APRIL 1904 – ROME, FLORENCE, PARIS

Marjorie’s European Tour, 1903‐1904
Taken from letters to her mother, Bessie

Marjorie and Helen Macartnay spent the last few weeks of their 11‐month
tour in Rome, Florence, and Paris. Marjorie was looking forward to seeing her
family again, but determined to enjoy the last few adventures, particularly the
experience of being in Rome over Easter. They returned to the Hotel Russie by
the Pincian Hill, “It seemed almost home‐like to get back to the dear old Russie
again. Rome is charming this time of year, and we are enjoying it thoroughly.”

Hotel Russie, 1903

Hotel Russie, 1903

The weather was warm, bright, and summer‐like. They enjoyed walking in
the Piazzas and visiting churches to see the altars decorated with flowers, and to
hear the music. They were amused at the congenial sense of occasion at the San
Pietro church, where Marjorie was shocked, though charmed, at the “continual
talking and chatting … they shake hands with their friends, form little knots of
gossip, just as if they were at a reception, and part with an ‘I will see you again
at San Giovanni or Santa Maria Maggiore’ or wherever the case may be.”
On Good Friday they went from church to church, watching the crowds,
listening to the music and witnessing the presentations of the Relics. On Saturday
Marjorie passed the flower stand in the piazza “and laid in such a supply for
Easter that I could scarcely stagger to the hotel – a whole arm full of yellow
daisies four inches in diameter and beautiful lavender anemones.” They took a
carriage ride up on the Pincian Hill behind the hotel, and through the grounds of
the Villa Borghese.
Easter Sunday dawned warm and fair – “The loveliest day of all.” They
went to services at the American Church on the Via Nazionale, and in the
afternoon drove to San Pietro in Montorio to see the famous view over the city.
Two days later Marjorie found herself in Florence once again (“My favorite
city in Italy”), anxious to fit in all her last‐minute sight‐seeing and shopping: “We
are fairly flying about from place to place now – really when we wake up in the
morning we have to think hard before we know where we are!” They stayed at
the Palace Hotel near the Ponte Trinita. “It was a pleasure just to look out the
window at the river, the bridges, the soft colored straggling houses, and all the
dear familiar sights.”

Marjorie’s-watercolor-of-Florence

Marjorie’s watercolor of Florence “the river, the bridges, the soft colored straggling houses”

She set off across the Arno to the Thursday Flower Market in the loggia of
the Mercato Nuova, a big open building — just a roof supported by pillars — in
the centre of the city: “An ideal place for a flower show. They were banked up
around the grey old columns, and standing in pots all over the pavement. I
bought an enormous bunch of Mignonette, four branches of such sweet apple
blossoms, and some lilies of the valley.” A walk along the Tornabuoni, Florence’s
main shopping street, and a stop at Giacosa’s Tea Room for cakes and chocolate,
completed the day. The next day she revisited old, favorite sites, the Uffizi, the
Strozzi Palace, the Cathedral, and the Palazzo Vecchio. She went to see the
familiar paintings at the Pitti Palace, “saying ‘How do you do?’ to all my dear
ones there,” the Botticellis and Cellinis.
Time was now running out, and Marjorie daydreamed that she might
“…miss that Paris train tomorrow on purpose, to stay over in Florence another
week! It makes me sad to think that we leave tomorrow evening for Paris – I
wish we could stay here till we sail. But never mind, I am looking forward to
going to the Louvre again.”
A week in Paris gave Marjorie sufficient time to visit her favorite
dressmaker (Champots) to order clothing for the approaching summer. She
shopped for hats, gloves, and stockings on the Rue de la Paix before re‐visiting the
Louvre. The Victory of Samothrace was still her favorite sculpture, followed by
paintings by Titian, Raphael, Da Vinci, Holbein, Corot, and Millet. As their time
ran out they took a carriage ride to bid au revoir to the Place de la Nation, the
Louvre (one last time), the Bois de Boulogne, the Champs Elysees, and the Arc de
Triomphe.
On April 29, Marjorie and Miss Helen boarded the luxurious ocean liner
Deutschland. For 6 days they ate twelve and fifteen course dinners and enjoyed
the unaccustomed inactivity, preparing them for the transition back to the lives
they had left behind eleven months ago. Bessie and William McKee and young
Augustine were at the dock in New York to meet them, and they stayed overnight
at the Holland Hotel before taking the train to Boston. An older, and wiser,
Marjorie was looking forward to spending another idyllic summer at her beloved
Blithewold.

S. S. Deutschland

S. S. Deutschland

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