Mountain in Ticino, Switzerland, near the Italian border.

TICINO, SWITZERLAND — Poet Christina Rossetti, born on this day in 1830, was a Victorian poet and along with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the great women poets in nineteenth century England. The sister of  Dante Gabriel, Rossetti was torn between obligations and expectations of the Victorian age.

She turned away two suitors. One named Charles Cayley, a scholar, may have proposed to her in 1864 when she was 34 years old. In the biography Christina Rossetti. A Divided Life, biographer Georgina Battiscombe speculated that the poet turned down Cayley because she was fighting a serious and at that time would have been a fatal illness: tuberculosis. By April 1865, it was clear that the diagnosis was a mistaken one and Rossetti travelled with her mother and brother William to Paris where they visited the Louvre,  the Jardin d’Acclimatation (the Rossettis were fascinated by animals) and then Switzerland.

Rossetti was first repelled and then entranced by her first site of the Alps.

View from Cristallina Peak in Ticino

The mountains in their overwhelming might

Moved me to sadness when I saw them first,

And afterwards they moved me to delight

Beginning in Lucerne, the Rossettis went to Andermatt, then over the St. Gotthard into the Italian-speaking region of Ticino, right at the Italian border.

At Lake Como, Rossetti and her brother rowed on the lake at midnight.

Lake Como on the Switzerland side


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