In The Villa Giulia, Palermo.
The Garibaldi Garden, Palermo.
In A Palermo Garden.
Piazza Vittoria, Palermo.
Monte Pellegrino, though only two thousand feet in height, is has considerately furnished, a massive viaduct has been built, which in its broad, substantial piers, arcades, and bridges would not have been unworthy of the ancient Romans. It is, however, too steep a route for carriages, but any one with moderate powers of pedestrianism can make the ascent on foot, unless he chooses to avail himself of one of the mules or donkeys which are easily obtainable. The path winds up in numerous zigzags over gloomy gorges and between huge cliffs, which offer scarcely a trace of vegetation on their reddish surfaces. Yet hundreds of Sicilian goats find pasturage on this promontory; and as practically the entire population of Palermo is given to drinking goats' milk, the sustenance afforded by its area must be greater than is apparent to the casual observer. One feels, however, that this is merely the skeleton of a mountain, which once was vastly more productive, and that the greater part of its soil has been gradually carried off by-centuries of wind and rain. Indeed, one cannot doubt its previous fertility, if he remembers that the distinguished warrior, Hamilcar, father of the great Hannibal, during one of the desperate conflicts for supremacy between Rome and Carthage, established himself with his entire army on this height, and held it for three years (247-245 b.c.), in spite of all the efforts of the Romans to dislodge him.
The Viaduct On Monte Pellegr1no.
It is to-day a lonely, desolate mountain, where one encounters usually only swarthy goatherds clad in sheepskin coats and trousers, with cloaks of goatskin hanging from their shoulders. These savage-looking men might readily inspire fear in such an isolated spot, were not their occupation instantly discernible, for they are always followed by huge flocks of goats, wicked enough in appearance to suggest the reincarnation in that form of all the dead Sicilian bandits of the past. Sometimes one finds here also sportsmen, eager to shoot the weary birds which annually migrate between Africa and Europe, and which regard this as a favorite resting place after their fatiguing flight across the Mediterranean. I once should have been surprised that any man of sensibility could slaughter innocent, defenseless creatures under such conditions. But years of observation of the lust to kill for sport, which animates the average man, - outside the lands where Buddhism prevails, - have left me quite incapable of astonishment at any act of savagery on the part of human beings toward harmless animals of almost any species.
A Mendicant Pilgrim.
The Chapel Of Santa Rosalia.
Occasionally, too, one meets here groups of pilgrims; for, as the title Monte Pellegrino indicates, this singular rock has been for centuries a place of pilgrimage, and at an elevation of about fifteen hundred feet stands the historic shrine of Santa Rosalia, the guardian of Palermo. For this Sicilian city was too gay and beautiful to choose for its patron saint an old and wrinkled anchorite; but naturally preferred the young and lovely maiden, Rosalia, who at the age of fourteen left her father's house, and sought a refuge from the world in a cavern here, where she resided till her death in 1170. Tradition tells, however, less of the life of this charming saint than of the miracles effected by her, centuries after her decease. For it appears that in the month of July, 1624, when a terrible plague was ravaging Palermo, a man beheld in a dream the vision of a white dove, which, as often as he approached it, flew a few paces in advance of him, and kept on flying and alighting thus till it had led him to a cave on Monte Pellegrino. Awaking from his dream, the man was so impressed by a conviction that he ought to pay a visit to the cavern, that he immediately did so, and was rewarded by discovering there the body of Santa Rosalia, perfectly preserved and youthful in appearance. Returning with all speed, the amazed Sicilian told the priests and people of the strange event. Nobody seemed to doubt his statement; and all the clergy of Palermo went at once to find the body of the saint, and brought it to the city, attended by a score of white-robed maidens, holding palms and lilies in their hands. That very day, it is alleged, the epidemic ceased, and henceforth Santa Rosalia was enthusiastically adopted as Palermo's patroness.