The Italian Journey - part 2: Rome and Florence.
On June 5th, after a tour of the catacombs and a church, they left Naples
and came to Rome to the Hotel Continental, "a huge pile
just opposite the station, a very well appointed house where beds are
comfortable, food good, rooms small, servants leisurely and prices high."
They toured the Vatican on the 6th, Wynne
writing reams about the statues and paintings, and ended the day "from
the sublime to the ridiculous...by going to a very inferior music hall
performance. They are singularly badly off over here in such things
as theatres etc, but spend most of their time at the Opera." Wynne
explored the Capitol, Tabularium, Circus Maximus and Catacombs before
hitting the Forum on the 8th.
Another early start and a drive to the Forum - my feeble and foolish
words cannot express the wonder and the interest of this most wonderful
place, the centre and heart of Roman civilisation where one sees the
remains of five different periods: prehistoric, Kings, Republic, Imperial
and lastly Christian. Late excavations have brought to light the stone
cut tombs of the Etruscan period and there lies a huge skeleton in perfect
preservation which measures about six and a half feet, then one is shown
the black stone of Romulus upon which is a cypher no one can decypher,
senate houses, rostra, basillicas, palaces all jumbled up together,
the house of the Vestal Virgins was specially interesting with its courtyard
surrounded by statues, its smaller compartments at one end and its room
at another end containing a well and appliances for washing the sacred
vessels - what a curious institution that was, to think that the power
of these women was as great as the Roman emperors.
(She passed on to the Colosseum) -
a subject of tremendous interest standing there century after century....we
went off to lunch and returned afterwards again creeping up some ruined
steps into the first tier and lay there absorbing it all until 3.0 our
guide came for us again...
(and so on and on, visiting
one site after another. You can see Ell on the right consulting with
the guide. On June 9th in the evening they took wagon lits from Rome,
leaving at 11.20 and arriving in Florence the next morning at 6.0, a
journey that one could now do on the motorway in a few hours. Here they
did the usual sites, and finally left on 12th at 12.0 travelling all
day and night and reached Paris at 2.50 - on the afternoon of 13th).
It has without exception been the dirtiest journey I have ever experienced,
I never felt so unutterably disgusting as when i arrived here and could
not breath with comfort until I had had a bath. All the way from Pisa
one travel along the sea coast through a network of tunnels all of which
are as foul as the underground used to be.
After a wash and tea we strolled out and did a little shopping and ended
our day by going to see the famous Chanticleer, it is vertainly very
clever and well done but I did wish i could understand a little more
of it, I am very glad to have seen the thing which has created such
We are at the Continental and it reminds me of the jolly few days Mother
and I had here 11 years ago (on their way
to India). My goodness a lot has happened since then! Our whole
day has been spent at the Salon, all the morning we inspected statuary...and
then ahd lunch and went to the pictures where we stayed until closing
time 6.0. We found many splendid battle pictures.
Started at 9.50 for home and after a perfect crossing reached Town at
5.30, Wll went off to the Grand and I to my club. It was ripping to
be with Ell on his home coming and at Dover even after a fortnight's
absence I felt as if I could embrace all the stolid Britishness I saw,
their calm demeanour being so refreshing after the fussy and childish
ways of the foreigners. What insular sentiments!! Ell dined with me
and then we skipped off to the Palace where we obtained the last 2 seats
in the house and saw the famous Russian dancers. (This
was Anna Pavlova and Michael Mordkin in their first English appearance
- you can see the programme in the previous page). They certainly
are wonderful, I have seldom seen anything more inspiring or graceful,
and am awfully glad we were lucky enough to get seats.