SCENES IN GENOA, LEGHORN AND PISA.
Have you ever seen some grand painting of a city, rising with its domes and towers and palaces from the edge of a glorious bay, shut in by mountains—the whole scene clad in those deep, delicious, sunny hues which you admire so much in the picture, although they appear unrealized in Nature? If so, you can figure to yourself Genoa, as she looked to us at sunset, from the battlements west of the city. When we had passed through the gloomy gate of the fortress that guards the western promontory, the whole scene opened at once on us in all its majesty. It looked to me less like a real landscape than a mighty panoramic painting. The battlements where we were standing, and the blue mirror of the Mediterranean just below, with a few vessels moored near the shore, made up the foreground; just in front lay the queenly city, stretching out to the eastern point of the bay, like a great meteor—–this point, crowned with the towers and dome of a cathedral representing the nucleus, while the tail gradually widened out and was lost among the numberless villas that reached to the top of the mountains behind. A mole runs nearly across the mouth of the harbor, with a tall light-house at its extremity, leaving only a narrow passage for vessels. As we gazed, a purple glow lay on the bosom of the sea, while far beyond the city, the eastern half of the mountain crescent around the gulf was tinted with the loveliest hue of orange. The impressions which one derives from looking on remarkable scenery, depend, for much of their effect, on the time and weather. I have been very fortunate in this respect in two instances, and shall carry with me through life, two glorious pictures of a very different character—the wild sublimity of the Brocken in cloud and storm, and the splendor of Genoa in an Italian sunset.
Genoa has been called the “city of palaces.” and it well deserves the appellation. Row above row of magnificent structures rise amid gardens along the side of the hills, and many of the streets, though narrow and crooked, are lined entirely with the splendid dwellings of the Genoese nobles. All these speak of the republic in its days of wealth and power, when it could cope successfully with Venice, and Doria could threaten to bridle the horses of St. Mark. At present its condition is far different; although not so fallen as its rival, it is but a shadow of its former self—the life and energy it possessed as a republic, has withered away under the grasp of tyranny.