At the end of a day which I passed most delightfully amid these fertile plains, I entered Vicenza, where the authorities of the town, together with almost the entire population, awaited the Emperor under a superb arch of triumph at the entrance of the town. We were exceedingly hungry; and his Majesty himself said, that evening as he retired, that he felt very much like sitting down to the table when he entered Vicenza. I trembled, then, at the idea of those long Italian addresses, which I had found even longer than those of France, doubtless because I did not understand a single word; but, fortunately, the magistrates of Vicenza were sufficiently well-informed not to take advantage of our position, and their speeches occupied only a few moments.
That evening his Majesty went to the theater; and I was so much fatigued that I would have gladly profited by the Emperor’s absence to take some repose, had not an acquaintance invited me to accompany him to the convent of the Servites, in order to witness the effect of the illumination of the town, which I did, and was repaid by the magnificent spectacle which met my eyes. The whole town seemed one blaze of light. On returning to the palace occupied by his Majesty, I learned that he had given orders that everything should be in readiness for departure two hours after midnight; consequently I had one hour to sleep, and I enjoyed it to the utmost.
At the appointed moment, the Emperor entered his carriage; and we were soon rolling along with the rapidity of lightning over the road to Stra, where we passed the night. Very early next morning we set out, following a long causeway raised through marshes. The landscape is almost the same, and yet not so beautiful, as that we passed before reaching Vicenza. We still saw groves of mulberry and olive trees, from which the finest oil is obtained, and fields of maize and hemp, interspersed with meadows. Beyond Stra the cultivation of rice commences; and, although the rice-fields must render the country unhealthy, still it has not the reputation of being more so than any other. On the right and left of the road are seen elegant houses, and cabins which, though covered with thatch, are very comfortable, and present a charming appearance. The vine is little cultivated in this part of the country, where it would hardly succeed, as the land is too low and damp; but there are, nevertheless, a few small vineyards on the slopes, and the vegetation in the whole country is incredibly rich and luxuriant. The late wars have left traces which only a long peace can efface.
On his arrival at Fusina the Emperor found the Venetian authorities awaiting him, embarked on the ‘peote’ or gondola of the village, and advanced towards Venice, accompanied by a numerous floating cortege. We followed, the Emperor in little black gondolas, which looked like floating coffins, with which the Brenta was covered; and nothing could be stranger than to hear, proceeding from these coffins of such gloomy aspect, delicious vocal concerts. The boat which carried his Majesty, and the gondolas of the principal persons of his suite, were handsomely ornamented.