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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Through Italy

Saturday, April 16th., Grand Hotel Continentale, Rome.

Lovely morning. Environs of Turin, 8 a.m. The journey passed without incident. The train was always punctual and arrived at Rome exactly at the appointed hour, 8.10 p.m. Not a bad achievement for an international train. I got a porter at once and he carried my stuff across the Piazza to this hotel. I was served by a middle-aged kindly waiter evidently alcoholic, though not drunk at that moment.

Then put on my overcoat and went for a walk round the big church S Maria degli Angeli close by. Squeaking trams on curves. many hotels here near the station. Then I walked into the station, in which one of the chief departments was apparently the Militia 'Commando'. I went to bed at or before 11, having eaten a bit too much. Nothing much on the train journey here, except that I read "Brothers Karamazov". Third or fourth time of reading. Yes, fourth time. I read it slowly to savour it. It is very great and masterful. An Englishwoman, fattish, sixtyish, very energetic, had the cabine next to mine. She talked at length to anyone she could get hold of about Mussolini and her interview with him, and the greatness of Italy, rottenness of France, and muddleness of England. Loud voice, very tedious. A fascist, carrying the insignia, and the official card with photograph. I had to sit opposite to her at lunch. She tried hard to get up a talk but I beat her off. All her ideas were wrong. But if anything evil happened to her in Italy she might well change them all. Her acquaintance with Italian customs and Italian was such that when she got her lunch bill and saw "Tassa di Bollo" at the foot of it, she called the waiter and said that she hadn't had any tassa. She talked French volubly and not well. 

The sunset round about Civita Vecchia was richly marvellous. Such a thing as you couldn't see in England. The whole day was lovely and quite warm. Lovely bright leaves and blossoms on the trees everywhere. Especially after emerging from the Mont Cenis tunnel, and later it was marvellous.

Additionally for April 16th., see 'Making adjustments'

These days, going to bed early, I arise at 6.30 or 6.45, or even earlier, and do an hour's work or so before breakfast, and in addition am dressed for breakfast. I didn't dress for breakfast for years because the masseur came after breakfast. I don't have him at present , as my health is so much better (owing to him). Much of my time now, while Dorothy is in the maternity home, is taken up with her and with arranging things for her. I wrote 700 words of novel "Vanguard" in the morning and 800 in the afternoon. I was at the Home by 12 o'clock, and stayed until after 1 o'clock. Then at two I drove home - (these days I have to drive everywhere to save time; if I can manage to walk to the top of Sloane Street it is all I can do) - and slept and went on with my novel till 4.30. Then I had chores to do.

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