The landscape affords plenty
of variety the view in some
places being closed in by woods,
in others extending over broad meadows, where numerous flocks of sheep and
herds of cattle, which the severity of the winter has driven from the
mountains, fatten in the spring warmth, and on the rich pasturage.
My villa is of a convenient size without being expensive to
keep up. The courtyard in front is plain, but not mean, through which you enter
porticoes shaped into the form of the letter D, enclosing a small but cheerful
area between. These make a capital retreat for bad weather, not only as they
are shut in with windows, but particularly as they are sheltered by a
projection of the roof.
From the middle of these porticoes you pass into
a bright, pleasant inner court, and out of
that into a handsome hall running out towards the sea shore; so that when there
is a southwest breeze, it is gently washed with the waves, which spend
themselves at its base.
On every side of this hall there are either
folding doors or windows equally large, by which means you have a view from the
front and the two sides of three different seas, as it were: from the back you
see the middle court, the portico, and the area; and from another point you
look through the portico into the courtyard, and out upon the
distant mountains beyond.
On the left hand of this hall, a little farther
from the sea, lies a large drawing room, and beyond that, a second of a smaller
size, which has one window to the rising and another to the setting
sun: this as well has a view of the sea,
but more distant and agreeable.
The angle formed by the projection of
the dining room with this drawing room retains and intensifies the warmth of
the sun, and this forms our winter
quarters and family gymnasium, which is sheltered from all the winds except
those which bring on clouds, but the clear sky comes out again before the
warmth has gone out of the place.
angle is a room forming the segment of a
circle, the windows of which are
so arranged as to get the sun all
through the day: in the walls are contrived a sort of cases, containing a
collection of authors who can never be read too often.
Next to this is
a bedroom, connected with it by a raised passage furnished with pipes, which
supply, at a wholesome temperature, and distribute to all parts of this room
the heat they receive.
The rest of this side of the
house is appropriated to the use of my slaves and freedmen; but most of the
rooms in it are respectable enough to put my guests into.
opposite wing is a most elegant
tastefully fitted up bedroom; next to which lies another; which you may call
either a large bedroom or a modified dining room; it is very warm and light,
not only from the direct rays of the
sun, but by their
reflection from the sea.
Beyond this is a bedroom with an anteroom the height of which renders
it cool in summer, its thick walls warm in winter, for it is sheltered, every
way, from the winds.
To this apartment another anteroom is joined by
one common wall. From thence you enter into the wide and spacious cooling room
belonging to the bath, from the opposite walls of which two curved
basins are thrown out, so to speak; which are more than large
enough if you consider that the sea is close at hand.
Adjacent to this
is the anointing room, then the sweating room, and beyond that the bath heating
room: adjoining are two other little bath rooms, elegantly rather than
sumptuously fitted up: annexed to them is a warm bath of wonderful
construction, in which one can swim and take a view of the sea at the same
Not far from this stands the tennis court, which lies open to the
warmth of the afternoon sun.
From thence you go up a sort of turret which has two rooms below, with
the same number above, besides a dining room
commanding a very extensive lookout
on to the sea, the coast, and the beautiful villas scattered along the shore
At the other end is a second turret, containing a room that gets
the rising and setting sun. Behind this
is a large store room and granary, and underneath, a spacious dining room,
where only the murmur and break of the sea can be heard, even in a
storm: it looks out upon the garden, and
the path running round the garden.
The path is bordered round with box,
and, where that is decayed, with rosemary: for the box, wherever sheltered by
the buildings, grows plentifully, but where it lies open and exposed to the
weather and spray from the sea, though at some distance from the latter, it
quite withers up.
Next the path and running along inside it, is a shady
vine-plantation, the path of which is so soft and easy to the tread that you
may walk barefoot upon it.
The garden is chiefly planted with fig and
mulberry trees, to which this soil is as
favorable as it is averse to all others.
a dining room, which, though it stands away from the sea,
enjoys the garden view, which is
just as pleasant: two apartments run round the back part of it, the windows of
which look out upon the entrance of the villa, and into a fine kitchen garden.
From here extends an enclosed portico which, from its great length, you
might take for a public one.
It has a range of windows on either side,
but more on the side facing the sea, and fewer on the garden side, and these,
single windows alternate with the opposite rows.
In calm, clear
weather these are all thrown open; but if it blows, those on the weather side
are closed, while those away from the wind can remain open without any
Before this enclosed portico lies a terrace fragrant
with the scent of violets, and warmed by the
reflection of the
sun from the portico, which, while it
retains therays, keeps away the northeast
wind; and it is as warm on this side as it is cool on the side
opposite: in the same way it is a
protection against the wind from the southwest; and thus, in short, by means of
its several sides, breaks the force of the winds, from whatever quarter they
These are some of its winter advantages; they are still more
appreciable in the summertime; for at that season it throws a shade upon the
terrace during the whole of the
forenoon, and upon the adjoining portion of the path and garden in the
afternoon, casting a greater or less shade on this side or on that as the day
increases or decreases.
The portico itself is coolest just at the time
when the sun is at its hottest, that is,
when the rays fall directly upon the
By opening the windows you let in the western breezes in a free
current, which prevents the place getting oppressive with close and stagnant
At the upper end of the terrace and portico stands a detached
garden building, which I call my favorite; my favorite indeed, as I put it up
It contains a very warm winter room, one side of which looks
down upon the terrace, while the other has a view of the sea, and both lie
exposed to the sun.
opens on to the covered portico by means of folding doors, while its window
looks out upon the sea.
On that side next the
sea, and facing the middle wall, is formed a very elegant little recess, which,
by means of transparent windows and a curtain drawn to or aside, can be made
part of the adjoining room, or separated from it.
It contains a couch
and two chairs: as you lie upon this couch, from where your feet are you get a
peep of the sea; looking behind, you see the neighboring villas, and from the
head you have a view of the woods: these three views may be seen
either separately, from so many different windows, or blended together in one.
Adjoining this is a bedroom, which neither the servants' voices, the
murmuring of the sea, the glare of lightening, nor daylight itself can penetrate, unless you
open the windows.
tranquillity and seclusion are occasioned by a passage separating the wall
of this room from that of the garden, and thus, by means of this intervening
space, every noise is drowned.
Annexed to this is a tiny stove room,
which, by opening or shutting a little aperture, lets out or retains the heat
from underneath, according as your requirements.
Beyond this lie a
bedroom and anteroom, which enjoy
the sun, though obliquely indeed, from
the time it rises till the afternoon.
When I retire to this garden
summer house, I fancy myself a hundred
miles away from my villa, and take especial pleasure in it at the
feast of the Saturnalia, when,
by the license of that festive season, every other part of my house resounds
with my servants' mirth: thus I neither interrupt their amusement nor they my
-Gaius Plinius Cecilius Secundus, Pliny the Younger, Roman
military tribune, govenor, orator and gentleman of wealth
back to stacks
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