ETRURIA PAST AND PRESENT

CHAPTER I
THE CITIES OF THE ETRUSCANS

A CITY on a hill: such cities we may see all over Italy; not on the gentle slopes, but on the wind-tormented crests. They cannot be hid. From Tivoli to Rome we may travel in the violet dusk of a waning winter day; behind us rise the Sabine mountains, a dark and sombre bar; in front, from the sea-like level of the Campagna break out craggy cones of rock which loom ever darker as the light drains out of the sky; then, in one flashing second, each town on its height crowns itself with a circlet of fiery gems. Or we wake up one autumn morning in Perugia, and look down from that old fortress-city on the Umbrian plain a thousand feet below us -- a wavering lake of grey vapours, distracting in their ceaseless shift and sweep and swirl. Thrust through the mists like rocky islets, the little hills look towards the coming light, every one with its capping of hamlet or town. Nothing is there in Italian landscape more arresting than these highplaced dwellings, nothing more strange to English eyes. The people who chose these lofty spots for their homes were planning for defence against tribal enemies, and for escape from the equally threatening malaria of the lowlands. Many of the towns are of remote

-1-

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