Make your own free website on


WE have at last penetrated to the head quarters of this history, and been in a carriage to Monaco, which would have been worth even ten times the jolting we underwent to get there; though it is indeed, as the natives say, "une vraie penitence." The road to Monaco follows that to Nice above the Cape St. Martin, till it turns down below Roccabruna, which clings to the hill-side amid its broken crags. From this point Monaco is in sight the whole way, her white walls gleaming on an almost isolated rock, but a succession of little valleys with steep ascents and descents have to be traversed in order to reach it. Nothing can be more beautiful than the variety of greens in these valleys, the blue green of the gigantic euphorbias, which fringe the rocks by the wayside; the grey green of the olives; the dark green of the old gnarled coruba trees; and the yellow green of the canes and the vineyards, especially in autumn. Each valley has its torrent, crossed sometimes by a high bridge, sometimes only by open arches, which look like a bridge from below, but really only form a parapet to the road, beneath which the water rushes, while travellers splash through the stream, or cross the stepping stones under their protection. The walls are tufted with lovely maidenhair fern, which the natives call Erba della Fon-tana (fountain grass) and drink in tea.

A little ruined edifice on the right of the way, is the "Chapelle du Bon Voyage," which before the Revolution was one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage on the coast. Then everyone in the neighbourhood who was going a journey came hither to pray; and people would even come from twenty leagues distance to ask a blessing at the Bon Voyage before sailing for foreign parts. The people of Monaco still pray before the ruins when starting for a journey.

The summit of the ascent beyond this is crowned by a curious rock, known as "the monk," a gigantic, natural figure, sitting on the mountain side with its head buried in its cowl. Beyond this is seen "the nun," sitting higher up on the edge of the cliff.

Passing the tiny custom house of Monaco, one arrives at Veilles, a village perched on a ledge of the tufa rock, over which a mill-stream dashes, amid a luxuriant profusion of aloes, cactus, and hanging creepers. This was the "Vigiliæ" of Augustus, surrounded in his time by military outposts. A large stone found here and now transported to the palace at Monaco, bears the inscription,


Two torrents beyond this, is a ravine, rendered memorable as the place where a number of French soldiers were assassinated by the Barbets, a baud of mountaineers who, under pretext of loyalty, gave themselves up to cruelty and rapine, during the invasion of 1792. At the entrance of the valley of Gaumates, the last before reaching Monaco, the rocks which form its northern barrier divide to let a small mountain torrent issue forth to join the sea. Above, the chasm is spanned by a lofty yellow arch, while beneath, nestling in the ravine by the side of the streamlet, is a picturesque little chapel, painted on the outside with coats of arms, and approached from the road by a short avenue of venerable ilex trees. It is a tempting subject for an artist, and the little chapel, which now contains nothing but a few mouldy pictures and rusty chandeliers, is interesting as being all that remains to mark the once famous shrine and monastery of Sta. Devota. This saint was a Christian virgin of Corsica, martyred with cruel tortures, in the reign of Diocletian, by the Roman governor of that island. According to the Lerins Chronicles, "In order that she might not be buried by the Christians, this barbarian ordered her body to be reduced to ashes, but the priest Bevenato and the deacon Apollinaris, being warned in a vision to remove the body of the saint from the island, came by night, embarked it, and set sail with a sailor named Gratien, intending to land on the coast of Africa. Their efforts were in vain, and all night long they were driven back by a south wind, which carried them towards the coast of Liguria. The following morning, while the sailor was asleep, the saint appeared to him in a dream, and told him to continue his course with joy, and to observe that which should come out of her mouth, which would be a sign to let him know where she would wish to be buried. In truth, the pilot, on awaking, saw, as well as his two companions, a white dove issue from the mouth of the saint, and take the direction of Monaco. They followed it with their eyes, till it rested in the valley called Gaumates, situated on the east of the city.

