Thursday, 28 June 2007
Tom and Mantua
My observations of Mantua…
“The Citie of Mantua I take to be one of the auncientest cities of Italy, auncienter then Rome by foure hundred and thirty yeares….Truly it is neither the long genealogie of the Tuscan Kings, nor the magnificence of the ancient buildings nor the sweetnesse of the situation, nor any other ornament whatsoever that hath halfe so much enobled this delicate Citie, as the birth of that peerelesse and incomparable Poet Virgil, in respect of whom the Mantuans have reason to bee as proude as the Colophonians or Smyrnians in Greece were of their Homer. I saw indeed the statue of Virgill made in stone as farre as the girdle, which was erected in one of their market places, but had I not beene brought into such a narrow compasse of time…I would have seene the house at a paces called Andes, a little mile from Mantua, wherein he was borned and lived….
This Citie is marveilous strong, and walled round about with faire bricke wals, wherein there are eight gates, and is thought to be foure miles in compasse: the buildings both publique and private are very sumptuous and magnificent: their streets straite and very spacious. Also I saw many stately Pallaces of a goodly height: it is most sweetly seated in respect of the marvailous sweete ayre thereof, the abundance of good meadows, pastures, vineyards, orchards, and gardens about it. For they have such store of gardens about the citie, that I thinke London which both for frequencie of people, and multitude of howses doth thrise exceed it, is not better furnished with gardens…
…Truely the view of this most sweet Paradise, this domicilium Venerum & Charitum did ever so ravish my senses, and tickle my spirits with such inward delight, that I said unto my selfe, this is the Citie which of all other places in the world, I would wish to make my habitation in, and spend the remainder of my dayes in some divine Meditations amongst the sacred muses, were it not for their grosse idolotory and superstitious ceremonies which I detest, and the love of Odcombe in Somersetshire, which is do deare to me that I preferred the very smoke thereof before the fire of all other places under the Sunne.
…I observed a very stately bricke bridge at Mantua over the river Mincius, the longest that I ever saw till then (saving our famous bridge of London) which is covered and fairely vaulted over head, and inclosed with two faire bricke walls by the sides that are extended in length as farre as the bridge, in each of which wals there are many open places to looke forth in to the Mincius instead of windowes..."