fine weather; make the best of our way to Resina, the little village at the foot of the mountain; prepare ourselves, as well as we can, on so short a notice, at the Guide's house; ascend at once, and have sunset halfway up, moonlight at the top, and midnight to come down in!
At four o'clock in the afternoon, there is a terrible uproar in the little stable-yard of Signior Salvatore the recognised head-guide with the gold band round his cap; and thirty under-guides who are all scuffling and screaming at once, are preparing half a dozen saddled ponies, three litters, and some stout staves, for the journey. Every one of the thirty, quarrels with the other twenty-nine, and frightens the six ponies; and as much of the village as can possibly squeeze itself into the little stable-yard, participates in the tumult, and gets trodden on by the cattle.
After much violent skirmishing, and more noise than would suffice for the storming of Naples, the procession starts. The head guide, who is liberally paid for all the attendants, rides a little in advance of the party; the other thirty guides proceed on foot. Eight go forward with the litters that are to be used by and by; and the remaining two-and-twenty beg.
We ascend, gradually, by stony lanes like rough broad flights of stairs, for some time. At length, we leave these, and the vineyards on either side of them, and emerge upon a bleak bare region where the lava lies confusedly, in enormous rusty masses: as if the earth had been ploughed up by burning thunderbolts. And