Centro Risorse Territoriale di Pesaro e Urbino

Macerata, a 1769 Guide

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The whole country along this road is fertile and delightful, but very indifferently cultivated, though in the neighbourhood of Loretto. It is, farther, intersected by rivers and brooks issuing from the Appenine, which lies all the way on the right; and by arms of the Appenine, inclining towards the sea, of which one scarce ever loses sight. If the vallies be alluvions gradually formed by the flow of the rivers which water them, it is more than the people know, having no tradition of any such thing.

Three miles from Loretto one passes through Recanati, which may be said to be removed to Loretto, all its inhabitants being now only some seafaring men, on account of its harbour, though but a sorry one, and husbandmen, who are nearer to the lands under their care, than at Loretto.

This town was built out of the Rudera of Recina , a colony founded by Pertinax, but destroyed by the Goths, and the ruins of which we passed close by. Two leagues farther, among these ruins, are still distinguished the remains of an amphitheatre; for after the erection of the empire, shews were the capital desiderata for that class of people, of whom the colonies were formed : the amphitheatre was the first building which the colonists concerned themselves about, and the strongest inducement to their settling in the place of their transmigration.

Macerata is but a league from these ruins. It is the capital of the marquisate of Ancona, a bishop's see, and the residence of the governor or legate of the province, or his chancery, and of a Rota or kind of supreme tribunal. At first this town seemed to us the more populous, as coming nearly at the end of a horse-race, that is one of the greatest diversions, and the only sight now remaining in most of the cities in Italy. Accordingly it had drawn all the nobility of the city and neighbourhood to the legate's palace, so that we still saw at the windows part of this good company, and at the chief balcony the Palio , or prize, which was a piece of lustring left fluttering in the air. We might have shared in the remainder of the diversion, but rather than disorder our portmanteaus to dress, we chose to mix with the crowd of all ranks, which filled the streets, swarms of priests and monks among the rest, and one and all making for the market-place to see the Merry-Andrews; we, travellers like, followed them.

One of these buffoons sold little Madonnas inclosed within glass, and the better to put off his goods, told a thousand tales about the wonderful protection of his Madonna, who was not that of Loretto. For interlocutor he had a monkey who acted the part of all the unfortunate persons whom the master lay in wait for, and robbed and murdered in his relations. For all these buffoons, agreeably to the poltroon notions of the people by whom they live, make all the roads in Italy to be full of robbers and ambushes. To these deplorable narratives he added that of a man, who would by no means forgive one of his neighbours for murdering his father. All the maxims on the forgiveness of enemies were set forth : the monkey being questioned concerning the weight of these maxims, used to answer with a grimace, and the whole guilt was laid on him who was for revenging his father. At length the holy Virgin compromised the affair by a miracle, which has slipt my remembrance. But I very well remember that these tales were mixed with frequent elogiums of the priests and monks, their zeal for the salvation of souls, their austerity towards themselves, their condescension to the weaknesses of others, their labours for their neighbours's good, their earnestness in converting sinners, reconciling enemies, and maintaining public tranquillity and domestic peace : these elogiums often serve for vehicles to the many impertinencies and absurdities relating to morality and religion, which these buffoons take on themselves to utter, utraque poscit opem res & conjurat amice .

The marquisate of Ancona runs along the seashore as far as the Tronto, a river of Abbruzzo. Tolentino is still a part of it. The Via Flaminia , on leaving this town, enters among the Appennine mountains, and leads to that part of the ancient Umbria, which at present makes the duchy of Spoletto. All this country is a succession of plains and vallies watered with little rivers, and if all these vallies be like that of Foligni, they are so many terrestrial paradises.

Est ubi plus tepeant hyemes! Ubi gratior aura

Leniat & rabiem Canis & momenta leonis,

Cum semel accepit Solem furibundus acutum!

We were then nearly in that season, and found in the plain of Foligni that so pleasing temperature for which Horace celebrates it. The backs of the hills by which we came into it, are covered with olive-trees, whose age proclaims the excellence of the climate. I never saw trees of this kind in any country of such an age, and at the same time so vigorous; the greater part of them are shoots from very old stems, and which, adhering to the primordial root, are become new trees.

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