Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 03, 2008
Sunday, July 28, 1912
My dear Mother,
The last time I wrote you was from Venice - that afternoon I went down to the Lido, their
beach - and had a swim in the Adriatic. Then I took a trip around the Grand Canal and very
nice I thought it was - past the houses where Byron lived, where Browning died and where
Naques died, and then out to see a wonderful equestrian statue of a Venetian general whose
name I can't spell, but Browning and Ruskin called it the finest equestrian statue in existence.
I didn't care much for Venice, too dirty and then one third of its people are paupers fed by the
state and by charity. I saw a great horde of them at an alms house - the most awful looking crowd
I ever saw; and it has more tuberculosis than any city in Europe. But aside from all that it was
great to float around in a gondola in the moonlight and hear them sing Sole Mio, Addio a Napoli,
Funicelli, Funicelli, Torre a Sorrento and all the other delightful songs the serenaders had.
We left the next morning and went to Milan - stopped and drove out to St. Mary of the Fields
and saw da Vinci's 'Last Supper' on the wall of the refectory. Its perspective as it fits into the
end wall is remarkable. Altho it's peeled and darkened and partially destroyed its still striking;
the whole twelve and also the Lord and the groups of three - especially John and Peter.
From there I went to the cathedral - built of white marble and adorned with 2000 statues on the
outside. It's gothic and my how restful its interior, all arched, was after the gold and mosaic of
the Roman churches. I sat down and watched a service. It's high altar surrounded by altar boys and
priests in red robes and the fumes of incense - dronings from the service and peals from the organ -
almost pagan and yet quite impressive.
The town seemed quite modern - more so than the other Italian cities, and it has an arcade that
is the finest in Europe. The farther north you go the less dirt you notice - the women dress better -
there are less beggars, and everything seems more prosperous. Then out to Baveuo on Lake Maggiore
where I spent the night at a charmingly situated hotel, right on the lake with the Alps across the way.
The next day on to Domodossola & Iselle where begins the great Simpton Tunnel. We went over the pass -
a 29 mile drive, most of which I walked. The grandest scenery, and I had some snow in my hand once -
past the hospice of Napoleons foundation in Switzerland. I got out and went in. Cold and damp it was.
Just like a tunnel. Stopped and had some delicious milk and cakes, and there was a hand painted sign
saying that in 1806 Napoleon had bought milk there with a 5 franc piece. At Simpton we had lunch and
I sent you a card and then dropped down, down the hills to Brique. There are some flowers in here I
picked - little blue forget-me-nots and the white one is the Edelweiss that blooms high up on the Alps,
and which I got from a dirty red cheeked little Swiss girl whose picture I took and gave her a penny.
From Brique to Martinique on the railway - had lunch there and then rode to Chamonix on the electric
road - up, up, up on a rack and pinion - hanging over the valley at times. The Rhone far below us, and
then out thru a tunnel and suddenly appeared the whole Mt. Blanc range, snow capped and glistening in
the afternoon sun, and at their base glaciers - notably the Meo de Glace or Sea of Ice. From some of
these they were cutting ice. It's cold here almost, but delightful and last night I slept under blankets.
This afternoon I leave for Geneva and tomorrow go on thru Lausanne to Montreux. I'm quite well and
strong and having a splendid time. With all the love in the world.
Go to Letter 50
Back to Messages From A Hidden Past