Friday, 28 November 2008


In the spring of 184--, I had occasion to visit an intimate friend, who had established some extensive silk mills at the village of Ponte, near Pian D'Erba, in the Brianza. As this beautiful portion of the garden of Europe is but little known to English travellers generally, -- who, with rare exceptions, on arriving in Italy, hurry southward, -- I may state that it is situated in the centre of the base of the triangle which is formed by the high road running from Como to Lecco in the south; while the sides stretching upwards, terminate at the apex formed at Bellagio in the north. It would be difficult to imagine scenery more lovely than is there to be found.

It varies from the soft undulating hills covered with the mulberry plant and the vine, which form the southern slopes of the Alps, to the wildest mountain scenery. To see it in perfection the traveller should start on foot, and, passing through Ponte, follow the course of the impetuous river Lambro, till it dwindles into a little mountain rill. During the six weeks of my visit, I was never tired of strolling among the beautiful scenes which at every turn meet the eye.

Although to me, as a stranger to Italy, it might have possessed a charm greater than to others, still it would be difficult indeed for even the most experienced traveller, who had been familiarized with nature in all her loveliness, not to be charmed with the beautiful prospects which are to be found in such abundance in the Comasque districts. Frequently in my rambles I remained so late that my friend would become uneasy, and request me to return for the future before nightfall, as the evenings in those mountain districts shut in so rapidly that it was by no means safe for a stranger to lose himself in the dark; the pathways being frequently narrow, and the precipices very dangerous. Accidents of a serious nature, he assured me, had occurred; and he begged me on all occasions when I was likely to remain out after dark, to provide myself with a guide. Although his advice was sound, I confess I did not act upon it; the luxury of being alone in such a beautiful locality would have been considerably marred by the loquacity of an ignorant peasant, not one-tenth part of whose patois I could have understood. Yet it was out of no disrespect to my friend's advice that I did not follow it, for I could not fail to see that it was most judicious; but sunset, above all other times of the day, had an especial attraction for me. It was my great delight to gain some elevated position, and watch the magnificent effects of light and shade which were produced by the struggle between the fading day and coming night.

One evening when I had strolled much further than usual, I came to a spot which I had not yet visited. I can hardly describe its position better than by saying that it was in a deep valley at the base of a singular-looking mountain, to the eastward of Lecco, and that it overlooked the whole of the peninsula, bounded by the two arms of the lake. I do not remember its name, but it has two singular-looking protuberances on its summit, something in shape of two stunted horns, which form a remarkable feature of the landscape, and are seen at distance of many miles. On looking around me to determine which pathway I should take, I perceived at some distance, and at a considerable elevation on the mountain,what appeared to be some extensive castellated ruins; and a strong desire to inspect them came over me. Although already greatly fatigued by my ramble, I immediately set out with renewed vigour to reach them. As I proceeded, the valley narrowed, and I lost sight of the ruins; but as I knew I must be in the right path, I continued onwards.

Presently I came upon...

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