upon the whole country of Lunigiana ... so that, full of glory, he returned to Lucca, where the people thronged to meet him, and received him with all possible demonstrations of joy.

It is, however, rather as the home of Nicholas V, I think, that Sarzana appeals to us to-day, than as the stronghold of Castruccio. The tyrant held so many places, as we shall see, his prowess is everywhere, but Tommaso Parentucelli is like to be forgotten, for his glory is not written in sword-cuts or in any violated city, but in the forgotten pages of the humanists, the beautiful life of Vespasiano da Bisticci. And was not Nicholas V. the first of the Renaissance Popes, the librarian of Cosimo de' Medici, the tutor of the sons of Rinaldo degli Albizzi and of Palla Strozzi? Certainly his great glory was the care he had of learning and the arts: he made Rome once more the capital of the world, he began the Vatican, and the basilica of S. Pietro, yet he was not content till he should have transformed the whole city into order and beauty. In him the enthusiasm and impulse of the Renaissance are simple and full of freshness. Finding Rome still the city of the Emperors and their superstition, he made it the city of man. He was the friend of Alberti, the Patron of all men of learning and poets. "Greece has not fallen," said Filelfo, in remembering him, "but seems to have migrated to Italy, which of old was called Magna Graecia." Yet Tommaso Parentucelli[11] was sprung of poor parent and even though they may have been nobili as Manetti tells us, De nobili Parentucellorum progenie,[12] that certainly was of but little assistance to him in his youth.

"Maestro Tomaso da Serezano," says Vespasiano the serene bookseller of Florence, with something of Walton's charm—"Maestro Tomaso da Serezano, who was afterwards Pope Nicholas V, was born at Pisa of humble parents. Later on account of discord in that city, his father was imprisoned, so that he went to Sarzana, and there gave to his little son in his tender years lessons in grammar, which, through the excellence of his understanding, he quickly learned. His father died, however, when he who was to come to such eminence was but nine years old, leaving two sons, our Maestro Tomaso, and Maestro Filippo, who later was Cardinal of Bologna. Now Maestro Tomaso fell sick at that time, and his mother, seeing him thus ailing, being a widow and having all her great hope in her sons, was in the greatest anxiety and sorrow, and prayed God unweariedly to spare her little son. Thus intent in prayer, hoping that he would not die, she fell asleep about dawn, when One called to her and said: 'Andreola (for that was her name), doubt nothing that thy son shall live.' And it seemed in her vision that she saw her son in a bishop's robe, and One said to her that he would be Pope. Waking then from this dream, immediately she went to her little son and found him already better, and to all those in the house she told the vision she had had. Now, when the child was well, because of the steadfast hope which the vision had given her, she at once begged him to pursue his studies; which he did, so that when he was sixteen he had a very good knowledge of grammar and the Latin tongue, and began to work at logic, in order later to come at philosophy and theology. Then he left Sarzana and went to Bologna, so that he might the better pursue his studies in every faculty. At Bologna he studied in logic and in philosophy with great success. In a short time he became learned in all the seven Liberal Arts. Staying at Bologna still he was eighteen, and Master of Arts, lacking money, it was necessary for him to go to Sarzana to his mother, who had remarried, in order to have money to furnish his expenses. She was poor and her husband not very rich, and then Tomaso was not his son, but a stepson: he could not obtain money from them. Determined to follow his studies, he thought to go to Florence, the mother of studies and every virtue at that time. So he went thither, and found Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, a most exceptional man, who carried him off to instruct his sons, giving him a good salary as a young man of great virtue. At the end of a year Messer Rinaldo left Florence, and Maestro Tomaso wishing to remain in the city, he arranged for him to enter the service of Messer Palla di Nofri Strozzi; and from him he had a very good salary. At the end of another year he had gained so much from these two citizens that he had enough to return to Bologna to his studies, though in Florence he had not lost his time, for he read in every faculty."

Such were the early years of one of the most cultured and princely of the Popes. Born in 1398, he was himself one of the sons of the early Renaissance. Not altogether without pedantry, he yet by his learning, by his patronage of scholars and artists (and indeed he was perhaps the first Pope who preferred them to monks and friars), secured for the Renaissance the allegiance of the Church. He died in a moment of misfortune for Europe in 1455, just after the fall of Constantinople, being succeeded on the throne of Christendom by Pius II, Pius Aeneas as he called himself in a moment of enthusiasm, one of the most human of all those men of the world who have become the vicegerent of Jesus. Nicholas V was not a man of the world, he was a scholar, full of the enthusiasm of his day. As a statesman, while he pacified Italy, he saw Byzantium fall into the hands of the barbarians. He was a Pagan in whom there was no guile. His enthusiasm was rather for Apollo and the Muses than for Jesus and the Saints. With a simplicity touching and delightful, he watched Sigismondo Malatesta build his temple at Rimini, and was his friend and loved him well. Pius II, with all his love of nature and the classics, though his own life was full of unfortunate secrets and his pride and vanity truly Sienese, could not look on unmoved while Malatesta built a temple to the old gods in the States of the Church. But then Pius had not lived all the long years of his youth at Luna Nova. Who can tell what half-forgotten deity may have found Maestro Tomaso asleep in the woods, that magician Virgil in his hands,—for on this coast the gods wander even yet,—and, creeping behind him, finding him so fair, may have kissed him on the ears, as the snakes kissed Cassandra when she lay asleep at noon in Troy of old. Certainly their habitations, their old places may still be found. We are not so far from Porto Venere, and then on the highway towards Massa, not long after you have come out of the beautiful avenue of plane trees, itself like some great temple, through which the road leaves Sarzana, you come upon the little city of Luna, or the bright fragments of it, among the sand of what must once have been the seashore, with here a fold of the old amphitheatre, there the curve of the circus, while scattered on the grass softer than sleep, you may find perhaps the carved name of a goddess, the empty pedestal of a statue.

Lying there on a summer day in the everlasting quietness, unbroken even by a wandering wind or the ripple of a stream, some inkling of that old Roman life, always at its best in such country places as this, comes to you, yes, from the time when Juno was yet a little maid among the mossy fountains and the noise of the brooks. Tacitus in his Agricola, that consoling book, tells us of those homes of a refined and severe simplicity in Frejus and Como, but it is to Rutilius, with his strange gift of impressionism, you must go for a glimpse of Luna. In his perfect verses[13] we may see the place as he found it when, gliding swiftly on the waves, perhaps on a day like this, he came to those walls of glistening marble, which got their name from the planet that borrows her light from the sun, her brother. The country itself furnished those stones which shamed with their whiteness the laughing lilies, while their polished surface with its veins threw forth shining rays. For this is a land rich in marbles which defy, sure of their victory, the virgin whiteness of the snow itself.

