provinces an extended account will presently be given.
Southern Italy embraces all the lower part of the peninsula-the ankle
and foot of Italy. The natural boundary on the north is, on the Adriatic
coast, the river Frento, and on the Tyrrhenian sea the Silarus. The
mountain ranges in this part of the country sink gradually to lower
levels, and the plains have a wider extent. The Apulian district, next
the Mare Superum of the ancients, is a low lying country, spreading out
to the sea from the declining ridge of the Apennines. The Bruttian
region, however, is nearly all mountainous in character, and Lucania is
traversed from north to south by a range of no mean elevation. Around
the shores of the Gulf of Tarentum, especially on the north and west, a
multitude of streams gather their waters from the Italian instep-a plain
country of great fertility-and discharge into the sea.
The principal of the ancient states embraced within the limits of
Southern Italy were the greatly elongated province of Apulia on the
east, including its subdivisions of Daunia, Perecentia, Calabria, and
Iaphygia; Lucania on the west, and Bruttium on the south, the latter
being the foot of Italy. The sea coasts of these states are of the
greatest beauty and fertility, but the interior mountainous districts
are comparatively sterile and inaccessible. In Calabria, which
constitutes the heel of Italy, there is a great want of running streams,
but the proximity of the sea, strong rains and copious dews, renders the
region of superior fertility, in so much that Strabo represents it as
"bringing forth all things in great abundance."
As already intimated, the climate of Italy varies greatly with the
elevation of the particular district and its distance from the sea.
Considered as a whole, the country is one of the most beautiful in the
world. The condition of its sky and air was not dissimilar to that of
Greece. Though Italy, of all the European countries, has the greatest
annual rain- fall, yet the sky is the bluest and most beautiful to be
seen anywhere in the world. The atmosphere is singularly pure. The rains
come in storms of excessive severity. The rivers run a rapid course, and
under the influence of sudden hurricanes are swollen into floods, which
sweep all before them. But the atmosphere with the morrow clears to its
profoundest depths, and the beholder sees above him only the cerulean
curtains of the endless heaven.
The Alps and northern Apennines receive great quantities of snow. These,
with the approach of warm weather, melt and descend in yellow torrents,
which spread a layer of slime over the riverbeds and adjacent valleys.
The proximity of these snowy mountains to the surrounding seas tends
powerfully to temper and vary the climate and to adapt it to nearly all
the products of Central and Southern Europe.
The ancient Italian seers and bards were specially enthusiastic in their
praises of the loveliness of their native land. Ever and anon the verses
of Vergil respond harp-like as they are swept by the invisible fingers
of nature. Dionysius and Strabo, though little given to ecstasy and
rapture, take fire under the inspiration of Italian landscapes, and in
modern times the immortal verse of Byron has borne its rapturous
testimony to the splendor of this land of song and art:
"The clouds above me to the white Alps tend, And I must pierce them and
survey whatever May be permitted, as my steps I bend To their most great
and growing region, where The earth to her embrace compels the powers of
Italia! O Italia! looking on thee, Full flashes on the soul the light of
Since the first Carthaginian almost won thee To the last halo of the
chiefs and sages Who glorify thy consecrated pages."
In fertility the plain of Campania possessed a soil which rivaled the
fecund valleys of Egypt and Babylonia. Along the lowlands of Apulia
olives grew, not surpassed by those of any other land under the sun. The
vineyards of Etruria, as well as those of the Falerian and Alban hills,
yielded such fabulous clusters of grapes as are said to have been
brought out of the land of Canaan by the spies of Joshua. On the slopes
of the highlands and in the northern valleys were the richest pastures;
in which flocks of sheep and goats gathered unlimited supplies of
herbage. Higher on the mountain