There she was buried, and there an oratory was afterwards built to her, with a monastery attached to it, under tho depcndance of the monastery of St. Pons." Another legend describes that the vessel bearing the remains of the saint was wrecked off Monaco, and that only one fragment of it drifted into the Port of Hercules, bearing the dead body of a beautiful maiden lashed upon it, and an inscription telling that it was that of Devota, the Corsican Virgin and Martyr.

The festival of Sta. Devota (January 27) was formerly celebrated at Gaumates, with great splendour; pilgrimages were made to the chapel, and the ancient money of the country bore her effigy, but the devotion to her shrine, has long since gone out of fashion; fewer and fewer pilgrims came, and at last, to avoid starvation, the monks of Gaumates fled to the superior monastery of St. Pons, and left their own little convent to ruin. Among the privileges which they preserved to the last, was the right possessed by the Prior and one other of their number, chosen by the prince, to read Vespers on the eve of their saint, and high mass on her fête, in the parish church of Monaco, and also of opening the ball which celebrated the same occasion, a privilege of which these ecclesiastical dignitaries never failed to avail themselves. At the same time, the monks presented some artichokes to the prince in token of homage, and enjoyed his hospitality for three days, at the end of which time they were dismissed with tokens of his liberality.

Sta. Devota is at the entrance of the once famous Port of Hercules, frequently mentioned by classical authors, and formerly the terror of the rich merchants of Genoa, from the number of pirates and corsairs, to whom it was a shelter and a home. Now, it is almost filled up by long neglect, and gives refuge to nothing, but the little steamer which brings people hither three times a week from Nice, and a few fishing-boats, whose tall white sails are mirrored in its still waters, as they nestle under the rocky edge of the hill. Smaller boats are constantly employed in fishing for the "Frutte di Mare," which abound in the bay, and looking much like chestnuts, are divided and eaten in the same manner. From this little port many French emigrants made their escape in the reign of terror, gaining the large foreign vessels, which were lying off Monaco, in small fishing-boats. Among them, say the natives, was a young Englishman who had been married in France, and had lived there. He arrived with a chest of gold, so heavy that it required four men to move it, and after he embarked, he never was heard of again; it is supposed he was murdered for the sake of that chest. On the opposite side of the bay, are a long row of unfinished baths, which might have proved a great source of attraction to Monaco, but which, like a large casino whose stones still litter the neighbouring olive wood, and many other things here, are still unfinished for want of money. They stand in a state of melancholy ruin, and are only an eyesore to the pleasant little Hotel des Etrangers which is close beside them, and whose garden is worth entering for the sake of admiring its tall and beautiful palm tree.

Two roads lead up from hence into the town; the upper going straight up into the court of the palace through the Porte St. Antoine; the lower leading through the Porte Neuve into the Boschetto, otherwise called the "Promenade St. Martin." Here it is like being launched at once into the tropics; the terraces are carpeted with aloes, some of which raise their golden stems crowned by masses of flower, as high as the tops of the cypresses, which are mingled with them. The wild luxuriance of cactus and plants of the same tribe, not content with covering the heights, overrun the walls and clothe the precipitous cliffs

down to the very edge of the sea. Splendid geraniums fringe the road and mingle in huge masses with purple stocks, and tall star-flowered asphodel, while here and there a palm tree raises its umbrella of delicate foliage into the blue sky. Below, on two sides, is the sea, with its varied outline of headlands, behind is the deserted monastery of the Visitazione, now turned into a barrack, and the white houses of the town. The number of ladies sitting out upon the terraces, and the well-dressed children playing about, give the promenade a most animated appearance. Indeed the fact of this paradise having been so long rendered the abode of misery by the wickedness of its government reminds one of a story of the Spaniard, who declared that the only reason why the Madonna had not blest his country with a good government, as well as all other benefits, was, because she was afraid that if she did, Spain would become so delightful and alluring, that she should not be able to keep any of the angels in heaven.

