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Title: A Little Pilgrimage in Italy
Author: Olave M. (Olave Muriel) Potter
Release Date: June 24, 2014 [eBook #46092]
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A LITTLE PILGRIMAGE IN ITALY
Perugia: looking towards Assisi.
A LITTLE PILGRIMAGE IN ITALY
OLAVE M. POTTER
AUTHOR OF 'THE COLOUR OF ROME.'
WITH 8 COLOURED PLATES AND
THE MUSSON BOOK COMPANY
|FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEMBER
Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty
One morning of high summer three pilgrims met together in the City of Genoa to sally forth in search of sunshine and the Middle Ages.
At least that was what the Poet said, for sunshine and Ancient Stones were the passions of the Poet's life.
The Philosopher insisted that we went in search of Happiness.
It is no matter. But in fact we did meet one July day of sweltering sunshine in Genoa, the Western Gate of Italy, which is a city of grateful shadows, whose narrow streets defy the brilliant sun.
This is a book of simple delights, a chronicle of little pleasures, so I shall not talk much of Genoa, although to my mind she is the most Italian of all the great cities of Italy. Nor shall I speak of Florence, or Naples, or Venice, or Rome. Doubtless, like me, you have loved them all.
If you come with me I shall take you away from the great cities where your feet are bruised on the stony streets and never feel the soft warm earth beneath their soles, where mountainous walls of brick limit your vision to smoke-clouded strips of sky, where you never smell the fragrance of the night. If you come with me I shall take you to the hills, the deep-bosomed rolling hills, with their valleys and their plains and with towered cities riding on their crests. You will lie with me under the olives and stone-pines, where the warm earth cushions your limbs in luxury, and the sunlight flickering in the green shadows lights on a wealth of flowers.
Then, if you will, come back to your haunted streets.
But I am persuaded that if you go there you will find a great content among the little cities of great memories which stand knee-deep in flowers upon the hills of Italy, or in those nobler towns,—Siena, who belongs to the Madonna, and Perugia, whose name is as a torch to light your feet into the Valleys of Romance. In their streets you are seldom shut away from the mountains and the sky; and little gracious weeds and grasses have spread a web among their stones as though an elfin world sought to entrap a monster and pull him down to ruin.
Our little pilgrimage took us to many shrines, and haunts of peace and beauty. We made our discoveries, saw much, learned not a little philosophy. And, most of all, we caught a glimpse of the heart of Umbria—Umbria of the saints. We watched the gathering of the golden maize in the plain below Assisi while we walked with St. Francis among the vines and olives; we saw the vintage being brought home with song and thanksgiving at Orvieto and Viterbo. We dwelt among beautiful simple-hearted men and women, living in little farms far from the toil of the modern world, who still worship God in the gladness of their hearts and the spirit of the ardent thirteenth century; who toil and spin and bear children and lie down to die, not with the stupidity of animals or the self-satisfaction of the bourgeoisie, but full of a beautiful content, moved by a beautiful faith. We dipped into Tuscany too, into Lombardy, into the March of Ancona, into Lazio, but nowhere else was the world as perfect, as unspoiled as in Umbria. If you are travel-stained with life, if the sweat of a work-a-day world still clings about you, if you have lost your saints and almost forgotten your Gods, you will cure the sickness of your soul in Umbria.