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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 entry, paper
Italy ยป Vicenza

45.5454787, 11.5354214

Mon 23. [23 March 1896] Bright sunshine again. Went out directly
after breakfast, walked up to the Piazza dei Signori, then for a last
look at Can Grande's house and the Scaliger tombs. Took a cab -
the same stupid boy as yesterday - drove to S Fermo where we
succeed, with the help of a very good looking young priest, in seeing
a fine Carotto. Then to SS Nazzaro e Celso which has a nice brick
arch and tower; then to S. Stefano where there is a crypt below the
chancel which is raised above the church; curious old bishop's chair
in the chancel. Then to S Bernadino, charmingly approached through
a cloister and with another exquisite cloister on its N side. In one of
the chapels the Passion pictures of Morando used to be - they are
now in the Museo. Finally to S. Zenone which is the most lovely of all
the Verona churches. Magnificent west door the columns resting on
lions, and carved all round. Inside you look down onto the great nave
and up onto the chancel beneath which is a very old crypt. Columns
and capitals of the nave quite magnificent. On the arches leading into
the crypt most exquisite bands of carving; supported by double little
piers one of which has the twist in it illustrated in Stones of Venice.
Crypt of the 7th century, carved contemporary capitals, animals and
human heads. In the choir a splendid Mantegna - Virgin and Child in
centre, groups of angels on each side and a predella the original of
which is (I think) in the Louvre. Perfect cloister with double linked
columns and a curious lavatory built out on one side towards the
middle (Before S Bernardino we visited S Maria in Organo where
there is most beautiful intarsia work in choir and sacristy and a
charming Girolamo in the sacristy. The Adige flooded this place in
1882.) Bought photographs and went once more to the Pinacoteca.
Back to our inn to lunch and away at 2.30 with much regret. Reached
Vicenza at 4.30 - bewitching little place. Our inn is the Roma - palatial
rooms. Walked out and saw many Gothic palaces even more
beautiful than those of Verona, the Greek theatre designed by
Palladio, the Piazza dei Signori with a great Palladio building all down
one side (it is built round a Gothic Palace) 2 smaller Palladio
buildings on the other side, a splendid tall brick tower and the
winged[?] Lion and St Mark set up on columns at one end. The whole
effect is fine though I don't really like this kind of building; moreover it
revolts me that the only decoration he cd invent was a trimming of
cow's skulls! Think of the endless variety of the Gothic leafage!
There is a charming bridge by him, a single arch rising high over the
Bacchiglione like an old mule bride [sic]. Took a cart and drove up to
the top of Monte Berico where we had a lovely view up to the Alps with
a crimson sunset behind them on one side (more beautiful in outline, I
think, than at Verona) and the Venetian plain on the other with one or
two low but abrupt hillocks between us and Verona. We shd have
seen Padua [Padova] and Euganean Hills [Euganei, Colli] but for an
evening mist rising on the Plain. Foreground of cypresses. Then on
to the Rotonda about which Goethe raved. Extraordinary how the
taste of the cultivated people changes - no one wd dream of raving
nowadays over the futile little square buildings, pretty enough, but an
absurd imitation of things classical, eminently unsuited for a living
house. Very beautiful views from it. Drove back to the town through
leafless avenues. A moon and stars and the clear dark blue Italian
sky with bats flitting across it.

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