There is an air of great comfort about the town, which is said to be partly owing to the fact that the dowager princess generally makes it her residence for six months in the year, while the prince following the example of his predecessors, still prefers spending his large fortune in Paris, and lives altogether in France. The roads are excellent, and even the streets arc covered with fine gravel instead of a rough pavement, and have an unusual appearance of cleanliness. The houses are now almost all modernized; formerly by a local custom all the windows were arched and divided into two parts, with a cross in the centre, and a stone ledge beneath, from which fishing nets or clothes were hung out to dry.

Many of these houses were in existence only fifteen years ago. The church of Sta. Barbara is large and handsome, and possesses a portico which is said to be a fragment of a Roman temple. There is a tablet here commemorating the funeral ceremonies which were bestowed upon Pius VI. in this church, when, a few months after he had been burnt in effigy by the republican populace, shipwreck drove his dead body upon their shores. The last chapel on the right contains the graves and monumental tablets of the later Princes of Monaco, among which is the lying inscription to the hated Honorius V. Some of the pictures are old and curious.

The Gambling-house, which, to their disgrace, the Princes have introduced into their state, has a pretty garden with a fine palm tree.

The Piazza (which contains an excellent hotel, de Russie) is closed on the north by the palace, an immense building, which has been added to or altered in almost every successive reign, each prince bringing his own taste and his own prejudices to bear upon the work. It would be difficult to say what was its exact appearance before the year 1538, which was the date of its enlargement and restoration. But it is probable, nevertheless, that all the eastern side, and the principal part of the existing facade, which at that time extended to the ramparts, are little changed, and go back to an earlier period, perhaps nearly to the time of the foundation of the building. The western part seems to belong almost entirely to the time of the Spanish government. As for that on the north, it is possible that it may have undergone some important modifications, but it is certain that it existed, with a chapel in its centre, under the reign of Lucien (1505). The four wings of the palace, as they now stand, facing the four cardinal points, extend over a vast space. The south wing is curious from the quaintness of its arrangement; two square turrets, placed almost at the two extremities, vary its rather commonplace appearance; in the centre, is the entrance gateway, supposed to be the fragment of a heathen temple. The baths, which were enriched with mosaics, marble and gold; the famous gallery; the chamber where Lucien was assassinated; and many other historical apartments, have been destroyed. The great Grimaldi hall is thirty feet in height, twenty paces in length, and twelve in breadth. Frescoes, attributed to Orazio di Ferrara, decorate its walls and ceiling. The colossal chimney-piece is said to have been hewn out of a single block of stone; its fluted columns, helmets and armour, are surmounted by two angels unrolling a fillet, inscribed with the words, "Qui dicit se nosse Deum et mandata ejus non custodit, mendax est." The whole is finished with exquisite workmanship.

This hall of the Grimaldi's, which is now fast falling into decay, was till late years, the scene of a ball, always given by the Princes on the festival of Sta. Devota, the inhabitants, both rich and poor, being invited en masse. The rich danced all evening on one side of the hall, and the peasants on the other, neither ever passing an imaginary boundary, while the Prince and the grandees looked down from a gallery.

Beyond the hall is a desolate suite of rooms, which were pillaged and turned into a barrack at the time of the revolution and have never been restored since. In the last of these rooms, which must once have been rich with gilding and fresco, the custode tells you that a Duke of York, brother of a King of England, died. He was taken ill at sea, when off Monaco, and the Prince offered him a refuge in his palace, where he expired. Afterwards a ship came, and his remains were removed to England with great honours. In recognition of the hospitality their duke had received there, some prisoners belonging to Monaco, who were taken by the English in the French war, were immediately released. The chamber is called "the Duke of York's room" to this day. A number of ill-painted pictures are placed there, which were removed during a fire, from the convent near the Boschetto.

The Courtyard of the palace is very picturesque, its sides having cloisters and friezes covered with ancient frescoes. The west wing is approached by a handsome twisted staircase, at the foot of which is an old well. The east wing contains the apartments, still occupied by the Prince's family during their visits to Monaco; these are not shewn, but are said to be worth seeing, though they can scarcely, as the custode declares, contain "Une galerie toute pleine des tableaux de Raffaele." The north wing contains the domestic chapel.

