Whoever takes the high-road from Rome to Naples, issuing by the ancient Porta San Giovanni, may pause to contemplate one of the finest views of picturesque desolation which even Italy presents. In the rear, the mighty Lateran, the Church’s foundation-stone, raises its marble domes above the ruins of time and the wastes of pestilence: in front, the Appian-Way extends towards the Tomb of the Curiatii; in every direction the interminable arcades of Roman aqueducts converge towards the capital, ruinous and draped in the verdure of decay; arch above arch admitting glimpses of the dark-blue sky behind. Formless masses of mud and of marble, on either side the road, mark the sites of monuments and of tombs, those posthumous trophies of vanity provided by patrician pride and wealth, at once decking and saddening the most frequented of the Roman highways. Then comes 69the boundless desert of the Campagna, the grave of graves: no field, no garden, no human dwelling breaks up its dreariness, till the ruinous Torre di Mezza Via, the first post-house, presents itself. Here, perhaps, a human form is encountered, stationed to ask that charity of which it will not long remain in want. Some traveller, possibly, returning from Naples, a pilgrim or a peasant, urging his way to a shrine or a market, may present himself on this gloomy route; but the soil once so fertile, the land once so populous, has no inhabitant. Ruins of villas are seen in the distance; but there is not a tree to shade, nor a blade of corn to nourish, where the voluptuary once raised his luxurious pavilions.