Well, there is but little left of that shining city, and yet, as I lay dreaming in the grass-grown theatre, it seemed to be a festal day, and there among the excited and noisy throng of holiday-makers, just for a moment I caught sight of the aediles in their white tunics, and then, far away, the terrified face of a little child, frightened at the hideous masks of the actors. Then, the performance over, I followed home some simple old centurion was it?—who, returned from the wars on the far frontier, had given the city a shady walk and that shrine of Neptune. We came at last to a country house of "pale red and yellow marble," half farm, half villa, lying away from the white road at the point where it begins to decline somewhat sharply to the marshland below. It is close to the sea. Large enough for all requirements, and not expensive to keep in repair, my host explains. At its entrance is a modest but beautiful hall; then come the cloisters, which are rounded into the likeness of the letter D, and these enclose a small and pretty courtyard. These cloisters, I am told, are a fine refuge in a storm, for they are protected by windows and deep over-hanging eaves. Facing the cloisters is a cheerful inner court, then the dining-room towards the seashore, fine enough for anyone, as my host asserts, and when the south-west wind is blowing the room is just scattered by the spray of the spent waves. On all sides are folding doors, or windows quite as large as doors, so that from two sides and the front you command a prospect of three seas as it were; while at the back, as he shows me, one can see through the inner court to the woods or the distant hills. Just then the young mistress of the place comes to greet me, bidden by my host her father, and in a moment I see the nobility of this life, full of pure and honourable things, together with a certain simplicity and sweetness. Seeing my admiration, my host speaks of his daughter, of her love for him, of her delight in his speeches,—for he is of authority in the city,—of how on such occasions she will sit screened from the audience by a curtain, drinking in what people say to his credit. He smiles as he tells me this, adding she has a sharp wit, is wonderfully economical, and loves him well; and indeed she is worthy of him, and doubtless, as he says, of her grandfather. Then my proud old centurion leads me down the alleys of his garden full of figs and mulberries, with roses and a few violets, till in the perfect stillness of this retreat we come to the seashore, and there lies the white city of Luna glistening in the sun. As I take my leave, reluctantly, for, I would stay longer, my hostess is so sweet, my host so charming, I catch sight of the name of the villa cut into the rosy marble of the gates: "Ad Vigilias Albas" I read, and then and then ... Why, what is this? I must have fallen asleep in that old theatre among the debris and the fine grass. Ad Vigilias Albas—"White Nights," nights not of quite blank forgetfulness, certainly. But it is with the ancestors of Marius I seem to have been talking in the old city of Luna, that in his day had already passed away.[14]

It was sunset when I found myself at the door of the Inn in Sarzana.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] Even the name is uncertain. In the Duomo here, in Cappella di S. Tommaso, you may find his mother's grave, on which she is called Andreola dei Calandrini. His uncle, however, is called J.P. Parentucelli. In two Bulls of Felix V he is called Thomas de Calandrinis; cf. Mansi, xxxi. 190.

[12] Muratori, Rer. Ital. Scrip., III. ii. 107.

[13] Sed deverticulo fuimus fortasse loquaces: Carmine propositum jam repetamus iter. Advehimur celeri candentia moenia lapsu: Nominis est auctor sole corusca soror. Indigenis superat ridentia lilia saxis, Et levi radiat picta nitore silex. Dives marmoribus tellus, quae luce coloris Provocat intactas luxuriosa nives.

[14] You may see the place to-day—but it is of plaster now—as Pater describes it.—Marius the Epicurian, vol. i. 20.



V. CARRARA, MASSA DUCALE, PIETRA-SANTA, VIAREGGIO

And truly it is into a city of marble that you come, when, following the dusty road full of the ruts of the bullock-wagons, past Avenza, that little city with a great castle of Castruccio Castracani, after climbing into the gorge where the bullocks, a dozen of them it may be, yoked to a single dray, take all the way, you enter the cold streets of Carrara, that are always full of the sound of falling water. And strangely enough, as one may think, in this far-away place, so close to the mountains as to be littered by their debris, it is an impression of business and of life that you receive beyond anything of the sort to be found in Spezia. Not a beautiful city certainly, Carrara has a little the aspect of an encampment, an encampment that has somehow become permanent, where everything has been built in a hurry, as it were, of the most precious and permanent material. So that, while the houses are of marble, they seem to be with but few exceptions mere shanties without beauty of any sort, that were built yesterday for shelter, and to-morrow will be destroyed. It is true that the Church of S. Andrea is a building of the thirteenth century, in the Gothic manner, with a fine facade and sculptures of a certain merit, but it fails to impress itself on the town, which is altogether alien from it, modern for the most part in the vulgar way of our time, when ornament is a caprice of the rich and merely ostentatious, the many living, without beauty or light, in barracks or huts of a brutal and hideous uniformity.

It was a Sunday evening when I came to Carrara; all that world of labouring men and women was in the streets; in the piazza a band played; close to the hotel, in a tent set up for the occasion, a particularly atrocious collection of brass instruments were being blown with might and main to attract the populace to a marionette performance. The whole world seemed dizzy with noise. After dinner I went out into the streets among the people, but it was not any joy I found there, only a mere brutal cessation from toil, in which amid noise and confusion, the labourer sought to forget his labour. More and more as I went among them it seemed to me that the mountains had brutalised those who won from them their snowy treasure. In all Carrara and the valley of Torano I saw no beautiful or distinguished faces,—the women were without sweetness, the men a mere gang of workmen. Now, common as this is in any manufacturing city of the North, it is very uncommon in Italy, where humanity has not been injured and enslaved by machinery as it has with us. You may generally find beauty, sweetness, or wisdom in the faces of a Tuscan crowd in any place. Only here you will see the man who has become just the fellow-labourer of the ox.

I understood this better when, about four o'clock on the next morning, I went in the company of a lame youth into the quarries themselves. There are some half-dozen of them, glens of marble that lead you into the heart of the mountains, valleys without shade, full of a brutal coldness, an intolerable heat, a dazzling light, a darkness that may be felt. Torano, that little town you come upon at the very threshold of the quarries, is like a town of the Middle Age, full of stones and refuse and narrow ways that end in a blind nothingness, and low houses without glass in the windows, and dogs and cats and animals of all sorts, goats and chickens and pigs, among which the people live. Thus busy with the frightful labour among the stones in the heart of the mountains, where no green thing has ever grown or even a bird built her nest, where in summer the sun looks down like some enormous moloch, and in winter the frost and the cold scourge them to their labour in the horrid ghostly twilight, the people work. The roads are mere tracks among the blocks and hills of broken marble, yellow, black, and white stones, that are hauled on enormous trolleys by a line of bullocks in which you may often find a horse or a pony. Staggering along this way of torture, sweating, groaning, rebelling, under the whips and curses and kicks of the labourers, who either sit cursing on the wagon among the marble, or, armed with great whips, slash and cut at the poor capering, patient brutes, the oxen drag these immense wagons over the sharp boulders and dazzling rocks, grinding them in pieces, cutting themselves with sharp stones, pulling as though to break their hearts under the tyranny of the stones, not less helpless and insensate than they. Here and there you may see an armed sentry, as though in command of a gang of convicts, here and there an official of some society for the protection of animals, but he is quite useless. Whether he be armed to quell a rebellion or to put the injured animals out of their pain, I know not. In any case, he is a sign of the state of life in these valleys of marble. Out of this insensate hell come the impossible statues that grin about our cities. Here, cut by the most hideous machinery with a noise like the shrieking of iron on iron, the mantelpieces and washstands of every jerry-built house and obscene emporium of machine-made furniture are sawn out of the rock. There is no joy in this labour, and the savage, harsh yell of the machines drowns any song that of old might have lightened the toil. Blasted out of the mountains by slaves, some 13,000 of them, dragged by tortured and groaning animals, the marble that might have built a Parthenon is sold to the manufacturer to decorate the houses of the middle classes, the studios of the incompetent, the streets of our trumpery cities. Do you wonder why Carrara has never produced a sculptor? The answer is here in the quarries that, having dehumanised man, have themselves become obscene. The frightful leprous glare of crude whiteness that shines in every cemetery in Europe marks only the dead; the material has in some strange way lost its beauty, and with the loss of beauty in the material the art of sculpture has been lost. These thousands of slaves who are hewing away the mountains are ludicrous and ridiculous in their brutality and absurdity. They have sacrificed their humanity for no end. The quarries are worked for money, not for art. The stone is cut not that Rodin may make a splendid statue, but that some company may earn a dividend. As you climb higher and higher, past quarry after quarry, it is a sense of slavery and death that you feel. Everywhere there is struggle, rebellion, cruelty; everywhere you see men, bound by ropes, slung over the dazzling face of the cliffs, hacking at the mountains with huge iron pikes, or straining to crash down a boulder for the ox wagons. As you get higher an anxious and disastrous silence surrounds you, the violated spirit of the mountains that has yielded itself only to the love of Michelangelo seems to be about to overwhelm you in some frightful tragedy. In the shadowless cool light of early morning, these pallid valleys, horrid with noise of struggle and terror, the snorting of a horse, the bellow of a bullock in pain, seem like some fantastic dream of a new Inferno; but when at last the enormous sun has risen over the mountains, and flooded the glens with furious heat, it is as though you walked in some delirium, a shining world full of white fire dancing in agony around you. You stumble along, sometimes waiting till a wagon and twelve oxen have been beaten and thrust past you on the ascent, sometimes driven half mad by the booming of the dynamite, here threading an icy tunnel, there on the edge of a precipice, almost fainting in the heat, listening madly to the sound of water far below. Then, as you return through the sinister town of Torano with its sickening sights and smells, you come into the pandemonium of the workshops, where nothing has a being but the shriek of the rusty saws drenched with water, driven by machinery, cutting the marble into uniform slabs to line urinals or pave a closet. At last, in a sort of despair, overwhelmed with heat and noise, you reach your inn, and though it be midday in July, you seize your small baggage and set out where the difficult road leads out of this spoiled valley to the olives and the sea.

