The weather was cloudy all day. At 4.50 left Spezzia, luggage being carried by an obese strong lad, Fernando Gallina.

Passing up the vine-covered hills behind S. Francesco, we reached Biassa. 6¼ ― 6½  village. Kindly people. Women carrying stones. Chesnuts, alders, mills. Fernando facetious with the females. 7.15 reach top: great mist: sea ― meet Priest; says R. Maggiore makes 40,000 soma of wine: 1 soma is 80 litri. Vast expanse of sea: hills wholly covered with Terrace walls & vines. Sanctuary of Madonna di Monte Negro at one end, Mescolo at the other: the 5 terre at intervals between, ― a queer, but undrawable scene. 8, at the church, where I drew a line, ― crags & cliff land, ― all over millions of vine terraces. 8.50 down a sheer [] steep staircase to Rio Maggiore, a narrow town of one street, wholly ugly. ― Women carrying immense slates. Town is a hole: costume of short waists. “Non hanno ne cape ne petto ― sono ombre”1 says G. ― Ascend another tremendous staircase, like the side of a house, & rest at 9¼ : then, more ascent, & come to bits not 8 inches broad, over the sea, so hideous that I funked ― all the more that a steamer bumped below my feet. ― By 10 reached Manarola the 2nd town ― nearly as unpicturesque, & at the very bottom of a stair. Here we had some eggs & wine & bread in the house of a pleasant contadino2 ― everyone of the people being charming in manner. But I foresaw it was not possible for me to do “worse” bits over the sea, so I resolved to give up the road, & take the one higher up, which is to pass by the Madonna di Sovviòre, & then lead either to M. Rosso, or Levanto. So at 11 we start afresh horrible ugliness of walls & monstrous vines, pass village of Groppo, ― at 11.40 another village Vuàstro,3 & always going up, walking on to tops of terrace walls 20 feet high ― without parapets, with certain bits of difficulty, & all hideous to see. At 12.45 reached Porciana, where Fernando was servant for 5 years: here his old master gave us some good wine. Shortly after, at 1.30, off & up again, when coming to the end of all cultivation onto a base hill side vastly high up, & looking down on Coneglia. F. Gallina is a queer animal, not bad though. About 2¼ we rested 15 minutes, & at 3, again at “luogo nominato “chapónne” with a vast look down there awful gulph, between inconceivably huge hills, to Venazza,4 the fourth village: most painful & [from this point Lear writes in long lines spanning the two pages for 18 and 19 May] unproductive walk! Venazza looks like a small heap of dominoes against the sea, & all the landscape is gloomy & unpleasant. It would have been quite impossible to visit all 5 towns, owing to the time taken up by crossing the steep abysses between. Long long steep paths succeeded, always around hill sides: great views of the Modena Mountains, & RoMagna &c. At 3.40 we are at a point ‘nominato5 Bocca di Malpertusa,[’]6 where is a merry old woman with goats ― a flower behind her ear. The pines of the M. del Sovione are in sight. F. Gallina sorely tried by heavy baggage. 4.50 hideous narrow gravelly paths or slides on the mountain side, & at one time I slipped & fell, but caught a chesnut tree some 60 feet down happily. No hose beyond stairs: G. & F.G. helped me up ― but it was a good shock: [below: Quo’ George ― “Signore, voglio dirvi una cosa vera. ― Non bisogna che vadi più in tali luoghi, ― perché siete già troppo grasso, e troppo vecchio!”7] 5 repose again: bad bits of path. 5.30 reached pine wood, & are above the 5th town, M. Rosso ― more picturesque than the others. ― Bad road ceases. At 6 reach this Sanctuary: but decide, as there is a good road, to go on to Levanto, so we go on by good road in a pine wood, & at 6.15 reach the west side of the hills, & see a closely shut-in valley, green, & chock full of villages & [cultivations], & churches, & beautifully wooded. 6.50 a long way down, many chesnuts ― reposing; then, after a long river course & much narrow lane & pergola, reach Levanto at 7.50. Cleanish Osteria ― [with room] ―. Francesco della Sposa, Hotel dell’Universo. Civil, & decently clean. Sent Fernando to food & bed. At 9 G. & I supped & then went to bed. Prints of prodigal son, modern. ― Blackbird in cage. ― Most fatiguing day.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. They have neither head nor breast, they are shadows. []
  2. Farmer. []
  3. Volastra, presumably. []
  4. Vernazza. []
  5. Called. []
  6. “Malpertugio” meaning in archaic Italian a difficult passage. []
  7. Sir, I want to tell you the truth. ― You must never go again to such places, ― because you are too fat, and too old! []