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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Florence Bell

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Gertrude Bell
Lady Florence Bell
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1 letter plus envelope

Perugia Monday. Dearest Mother. You would laugh if you could see me in the middle of an enormous party of unknowns with all of whom I have made bosom friends! First of all there is a charming Mrs Hope to whom I quoted a witty saying of Lady Constance Leslie's and found that she was her daughter! Then there are the Needhams, step-mother and father and two daughters all very nice; then Lady Alice Portal, the little widow of the man who wanted to marry Lady Windsor, a pretty touching little woman, and finally my own party whom I now look upon as intimate though 2 days ago they were strangers. Colonel Talbot is such a dear, and Lord Brownlow quite delightful. So you see it is all very amusing. Yesterday we all drove off to Assisi. On the way we stopped at St Francis' own church, built after his death but containing the hut in which he died and the little chapel he built with his own hands and not least a fascinating monk who took us round and told us delightful anecdotes, all as pretty as they could be and told with such a delicious twinkle of humour. I Bellieve the spirit of St Francis lives among his monks even now. He gave us all leaves of thornless roses in which St Francis rolled when "he was tempted of discour-Ögement [sic]" the very best he could find, because he said the English "though they don't Bellieve, pay much more attention than other people." Then we went on to Assisi; the hillside was covered with starch hyacinths and star of Bethlehem, and it was such a sunny heavenly day. After lunch we went to San Francisco and saw all the Giotto and Cimabue frescoes, which I thought wonderfully interesting and beautiful, though the Giottos are not so lovely, I think, as those at Padua [Padova]. The Cimabues are most of them falling from the walls (do you remember?) but above the ruins of them there were 2 great angels, still quite perfect, standing out in the most divine way. Afterwards Lord Brownlow and I walked up through the wonderful little streets to the Duomo and Santa Chiara - under every archway the most lovely sunny view across hill and plain of this divine country. We came back in time to catch the others at the inn. I drove back with Col. Talbot and Lady Alice and enjoyed it immensely. We didn't get in till just dinner time. We all spent a very pleasant evening together. This morning I breakfasted early in my room and went out by myself to see Rafael's first fresco, then came back, picked up Caroline and the Needhams and walked about with them a little, ending up with the picture gallery which is full of beautiful things. I am very much disillusioned of Perugino - it's the people before him I really like here. This afternoon I am going to walk down to an Etruscan tomb with one of the Needham girls, all the others I think, going to drive. Our party breaks up this evening, all except the Talbots and Lord Brownlow who go to Florence [Firenze] tomorrow morning. Caroline and I leave at midday for Orvieto where we sleep, and go on next day to Siena for 2 nights, after which we shall go to Florence (Friday - Hotel Grande Bretagne) where we join the Talbots for a night. They go home on Saturday; we shall stay on about a week and then go on to Pisa, I think, but our plans may alter. I want to come home by Genoa [Genova] and Milan [Milano] if that is possible and see the Certosa of Pavia on the way. Thank you so much for Timeses and the Pall Mall - I'm glad my immortal work has appeared at last. I do love this place, I shall be awfully sorry to leave it. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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