* * * * *

It was midday when, in spite of the sun, I set out up the long hill that leads to La Foce and Massa from Carrara. It is a road that turns continually on itself, climbing always, among the olive woods and chestnuts, where the girls sing as they herd the goats, and the pleasant murmur of the summer, the song of the cicale, the wind of the hills, cleanse your heart of the horror of Carrara. Climbing thus at peace with yourself for a long hour, you come suddenly to La Foce, a sort of ridge or pass between the loftier hills, whence you may see the long-hidden sea, and Montignoso, that old Lombard castle still fierce above the olive woods, and Massa itself, Massa Ducale, a lofty precipitous city crowned by an old fortress. Who may describe the beauty of the way under the far-away peaks of marble, splendid in their rugged gesture, their immortal perfection and indifference! And indeed, from La Foce all the noise and cruelty of that life in the quarries at Carrara is forgotten. As you begin to descend by the beautiful road that winds along the sides of the hills, the burden of those immense quarries, echoing with cries of distress inarticulate and pitiful, falls away from one. Here is Italy herself, fair as a goddess, delicate as a woman, forlorn upon the mountains. Everywhere in the quiet afternoon songs come to you from the shady woods, from the hillsides and the streams. Something of the simplicity and joy of a life we have only known in our hearts is expressed in every fold of the mountains, olive clad and terraced with walks and vines, where the husbandman labours till evening and the corn is ripe or reaping, and the sound of the flute dances like a fountain in the shade. And so, when at evening you enter the noble city of Massa, among the women sitting at their doors sewing or knitting in the sunset, while the children, whole crowds of them, play in the narrow streets, their laughter echoing among the old houses as the sun dances in a narrow valley, or you pass among the girls who walk together in a nosegay, arm in arm, or the young men who lounge together in a crowd against the houses watching them, there is joy in your heart, because this is life, simple and frank and full of hope, without an afterthought or a single hesitation of doubt or fear.

There is little to be seen at Massa that is not just the natural beauty of the place, set like a flower among the woods, that climb up to the marble peaks. Not without a certain interest you come upon the Prefettura, which once was the summer castle of Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon's sister, who as a gift from him held Lucca, and was much beloved, from 1805 to 1814. And joyful as the country is under that impartial sun, before that wide and ancient sea, among her quiet woods and broken shrines, it is not without a kind of hesitation and shame almost that you learn that the great fortress which crowns the city is now a prison in which are many half-witted unhappy folk, who in this transitory life have left the common way. It is strange that in so many lands the prison is so often in a place of the greatest beauty. At Tarragona, far away over the sea looking towards Italy, the hospital of those who have for one cause or another fallen by the way is set by the sea-shore, almost at the feet of the waves, so that in a storm the momentary foam from those restless, free waters must often be scattered about the courtyard, where those who have injured us, and whom in our wisdom we have deprived of the world, are permitted to walk. It is much the same in Tangier, where the horrid gaol, always full of groans and the torture of the bastinado, is in the dip of the Kasbah, where it joins the European city with nothing really between it and the Atlantic. In Massa these prisoners and captives can see the sea and the great mountains, and must often hear the piping of those who wander freely in the woods. Even in Italy, it seems, where the criminal is beginning to be understood as a sick person, they have not yet contrived to banish the older method of treatment: as who should say, you are ill and fainting with anaemia, come let me bleed you.

It is at Massa that on your way south you come again into the highroad from Genoa to Pisa, for while, having left it at Spezia, you found it again at Sarzana, it was a by-road that led you to Carrara and again to Massa Ducale. Now, though the way you seek be the highway of the pilgrims, it is none the better as a road for that. For the wagons bringing marble to the cities by the way have spoiled it altogether, so that you find it ground with ruts six inches deep and smothered in dust; therefore, if you come by carriage, and still more if you be en automobile, it is necessary to go warily. On foot nothing matters but the dust, and if you start early from Massa that will not annoy you, for in the early morning, for some reason of the gods, the dust lies on the highway undisturbed, while by ten o'clock the air is full of it. It is a bad road then all the way to Pietrasanta, but most wonderful and lovely nevertheless. For the most part the sea is hidden from you, for you are in truth on the sea-shore, though far enough from the waves, a land of fields and cucumbers coming between road and water. Swinging along in the dawn, you soon pass that old castle of Montignoso, crumbling on its high rock, built by the Lombard Agilulf to hold the road to Italy. Then not without surprise you pass quite under an old Albergo which crosses the way, where certainly of old the people of Massa took toll of the Tuscans, and the Tuscans taxed all who came into their country. Then the road winds through a gorge beside a river, and at last between delicious woods of olives full of silver and golden shade most pleasant in the heat, past Seravezza in the hills, you come to the little pink and white town of Pietrasanta under the woods, at noon.

Pietrasanta is set at the foot of the Hills of Paradise, littered with marble, planted with figs and oleanders, full of the sun. For hours you may climb among the olives on the hills, terraced for vines, shimmering in the heat; and resting there, watch the sleepy sea lost in a silver mist, the mysterious blue hills, listening to the songs of the maidens in the gardens. Thus watching the summer pass by, caught by her beauty, lying on an old wall beautiful with lichen and the colours of many autumns, suddenly you may be startled by the stealthy, unconcerned approach of a great snake three feet long at least, winding along the gully by the roadside. Half fascinated and altogether fearful, you watch her pass by till she disappears bit by bit in an incredibly small fissure in the vineyard wall, leaving you breathless. Or all day long you will lie under the olives waiting for the coolness of evening, listening to the sound of everlasting summer, the piping of a shepherd, the little lovely song of a girl, the lament of the cicale. Then returning to Pietrasanta, you will sit in the evening perhaps in the Piazza there, quite surrounded by the old walls, with its mediaeval air, its lovely Municipio and fine old Gothic churches. Here you may watch all the city, the man and his wife and children, the young girls laughing together, conscious of the shy admiration of the youth of the place; and you will be struck by the beauty of these people, peasants and workmen, their open, frank faces, their grace and strength, their unconcerned delight in themselves, their air of distinction too, coming to them from a long line of ancestors who have lived with the earth, the mountains, and the sea.

Then in the early morning, perhaps, you will enter S. Martino and hear the early Mass, where there are still so many worshippers, and then, lingering after the service, you will admire the pulpit, carved really by one of those youths whose frankness and grace surprised you in the Piazza on the night before—Stagio Stagi, a native of this place, a fine artist whose work continually meets you in Pietrasanta. Indeed, in the choir of the church there are some candelabra by him, and an altar, built, as it is said, out of two confessional boxes. In the Baptistery close by are some bronzes, said to be the work of Donatello, and some excellent sculptures by Stagio; while, as though to bear out the hidden paganism, some dim memory of the old gods, that certainly haunts this shrine, the font is an old Roman tazza, carved with Tritons and Neptune among the waves; but over it now stands another supposed work of Donatello, S. Giovanni Battista, reconciled, as we may hope, with those whose worship he has usurped.

The facade of S. Martino is of the fourteenth century, as is that of S. Agostino, its neighbour, where you may find another altar by Stagio.

