[Innsbruck—Friday, 27 August 1869]
Friday. August 27. Here we are in lovely, picturesque, glorious old Innsbrück. Oddly enough it has always been a dream to come here and the reality is a beautiful awakening to find it all true. We have lingered over the grave of Andrew Hofer and the dead heroes of 1809 today and have rejoiced over the mighty figures in bronze, standing to commemorate the heroes of the past through so many ages. True greatness is universal, belonging to no age and no time we thought as we looked at the statue of King Arthur standing among the rest.
We went round to the Golden Star Inn where Longfellow lived 40 years ago. The old place is nearly unchanged and is kept by the same old woman. Then we drove over the bridge, which once of wood, gave the name to the town. All the time the mountains were bending over us. Whichever way one turns in this old town the solemn faces of the Eternal hills are gazing down, not with white heads of snow, but verdureless and worn by ages “iron-grey”. You feel yourself here in the very heart of the Tyrol. The women wear strange dresses, the men too for that matter, and preserve an individuality, simplicity, and often beauty, most rare in the peasantry of Europe. They were washing in the Inn as we crossed the river this morning, everywhere the mountains make the background to the picture with the exquisite verdure of the lower slopes relieving and harmonizing the whole.
We have seen no place so delightful as this, the Very Spirit of romance is living here. The weather too, after a month of uncertain clouds and certain rain has become of heavenly blueness.
Quaint beautiful Innsbruck! The German women here if not beautiful were picturesque and most kind. I shall not soon forget how one of them tripped away with me to show where the church was.
The 28 bronze figures will stand in our memories, looked down upon by the stately mountains all around. Lovely. Lovely Innsbruck.
We drove to see the old Inn where Longfellow lived 40 years ago.
We slept that night in Botzen. We did not expect much comfort after our fatigue, but after an afternoon among marvellous scenery crossing the Brenner Pass in the railroad (the greatest thing of the kind we had any of us ever seen or imagined as the work of men) we found ourselves at night received most hospitably in a quaint and clean hotel with a tea-room all to ourselves. Early the next morning we were astir for the day was beautiful and cool and we had decided to see the town before 9 o’clock. We did not sleep very well for the bells rang and rang from 3 or 4 o’clock and before that the moon was shining and the lights gleaming on the mountain side making a scene too beautiful to sleep through. Jamie and Mabel saw more of that than I did—being quite ill with cold.
Botzen to Venice was but one long day past the Dolomite mountains with their gloomy monk haunted peaks, past the glacial looking streams we came at last into the hot Lombard plain and saw the white towers of Verona gleaming in the afternoon sun. How hot it was! How beautiful! We began to gather up our few Italian words and our ears were soon charmed by the exquisite language on every hand. Aqua frescha [sic, for fresca] aqua cried the water-carriers, fiori cried the women but whatever they said every new word seemed most beautiful to us. It was an hour before sunset when we reached Venice—the dream not yet wholly floated away into oblivion; and covered with color, our eyes filled with light and rapture we came that Saturday night to Venice.