It was perhaps particularly delightful to me, to obtain once more a cottage in the country, after running so from one great city to another; and for the first week I did nothing but rejoice in a solitude so new, so salutiferous, so total. I therefore begged my husband not to hurry us to Rome, but take the house we lived in for a longer term, as I would now play the English housewife in Italy I said; and accordingly began calling the chickens and ducks under my window, tasted the new wine as it ran purple from the cask, caressed the meek oxen that drew it to our door; and felt sensations so unaffectedly pastoral, that nothing in romance ever exceeded my felicity.
The cold bath here is the most delicate imaginable; of a moderate degree of coldness though, not three degrees below Matlock surely; but omitting, simply enough, to carry a thermometer, one can measure the heat of nothing. Our hot water here seems about the temperature of the Queen’s bath in Somersetshire; it is purgative, not corroborant, they tell me; and its taste resembles Cheltenham water exactly.
These springs are much frequented by the court I find, and here are very tolerable accommodations; but it is not the season now, and our solitude is perfect in a place which beggars all description, where the mountains are mountains of marble, and the bushes on them bushes of myrtle; large as our hawthorns, and white with blossoms, as they are at the same time of year in Devonshire; where the waters are salubrious, the herbage odoriferous, every trodden step breathing immediate fragrance from the crushed sweets of thyme, and marjoram, and winter savoury: while the birds and the butterflies frolick around, and flutter among the loaded lemon, and orange, and olive trees, till imagination is fatigued with following the charms that surround one.
I am come home this moment from a long but not tedious walk, among the crags of this glorious mountain; the base of which nearly reaches, within half a mile perhaps, to the territories of Lucca. Some country girls passed me with baskets of fruit, chickens, &c. on their heads. I addressed them as natives of the last-named place, saying I knew them to be such by their dress and air; one of them instantly replied, “Oh si, siamo Lucchesi, noi altri; gia si puo vedere subito una Reppubblicana, e credo bene ch’ella fe n’ e accorta benissimo che siamo del paese della liberta[AA].”
[Footnote AA: Oh yes, we are Lucca people sure enough, and I am persuaded that you soon saw in our faces that we come from a land of liberty.]
I will add that these females wear no ornaments at all; are always proud and gay, and sometimes a little fancy too. The Tuscan damsels, loaded with gold and pearls, have a less assured look, and appear disconcerted when in company with their freer neighbours—Let them tell why.