Mark Twain's first visit to Italy in 1867, before its political unification. Italy had been under foreign domination but following the Napoleonic Wars movements for independence and unification began. The first wave, led by Garibaldi and others created the kingship of Italy in 1861. Venetia was added in in 1866 and Rome in 1870. The Quaker City first made port in Genoa followed by landings in Leghorn and Naples. Twain toured several other cities, mostly by train. These included Milan, Como, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome.
July 14 Sunday – QC arrived at Genoa at 6 AM.
I would like to remain here. I had rather not go any further. There may be prettier women in Europe,
but I doubt it. The population of Genoa is 120,000; two-thirds of these are women, I think, and at least
two-thirds of the women are beautiful. They are as dressy and as tasteful and as graceful as they could
possibly be without being angels. However, angels are not very dressy, I believe. At least the angels in
pictures are not—they wear nothing but wings. But these Genoese women do look so charming. Most
July 15 Monday – Sam wrote from Genoa to his mother and family.
“We sat in a great gas-lit public-grove or garden till 10 last night, where they were crowded together
drinking wine & eating ices, & it seems to me that it would be good to die & go there” [MTL 2: 74].
July 16 Tuesday – Sam, Jackson, and Slote left Genoa by train, arriving in Milan that evening.
Toward dusk we drew near Milan and caught glimpses of the city and the blue mountain peaks
beyond. But we were not caring for these things—they did not interest us in the least. We were in a
fever of impatience; we were dying to see the renowned cathedral! We watched—in this direction and
that—all around—everywhere. We needed no one to point it out—we did not wish any one to point it
out—we would recognize it even in the desert of the great Sahara [IA, Ch. 18].
July 18 Thursday – Sam took a train from Milan to Como, then took a steamer to Bellagio, Italy on
We lunched at the curious old town of Como, at the foot of the lake, and then took the small
steamer and had an afternoon’s pleasure excursion to this place,—Bellaggio.
When we walked ashore, a party of policemen (people whose cocked hats and showy uniforms
would shame the finest uniform in the military service of the United States,) put us into a little stone
July 19? Friday – Sam made a day-trip to Chiasso in nearby Switzerland. He did not mention the
trip in Innocents [Rasmussen 86]. Note: A day-trip seems probable for this date.
July 20 Saturday – Sam and friends went by steamer from Bellagio to Lecco; left Lecco by carriage
at 1 PM for Bergamo; took a train that passed through Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, and Padua, arriving
in Venice at 8 PM.
We reached Venice at eight in the evening, and entered a hearse belonging to the Grand Hotel
d’Europe. At any rate, it was more like a hearse than any thing else, though to speak by the card, it was
a gondola. And this was the storied gondola of Venice!—the fairy boat in which the princely cavaliers
July 21 Sunday – Alta California printed Sam’s article “THE SEX IN NEW YORK,” which Sam had
dated May 26. Camfield lists this as “Letter from Mark Twain” No. 22 [bibliog.].
The old Washoe instincts that have lain asleep in my bosom so long are waking up again here in the
midst of this late and unaccountable freshet of blood-letting that has broken loose in the East. The
papers, all of a sudden, are being filled with assassinations, and second-degree murders, and prize-
July 22 Monday – Sam and friends left Venice by train; passed through Bologna and
We were a little fatigued with sight seeing, and so we rattled through a good deal of country by rail
without caring to stop. I took few notes. I find no mention of Bologna in my memorandum book,
except that we arrived there in good season, but saw none of the sausages for which the place is so
justly celebrated. Pistoia awoke but a passing interest [IA Ch. 24].
July 23 Tuesday – Sam and friends arrived in Florence; QC departed Genoa at 7 PM.
Florence pleased us for a while. I think we appreciated the great figure of David in the grand square,
and the sculptured group they call the Rape of the Sabines. We wandered through the endless
collections of paintings and statues of the Pitti and Ufizzi galleries, of course. I make that statement in
self-defense; there let it stop. I could not rest under the imputation that I visited Florence and did not
July 24 Wednesday – In Leghorn on July 25?, Sam referred to “A visit paid in a friendly way to
General Garibaldi yesterday (by cordial invitation) by some of our passengers” [Ch. 24, IA]. Sam was
not among these visitors, and he wrote nothing further of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882), Italian
patriot and soldier. The itinerary for the QC excursion had stated, if practical, a visit to the General
would be made. (See “The Journal of the Quaker City Captain,” by Charles E. Shain, The New
July 25? Thursday – Sam and friends left Florence on the noon train for Pisa, where they spent two
hours. They arrived at Leghorn in the evening and boarded the QC.
