Request a high resolution copy

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Florence Bell

Reference code
Gertrude Bell
Lady Florence Bell
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope

Lago d'Iseo. Friday. Dearest Mother. Papa wrote to you I think, after we had arrived at Brescia. We walked about a little there and then I announced that I was going to rest until dinner whereupon he returned and rested too. In the evening we went to the play - the Campane di Corneville they were giving. A very good house, but the singing excruciatingly bad and the ladies of the ballet!!!! Not the shadow of a petticoat between them all. They were greeted with hoots of delight (and by their Christian names!) by a large party of officers in the boxes and I didn't wonder for their appearance was to laugh! We like our hotel at Brescia; our rooms open onto a very agreeable balcony which runs all round the courtyard. I haven't seen much of the town yet for we left very early this morning, but we shall spend tomorrow morning in sightseeing before we go on to Verona. As today was fine, we decided to carry out our plan of steaming up this lake and it has been very delicious, for though there is not much sun, the clouds are high and it is warm. I think this sort of long day in the open air is the best thing in the world for Papa - he likes it and he can't do anything! It took us 2 hours from 10 to 12 to steam up the lake to Lovere, a charming little place all built up the hillside with its houses one on top of the other. Here we lunched on a balcony overlooking the lake - this was our menu (I give it you in the order in which it was served to us):
1. sausage and sardines

2. boiled mutton with pickled tomatoes and mushrooms (very nasty!)

3. frittura of small fishes out of the lake

4. country cheese and oranges and homemade macaroons

It was served by a charming lady who assured us that the bread was made in famiglia and that the fishes hadn't died till they were put into the frying pan! I didn't however know this until after I had finished my fish and thought them excellent. After lunch we walked about the little town - climbed I ought to say, for all the streets went steep up and down hill - and photographed a group of women washing at a fountain. I hope it will come out properly for it was very pretty. At 2 our boat left again, we shall reach Iseo in another hour, there we shall have time for tea and we shall get back to Brescia at 6.

Did I tell you that there is a theatre at Bergamo though unfortunately we arrived too late to go to it, but I looked down the list of plays to be produced in the next fortnight and they included Hedda Gabler, Il Nemico del Popolo and La Fire di Sodoma! And the Independent Theatre thinks itself advanced!

We have come away with the dullest novels I ever set eyes on! Let's have Fire and Sword in the Sudan next time we change - it wouldn't matter that it's so big for we would read it at Venice [Venezia] and not carry it about.

I'm so glad we are not carrying Mrs Green about!

My love to Auntie Mary and to Florence. We long to hear your news - I'm glad you had a prosperous crossing. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

IIIF Manifest