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Villa Borghese. In former times, before the Pope and cardinals shut themselves up in the Vatican, this was a place where the dignitaries of the Church used to assemble; and even now it is a common saying that you cannot go on the Pincio without meeting a priest there.
From the Pincio, and from the Piazza del Popolo, it is but a short distance to the Piazza di Spagna and the English quarter. We will follow this route first, and then return to the Piazza del Popolo, in order to take in turn the other two roads which lead from this centre.
The Piazza di Spagna, the centre of the Strangers’ Quarter of Rome, is so named
from the palace of the Spanish ambassador, situated in one corner of it. It is one of the largest piazzas in Rome, and is paved throughout, but it is of irregular form, and the buildings surrounding it, though handsome, have no great architectural merit. In the days of Domitian an artificial lake was on this site, where naumachia, or naval battles, took place, in the presence of immense audiences seated in a kind of amphitheatre on the borders of the lake.
In the centre of the piazza is a curious fountain in the shape of a boat, erected in the time of Urban VIII., from a design by Bernini. The only explanation of this quaint and somewhat tasteless fountain is that in a great inundation, in 1598, a barge was stranded at this spot, and the Barcaccia, as the boat-fountain is called, commemorates that event. On a house in the Via Condotti, close by, a tablet shows the height to which the water rose on that occasion.
From the western side of the · Piazza di Spagna ascends the great wide staircase known as the Scalinata, or the Spanish Staircase. There are one hundred and thirty steps, very easy of ascent, with broad and commodious landings. At the top of the staircase is an obelisk which once adorned the Circus of Sallust, and was placed there in 1788, the bronze cross which crowns it being remarkable as containing, according to the statement of Cancellieri, relics of the true crosses of St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Paul, and others. At the back of this obelisk rises the handsome Church of the Trinità de' Monti.
On the steps of the Scalinata picturesque groups may be found-artists' models waiting to be engaged. Among them are peasant girls from their mountain homes, in the costumes of the contadini; old men with white beards and capacious cloaks; sprightly boys; shenherds from the Campagna ; bag-pipers from the Abruzzi, and others—all of whom are familiar from the numberless pictures in which they are represented.
On the second floor of the first house, on the right hand as you mount the steps of the Trinità de Monti, John Keats-in broken health, spirits, and fortune—took up his abode. There it was that he wrote his last and finest composition, the “Ode to the Nightingale," whose song, heard in the mind's ear from among the woods which were then putting on their verlure, heralded the revival of nature and the glorious Italian summer he was rever to share. With that poem, "most musical, most melancholy," on his lips, he passed away. In keeping with the practice, so worthily observed by the Roman Town Council, of marking the dwelling-places of distinguished Italians or foreigners, a memoria!. stone has been let into the wall of Keats's residence, and a double inscription, in English and Italian, records the fact that there the poet diel. Similar memorial-stones are to be found all over the city-here, on the house where Goethe “thought and wrote immortal things;" there, where Adam Mickiewicz organised the Polish legion for the defence of the Roman Republic, and so on.
The Church of the Trinità de' Monti, erected by Charles VIII. in 1193, is a conspienous feature in all the views of this neighbourhool. Beside it is the Convent of the Suns of the Sacré Cæur. The church contains the celebrated “ Descent from the Cross," the masterpiece of Ricciarelli, commonly known as Daniele di Volterra-a fresco which Poussin considered one of the three finest pietures in the world. Claude Lorraine was buried in a chapel of this church, but his remains were removed. This is the only church in Rome where female voices are to be heard chanting the religious services, and as the singing is very sweet, there are always a great number of persons present at sunset on Sundars, and on great festivals, to hear the nuns from the adjoining convent, the singer: themselves being invisible behind a curtain in the organ-loft. Jendelssohn used to delight to drop in here and listen to the vespers.
The College of the Propaganda Fide, of vast size and plain massive architecture, was bugun by Gregory IT. in 1022, and completed by his successor, Urban VIII., and his bn.ther, Carlinal Antonio Barberini, from the plans partly of Bernini and Borromini. The Propaganda used to share with the Vatican the conduet of the whole Roman Catholic world, the former taking the affairs of the Church in Europe under its special care, the latter superintending its foreign pliey in heathen lands.
It is a missionary institution, and its in:luenea is felt to the rem utest corners of the earth. Pupils of every nationality are educated here-generally about two hundred at a time—who ! return to their own lands, after ordination, to spread the Roman Catholic faith, the cost of their education and support in Rome being paid by the College. Their costume is familiar to every visitor to the city, consisting of a long black cassock, edged with red and bound with a red girdle, with two bands, representing leading-strings, banging from the shoulders behind. The “congregation” of the college is composed of twenty-five cardinals, sixteen of whom are resident in Rome, and they meet to transact business once every month.
At the beginning of each year a public festival is held in the large hall attached to the college, when students deliver speeches in the different languages taught here, and take part in musical performances, the score of which is usually composed by the Professor of Music in the college. The strange costumes, the differing types of countenance, the varying shades of colour, the medley of strange languages, the peculiarities of voice and expression, all combine to make the gathering of great interest, and the hall is always crowded on these occasions.
