September 22, 1869
Well, I have spent 22 days in Italy and my pen has worked its industrious way through ail the close-lined pages of one stout little book and emerged into this larger place still to go scribbling on & on & endlessly. if I remember rightly it was in high heroics that I set forth those naive "first impressions" which are so delightful to the traveler but which soon cloy upon the ear of the unmoved listener. Now I have come to "sober second thought";-the rainbow side has passed from view by a turn of the kaleidoscope, & the neutral tints" & shadowy backgrounds;-the browns & greys have worked themselves into the picture. This must needs be in all experiences of life;-I am only thankful that it is not my nature to anticipate the "shady side" while it is my fortunate capability to look upon it undespondingly when it presents itself.
Not that Italy has disappointed me. It has been as different as the Ideal & the Real must ever be-& then its people seem less promising perhaps;-its streets more motley with the poor, the halt the maimed & the mendicant; its houses a dirtier yellow & their arcades more odorous & somber;-its hotels less immaculate, more strongly saturated with stable-extracts & supporting more six-legged inhabitants to the square inch than is quite pleasant to experience & to remember.
But then, "all, this is nothing here nor there" in comparison with the treasures of art & the miracles of learning that one finds stored away in every nook & corner of this curious land, and if we most appreciate what we have taken the most pains for, as some wiseacre has said, then the pictures we have rode after the libraries we have steamed after, the landmarks of history & poetry that we have sought in weary, beggar-chased & flea-infested pilgrimage have thrice repaid us in all our pains.
So much in general and in particular, what have I to say about Bologna, which we three courageous & weary women took possession of two nights ago, making a skirmish upon a carriage & reaching our hotel in advance of all other comers- remarking little en route save the lugubrious arcades that take their tilted way down both sides of every street.
A particularly "wet" & gloomy morning did not enhance the brilliance of these "first impressions" but we had, luckily, the most delightful of all refuges from the dolorous "outdoors" aspect-namely, the
which seemed to me one of the pleasantest I had ever visited. So admirably arranged too-the eye coming first upon the dim oldest of masters with their golden backgrounds and "distemper" method