The Road in Tuscany: A Commentary - Vol. 1

The Road in Tuscany: A Commentary - Vol. 1

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The Road in Tuscany: A Commentary - Vol. 1

The Road in Tuscany: A Commentary - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The pretensions of this book to be a companion of Tuscan travel, and a leisurely, sententious commentary upon the country, are based upon two convictions: First, that you don't get to know a country by seeing the great towns of it; second, that, let the history, fine arts, monuments, and institutions be as fine as you please, the best product of your country will always be the people of it, who themselves produced those other pleasant spectacles. Upon these two bases I have gone to work. My commentary upon Tuscany was dictated by the logic of the roads, diverted only from its course by the accidents of travel, the humours of the moment, or by the freaks of memory and such like familiar sprites of ours. I hope that I may say I have been strict with myself. I have always preferred a road to a church, always a man to a masterpiece, a singer to his song; and I have never opened a book when I could read what I wanted on the hillside or by the river-bank.

I never heard of a guide-book to Italy devised upon such a plan. Herr Baedeker loves the train; Mr. Murray, disembodied from the fetters of time and space, seems to flit from museum to museum, no eye remarking his means of locomotion; the late Professor Ruskin seldom left the pulpit; the late Mr. Grant Allen never left the schoolroom. You must, indeed, go back to the old road-books of our grandfathers' day, which made the milestones their first object of interest, the turnpikes their second, the inns their third, and crowded into the last column their references to Livy, Politian, Virgil, Catullus, Dante, and Slawkenbergius, their lapidary lore, temples of Vesta, and battlefields of Hannibal; and in the notes might or might not tell you that Raphael Saint Cecilia was in the gallery of Bologna, and Giulio Romano's War of the Giants at Mantua remarkably fine. I have abandoned the mile-stones, the turnpikes; but I have never lain at a good inn without saying so, and as for Dante and Virgil, I should like to know the man who could travel any part of Italy north of the Tiber and keep them out of the country; rather, I had better say, I should not like to know him at all.

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