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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


IN God’s name then I left Florence, continually singing psalms and prayers in His honour upon all that journey. I enjoyed it extremely; for the season was fine, in early summer, and the country through which I travelled, and which I had never seen before, struck me as marvellously beautiful. Now I had taken with me to serve as guide a young workman in my employ, who came from Bagno, and was called Cesare. Thanks to him, then, I received the kindest hospitality from his father and all his family, among whom was an old man of more than seventy, extremely pleasant in his conversation. He was Cesare’s uncle, a surgeon by profession, and a dabbler in alchemy. This excellent person made me observe that the Bagni contained mines of gold and silver, and showed me many interesting objects in the neighbourhood; so that I enjoyed myself as much as I have ever done.

One day, when we had become intimate and he could trust me, he spoke as follows: “I must not omit to tell you a thought of mine, to which his Excellency might with advantage pay attention. It is, that not far from Camaldoli there lies a mountain pass so ill defended, that Piero Strozzi could not only cross it without risk, but might also seize on Poppi unmolested.” Not satisfied with this description, he also took a sheet of paper from his pouch, upon which the good old man had drawn the whole country, so that the seriousness of the danger could be manifest upon inspection of the map. I took the design and left Bagno at once, travelling homeward as fast as I could by Prato Magno and San Francesco della Vernia. On reaching Florence, I only stopped to draw off my riding-boots, and hurried to the palace. Just opposite the Badia I met the Duke, who was coming by the palace of the Podesta. When he saw me he gave me a very gracious reception, and showing some surprise, exclaimed: “Why have you come back so quickly; I did not expect you for eight days at least.” I answered: “The service of your most illustrious Excellency brings me back, else I should very willingly have stayed some few days longer on my journey through that lovely country.” “Well, and what good news have you?” said he. I answered: “Prince, I must talk to you about things of the greatest importance which I have to disclose.” So I followed him to the palace, and when we were there, he took me privately into a chamber where we stayed a while alone together. I then unfolded the whole matter and showed him the little map, with which he seemed to be much gratified. When I told his Excellency that one ought to take measures at once, he reflected for a little while and then said: “I may inform you that we have agreed with the Duke of Urbino that he should guard the pass; but do not speak about it.” Then he dismissed me with great demonstrations of good-will, and I went home.