Whatever differences of opinion there may be as to the faith itself, no one can read the bold inscription upon the front of the building, “ Collegio di Propaganda Fide,” without feeling admiration at the way in which the objects in view have been carried out. When other churches were idle, this church was at work, and from North Pole to South, from the rising of the sun to its setting, there is not a region that has not been taken possession of by members of this college, and cultivated for the Roman Catholic Church. And in all the stories of heroism ever told, there is not a nobler than that of the struggles of the students of this college.
The Library is very rich in rare theological works and Oriental MSS.; there is also a printing-office, formerly celebrated as the richest in type for foreign languages. From this office have gone forth innumerable books and tracts and pamphlets, in all languages, and to suit the education of all peoples. There is also a bookseller's shop connected with the establishment, where the publications of the institution may be obtained.
On the most prominent parts of the exterior of the edifice are sculptured bees, the well-known armorial bearings of the Barberini family. “The bees of the Barberini carved upon its architectural ornaments are no inapt symbol,” says Hugh Macmillan, “of the spirit and method of working of this busy theological hive, which sends its annual swarms all over the world to gather ecclesiastical honey from every flower of opportunity.”
In front of this college stands the Column of the Immaculate Conception, of green and white marble of Carystus, generally known as cipollino, from the veins of pale green, which resemble those of an onion. The column is one of the largest known monoliths, being forty-two feet high and five feet in diameter, and is some two thousand years old. It was found about a hundred years ago when digging among the ruins of the Amphitheatre of Statilius Augustus, constructed in the reign of Cæsar Augustus, and was erected by Pius IX. to commemorate the establishment by Papal bull (in 1851) of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. On the summit of the column is a bronze statue of the Virgin—a wretched work of art—and beneath are statues of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and some poor bas-reliefs of the incidents connected with the publication of the dogma.
Starting again from the Piazza del Popolo, we take the road branching out to the right, the Via di Ripetta, and, continuing to the right, arrive at the Ponte St. Angelo, the ancient Pons Elius, so called from one of the names of the Emperor Hadrian, by whom it was built, A.D. 136. The bridge is adorned with statues, and is a noble approach to the Castle of St. Angelo—the huge monumental tomb erected by Hadrian for himself and his family. When the Goths besieged Rome the tomb was converted into a fortress, and the statues on the summit were hurled down on the besiegers.
There is a legend that when Gregory the Great was conducting a procession to the tomb-fortress, in the year 590, to pray for a cessation of the plague then raging, he saw the Archangel Michael sheathing his sword, and from that moment the plague was stayed. In commemoration of this miraculous event Boniface IV. erected a chapel on the summit of the mole, and a bronze statue of the archangel is still to be seen on the spot where Gregory saw the apparition.
The Castle of St. Angelo has seen many a terrible siege, and is now strongly garrisoned. In the prisons are shown the cells in which Beatrice Cenci, Cellini, Cagliostro, and others are said to have been confined. Napoleon III. was a prisoner here for a short time after the affair of 1830.
A short distance from here is the goal of ten thousand times ten thousand pious pilgrims—the great Church of St. Peter. St. Peter's as seen from the Pincio realises every reasonable expectation, but St. Peter's as seen from the Piazza in front of it, or anywhere near at hand, is undoubtedly disappointing. In the distant view it stands displayed in all its harmonious proportions—a marvel of grandeur and beauty—but close at hand the drum of the dome is invisible: in short, the nearer you approach the poorer becomes the effect, for with each step towards it the dome sinks gradually out of sight. Michael Angelo is not to blame for this, but Carlo Maderno, who altered his design from a Greek to a Latin cross. Notwithstanding this, the effect of the enormous façade, in the midst of its elaborate surroundings, is grand and imposing in the extreme.
The Piazza di S. Pietro is a vast oval plane, paved with square blocks of lava, and crossed at intervals by marble walks ; in the centre is a huge Egyptian obelisk, which once stood in the Circus of Vero, but was removed by means of rollers, and placed in its present position, under Sixtus V., in 1586. On either side are magnificent fountains, with their tall plumes of silvery spray, supplied by the Aqua Paola ; and enormous colonnades, built by Bernini, sweeping in semi-circles around two sides of the Piazza. These colonnades consist of four series of columns in each, of the Doric order, with balustrades, on which are statues. There are in all two hundred and eighty-four columns and two hundred and thirty-six statues, each column being forty-two feet six inches in height, and each statue sixteen feet in height. In the centre of the Piazza are stones indicating the centres of the radii of the colonnades, and standing on these, each series of columns appears to hoe but one. These colonnades lead—one to the Basilica, and the other to the Vatican. In order to understand the vastness of the space which forms so magnificent an approach to St. Peter's, let the following figures speak for themselves :
“The space enclosed by the colonnades measures seven hundred and ninety-four feet three inches by seven hundred and fifty-four feet six inches. They form-taking the line