A passage between the northern and eastern wings leads to the private gardens of the prince, which consist of terraces of aloes and geraniums, bordered with myrtle and thyme, overlooking a lovely view of the bay. Behind arc the old bastions and fortifications, among which is the famous "Saraval," which withstood many a siege in the time of the old princes, though now a single cannon, well placed on the Tete du Chien, which frowns above the chateau, might soon do such execution, as would force the town to surrender. The rocks below the garden are covered with a perfect forest of prickly pears, the fruit of which is gathered by a man let down from the wall in a basket. The aloes, which are truly magnificent, generally flower when they attain their fifteenth year, and then die, leaving a numerous progeny behind them. The gardens are shewn in the absence of the family, on presenting a card to the porter of the palace, who for a fee of two or three francs will procure the necessary order from the commandant of the town.

On the east of the town are some baths, pleasantly situated amid groves of Coruba trees, and much resorted to during the hot months.

Amongst the many terrible scenes to which the palace of Monaco has been witness, the most startling was the death of Prince Lucien in 1523, who having gained possession of his sovereignty by the murder of his predecessor and brother, John II, was in turn assassinated by his nephew Bartholomew Doria of Dolceaqua, in his own house, and in the bosom of his hitherto prosperous family. The event is thus described by Gioffredo:

"Among the sisters of Lucien, one, called Françoise, had married Luke Doria, Seigneur of Dolceacqua. During her widowhood Françoise had, on the 19th Dec. 1513, made her will; to this, on the 15th Octr. 1515, she added a codicil, by which she appointed her children to be her heirs, and named Augustin Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse, and Lucien Grimaldi of Monaco, her brothers, with Ausaldo Grimaldi of Genoa, as her executors. After the death of Françoise, Bartholomew, her eldest son, complained of his uncle Lucien, as having delayed to pay the portion due to him of his mother's inheritance, and soon, blinded by avarice and hatred, he resolved to kill his uncle, and by a base stratagem, to seize the castle of Monaco. Some time before the execution of this criminal enterprise, he sent some of his followers, who were acquainted with his designs, to the Port of Hercules, several of whom were subjects of his cousin the famous Andrea Doria, Seigneur of Oneglia. Bartholomew begged Lucien to allow them to stay at Monaco, since they could not remain safely in his own domains, owing to a quarrel, and in this manner skilfully secured the success of his schemes. 

The imprudent Lucien received these secret agents at Monaco, and soon after, his nephew informed him that he intended going to Lyons to meet the King of France, in the hope of obtaining an honorable appointment in his Milanese expedition. Apparently with this object also, Bartholomew arrived at the Port of Hercules, and from thence forwarded a letter to his uncle which Andrea Doria had sent him from Lyons, in which, after having urged him to repair to France, he said, "that it was time to execute the project he knew of." These equivocal words subsequently gave rise to a suspicion that the illustrious admiral had connived at the murder, the more so because his galleys presented themselves before the spot, after the consummation of the crime.

Bartholomew, while pretending to go to Lyons, returned to Dolceacqua to make preparations. At his request, Lucien on Saturday the 22nd August sent one of his brigantines to Ventimiglia to transport his nephew with his suite and goods to the Port of Hercules, where Bartholomew proposed to take leave of him. and thence to continue his journey. On his arrival, Bartholomew was asked by his uncle to hear mass; he declined, saying he had already heard it. Lucien then went thither alone, and his nephew remained during the interval in the gallery of the palace holding a secret interview with his followers. After mass, they went to dinner. The place of honour was given up to Bartholomew, but he found it impossible to eat anything, and it was evident from the preoccupation of his mind, the paleness of his countenance, and the singular expression of his features, that he was meditating some dark and criminal project. Lucien ascribed his nephew's state to a passing sadness, and after vainly pressing him to eat, placed one of his grandchildren in his arms in order to distract his attention; but Doria began to tremble so violently, that the child was obliged to be taken away, as he was unable to hold it.

