Saunterings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about Saunterings.

The people here preserve all the memorials of Byron; and, I should judge, hold his memory in something like affection.  The Palace Guiccioli, in which he subsequently resided, is in another part of the town.  He spent over two years in Ravenna, and said he preferred it to any place in Italy.  Why I cannot see, unless it was remote from the route of travel, and the desolation of it was congenial to him.  Doubtless he loved these wide, marshy expanses on the Adriatic, and especially the great forest of pines on its shore; but Byron was apt to be governed in his choice of a residence by the woman with whom he was intimate.  The palace was certainly pleasanter than his gloomy house in the Strada di Porta Sisi, and the society of the Countess Guiccioli was rather a stimulus than otherwise to his literary activity.  At her suggestion he wrote the “Prophecy of Dante;” and the translation of “Francesca da Rimini” was “executed at Ravenna, where, five centuries before, and in the very house in which the unfortunate lady was born, Dante’s poem had been composed.”  Some of his finest poems were also produced here, poems for which Venice is as grateful as Ravenna.  Here he wrote “Marino Faliero,” “The Two Foscari,” “Morganti Maggiore,” “Sardanapalus,” “The Blues,” “The fifth canto of Don Juan,” “Cain,” “Heaven and Earth,” and “The Vision of Judgment.”  I looked in at the court of the palace,—­a pleasant, quiet place,—­where he used to work, and tried to guess which were the windows of his apartments.  The sun was shining brightly, and a bird was singing in the court; but there was no other sign of life, nor anything to remind one of the profligate genius who was so long a guest here.


Very different from the tomb of Dante, and different in the associations it awakes, is the Rotunda or Mausoleum of Theodoric the Goth, outside the Porta Serrata, whose daughter, Amalasuntha, as it is supposed, about the year 530, erected this imposing structure as a certain place “to keep his memory whole and mummy hid” for ever.  But the Goth had not lain in it long before Arianism went out of fashion quite, and the zealous Roman Catholics despoiled his costly sleeping-place, and scattered his ashes abroad.  I do not know that any dead person has lived in it since.  The tomb is still a very solid affair,—­a rotunda built of solid blocks of limestone, and resting on a ten-sided base, each side having a recess surmounted by an arch.  The upper story is also decagonal, and is reached by a flight of modern stone steps.  The roof is composed of a single block of Istrian limestone, scooped out like a shallow bowl inside; and, being the biggest roof-stone I ever saw, I will give you the dimensions.  It is thirty-six feet in diameter, hollowed out to the depth of ten feet, four feet thick at the center, and two feet nine inches at the edges, and is estimated to weigh two hundred

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Saunterings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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