Saturday, April 22, 2006

Day 10 - 22nd April 1483

"On the 22nd we heard Mass at the altar of the holy child Simeon, and ate our dinner in the inn; after which we saddled our horses and left the city. Immediately outside the gate of the city we ascended a steep hill, leaving the lower road, which leads along the valley of the Adige to Verona. This hill, besides being steep, is all one piece of the hardest red marble. Wherefore all the walls and buildings of the city of Trent are of precious and fair marble, albeit unpolished. After a long climb we descended the other side of the hill, and came to the village of Persa. Persa is a large village, and on a rock above the village stands a great castle, like a city, with lofty towers and a great enclosing wall. Many are of opinion, from the name of this castle, that it was built by Perseus, the father of all the nobles of Greece, and that it is called Persea at the present day after his name, as is also the kingdom of Persia, which he came to from Greece and conquered, and called Persia. In this castle the Duke of Austria always keeps many soldiers, who guard both the castle and province. We passed beyond this castle and came to a lake, from which flows a river called Brenta, which runs from thence to Padua, and afterwards joins the sea near Venice. Beyond this we came into a long, wide, and fertile valley, and to a town called in the vulgar tongue Valscian, where we put up for a short rest. Now, this town, and consequently the whole of this country as far as the sea, is of the Italian speech; however, almost all the inhabitants know both languages, German and Italian. I asked one of them the meaning of the name, why the town is called Valscian, and he answered that Valscian means 'the dry valley,' and received this name because in very ancient times, before the sea sunk to its present level, it came up as far as this, and the whole of this valley was filled with its waters; wherefore on the sides of the mountains which look down upon the valley on either side iron rings to moor ships to are found fixed in the rocks. When the sea fell back the valley became dry and kept its name of Valscian. From this story I was able to note that all the valleys in these mountains which trend towards the sea were once full of water, and were channels leading into the Mediterranean Sea, even as now happens in lands close to the sea, as I have said before. The Germans call Valscian In der Burg, because there are two castles overlooking the town, and the town lies within the castle wall. From Valscian we went onwards, and late at night reached a village named Spiteli, that is to say, "Little Hospice,' where we stopped for the night."

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