Then it may be at evening you seek the sea-shore, that mysterious, forlorn coast where the waves break almost with a caress. It was here, or not far away, somewhere between this little wonderful city and Viareggio, then certainly a mere village, that Shelley's body was burned, as Trelawney records.[15] "The lovely and grand scenery that surrounded us," he says, "so exactly harmonised with Shelley's genius, that I could imagine his spirit soaring over us.... Not a human dwelling was in sight.... I got a furnace made at Leghorn of iron bars and strong sheet-iron supported on a stand, and laid in a stock of fuel and such things as were said to be used by Shelley's much-loved Hellenes on their funeral pyres.... At ten on the following morning, Captain S. and myself, accompanied by several officers of the town, proceeded in our boat down the small river which runs through Via Reggio (and forms its harbour for coasting vessels) to the sea.[16] Keeping along the beach towards Massa, we landed at about a mile from Via Reggio, at the foot of the grave; the place was noted by three wand-like reeds stuck in the sand in a parallel line from high to low-water mark. Doubting the authenticity of such pyramids, we moved the sand in the line indicated, but without success. I then got five or six men with spades to dig transverse lines. In the meanwhile Lord Byron's carriage with Mr. Leigh Hunt arrived, accompanied by a party of dragoons and the chief officers of the town. In about an hour, and when almost in despair, I was paralysed with the sharp and thrilling noise a spade made in coming in direct contact with the skull. We now carefully removed the sand. This grave was even nearer the sea than the other [Williams's], and although not more than two feet deep, a quantity of the salt water oozed in.

"... We have built a much larger pile to-day, having previously been deceived as to the immense quantity of wood necessary to consume a body in the unconfined atmosphere." Mr. Shelley had been reading the poems of "Lamia" and "Isabella" by Keats, as the volume was found turned back open in his pocket; so sudden was the squall. The fragments being now collected and placed in the furnace here fired, and the flames ascended to the height of the lofty pines near us. We again gathered round, and repeated, as far as we could remember, the ancient rites and ceremonies used on similar occasions. Lord B. wished to have preserved the skull, which was strikingly beautiful in its form. It was very small and very thin, and fell to pieces on attempting to remove it.

"Notwithstanding the enormous fire, we had ample time e'er it was consumed to contemplate the singular beauty and romantic wildness of the scenery and objects around us. Via Reggio, the only seaport of the Duchy of Lucca, built and encompassed by an almost boundless expanse of deep, dark sand, is situated in the centre of a broad belt of firs, cedars, pines, and evergreen oaks, which covers a considerable extent of country, extending along the shore from Pisa to Massa. The bay of Spezia was on our right, and Leghorn on our left, at almost equal distances, with their headlands projecting far into the sea, and forming this whole space of interval into a deep and dangerous gulf. A current setting in strong, with a N.W. gale, a vessel embayed here was in a most perilous situation; and consequently wrecks were numerous: the water is likewise very shoal, and the breakers extend a long way from the shore. In the centre of this bay my friends were wrecked, and their bodies tossed about—Captain Williams seven, and Mr. Shelley nine days, e'er they were found. Before us was a most extensive view of the Mediterranean, with the isles of Gorgona, Caprera, Elba, and Corsica in sight. All around us was a wilderness of barren soil with stunted trees, moulded into grotesque and fantastic forms by the cutting S.W. gales. At short and equal distances along the coast stood high, square, antique-looking towers, with flagstaff's on the turrets, used to keep a look-out at sea and enforce the quarantine laws. In the background was the long line of the Italian Alps.

"... After the fire was kindled ... more wine was poured over Shelley's dead body than he had consumed during his life. This, with the oil and salt, made the yellow flames glisten and quiver.... The only portions that were not consumed were some fragments of bones, the jaw and the skull; but what surprised us all was that the heart remained entire. In snatching this relic from the fiery furnace my hand was severely burnt; and had anyone seen me do the act I should have been put in quarantine." Shelley's ashes were taken to Rome, and buried in the English cemetery there, a place he loved, that is perhaps the most beautiful of the beautiful graveyards of Italy.

Of Viareggio itself there is little to be said. It is a town by the seaside, full in summer of holiday-making Tuscans from Florence and the cities round about. A pretty place enough, it possesses an unique market-place covered in by ancient twisted plane trees, where the old women chaffer with the cooks and contadine. But nothing, as it seems to me, and certainly not so modern a place as Viareggio, will keep you long from Pisa. Even on the dusty way from Pietrasanta, at every turn of the road one has half expected to see the leaning tower and the Duomo. And it is really with an indescribable impatience you spend the night in Viareggio. Starting at dawn, still without a glimpse of Pisa, you enter the Pineta before the sun, that lovely, green, cool forest full of silver shadows, with every here and there a little farm for the pine cones, about which they are heaped in great banks. Coming out of this wood on the dusty road in the golden heat, between fields of cucumbers, you meet market carts and contadini returning from the city. Then you cross the Serchio in the early light, still and mysterious as a river out of Malory. And at last, suddenly, like a mirage, the towers of Pisa rise before you, faint and beautiful as in a dream. As you turn to look behind you at the world you are leaving, you find that the mountains, those marvellous Apuan Alps with their fragile peaks, have been lost in the distance and the sky; and so, with half a regret, full of expectancy and excitement nevertheless, you quicken your pace, and even in the heat set out quickly for the white city before you,—Pisa, once lord of the sea, the first great city of Tuscany.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] I no longer believe it is possible to be certain of the place. At any rate, all the guide-books, Baedeker, Murray, and Hare, are wrong, though not so far out as that gentleman who, having assured us that Boccaccio was a "little priest," and that Petrarch, Poliziano, Lorenzo, and Pulci were of no account as poets, remarks that Shelley's body was found at Lerici, and that he was burned close by.

[16] See Carmichael, The Old Road, etc., pp. 183-202.



VI. PISA

I

To enter Pisa by the Porta Nuova, coming at once into the Piazza del Duomo, is as though at midday, on the highway, one had turned aside into a secret meadow full of a strange silence and dazzling light, where have been abandoned among the wild flowers the statues of the gods. For the Piazza is just that—a meadow scattered with daisies, among which, as though forgotten, stand unbroken a Cathedral, a Baptistery, a Tower, and a Cemetery, all of marble, separate and yet one in the consummate beauty of their grouping. And as though weary of the silence and the light, the tower has leaned towards the flowers, which may fade and pass away. So amid the desolation of the Acropolis must the statues of the Parthenon have looked from the hills and the sea, with something of this abandoned splendour, this dazzling solitude, this mysterious calm silence, satisfied and serene.

Wherever you may be in Pisa, you cannot escape from the mysterious influence of those marvellous ghosts that haunt the verge of the city, that corner apart where the wind is white on the grass, and the shadows steal slowly through the day. The life of the world is far away on the other side of the city; here is only beauty and peace.

If you come into the Piazza, as most travellers do, from the Lung' Arno, as you turn into the Via S. Maria or out of the Borgo into the beautiful Piazza dei Cavalieri, gradually as you pass on your way life hesitates and at last deserts you. In the Via S. Maria, for instance, that winds like a stream from the Duomo towards Arno, at first all is gay with the memory and noise of the river, the dance of the sun and the wind. Then you pass a church; some shadow seems to glide across the way, and it is almost in dismay you glance up at the silent palaces, the colour of pearl, barred and empty; and then looking down see the great paved way where your footsteps make an echo; while there amid the great slabs of granite the grass is peeping. It is generally out of such a shadowy street as this that one comes into the dazzling Piazza del Duomo. But indeed, all Pisa is like that. You pass from church to church, from one deserted Piazza to another, and everywhere you disturb some shadow, some silence is broken, some secret seems to be hid. The presence of those marvellous abandoned things in the far corner of the city is felt in every byway, in every alley, in every forgotten court. "Amid the desolation of a city" this splendour is immortal, this glory is not dead.

