Monday, April 24, 2006

Day 12 - 24th April 1483

"On the 24th it still rained without intermission, as it had done on the day before and the night before, and this caused the water to flow and the mountain torrents to be full. Howbeit, in spite of the rain we went to the church which stands above the town, and after hearing Mass we viewed the town itself. Feltre is one of those towns which were built by Antenor for the defence of the mountain country, and is very ancient, as its buildings prove. It is a very long town, lying along a mountain ridge, and it has a bishop and some monasteries, which lie at the foot of the hill on which the city stands. We returned to our house and took our food, and while we were at table the rain ceased; so we saddled our horses and left Feltre, and rode on our way in great danger because of the rising waters; for tiny rivulets had swelled into swift rivers, and dry torrent beds were overflowing with waters. Howbeit, as the weather was fair, the waters were gradually sinking. It was towards evening that we left Feltre, and we came to a great river, on whose banks we passed through a Venetian guard-house, and thence we came into a town which is called Ower, where we spent the night. Now, our inn, like all the rest of this village, lay at the foot of a delightful grassy hill. While our supper was being made ready I went with my lords into the courtyard of the house, and, looking up, I said, 'See, if a man were on the brow of that hill, he would be able to see the Mediterranean.' When my lords heard this, they said, 'Let us climb up thither, and see the sea, which perchance will be our tomb.' And straightway my three lords, and two serving men, and I climbed up the hill, which was much higher than we had thought. Casting our eyes southwards, we beheld beyond the mountains the plain of Italy, and beyond the plain country the Mediterranean Sea, on beholding which my lords, being delicately-nurtured youths stood in some trepidation, reflecting on the dangers which awaited them at sea. And, in sooth, I myself was something cast down at the sight of it, albeit I had already had a good taste of its bitterness, for as seen from these hills it had a terrible appearance. It seemed to be very close, and the setting sun shone upon the part which was nearest to us; the rest, the end of which no one could see, seemed to be a lofty, thick black cloud, of the colour of darkling air. Satisfied at last with our view of it, we turned away to look at the mountains which stood round about us, and saw many ancient castles in ruins. On the very mountain on which we stood there were beneath our feet the ruins of huge walls, and a ditch enclosing part of the mountain; a fair cistern, which still contained water, and a hill to pasture cattle upon within the walls. It is believed that all these castles were built by the army of Antenor the Trojan, who, after he had built the city of Padua on the plain, ascended into the hill country, and built towns and castles for a defence against the folk beyond the Alps, who at that time were still savages, dwelling in the woods like wild beasts. While I and my lords were standing talking on this mountain the sun set, and we began our descent; but before we reached the inn it had grown dark, and we supped by candle-light and went to bed."

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