Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 02, 2008
Sunday Afternoon, July 21, 1912
My Dear Mother,
It's a very tired little boy that's writing you this afternoon. Go, go, go all the time it seems. I can't
remember just where in my sightseeing I wrote you last from Rome, but I'm sure I hadn't gone there to St.
Peters. It's all you can make a church I suppose in the way of costliness and enormity and grandeur. It's dome
and its fountains and the enormous colonnades in front of it. Hugh, really you can't get any idea of its
size until you look at the people walking around. The proportions are so fine. I went down in the crypt
under the gorgeous altar where St. Peter is supposed to be buried and in all the chapels I could. We were
unfortunate in that the Sistine Chapel with the paintings by Michael Angelo was closed for a week for some
Pope's funeral anniversary. But I went to the picture gallery where is Raphael's Transfiguration and a
celebrated Madonna by him and one by Titian to say nothing of the minor works and in the Vatican Museum
the most wonderful statuary, hundreds, especially a head of Zeus, Laosoon. The Apolo Belvidere, Mercury
and a group of the Nile. The most beautiful thing in St Peters I thought was a 'Piety' by Michael Angelo.
The virgin holding the body of the dead Christ. The Pantheon was lovely and its walls are 22 ft thick and
all the light comes in through a circular hole in the roof. It's the only ancient edifice in Rome whose
walls and vaulting are in perfect preservation. There are buried Raphael and Humbert and Victor Emmanuel.
Then to the Villa Borgese that has Titans Sacred and Profane Love. Pauline Borgese (Bonapart) Napoleon's sister
by Canova, and 'Apollo and Daphne and Aeneas' and Cnchises' both by Bernini. The whole place of wonderful beauty.
From there I walked down thru the magnificent gardens to the Rione for the view of the city. Drove over to the
Gianicolo Hill to Garibaldi's statue, and then back to see St. Peters a second time. Saw St Angelo from whose walls
Tosco leapt and St. Peter in Vinculi where the Moses of Michael Angelo is. You know the story goes that he looked
at it and said "Oh, why won't you speak." It's not so incredible when you look at him portrayed in his indignation
at the idolatry of the Jews. The Coliseum and all the rest I think I've told you of, except St Pauls without the
walls where the apostle is supposed to be buried. That is the loveliest church in Rome, and yet it too is very
glaring in places. Tho the effect of the whole is pleasing. Around the walls are mosaic portraits of all the Popes.
I got some photographs in Rome and had them sent to you.
Left there yesterday and reached here in the afternoon. A long hot ride thru the loveliest country fertile campagne (?)
vines and orchards and stone walls and old Roman wagons running for miles all bordered with tall Lombardy poplars and
here and there ruins or else red tiled houses fantastically stuck on hillsides Maxfield Parrish's pictures. In the
valleys the peasants were thrashing (?) two crops of grain a year they raise. And wagons moving along drawn by great
sleek bullocks with nickel covered saddles and from the collars strings with red balls of yarn at intervals. All so
At Florence I went to the square where Savoranola was buried. The Palazzo Vecchio, which is now the town hall and in
the court of which there is a charming fountain of a boy holding a fish by Verrocchio, and then to Santa Croce (Santa
Crocha its pronounced) where M. Angelo is buried, Rosini and Cherubini the composers also, and a chapel in the church
that Ruskin calls perfect. I remembered that. A monument to Saliles and one to Dante who lies at Sienna, an exquisite
monument to a Russian countess and lots more.
Then across the lovely green Arms on the Ponte Vecchio
still lived with goldsmiths shops, very quaint where there a
bust of Benvenuto Cellini whose autobiography I read last winter, and some of whose reputed work I saw today in the
silver plate collection in the Pitti Palace. Very grand and gorgeous the Pitti Palace was. Where lived the Medici
fabulously wealthy. The royal apartments, throne rooms and bed chambers with cabinets of ebony all inlaid with Florentine
mosaics and jasper and ivory and lapis lazuli around which danced golden cupids with garlands of flowers of pearls and
jaspers. Excellent Gorbliu tapestries and on the walls hung Raphaels Botticellis and Andrea del Santos and lovely Titians
with there red hair. Then I walked all thru the Uffizi [gallery]
And the Pitti Galleries filled with treasures in the way of painting. So many until my brain writhes. But in the latter
is the Madonna Della Sedia (of the Christ) and then out in the lovely Baboli gardens and got the wonderful views down
lanes of hedges hundreds of years old across the palace and the red roofs of Florence to the mountains beyond. Oh, its
lovely here, not too hot for me, but a wonderful place. This house has very good things to eat. All breakfasts in Italy
are the same, coffee, rolls and honey and butter, fresh and unsalted and sometimes from goats milk, Macaroni in various
ways is always a course at luncheon and broiled chicken everywhere for dinner, every meal. Then fruit, apricots and great
red figs, peaches and cherries, oranges are fine but they seem scarce even on the streets. Lemons are huge and they have
delicious tho expensive lemonades.
I'm worried at not hearing from you the several other Southern people over here say they haven't (on the boat I mean)
either, so perhaps it takes longer than I thought. Anyway I'm well and having a wonderful time. Give my love to all the
Tates and with lots for yourself.
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