The vegetation in Sicily is eminent for its luxuriant loveliness. Flowers, plants, and shrubs attain a greater height and magnitude than we find elsewhere. I saw here numerous species of aloes, which we cultivate laboriously in hot-houses, growing wild, or planted as hedges around gardens. The stems, from which blossoms burst forth, often attain a height of from twenty to thirty feet. Their flowering season was already past.
After a sojourn of five days I bade farewell to Palermo, and took my departure in wet weather. This was the first rain I had seen fall since the 20th of April. The temperature remained very warm; on fine days the thermometer still stood at 20 or 22 degrees Reaumur in the sun at noon.
The vessel on which I now embarked was a royal mail-steamer. We left Palermo at noon; towards evening the sea became rather rough, so that the spray dashed over me once or twice, although I continually kept near the steersman.
At the commencement of our journey nothing was to be seen but sky and water. But the next day, as we approached the Neapolitan coast, island after island rose from the sea, and at length the mainland itself could be discerned. Capri was the first island we approached closely. Soon afterwards my attention was drawn to a great cloud rising towards the sky; it was a smoky column from the glowing hearth of Vesuvius. At length a white line glittered on the verge of the horizon, like a band through the clear air. There was a joyful cry of “Napoli! Napoli!” and Naples lay spread before me.
Sojourn at Naples—Sickness—Laziness
of the people—Royal palace—
Rotunda—Strada Chiaga and Toledo—St. Carlo Theatre—Largo del
Castello—Medina square—Marionettes—St. Jesu Nuovo—St. Jesu
Maggiore—St. Maria di Piedigrotta—Public gardens—Academy “degli
Studii”—Cathedral of St. Januarius—St. Jeronimo—St. Paula
Maggiore—St. Chiara—Baths of Nero—Solfatara—Grotto “del Cane”—
Resina—Ascent of Vesuvius—Caserta.
My imagination was so powerfully excited, I may say over-excited, by the accounts I had heard and read concerning this fairy city, that here once more my expectations were far from being realised. This was, perhaps, partly owing to the circumstance that I had already seen Constantinople and had just quitted Palermo, the situation of which latter town had so enchanted me that my enthusiasm was here confined within very narrow bounds, and I felt inclined to prefer Palermo to Naples.