II

"Varie sono le opinioni degli Scrittori circa l'edificazione di Pisa," says Tronci in his Annali Pisani, published at Livorno in the seventeenth century. "Various are the opinions of writers as to the building of Pisa, but all agree that it was founded by the Greeks. Cato in his Fragment, and Dionysius Halicarnassus in the first book of his History, affirm that the founders were the Pisi Alfei Pelasgi, who had for their captain the King Pelops, as Pliny says in his Natural History (lib. 5), and Solinus too, as though it were indubitable: who does not know that Pisa was from Pelops?" Certainly Pisa is very old, and whether or no King Pelops, as Pliny thought, founded the city, the Romans thought her as old as Troy. In 225 B.C. she was an Etruscan city, and the friend of Rome; in Strabo's day she was but two miles from the sea; Caesar's time she became a Roman military station; while in 4 A.D. we read that the disturbances at the elections were so serious that she was left without magistrates. That fact in itself seems to bring the city before our eyes: it is so strangely characteristic of her later history.



But in spite of her enormous antiquity, there are very few left of her Etruscan and Roman days, the remains of some Roman Thermae, Bagni di Nerone near the Porta Lucca being, indeed, all that we may claim, save the urns and sarcophagi scattered in the Campo Santo, from the great days of Rome. The glory of Pisa is the end of the Middle Age and the early dawn of the Renaissance. There, amid all the hurly-burly and terror of invasion and civil wars, she shines like a beacon beside the sea, proud, brave, and full of hope, almost the only city not altogether enslaved in a country in the grip of the barbarian, almost overwhelmed by the Lombards. And indeed, she was one of the first cities of Italy to fling off the Lombard yoke. Favoured by her position on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea, yet not so near the coast as to invite piracy, she waged incessant war on Greek and Saracen. Lombardy, heavy with conquest, fearful for her prize, which was Italy, was compelled to encourage the growth of the naval cities. It was on the sea that the future of Pisa lay, like the glory of the sun that in its splendour and pride passes away too soon.

Already in the ninth century we hear of her prowess at Salerno, while in the tenth, having possessed herself of her own government under consuls, she sent a fleet to help the Emperor Otho II in Sicily. Fighting without respite or rest, continually victorious, never downhearted, she had opened the weary story of the civil strife of Italy with a war against Lucca, in the year 1004.[17] It was the first outburst of that hatred in her heart which in the end was to destroy her for she died of a poverty of love.

In 1005, still with her fleet engaged in Sicilian waters, the Arab pirates fell upon her, and, forcing the harbour, sacked a whole quarter of the city. For the time Pisa could do little against the foes of Europe, but in 1016 she allied herself with that city which proved at last to be her deadliest foe, Genoa the Proud, and the united fleets swept down on Sardinia for vengeance. It was this victorious expedition that aroused the hatred of the Pisans for Genoa, a jealousy that was only extinguished when at last Pisa was crushed at Meloria.

Many were the attempts of the Arabs to regain Sardinia, but Pisa was not to be deceived. Coasting along the African shore, her fleet took Bona and threatened Carthage. Yet in 1050 the Arabs of Morocco and Spain stole the island from her, only Cagliari holding out under the nobles for the mother city. There was more than the loss of Sardinia at stake, for with the victory of the Arabs the highway of the sea was no longer secure, the existence of Pisa, and not of Pisa only, was threatened. So we find Genoa once more standing beside Pisa in the fight of Europe. The fleets again were combined, this time under the command of a Pisan, one Gualduccio, a plebeian. He sailed for Cagliari, landed his men, and engaged the enemy on the beach. The Arabs were led by the King Mogahid, Re Musetto, as the Italians called him. He was over eighty years old at the time, and though still full of cunning valour, attacked by the fleets in front and the garrison in the rear, his army was defeated and put to flight. He himself, fleeing on horseback, was wounded in two places, and falling was captured; and they took him in chains to Pisa, where he died. Thus Sardinia once more fell into the hands of Europe, and the island, divided in fiefs under the rule of Pisa,[18] was held and governed by her.

But Pisa was not yet done with the Arab. She stood for Europe. In 1063 she fought at Palermo, returning laden with booty. It was then, after much discussion in the Senate,[19] sending an embassy to the Pope and another to "Re Henrico di Germania," that she decided to employ this spoil in building the Duomo, in the place where the old Church of S. Reparata stood, and more anciently the Baths of Hadrian, the Emperor. The temple, Tronci tells us,[20] was dedicated to the Magnificent Queen of the Universe, Mary, ever Virgin, most worthy Mother of God, Advocate of sinners. It was begun in 1064, and many years, as Tronci says, were consumed in the building of it.[21] The pillars—and there are many—were brought by the Pisans from Africa, from Egypt, from Jerusalem, from Sardinia, and other far lands.

At this time Pisa was divided into four parts, called Quartieri. The first was called Ponte, the ensign of which was a rosy Gonfalon; the second, di Mezzo, which had a standard with seven yellow stripes on a red field; the third, Foriporta, which had a white gate in a rosy field; and the fourth, Chinsica with a white cross in a red field.[22]

Nor was the Duomo the only building that the Pisans undertook about this time. Eight years later, the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli, called to-day S. Pierino, was built on a spot where of old "there was a temple of the Gentiles" dedicated to Apollo; that, when the Pisans received the faith of Jesus Christ, they gave to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. This church appears to have been consecrated by the great Archbishop Peter on 30th August 1119.

These two churches, and especially the Duomo, still perhaps the most wonderful church in Italy, prove the greatness of the civilisation of Pisa at this time. She was then a self-governed city, owing allegiance, it is true, to the Marquisate of Tuscany, but with consuls of her own. Since she was so warlike, the nobles naturally had a large part in her affairs. In the Crusade of 1099 the Pisans were late, as the Genoese never ceased to remind them,—to come late, in Genoa, being spoken of as "Come l'ajuto di Pisa"; and, indeed, like the Genoese, the Pisans thought as much of their own commercial advantage in these Holy Wars as of the Tomb of Jesus. In 1100 they returned from Jerusalem, their merchants having gained, una loggia, una contrada, un fondaco e una chiesa for their nation in Constantinople, with many other fiscal benefits. Nor were they forgetful of their Duomo, for they came home with much spoil, bringing the bodies of the Saints Nicodemus the Prince of the Pharisees, Gamaliel the master of St. Paul, and Abibone, one of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.[23]

Encouraged by their success, not long afterwards, they, in their invincible confidence and force, decided to undertake another enterprise. Urged thereto by their Archbishop Peter, they set out, partly for glory, partly in the hope of spoil to free the thousands of Christians held captive by the Arabs in the Balearic islands. The fleet sailed on the 6th August 1114, the Feast of S. Sisto, the anniversary of other victories. There were, it seems, some three hundred ships of diverse strength; and every sort of person, old and young, took part in this adventure. Going astray, they first landed in Catalonia and did much damage; then, "acknowledging their unfortunate mistake," they found the island, where, under Archbishop Peter and the Pope's gonfalone, they were entirely successful. They released the captives, and, amid the immense spoil, they brought away the son of the Moorish king, whom later they baptized in Pisa and sent back to the Moors. The Pisan dead were, however, very many. At first they thought to load a ship with the slain and bring them home again; but this was not found possible. Sailing at last for Marseilles, they buried them there in the Badia di S. Vittore, later bringing the monks to Pisa.

