And again, from above, how beautiful it is in the sharp morning! The whole village lies in bluish shadow, the hills with their thin pale oak trees are in bluish shadow still, only in the distance the frost-glowing sun makes a wonderful, jewel-like radiance on the pleasant hills, wild and thinly-wooded, of this interior region.[Pg 210] Real fresh wonder-beauty all around. And such humanity.
Returning to the village we find a little shop and get biscuits and cigarettes. And we find our friends the bus-men. They are shy this morning. They are ready for us when we are ready. So in we get, joyfully, to leave Sorgono.
One thing I say for it, it must be an honest place. For people leave their sacks about without a qualm.
Up we go, up the road. Only to stop, alas, at the Risveglio. The little conductor goes down the lane towards the station. The driver goes and has a little drink with a comrade. There is quite a crowd round the dreary entrances of the inn. And quite a little bunch of people to clamber up into the second class, behind us.
We wait and wait. Then in climbs an old peasant, in full black-and-white costume, smiling in the pleased, naïve way of the old. After him climbs a fresh-faced young man with a suit-case.
“Na!” said the young man. “Now you are in the automobile.”
And the old man gazes round with the wondering, vacant, naïve smile.[Pg 211]
“One is all right here, eh?” the young citizen persists, patronizing.
But the old man is too excited to answer. He gazes hither and thither. Then he suddenly remembers he had a parcel, and looks for it in fear. The bright-faced young man picks it from the floor and hands it him. Ah, it is all right.
I see the little conductor in his dashing, sheep-lined, short military overcoat striding briskly down the little lane with the post-bag. The driver climbs to his seat in front of me. He has a muffler round his neck and his hat pulled down to his ears. He pips at the horn, and our old peasant cranes forward to look how he does it.
And so, with a jerk and a spurt, we start uphill.
“Eh—what’s that?” said the peasant, frightened.
“We’re starting,” explained the bright-faced young man.
“Starting! Didn’t we start before?”
The bright face laughs pleasedly.
“No,” he said. “Did you think we had been going ever since you got in?”
“Yes,” says the old man, simply, “since the door was shut.”
The young citizen looks at us for our joyful approval.
VI. TO NUORO
These automobiles in Italy are splendid. They take the steep, looping roads so easily, they seem to run so naturally. And this one was comfortable, too.
The roads of Italy always impress me. They run undaunted over the most precipitous regions, and with curious ease. In England almost any such road, among the mountains at least, would be labelled three times dangerous and would be famous throughout the land as an impossible climb. Here it is nothing. Up and down they go, swinging about with complete sang-froid. There seems to have been no effort in their construction. They are so good, naturally, that one hardly notices what splendid gestures they represent. Of course, the surface is now often intolerably bad. And they are most of them roads which, with ten years’ neglect, will become ruins. For they are cut through overhanging rock and scooped out of the sides of hills. But I think it is marvellous how the Italians have[Pg 213] penetrated all their inaccessible regions, of which they have so many, with great high-roads: and how along these high-roads the omnibuses now keep up a perfect communication. The precipitous and craggily-involved land is threaded through and through with roads. There seems to be a passion for high-roads and for constant communication. In this the Italians have a real Roman instinct, now. For the roads are new.Share It