Dear aunt of mine, that be the tie that Links me to fame. I came a few thousand miles to Florence (or Firenze, as we travelers say and the first man I met was a Ph.D. from Halle, Mrs. Lovett's brother-in-law, fresh from his doctor's thesis. Mrs. Lovett happened to mention you last night, and he said, "Do you know Miss Addams?" "Oh," says she, "Mr. Linn"—and the formula. He gazed upon me with profound respect. "Quotations from Miss Addams," he said, "formed a large part of my thesis." Which his name is Thomas and his thesis is The Relation of the church to Economics. Then he took me out and bought me beers.
Did I write you from Rome? I forget. I haven't heard one syllable from America since I sailed—not even the whisperings of a post-card. [page 2] This is wrong, very wrong; cos I sailed over a month ago. However, days go on so evenly that I don't miss them, as they fly. I am improving my education in nature, art, and foreign customs, including the good old custom of Ananias and Sapphira his wife, as every man should. Sensations have now mingled into a sort of hash on my palate; I meditatively put my tongue in my tooth, and say with the Englishwoman in the story, "There's mutton, and sausage. But is that 'am? now where did I 'ave 'am?"
After all I didn't go to the monastery at Monte Cassino, though I passed through the town. To stop would have left me only four days in Rome, and five seemed scarcely enough. I dare say <even> five will disappoint you a good [page 3] deal, but I'm not a sight-seer by nature, and traveling is as hard work as anything I do. I'm anxious to get to France, where I can sit down comfortably, peck at the language, and finish my story, if there's any finish to it. To lark back a minute, perhaps my letter wouldn't have helped me much at Monte Cassino, for there's a new head to the place, come in the last month, I was told; and it maybe that my man has died or gone away. One of the oddest things in Italy in this system of convents and monasteries, with the last remnants of the old proprietors handing on to life by their finger-nails, and the government eagerly waiting for them to drop. I don't think Monte Cassino is that sort; but we [saw] one near Tivoli, and heard of another near Caserta.
Don Kennedy's abandonment has [page 4] has rather chewed up the Spanish and Italian part of my course. It has been very pleasant, but I can see every day ways in which it could be [pleasanter] if I had a man and a bicycle with me. Still, I am getting one thing. Mrs. Lovett has been over all this ground, and has a very decent education in it; and as Miss Wallace and I don't know beans about [it], she instructs us every morning. We go to see half a dozen things, stay an hour, go for a drive, and come back again for another hour to do same things. Since the usual admission is .50 (centesimi) the plan isn't costly, and it doesn't result in complete brain-fag. Then having no women in train, I am enabled to avoid the 999,999 others who are traveling in Italy and staying at pensions. Such a mass of elderly single ladies, and elderly [page 5] married ladies traveling with their daughters, I never saw before. At the Hotel Au Sud in Rome there were four men with families, two apparently single gentlemen, myself (who am a source of great question to all the pensions—which of the ladies I am with is my wife, which my financée, which my sister, and why the dickens are we together if none of those relations exist?) and fifty-one women. In the omnibus we took to San Pietro, was a priest, myself, and twelve English or American women, eight of them with guide-books showing. If the driver and conductor are counted, I should say that one contained the present population of Italy, reduced to its lowest terms I counted, the first time we went into the Sistine chapel, 140 tourists. We left hurriedly, and returned at one o'clock, where only [page 6] ten or a dozen were there. But the impression remains with me that seeing sights in Rome is like taking an afternoon drive and getting caught in a funeral procession.
Trains run faster in Italy than in Spain. We shot up from Rome to Florence in 5 1/4 hours, having a carriage quite to ourselves all the way—very comfortable, traveling. I like having distance measured in kilometers, and posted every mile or so along the road. The train goes a kilometer while you are still looking at the last one. We traveled second, of course; third is hardly possible in Italy even for a man, provided the man is a bathing animal (which reminds me I have had only two real hot water plunge baths in Europe.) I really haven't seen enough of Florence to feel the [page 7] town yet, though I know the topography like a book. For the first time in Italy the sun has gone back to his American habit of rising in the east. It seems very friendly [in him]. At Rome he rose somewhere in the vague southwest, and at Naples in the north, in a most disconcerting fashion. Yesterday afternoon I walked about, ordered a suit of flannel for France (and for 60 lire) and when it came on to sprinkle I lounged in the loggia by the Piazza Signoria, where Cellini's Perseus is. The doves came around and I fed them, and the Florentines scampered over the pavestones, and I tried to pick out the spot where their ancestors put "finis" to Savanarola's sermons; and it was glaring bright sunshine and then [page 8] dusk again before I got away. I was particularly astonished about Bevenuto Cellini's statue. I fancied him cruel-faced and thin-lipped, or else haughty, like Cosmo I; but he looks for all the world, with his Perseus in his hand, like Edward Everett Hale and a baby. I haven't seen a picture in Florence, but a good deal of sculpture, particularly Donatello's and Michel Angelo's. Michel seems to have had his off days, like the rest of us.
Sunday, this is, April the 25th. Tell me how long it takes to reach you—and some few other things. And by the way, please send to Donald Kennedy, Rib Lake, Wisconsin, my check for ($90) ninety dollars—the passage money he sent me. I forgot this before. With love always, & Weber L.