And now … a slight shift away from summers by the sea, new boats, and drownings. I want to consider the Shelleys elsewhere in Italy before I deal with the end of poor Bysshe. My own travels in Italy were more logical (?) than the Shelleys’ were. Working on a strict budget, I went down the boot, from the Alps in the north to Naples in the south and back again. But the Shelleys, as we’ve seen, were more peripatetic.
They lived in Leghorn (Livorno), Bagni di Lucca, Venice, Este, Naples, Rome, Leghorn (again), Florence, Pisa, Bagni di Lucca (again), Bagni San Giuliano, Pisa (several places), then San Terenzo/Lerici for that fatal summer of 1822. Looking at a map of their travels—all within a period of about three years—you risk vertigo.
I was more … sensible (and impecunious). As I said, I went down the boot, stopping at key Shelley sites, but ran out of time (and lire) and could not get over to Venice, one of the great regrets of my life. I have written about Florence and Pisa and some other places. But let’s “do” Rome and Naples before we return to the Doomed Ones in Lerici.
The Shelleys loved and hated Rome. What was not to love? They moved into a place there on March 5, 1819, and spent their days seeing the sites, two of which especially attracted them: the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla), the largest public baths in ancient Rome, and the Pantheon, both of which, of course, I had to see—as well as the Protestant Cemetery, where lie the remains of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. And Edward J. Trelawny.
I arrived by train on April 25, 1999, and was immediately overwhelmed by the heat. Although I spent my boyhood in Oklahoma and Texas, I’ve grown wimpier under the sway of Old Sol as the years have gone on. I can recall only one other time I’ve been hotter in my adulthood than I was those two days in Rome—a visit to Key West to see some Hemingway sites early in June 2003 nearly reduced me to a puddle. Oh, and I just remembered another sizzler (with the added benefit of intense humidity): June 12, 2003, in Cloutierville, Louisiana, where Joyce and I had driven to visit the home where Kate Chopin had lived for a while.
|our photo 2003|
A shocker: Looking up information about that home just now, I see that it burned to the ground early in October 2008.
|from National Trust for Historical Preservation|