excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 278 (240 words)

excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 278 (240 words)

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Italy Volume 2

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 Our view of the high and splendid ceremonies of the Roman church began with the Christmas festivities of 1819. These were announced ten days before, by such symptoms as recall the same season of religious observance and sensual enjoyment in England. The first note of preparation appeared in the arrival of the Calabrian minstrels or pifferari, with their sylvan pipes (zampogne). The costume and appearance of these men closely resemble some groups in the Villa Albani; and their instrument is doubtless of remote antiquity. It resembles the bagpipe of Ireland and Scotland; but is less harsh than the latter. The music also is wild and plaintive, and bears a resemblance of character to our national melodies, most probably derived from the limited capabilities of the instrument. We were particularly anxious to obtain the notation of these airs, but found it impossible to procure a copy. It may afford matter for speculation to determine whether the bagpipe, thus indigenous in Italy, was imported into Britain by the Romans at the conquest, or whether the invention is common to the two countries, and derived from an application of a common ingenuity to the same ends.

These minstrels were to be seen in every street of Rome, where they arrived during the last days of Advent, to play before the shrines of the Madonna, and salute her with their wild music, under the traditional notion of charming her labour pains on the approaching Christmas.

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excerpt from 'Italy Volume 2' pp. 278 (240 words)


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