Don’t bother sitting inside the Saint’s nose

And other travel commentaries by the Abbé Baruffi.

The Abbé Baruffi was one of the Italians in Turin that Caroline Crane Marsh (CCM) seems to have enjoyed the most. Baruffi was a priest who didn’t serve in a church, but rather taught at the university and served on the city council. He was knowledgable and entertaining, with a supply of anecdotes about local life, from politics to society figures to Piedmontese, Italian, and French politics and culture more broadly.

The Italian Wikipedia entry for Baruffi has a nice quote from him about traveling, which led me to look up the original source, which is slightly different from what’s in Wikipedia.

Il viaggiare è per me un libro, in cui leggo con tutti e cinque i sentimenti; vedo, odo e gusto quasi ad un tempo; e queste cognizioni penetrano poi così addentro nella testa che più non isfuggono, oltreché s’imparano molte di quelle cose, che non sono insegnate nei libri. E poi i viaggi allargano il nostro orizzonte, e la mente vi si slancia meditando, mi scriveva or poco di Parigi quella spiritosa Fanny S. Severino-Porsìa … Ho imparato anche un poco l’arte di viaggiare in economia, ed oso dire con frutto, mentre è questa un’arte proprio tutta pratica. Voi sapete che io viaggio in questi due mesi per rifarmi delle fatiche e pene morali dell’anno scolastico dopo averne sudato quasi dieci nel lavoro come un bue sotto il giogo e con infiniti risparmii.

Letter of September 4, 1836 to Sig. Cav. Senatore Mangiardi, p. 389

Traveling is for me a book, a book in which I read with all five senses: I see, hear and taste almost at the same time, and this information then penetrates so deeply into my head that it never escapes. In addition, one learns many of those things that are not taught in books. As well, travels broaden our horizon, and our mind stretches out it to while meditating, as that sharp Fanny S. Severino-Porsìa wrote me recently from Paris … I’ve learned also a little of the art of traveling economically, and I dare say fruitfully, while this is a completely practical art. You know that I travel during these two months to recover from the labors and moral suffering of the academic year after having sweated at work like an ox under the yoke for almost ten months and with infinite savings.

My translation

Signore Cavaliere Senatore Mangiardi was Melchiorre Mangiardi, a liberal politician involved with an early Italian constitution. Fanny S. Severino-Porsìa was Countess Fanny Sanseverino Porcìa. She was a friend of Balzac and of Clara Maffei, a “woman of letters and backer of the Risorgimento [the Unification of Italy]”; the Countess gave Balzac a letter of introduction to Maffei when he was going to Italy.

So what about the advice in the title of this post? Well, later in that same letter to Senator Mangiardi, the Abbé talks about his short stopover in Arona, Italy, and he has some advice on what to skip and what to see:

Ma se tornerete anche voi a rivedere questi bei luoghi [Arona], non istate a gettare il danaro e la fatica pericolosa per arrampicarvi fin dentro la testa del Santo per lo piccolo vanto d’esservi seduto nella interna cavità del naso; ed imitare piuttosto l’amico vostro, che aspettando la partenza della pubblica vettura Domo e’l Sempione, diressi suoi passi alla chiesa parrocchiale a contemplare quel magnifico quadro di Gaudenzio Ferrari, restaurato or poco …

Letter of September 4, 1836 to Sig. Cav. Senatore Mangiardi, p. 392

But if you too return to see these beautiful places [Arona], don’t bother wasting your money and risking the dangerous effort of climbing into the head of the Saint for the small boast of having sat inside its nose; and instead imitate your friend, who, while waiting for the departure of the public Domo and Sempione coach, headed towards the parish church to contemplate that magnificent painting of Gaudenzio Ferrari, recently restored …

My translation

I don’t know about you, but I’d enjoy getting a letter from the Abbé.

BTW, the statue of the saint is the Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo, which was one of the inspirations for the Statue of Liberty and is “mentioned on the plaque posed at the feet of the Statue of Liberty.” The parish church is the Collegiata della Natività di Maria Vergine (Italian link), and here’s the relevant part of the painting that the Abbé was talking about. Apparently Ferrari (no relation to the car people), was well known in his time and, obviously, at least into the 1800s.

I haven’t finished the Abbé’s “humongous” letter (the Abbé uses letterone to describe it) to Senator Mangiardi (it runs to 29 pages in the book!), but I’m looking forward to reading more. That’s only one of many letters in the book, which in turn is the first of 3 volumes of the Abbé’s letters, published as he says, by popular demand.

From this letter and other things that CCM mentions in her diaries about the Abbé, I can see why she and her husband George would become friends with him.