mountain brooks, which roar and plunge along for a brief season in the
winter, dwindle in spring, and run dry in summer. The longest of these
creeks is the Laus, which divides the provinces of Lucania and Bruttium.
On the eastern or Adriatic side of the peninsula the rivers are many,
but of small importance. Between the borders of Cisalpine Gaul-where the
Rubicon forms the boundary between that province and the peninsula
proper-and the heel of Italy, are sixteen rivers, which enumerated from
north to south and designated by their classical names are as follows:
the Ariminus, the Crustumius, the Pisarus, the Metaurus, the Aesis, the
Potentia, the Flusor, the Truentus, the Vomanus, the Aternus, the
Sagrus, the Trinius, the Tifernus, the Frento, the Cerbalus, and the
Aufidus. The Frento constitutes the boundary between Central and
Southern Italy. The Aufidus is by far the longest and largest of the
sixteen streams which fall into the Adriatic.
In Northern Italy the melting snows of the southern slopes of the Alps
are in several parts gathered into enclosed valleys, which must be
filled brimful before they can overflow into the tributaries of the
Padus. Thus are formed those celebrated Alpine lakes which are reckoned
among the most beautiful in the world. The principal of these are the
Lacus Verbanus, the modern Maggiore; the Lacus Larius, or Como; the
Lacus Sebinus, or Iseo; and the Lacus Benacus, or Garda. These sheets of
water are long, narrow, and deep, and reflect from their placid faces
the shadows of beautiful shores, the image of cerulean skies.
Very different in shape and character are the lakes of Central Italy.
These are collections of waters in the craters of extinct volcanoes,
generally without an outlet, circular in form, small in area, but very
deep. The largest of these volcanic lakes is the Lacus Vulsiniensis, the
modern Bolsena. It is in Southern Etruria, and has a circumference of
about thirty miles. Other lakes of similar sort are the Sabatinus, or
Bracciano; the Ciminus, or Vico; the Albanus, the Nemorensis, and
especially the Avenus, in Campania. In the same province are the Lacus
Trasimenus and the Lacus Fucinus, both of which are formed by an
aggregation of waters in natural basins of non-volcanic origin.
The principal mountains of Italy, detached from the regular chain of the
Apennines, are Amiata, in Central Etruria; Ciminus, a group of volcanic
heights; Albanus, Vesuvius, Vultur, and Garganus. Of these peaks the
highest is Amiata, which rises 5,794 feet above the level of the sea;
and the lowest, the Mons Albanus, which has an elevation of three
thousand feet. Such in brief is a sketch of the principal physical
features of the peninsula of Italy.
Turning to the consideration of the Roman provinces, and beginning at
the north, we have first of all, the great district of Cisalpine Gaul.
The name so used distinguishes the country from Gallia Transalpina, or
Gaul Proper, lying beyond the Alps. The province is bounded on the north
and west, by the mountains; on the south, by Liguria, the Apennines, and
the northern boundary of Umbria; on the east, by the Adriatic and the
province of Venetia. The vast country thus defined consists of the great
and fertile valley of the Padus, and viewed as it respects extent, is by
far the largest, and as it respects agricultural resources, the most
important, of all Italy.
The second province of Northern Italy is Liguria. It is bounded on the
west by the river Varus; on the east, by the Magra; on the north, by the
Po; and on the south, by the Gulf of Genoa. It thus includes the whole
of the Maritime Alps and the upper portion of the chain of the
Apennines. The former mountains descend almost to the sea, and the
lateral branches form headlands along the coast throughout a great
extent of the southern boundary. The whole province, except on the
north, where the slopes descend into the valley of the Po, is
exceedingly mountainous. The Ligurians were a race of highlanders who,
from their situation as well as disposition, participated but slightly
in the momentous affairs of Italy.
The remaining state of the north was Venetia, at the head of the
Adriatic. It extended from the foot of the Alps, where they descend to
the sea, to the mouth of the Po, and westward to the river Adige. The