That enormous march from Faido, though it had been wisely broken by the siesta at Bellinzona, needed more than a few cold hours under trees, and I thought of the three poor francs in my pocket, and of the thirty-eight miles remaining to Milan.
But the zigzags last no more than Paddy's fall, and in due time we were all coming to our senses over <i>cafe au lait</i> in the little inn at Faido. After Faido the valley, plunging deeper, began to take thick afternoon shadows from the hills, and at Airolo we were fairly in the twilight.
We passed Faidò and Giornico, near which last village are the remains of an old castle, supposed to have been built by the ancient Gauls, and stopped for the night at Cresciano, which being entirely Italian, we had an opportunity to put in practice the few words we had picked up from Pietro. The little fellow parted from us with regret a few hours before, at Biasco, where he had relations.
Uri called on Schwytz and Unterwalden for help, and on Zurich also, although it was not then included in the confederacy. The allies marched out and pressed on to Faido, spreading universal terror. The General Vicar of Como mediated a peace; but from that time forth we find the confederates continually entangled in the affairs of Upper Italy.
An excursion which may be very well made from Faido is to the Val Piora, which I have already more than once mentioned. There is a large hotel here which has been opened some years, but has not hitherto proved the success which it was hoped it would be.
Now all of you who have hitherto followed the story of this great journey, put out of your minds the Alps and the passes and the snows postpone even for a moment the influence of the happy dawn and of that South into which I had entered, and consider only this truth, that I found myself just out of Faido on this blessed date of God with eight francs and forty centimes for my viaticum and temporal provision wherewith to accomplish the good work of my pilgrimage.
Gothard the crystal green Reuss shattering itself in white spray into emerald pools by the side of the railway; Wasen church perched high upon its solitary hilltop; the Biaschina ravine, the cleft rocks of Faido, the serpentine twists and turns of the ramping line as it mounts or descends its spiral zigzags?
For several years he had been in the habit of spending six or eight weeks of the summer in Italy and the Canton Ticino, generally making Faido his headquarters. Many a page of his books was written while resting by the fountain of some subalpine village or waiting in the shade of the chestnuts till the light came so that he could continue a sketch.
Once, at Faido in the Val Leventina, in 1876 or 1877, when the engineers were there surveying for the tunnel, there was among them a rather fine-looking young German with wild, ginger hair that rang out to the wild sky like the bells in In Memoriam, and a strong Edmund Gurney cut, who played Wagner and was great upon the overture to Lohengrin; as for Handel he was not worth consideration, etc.
This they repeated one to another, and one man told me that the next good halting-place was a town called Faido, three hours down the road. He held up three fingers to explain, and that was the last intercourse I had with the Airolans, for at once I took the road. I glanced up the dark ravine which I should have descended had I crossed the Nufenen.