There is, mean time, resident in the neighbourhood an English gentleman, his name Greenfield, who has formed to himself a mighty sweet habitation in the English taste, but not extensive, as his property don’t reach far: he is however a sort of little oracle in the country I am told; gives money, and dispenses James’s powders to the poor, is happy in the esteem of numberless people of fashion, and the comfort of his country people’s lives beside; who, travelling to Sienna, as many do for the advantage of studying Italian to perfection, find a friend and companion where perhaps it is least expected.
The cathedral here at Sienna deserves a volume, and I shall scarcely give it a page. The pavement of it is the just pride of Italy, and may challenge the world to produce its equal. St. Mark’s at Venice floored with precious stones dies away upon the comparison; this being all inlaid with dove-coloured and white marbles representing historical subjects not ill told. Were this operation performed in mosaic work, others of rival excellence might be found. The pavement of Sienna’s dome is so disposed by an effort of art one never saw but here, that it produces an effect most resembling that of a very fine and beautiful damask table-cloth, where the large patterns are correctly drawn.
Rome however is to be our next stage, and many of our English gentlemen now here, are with ourselves impatiently waiting for the numberless pleasures it is expected to afford us. I will here close this chapter upon our various desires; one wishing to see St. Peters; one setting his heart upon entering the Capitol: to-morrow’s sun will light us all upon our search.
The first sleeping place between Sienna and this capital shall not escape mentioning; its name is Radicosani, its title an inn, and its situation the summit of an exhausted volcano. Such a place did I never see. The violence of the mountain, when living, has split it in a variety of places, and driven it to a breadth of base beyond credibility, its height being no longer formidable. Whichever way you turn your eyes, nothing but portions of this black rock appear therefore; so here is extent without sublimity, and here is terror mingled with disgust. The inside of the house is worthy of the prospect seen from its windows; wild, spacious, and scantily provided. Never had place so much the appearance of a haunted hall, where Sir Rowland or Sir Bertrand might feel proud of their courage when
The knight advancing strikes
the fatal door,
And hollow chambers send a sullen roar.
To this truly dismal reposing place is however kindly added a little chapel; and few persons can imagine what a comfortable feel it gave me on entering it in the morning after hearing the winds howl all night in the black mountain. Here too we first made acquaintance with Signor Giovanni Ricci, a mighty agreeable gentleman, who was kindly assistant to us in a hundred little difficulties, afterwards occasioned by horses, postillions, &c. which at last brought us through a bad country enough to Viterbo, where we slept.