Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Promontory of Sesti di Levante

The promontory of Sesti di Levante Nov 4th 1840

…very wet all morning; merely able to get the four miles to this most lovely village, the clouds drifting like smoke from the hills, and hanging in wreaths about the white churches on their woody slopes. Kept in here till three, then the clouds broke, and we got up the woody promontory that overhangs the village. The clouds were rising gradually from the Apennines, fragments entangled here and there in the ravines catching the level sunlight like so many tongues of fire; the dark blue outline of the hills clear as crystal against a pale distant purity of green sky, the sun touching here and there upon their turfy precipices and the white, square villages along the gulph gleaming like silver to the north-west; - a mass of higher mountain, plunging down into broad valleys dark with olive, their summits at first grey with rain, then deep blue with flying showers – the sun suddenly catching the near woods at their base, already coloured exquisitely by the autumn, with such a burst of robbing, - penetrating, glow as Turner only could even imagine, set off by the grey storm behind. To the south, an expanse of sea, varied by reflection of white Apline cloud, and delicate lines of most pure blue, the low sun sending its line of light – forty miles long – from the horizon; the surges dashing far below against rocks of black marble, and lines of foam drifting back with the current into the open sea. Overhead, a group, of dark Italian pine and evergreen oak, with such lovely ground about their roots as we have in the best bits of the islands of Derwentwater. This continued till near sunset, when a tall double rainbow rose to the east over the fiery woods, and as the sun sank, the storm of falling rain on the mountains became suddenly purple – nearly crimson; the rainbow, its hues scarcely traceable, one broad belt of crimson, the clouds above all fire. The whole scene such as can only come once or twice in a lifetime…

Praeterita John Ruskin Vol II
Pub: 1907 George Allen
III Cumae p61

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