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
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.
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
sky comes out again before the warmth has
gone out of the place.
Adjoining this 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
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.
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
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 time.
Not far from this stands the
tennis court, which lies open to the warmth of the afternoon
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 line.
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
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.
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
Here is a dining room, which, though it
stands away from the sea,
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
From here extends an
enclosed portico which, from its great length, you might take for a
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 may blow.
These are some of its winter advantages; they
are still more appreciable in the summer time; 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.
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 myself.
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 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
Adjoining this is a bedroom, which neither the servants' voices,
the murmuring of the sea, the glare of
daylight itself can penetrate, unless you
open the windows.
This profound 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
Beyond this lie a bedroom and anteroom, which
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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