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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Italy ยป Rome

41.9027835, 12.4963655

41 Via del Babuino Tuesday Dearest Mother. I've really had a day from the gods. It began, I must tell you, in a most discouraging manner, for I woke with such a headache that I could scarcely see. Now this is so unexampled in my history that I looked for a reason and presently discovered it in a small charcoal stove which had been lighted overnight. So after my chocolate (which is served to me in my room) I went to sleep again with all windows open and woke in an hour quite restored. I proceeded to the Vatican and there I saw the Stanze and the Sistine Chapel and I wonder whether there is any place in the world where one could spend a morning like that. Of course the Sistine is a little boring because it's so absurdly difficult to see - but still! As for the Stanze, they are the purest joy. On top of the Sistine I flew into St Peter's to see Michael Angelo's beautiful Pieta and then I came home to lunch. After lunch I put a piece of chocolate in my pocket and went off to the Forum where I wandered about for hours and had tea on my chocolate and found everything wildly interesting. It was a wonderful hot day with the brightest clearest sky. I expect it's a lot more excavated since you saw it. The foundations of everything are laid bare and one traces the Sacred Way step for step and walks in and out of the private rooms of the Vestals as if one were in the 1st Century BC. Do you remember the extraordinary great mass of Constantine's Basilica? They had lordly ideas, those people. Then I went up to the Palatine and took a delightful little Italian custode with whom I made great friends and made him show me everybody's palace and finally about 6 we came out on the top of Septimus Severus his house and had the most gorgeous sunset view over the Esquiline and the Coelian hills and right away across the Capagnia [Campagna] with the Baths of Caracalla standing up between. What the Appian Way looked like - ! well, you know. Now tomorrow I shall go and see sculptures in the Vatican and many churches in the afternoon. I am to be turned out tomorrow but only as far as the Piazza del Popolo and I come back here for lunch and dinner.
I can't think what can have happened to my chiffon body! I can't find it. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

I write to you overnight because it's the only moment I have. My knee is really better. I hobbled about all this afternoon. It still turns unexpectedly the wrong way at times by it's on the mend.

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