Such strange conduct might have awakened suspicion in the attendants, but it failed to do so. On leaving the table Bartholomew requested Lucien to furnish him with instructions for his pretended journey to France, and for this purpose they went into a small room at the end of the gallery, where Lucien was in the habit of writing and transacting business. Whilst they were thus engaged, the major domo came to inform his master that he perceived four galleys approaching Monaco. These Bartholomew described as belonging to his cousin Andrea Doria's squadron, and he immediately wrote to the commandant to beg him to enter the port that he might receive an important communication. He shewed the letter to Lucien, and then entrusted it to the major domo, requesting him to carry it to its destination with an armed boat; by this means he contrived to send from twelve to fourteen men away from the palace as necessary for arming the long boat.

August 22, 1523. These measures being taken, Bartholomew sent away all the servants who were in the gallery, except one black slave who would not withdraw. Lucien sat down near the table, while his nephew, remaining standing, began to write, when an assassin from San Remo, who had accompanied Doria, entered the room, followed by one of his accomplices. Nearly at the same moment, the black slave who had refused to go away, from being accustomed never to quit his master, heard him cry out in a frightful manner, repeating the words, "Oh traitor, oh traitor;" when hurrying to the room and half opening the door without daring to enter it, he saw Doria throwing Lucien down on the ground, thrusting a poniard into his neck, and mutilating his body with a thousand blows. The followers of the assassin, who were on the watch, ran towards the room, armed to the teeth, and surrounded Bartholomew, who, leaving the corpse of his victim, sallied forth, sword in hand, crying out, Ammazza! ammazza! slay! slay! This cry was repeated by his men, and by others whom he had sent beforehand to Monaco; halberds and javelins were taken down from the armoury of the guard-room, and the few servants who happened to be at this hour in the palace were driven out. Thus Bartholomew and his associates made themselves masters of the greatest part of the vast building, but they could not gain possession of the great terrace, whither some of the servants had retreated, crying out, To arms! To arms! a cry which was answered at once by the inhabitants, who rushed armed towards the castle. Dolceacqua and his men quickly closed the gates, and made the sign which had been agreed upon, to the galleys anchored off the Capo d'Aglio, a signal which was not however perceived by them.

The inhabitants now forced the gates of the palace and attacked the assassins who had fortified themselves within it. Then Bartholomew shewed himself to the assailants, and besought them to hear him. He began by a protestation that in all he had done, he had only acted in the name of Marie de Vinol, the legitimate sovereign of the country, and, he added, that in three hours, four hundred men would arrive to keep the place in the name of this lady, from whom Monaco might expect, he said, the best treatment and the most signal advantages. At the same time, he caused the corpse of Lucien to be dragged half-way down the staircase, because the inhabitants would not believe in the death of their Seigneur.

Bartholomew's arguments were not listened to: the people in one body charged him with having done them great injury, and tried to seize his person. It was a critical position on both sides; on the one hand Doria's followers found themselves in the most imminent danger, in case the promised and expected succour failed to arrive; on the other the inhabitants were extremely uneasy in knowing that the murderer had fortified himself with the greater part of his men in the most inaccessible part of the castle, while the rest were scattered about the town, and that he expected every moment to be relieved by the galleys of the enemy. In the midst of these fears and anxieties, Bartholomew offered to retire with his men, provided his life were ensured, and the people gave their consent.

The Bishop of Grasse, brother of the victim, at a later time, directed an active pursuit to be made after the criminal, who perished in attacking the castle of Penna, defended by his implacable enemy. As to Andrew Doria, who was with some reason suspected of being implicated in the conspiracy, he could neither escape the severe condemnation of his contemporaries, nor the blame of history. His presence at the Port of Hercules some days previously, his letter to Bartholomew, his galleys arriving at the very hour when the crime was committed, as if to have a share in it, and ensure its impunity or success; are circumstances which clearly prove, that there must have been some secret understanding between the cousins."