Now, while the glory of Pisa shone thus upon the waters far away, the Lucchesi thought to seize Pisa herself, deprived of her manhood. But the Florentines, who at this time were friends with Pisa, since their commerce depended upon the Porto Pisano, sent a company to guard the city, encamping some two miles off; for since so much loot lay to hand, to wit, Pisa herself, the Florentine captains feared lest they might not be able to hold their men. And, indeed, one of their number entered the city intent on the spoil, but was taken, and they judged him worthy only of death. But the Pisans, not to be outdone in honour, refused to allow him to be executed in their territory; then the Florentines bought a plot of ground near the camp, and killed him there. When the fleet returned and heard this, they determined to send Florence a present to show their gratitude. Now, among the spoil were some bronze gates and two rosy pillars of porphyry, very precious. Then they besought the Florentines to choose one of these, the gates or the pillars, as a gift. And Florence chose the pillars, which stand to-day beside the eastern gate of the Baptistery in that city. But on the way to Florence they encountered the Mugnone in flood, and were thrown down and broken there. Hence the Florentines, that scornful and suspicious folk, swore that the Pisans had cracked their gifts themselves with fire before sending them, that Florence might not possess things so fair.

Other jealousies, too, arose out of the success of Pisa, though indirectly. For the Genoese, never content that she should have the overlordship of Sardinia, were still more disturbed when Pope Gelasius II., that Pisan, gave Corsica to Pisa, so that about 1125[24] they made war on her. The war lasted many years, till Innocent II, being Pope and come to Pisa, made peace, giving the Genoese certain rights in Corsica. About this time S. Bernard was in Pisa, where in 1134 Innocent II held a General Council; not for long, however, for in the same year he set out for Milan to reconcile that Church with Rome.

Her quarrel with Genoa was scarcely finished when Pisa found herself at war with the Normans in Southern Italy, defending heroically the city of Naples and utterly destroying Amalfi, the wonderful republic of the South.[25] Certainly the might of Pisa was great; her supremacy was unquestionable from Lerici to Piombino, but behind her hills Lucca was on watch, not far away Florence her friend as yet, held the valley of the Arno, while Genoa on the sea dogged her steps between the continents. Thus Pisa stood in the middle of the twelfth century the strongest and most warlike city in Tuscany, full of ambition and the love of beauty and glory. For it was now in 1152 that she began to build the Baptistery, and in 1174 the famous Campanile, a group of buildings with the Duomo unrivalled in the world.

Meanwhile the Great Countess of Tuscany had died in 1115; more and more Italy became divided against itself, and by the end of the century Guelph and Ghibelline, commune and noble, were tearing her in pieces. Tuscany, really little more than a group of communes devoted to trade, with the great feudatories ever in the offing, without any real unity, slowly became the stronghold of the Guelphs. Only Pisa,[26] glorying in the strength of the sea and the splendour of war, was Ghibelline, with Siena on her sunny hills. Now, having won Sardinia for herself, her nobles there established were, as was their manner everywhere, continually at feud. The Church, thinking to make Pisan sovereignty less secure, supported the weaker. Already Innocent III had, following this plan, called on the Pisans to withdraw their claim to the island. And it was a Pisan noble, Visconti, who, marrying into one of the island families related to Gregory IX, recognised the Papal suzerainty. Thus this family in Pisa became Guelph. But the other nobles, among whom was the Gherardesca family, threw their weight on the other side, and so Pisa, who had ever leaned that way, became staunchly Ghibelline.[27]

The quarrel with Florence was certain sooner or later, for Florence was growing in strength and riches; she would not for ever be content to let Pisa hold her sea-gate, taking toll of all that passed in and out. It was in 1222 that the first war broke out with the White Lily. Any excuse was good enough; the bone of contention appears to have been a lap-dog belonging to one of the Ambassadors[28]. Pisa was beaten. In 1259, nevertheless, she turned on the Genoese and drove them down the seas. But the death of Frederic in 1250 was the true end of the Ghibelline cause in Italy.

What then did Pisa look like in these the days of her great power and prosperity? She was a city, we may think, of narrow shadowy streets like the Via delle Belle Torri, full of refuse and garbage too, for then, as now in the remoter places, the household slops were simply hurled out of the windows with a mere guarda! called from an upper window. And to the horror of less fortunate cities, these streets were full of "Pagans, Turks, Libyans, Parthians, and foul Chaldeans, with their incense, pearls, and jewels." Yet though so good a Guelph as Donizo, the biographer of the great Countess, can express his horror of these "Gentiles," Genoa, too, must have been in much the same case; but then Genoa was Guelph, and Pisa Ghibelline. Yet then, as to-day in that quiet far corner of the city, in a meadow sprinkled with daisies, the great white Duomo stood a silent witness to the splendour of the noblest republic in Tuscany.

But her day was too soon over. In 1254, Florence and Lucca met and defeated her. The Guelphs had won. In Pisa we find the government reformed, elders appointed, a senate, a great council, and Podesta, a Captain of the People. It seemed as though Pisa herself was about to become Guelph, or at any rate to fling out her nobles. But in many a distant colony the nobles ruled, undisturbed by the disaster at home. And then, almost before she had set her house in order, the splendid victory of Monteaperto threw the Guelphs into confusion, and the banners of Pisa once more flew wide and far. But the fatal cause of the Empire was doomed; Manfred fell at Benevento, and Corradino was defeated at Tagliacozzo by Charles of Anjou, who, not content with victory, expelled the Pisan merchants from his ports. There was left to her the sea.

Now Ugolino della Gherardesca, of the great family which had been especially enraged by the conduct of Visconti, married his sister to one of that family reigning at Gallura in Sardinia. This man, the judge of Gallura, as he was called, had come to live in Pisa. The Pisans looked with much suspicion on this alliance, and exiled first the Visconti and later Ugolino himself, with all the other Guelphs. Ugolino went to Lucca, and with her help in 1276 overcame his native city and forced her to receive again the exiles. Then the merchandise of Florence passed freely through her port, Lucca regained her fortresses, and Pisa herself fell into the possession of Ugolino.

Nevertheless, without a thought of fear, looking ever seaward, she awaited the Genoese attack, certain that it would come, since she was divided within her gates. It was to be a fight to the death. During the year 1282 the Genoese were driven back from the mouth of the Arno, the Pisans were driven from Genoa, and scattered and spoiled by a storm. These were but skirmishes; the fight was yet to come. In Genoa they built a hundred and fifty ships of war; the Pisans, too, were straining every nerve. Then came a running fight off Sardinia, in which the Pisans had the worse of it, losing eight galleys and fifteen hundred men. Yet they were not disheartened. They made Alberto Morosini, a Venetian, their Podesta, and with him as Admirals were Count Ugolino della Gherardesca and Andreotto Saracini. When the treasury was empty the nobles gave their fortunes for the public cause. We hear of one family giving eleven ships of war, others gave six, others less, as they were able. At midsummer 1284 more than a hundred galleys sailed to Genoa, and in scorn shot arrows of silver into the great harbour. But the Genoese were not yet prepared. They were ready a few days later, however, when the watchers by Arno "descried a hundred and seven sail" making for the Porto. Then Pisa thrust forth her ships. With songs and with thanksgiving the Archbishop Ubaldino, at the head of all the clergy of the city, flung the Pisan standard out on the wind. It was night when the fleet was lost to sight in the offing. In that night there came to the Genoese thirty ships by way of reinforcement unknown to the Pisans. These they hid behind the island of Meloria. At dawn the battle broke. In many squadrons the ships flung themselves on one another, and for long the victory hung in the balance. The Pisans had already grappled for boarding, the battle was yet to win, when the Genoese reinforcements sailed out from the island straight for the Pisan Admirals. The battle was over. Flight—it was all that was left for Pisa. Ugolino himself was said to have given the signal.

There fell that day five thousand Pisans, with eleven thousand captured, and twenty-eight galleys lost to Genoa. There was no family in Pisa but mourned its dead: for six months on every side nothing was heard but lamentations and mourning. If you would see Pisa, it was said, you must go to Genoa.

