Thursday 4 September 2014


When Fynes Moryson arrived in Naples in 1594, it was the shape of the buildings that first attracted his attention: They are four stories high, but the tops lie almost flat, so as they walk upon them in the cool time of the night. The windows are all covered with paper or linen cloth; for glass windows are most rare in Italy, and as it were proper to Venice.

The streets were so narrow, they cannot use coaches. One fashion pleased me beyond measure, that at the end of many streets they have chairs, commonly called Seggioli di Napoli, which those that are weary do enter, and they being covered round about, and only having windows on the sides, he that is carried therein cannot be seen of any, and yet himself may see all that pass. Two porters carry these chairs by two long staves fastened thereunto, and lift them but little from the ground, and so for a moderate price carry the passenger to any part of the city.

Near the city, he visited the Cave of the Dog, so-called because dogs were used to test the poisonous air in the cave. They paid a woman for a dog fastened to a long staff, and so thrust him into the cave, holding him there, till he seemed dead, and being taken out, would not move for any blows we gave it. Then according to the fashion, we cast the dog into the lake, and when he was drawn out, he began by little and little to move, and at last being come to his senses, ran away as if he had been mad. A Frenchman was incautious enough to omit the dog test and ventured into the cave trying to fetch a stone and paid for his curiosity by unrecoverable death.

(From Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary; English modernized)

No comments:

Post a Comment