At Pisa we climbed up to the top of the strangest structure the world has any knowledge of—the
Leaning Tower.…this one leans more than thirteen feet out of the perpendicular. It is seven hundred
July 26? Friday – Sam and friends avoided being quarantined on the QC at Naples by taking a
French steamer to Civitavecchia, Italy, then a train to Rome.
This Civita Vecchia is the finest nest of dirt, vermin and ignorance we have found yet, except that
African perdition they call Tangier, which is just like it. The people here live in alleys two yards wide,
which have a smell about them which is peculiar but not entertaining. It is well the alleys are not
wider, because they hold as much smell now as a person can stand, and of course, if they were wider
July 27 Saturday – Sam and friends arrived in Rome.
What is there in Rome for me to see that others have not seen before me? What is there for me to
touch that others have not touched? What is there for me to feel, to learn, to hear, to know, that shall
thrill me before it pass to others? What can I discover?—Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. One charm of
travel dies here. But if I were only a Roman!—If, added to my own I could be gifted with modern
Roman sloth, modern Roman superstition, and modern Roman boundlessness of ignorance, what
July 28 Sunday – Alta California printed Sam’s article “ACADEMY OF DESIGN,” which Sam had
dated May 28. Camfield lists this as “Letter from Mark Twain” No. 23 [bibliog.].
I am thankful that the good God creates us all ignorant. I am glad that when we change His plans in
this regard, we have to do it at our own risk. It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of
art, and ignorant also of surgery. Because people who understand art find nothing in pictures but
July 30 Tuesday – Sam’s article, dated June 23, “The Mediterranean Excursion” ran in the New York
Tribune [McKeithan 10-18].
July 31 Wednesday – QC departed Leghorn at 9 AM.
August 1 Thursday – Sam and friends probably left Rome for Naples by train, while the QC arrived
at Naples. The QC was then quarantined a week.
THE ship is lying here in the harbor of Naples—quarantined. She has been here several days and will
remain several more. We that came by rail from Rome have escaped this misfortune. Of course no one
is allowed to go on board the ship, or come ashore from her. She is a prison, now. The passengers
probably spend the long, blazing days looking out from under the awnings at Vesuvius and the
August 2 Friday – Sam’s “Holy Land Excursion. Letter from Mark Twain Number One” dated June
19 ran in the Alta California [McKeithan 3-10]. Note 2nd edition: McKeithan reported Mark Twain’s
“Number One” letter from the Holy Land excursion as Aug. 2 (p. 10), but the newspaper has been
examined online and the correct date is Aug. 25, 1867. Evidently McKeithan dropped the “5”.
August 3 Saturday – Sam’s article, dated Aug. 2, “Mark Twain in Quarantine” ran in the Naples
Observer; it ran Sept. 16 in the Alta California [McKeithan 74-6].
August 4 Sunday – Alta California printed Sam’s article “THE DOMES OF YOSEMITE,” dated
June 2 [Schmidt]. Camfield lists this as “Letter from Mark Twain” No. 24 [bibliog.].
August 7 Wednesday – Sam and friends left Naples in the morning for two days on the island of
Ischia. Sam wrote from Naples to Frank Fuller, the man who had acted as his agent to secure the
Cooper Union hall in New York for Sam’s lecture. Sam declined to agree to anything in writing
about a lecture circuit offer that Fuller had relayed from Edwin Lee Brown of the Young Men’s
Library Association of Chicago [MTL 2: 75-6 n2].
August 9 Friday – Sam and friends returned to Naples in the morning. At midnight Sam, Jackson,
Nesbit, Newell, and 4 others unidentified, left for Mt. Vesuvius. Sam wrote from Naples to his
mother and family.
Sam wrote to William Morris Stewart (1827-1909) accepting a secretary position:
I wrote to Bill Stewart today accepting his private secretaryship in Washington next winter. When I
come to think of it, I believe it can be made one of the best paying berths in Washington. Say nothing
August 10 Saturday – Sam and friends visited Capri by chartered steamer.
August 11 Sunday – QC left Naples at 8 AM. From Sam’s notebook:
7 PM, with the western horizon all golden from the sunken sun, & specked with distant ships, the
bright full moon shining like a silver shield high over head, & the deep dark blue of the Mediterranean
under foot & a strange sort of twilight affected by all these different lights & colors, all around us &
about us, we sighted old Stromboli [MTNJ 1: 383].
Alta California printed Sam’s article “NEW YORK,” dated June 5 [Schmidt]. Camfield lists this as