Pisa had lost the sea. In Tuscany she stood with Arezzo facing the Guelph League. She elected Ugolino her Captain-General.[29] A man of the greatest force and ability, he was ambitious rather for himself than for Pisa. Having many Guelph friends, his business was to beat Genoa and the Guelph League. He succeeded in part. He bribed Florence with certain strongholds to leave the League, and he expelled the Ghibellines from Pisa. Then he offered Genoa Castro in Sardinia as ransom for the Pisan prisoners; but they sent word to the Council that they would not accept their freedom at the price of the humiliation of their city. Such were the Pisans. And, indeed, they threatened that if at such a price they were set free, they would return only to punish those who had thought such treason. Ugolino for his part cared not.[30] He proceeded to bribe Lucca with other strongholds. In the city all was confusion. Ugolino was turned out of the Dictatorship, he became Captain of the People. Not for long, however, for soon he contrived to make himself tyrant again.

Now the Genoese, seeing they were like to get nothing out of their prisoners by this, were anxious for a money ransom. But Ugolino, fearing those brave men, broke the truce with Genoa, urging certain pirates of Sardinia to attack the Genoese; and, in order to make sure of this, while he himself went to his castle in the country, he arranged with Ruggieri dei Ubaldini, the Archbishop, to expel the Guelphs, among them his own nephew, from Pisa. The plot succeeded; but Pisa desired that the Archbishop should for the future divide the power with Ugolino. To this Ugolino would not agree, and in a rage he slew the nephew of the Archbishop. Meanwhile, Ugolino's nephew, Nino Visconti, was plotting with him to return. This came to the ears of Ruggieri, who called the Ghibellines to arms, and at last succeeded in capturing Ugolino and his family, after days of fighting. Well had Marco Lombardo, that "wise and valiant man of affairs," told him, "The wrath of God is the only thing lacking to you."

"Of a truth," says Villani, the old Florentine Chronicler,—"of a truth the wrath of God soon came upon him, as it pleased God, because of his treacheries and crimes; for when the Archbishop of Pisa and his followers had succeeded in driving out Nino and his party, by the counsel and treachery of Count Ugolino the forces of the Guelphs were diminished; and then the Archbishop took counsel how to betray Count Ugolino; and in a sudden uproar of the people he was attacked and assaulted at the palace, the Archbishop giving the people to understand that he had betrayed Pisa, and given up their fortresses to the Florentines and the Lucchesi; and, being without any defence, the people having turned against him, he surrendered himself prisoner; and at the said assault one of his bastard sons and one of his grandsons were slain, and Count Ugolino was taken and two of his sons and three grandsons, his son's children, and they were put in prison; and his household and followers, the Visconti and Ubizinghi, Guatini and all the other Guelph houses, were driven out of Pisa. Thus was the traitor betrayed by the traitor.... In the said year 1288, in the said month of March ... the Pisans chose for their captain Count Guido of Montefeltro, giving him wide jurisdiction and lordship; and he passed the boundaries of Piedmont, within which he was confined by his terms of surrender to the Church, and came to Pisa; for which thing he and his sons and family and all the commonwealth of Pisa were excommunicated by the Church of Rome, as rebels and enemies against Holy Church. And when the said Count was come to Pisa ... the Pisans, which had put in prison Count Ugolino and his two sons, and two sons of Count Guelpho his son ... in the tower on the Piazza degli Anziani, caused the door of the said tower to be locked and the keys thrown into Arno, and refused to the said prisoners any food, which in a few days died there of hunger. And albeit first the said Count demanded with cries to be shriven; yet did they not grant him a friar or a priest to confess him. And when all the five dead bodies were taken out of the tower, they were buried without honour; and thenceforward the said prison was called the Tower of Hunger, and will be always[31]."

Enough of Ugolino. Count Guido, that mystical, fierce soul from Urbino, seeing danger everywhere, called the whole city to the army. Florence had allied herself with Lucca and Genoa[32]. Count Guido's business was to beat them. He did it[33]; so that by the Assumption of Our Lady in 1292 he had won back again nearly all the lost fortresses, and wrung peace from the Guelph League. Nevertheless, Pisa was compelled to sacrifice her captain, and to see Genoa established in Corsica and in part of Sardinia; also she had to pay 160,000 lire to Genoa for the Pisan captives, and in Elba to admit Genoese trade free of tax.

Some idea of the glory of Pisa even when she had suffered so much may be had, perhaps, from Tronci's account of that Festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as it was kept in August 1293, when the peace had been signed.

The Anziani, Tronci tells us[34], "were used, for a month before the Festa, to publish it in the following manner. Twenty horses covered all with scarlet, went out of the city bearing twenty youths dressed in fanciful and rich costumes. The first two carried two banners, one of the Comunita, the other of the Popolo. Two others carried two lances of silver washed with gold, on which were the Imperial eagles. Two others bore on their fists two living eagles crowned with gold. The rest followed in a company, dressed in rich liveries. There came after, the trumpeters of the Comunita with the silver trumpets, and others with fifes and wind instruments of divers loudness, and they proclaimed the Palii which were to be won on land and water.

"On land, the first prize was of red velvet lined with fur, with a great eagle of silver. This he received who first reached the goal. To the second was given a silken stuff of the value of thirty gold florins, to the third in jest was offered a pair of geese and a bunch of garlic. On the water the race was rowed in little galleys and brigantini. He who came in first won a Bull covered with scarlet, and fifty scudi; the second a piece of silken stuff with thirty gold florins, the third got only geese and garlic.

"On the first day of August were placed on the towers of the city, certainly some 16,000 in number, three banners on each of them; one with the Imperial eagle, another of the Commune, and the third of the People. In like manner, on the cupola, facade, and corners of the Duomo, on S. Giovanni, on the Campo Santo and the Campanile, these banners flew not only on the top, but at all the angles of the columns. The same were seen on all the churches of the city, and on all the palaces, the Palazzo Pubblico, the Palace of the Podesta, the Palazzo del Capitano del Conservatore, the Corte del Consulato di Mare, on the palaces of the Mercati and of the seven Arti. The Contado followed the example of the city; and thus it continued all the month of August. And the whole people of every sort made great rejoicing and feasting, to which foreigners were particularly invited.

"At the first Vespers of the Festa, the Anziani went to the Duomo in state: and before them walked the maidens dressed in new costumes; and after came the trumpeters, and the Captain with his company, and all the other lesser magistrates. When they were come to the Cathedral, the Archbishop, vested a Pontificale, began solemn Vespers. This ended, a youth mounted into the pulpit and chanted a prayer in praise of the Assumption of the Most Glorious Virgin. Then Matins was sung; and that finished, the procession made its way round about the church, and was joined by all the Companies and the Regulars, carrying each man a candle of wax of half a pound weight, alight in his hands. The Clergy followed with the Canons and the Archbishop with lighted candles of greater weight; and last came the Anziani, the Podesta, the Captain and other Magistrates, the Representatives of the Arti, and all the People with lights of wax in their hands. And the procession being over, all went to see the illuminations, the bonfires, and the festa, through the city.

"On the morning of the Festa, the ceri were placed on the trabacche, that were more than sixty in number, carried, by boys dressed in liveries, with much pomp. Immediately after followed the Anziani, the Podesta, and the Captain of the People with all the other Magistrates and Officials and the people, with the Company of Horse richly dressed and with the Companies of Foot; and a little after came all the arti, carrying each one his great cero all painted, and accompanied by all the wind instruments. It was a thing sweet to hear and beautiful to see. The offering made, they went out to bring the silver girdle[35] borne with great pomp on a carretta; and there assisted all the clergy in procession with exquisite music both of voices and of instruments. The usual ceremonies being over, they encircled the Cathedral, and hung the girdle to the irons that were set round about. Yes, it was this girdle of a great value and very beautiful that was spoken of through the whole world, so that from many a city of Italy people came in haste to see it; but to-day there is nothing of it left save a small particle[36]."

Misfortune certainly had not broken the spirit of Pisa. And so it is not surprising that, though she dared scarcely fly her flag on the seas, on land she thought to hold her own. No doubt this hope was strengthened by the advent in 1312 of Henry VII of Luxembourg. With him on her side she dreamed of the domination of Tuscany. But it was not to be. She found money and arms in his cause and her own. She opened a new war with the Guelph League; she suspended her own Government and made him lord of Pisa. He remained with her two months, and then in 1313 he died at Buonconvento. They buried him sadly in the Duomo. The two million florins she had expended were lost for ever. Frederick of Sicily, Henry's ally, though he came to Pisa, refused the proferred lordship, as did Henry of Savoy; and at last Pisa placed herself under the Imperial Vicar of Genoa, for that city also had been delivered by her nobles into the hands of Henry VII.

