Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson


Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson


Wilson, Ellen Axson




1904 April 7


Ellen Axson Wilson writes Woodrow Wilson with news from her trip to Italy.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence




My own darling,

     I am writing,—with an impossible pen,—in a window looking out upon the bay of Naples,—Vesuvius, and Naples itself across the water,—a wonderful prospect indeed, though robbed of a part of its glory by an overcast sky. We left Amalfi at 8.30 and had a wonderful four hour drive through the wildest and most picturesque scenery. The air was so deliciously fresh & cool that it partly atoned for the absence of yesterday’s intense colour. Yesterday was the most glorious day we have had. It was a perfect riot of colour,—a debauch of beauty from early morning until night. We went to bed feeling positively drunken. But to return for a moment to the beginning. We left Naples,—on a train that went about a mile an hour—reached Pompei at lunch time & spent the afternoon in the ruins. It was intensely interesting even more so than I expected;—very hard walking however for several hours; we reached La Cava at dinner time rather used up. After a very comfortable dinner & bed we started bright & early for Paestum. It threatened rain but held up for a time and we had a beautiful little railway journey & then a pleasant walk to the temples,—which are all my fancy painted;—no picture can give the impression of their majesty and nobility. While we were still at the temples the rain began in good earnest: but we were prepared for it and got no harm. Indeed the dark skies rather suited the melancholy beauty of the place.—
     The carriage was waiting with our luggage at Salerno to take us to Amalfi,—that glorious drive of 2½ hours around the cliffs & through some dozen fascinating little villages. We were of course disappointed at the prospect of visiting it in the rain, but there was no help for it. I got a drink of brandy for Jessie & myself, & had my hot water-bag filled at the Station, then we bundled up in our steamer rugs & started,—and to our surprise & delight we had for 4/5ths of the way the most superb effects of light & shade & colour on sea & mountains & cliff that I have ever imagined. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything! The last two or three miles the rain and mist closed in upon us, & we saw practically nothing. So, the next morning turning out a glorious day, we drove back for several miles so as to see for once the true intense southern blue of sea and sky. It was wonderful; and the little villages Minora, Majora, &c. &c. were enchanting,—the people all modles for artists;—and then the flowers, and the groves of orange & lemon, and the cherry & peach blossoms! Just after lunch we started again on the famous excursion up the mountain to Ravello;—& there we simply reached the limit! There are no words for such loveliness as that! It is a large village of which the architecture is chiefly Moorish, with a wonderful old Byzantine church filled with antique mosaic work. But the chief thing is the old Saracen palace with its wonderful gardens and its view between columns & trellises of the mountains and the sea.—We returned—as I said, in a state of intoxication,—stopping to see Amalfi itself, and the beautiful mosaics in its Byzantine church. Amalfi is a famous old fishing town, & its patron saint is Andrew the apostle. His body was brought here from Constantinople in the 12th Cen. so this Cathedral is one of the most sacred spots in Italy, and there is a splendid great bronze statue of the Saint, by one of the masters of the great time.
     I haven’t time to tell you of our enchanting hotel at Amalfi,—the old Capuchin monastery—for we have only the afternoon there & the girls want to go out.—The queen of Holland & her suite are in this hotel with us! I hope we may see her.—We are all just as well as possible, and I love you, my own dearest one, beyond all words;—I think of you constantly. You seem to doubt the possibility of that but I swear it is the simple truth—With devoted love to all, I am

Yours always & altogether,


Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924





Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1904 April 7, WWP19541, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.