Uguccione della Faggiuola, the Imperial Vicar of Genoa, remained, as Imperial legate, Podesta, Captain of the People, and Elector, bringing with him one thousand German horse. The rest of the army of Henry returned over the Alps. Pisa thought herself on the verge of ruin; she must make terms with her foes. This being done, there appeared to be no further need for Uguccione, whose German troops were expensive, and whose presence did but anger the Guelphs. Uguccione was a man of enormous strength, brave, too, and resolute, swift to decide an issue, wise in council, but a barbarian. What had he to do with peace. His business was war, as he very soon let the Pisans know. Nor were they slow to take him at his word. Pisa was never beaten. Uguccione marched through the streets with the living eagles of the Empire borne before him. Before long he had deprived the Guelphs of power, and was practically tyrant of Pisa. Everything now seemed to depend on victory. Lucca scarcely ten miles away, Guelph by tradition and hatred of Pisa, was in an uproar. Uguccione saw his chance and took it; he flung himself on the city and delivered it up to its own factions while the Pisans sacked it. Nor did they spare the place. The spoil was enormous; among the rest, a large sum belonging to the Pope fell into their hands. Florence and her allies sprang to arms. Uguccione took up the challenge, burnt the lands of Pistoja and San Miniato al Tedesco, ravaged the vineyards of Volterra, seized the fortresses of Val di Nievole, and at last besieged Montecatini.

It was now that the Ghibellines of Lucca with Castruccio Castracani joined Uguccione. They met the army of Florence at Montecatini. Machiavelli states that Uguccione fell ill, and had no part in the battle, which was won by Castruccio. Villari, however, gives the glory to Uguccione.

It might seem that Uguccione, whether ill or not on the day of battle, was jealous, and perhaps afraid, of Castruccio. Certainly he plotted against him, sending his son Nerli to Lucca with orders to trap Castruccio and imprison him; which was done. Nerli, however, wanted resolution to kill him; and his father hearing this, set out from Pisa with four hundred horse to take the matter in hand. The Pisans, who were by this time completely enslaved by Uguccione, seized the opportunity to rise. Macchiavelli tells us "they cut his Deputies' throats, and slew all his Family. Now, that he might be sure they were in earnest, they chose the Conte de Gherardesca, and made him their Governor." When Uguccione got to Lucca he found the city in an uproar, and the people demanding the release of Castruccio. This he was compelled to allow. With Castruccio at liberty, Lucca was too hot for him, and he fled into Lombardy to the Lords of Scala, where no long time after, he died.

After the great victory of Montecatini, Gherardesca and Castruccio soon came to terms with the Guelphs; and all that Pisa really seems to have gained by the war was that she was compelled to build a hospital and chapel for the repose of the souls of the dead at Montecatini. This chapel, hidden away in the Casa dei Trovatelli at the top of Via S. Maria in Pisa, became a glorious monument of the victory of Pisa over Florence.

But the freedom of Pisa was gone for ever; others, lords and tyrants, arose, Castruccio Castracani and the rest, yet she was still at bay. On the 2nd October 1325 she again defeated Florence at Altopascio, and even excluded her from the port, and, in 1341, when Florence had bought Lucca from Mastino della Scala for 250,000 florins, she besieged it to prevent the entry of the Florentine army then aided by Milan, Mantova, and Padova, In 1342, the Florentines having failed to relieve Lucca, the Pisans entered the city. The possession of Lucca seemed to put Pisa, where centuries ago Luitprand had placed her, at the head of the province of Tuscany. This view, which certainly she herself was not slow to take, was confirmed when Volterra and Pistoja placed themselves under her protection; yet, as ever, her greatest danger was the discord within her walls. The Republic was weak, nearly a million and a half of florins had been spent on the war, and many tyrants were her allies; moreover, she had lent troops to Milan.[37] It was this moment of reaction after so great an effort that Visconti d'Oleggio chose for a conspiracy against Gherardesca the Captain-General. It is true the plot was discovered, the traitors exiled, and Visconti banished; but the mischief was done. When Lucchino Visconti heard of it in Milan, he imprisoned the Pisan troops in that city and sent Visconti d'Oleggio back with two thousand men to seize Pisa. Thus the war dragged on; and though these Milanese were destroyed for the most part by malaria in the Maremma, still Pisa had no rest. After Visconti came famine, and after the famine the Black Death. Seventy in every hundred of the population died, Tronci tells us,[38] while during the famine, bread, such as it was, had to be distributed every day at the taverns. Then followed a revolution in the city. Count Raniero of the Gherardesca house had succeeded to the Captain-Generalship of Pisa as though it were his right by birth. This brought him many enemies; and, indeed, the city was in uproar for some years: for, while he was so young, Dino della Rocca acted for him. Among the more powerful enemies of della Rocca was Andrea Gambacorti, whose family was soon to enslave the city. Now the one party was called Bergolini, for they had named Raniero Bergo for hate, and of these Gambacorti was chief. The other party which was at this time in power, as I have said, was named Raspanti, which is to say graspers, and of them Dino della Rocca was head. In the midst of this disputing Raniero died, and the Raspanti were accused of having murdered him, among others by Gambacorti. Every sort of device to heal these wounds was resorted to; marriages and oaths all alike failed. The city blazed with their arson every night, till at last the people rose and expelling the Raspanti, chose Andrea Gambacorti for captain. This happened in 1348. Seven years later, Charles IV, on his way to Rome to be crowned, came to the city. Now the Conte di Montescudaio was known to Charles, who years before had ruled in Lucca; therefore the Raspanti, of when Montescudaio was one, took heart, and at the moment when Charles was in the Duomo receiving the homage of the city, they roused the people assembled in the Piazza, shouting for the Emperor and Liberty; but Charles heeded them not. Nevertheless Gambacorti, to save himself, thought fit to give Charles the lordship of the city; but the people, angered at this, demanded their liberty, so that the magistrates, fearing for peace, reconciled the two factions, who then together demanded of Charles his new lordship. And he gave it them with as good a grace as he could, for his men were few. Then again he heard from Lucca. There, too, they demanded liberty, and especially from the dominion of Pisa, and, it is said, the Lucchesi in France gave him 20,000 florins for this. But Pisa heard of it. When Charles sent his troops to occupy Lucca, the Raspanti saw their opportunity and rose. They put themselves at the head of the people, who slew one hundred and fifty of Charles's Germans, and held Charles himself a prisoner in the Duomo, where he lodged since the Palazzo Comunale had been fired. Montescudaio, however, secretly joined Charles with his men; he burnt the houses of the Gambacorti and dispersed the mob. Apparently Lucca was free. But Charles had reckoned without the Pisan garrison in the subject city. They fired their beacons, and Pisa saw the blaze. It was enough, their dominion was in danger; there were no longer any factions; Raspanti and Bergolini alike stood together for Pisa. They streamed out of the great Porta a Lucca to the relief of their own people, and though six thousand armed peasants opposed them, they won to Lucca and took it, the Pisani still holding the gates. Then they fired the city, and when the flames closed in round S. Michele the Lucchesi surrendered. Thus they served their enemies. But Charles had his revenge. He seized the Gambacorti, and appointing a judge, having given instructions to find them guilty, tried them and beheaded seven of them in Piazza degli Anziani, in spite of the rage of Pisa. Then, with a large amount of treasure, of which he had spoiled the Pisans, he fled back with his barbarians to his Germany. And as soon as he was gone the city took Montescudaio and sent him into exile[39], with the remaining Gambacorti also. So Charles left Pisa more Ghibelline than he found her.

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