They failed, however, in both attempts; and in the latter, owing to the darkness, and to the occurrence of a violent storm which suddenly swelled the torrents in the ravines, their force was thrown into inextricable confusion, and they were compelled to abandon their camp and make the best of their escape from the country.
From the proximity of the mountains to the sea none of the rivers in this part of Italy has a long course, and they are generally mere mountain torrents, rapid and swollen in winter and spring, and almost dry in summer.
The whole of this portion of Central Italy is a hilly country, much broken and cut up by the torrents from the mountains, but fertile, especially in fruit-trees, olives and vines; and it has been, both in ancient and modern times, a populous district, containing many small towns though no great cities.
Below this the watershed of the Apennines is too near to the sea on that side to allow the formation of any large streams. Hence the rivers that flow in the opposite direction into the Adriatic and the Gulf of Taranto have much longer courses, though all partake of the character of mountain torrents, rushing down with great violence in winter and after storms, but dwindling in the summer into scanty streams, which hold a winding and sluggish course through the great plains of Apulia.
The results areaa lack of water-supply and of water-power, the streams becoming mere torrents for a short period and perfectly dry for the rest of the year; lack of a sufficient supply of timber; the denudation of the soil on the hills, and, where the valleys below have insufficient drainage, the formation of swamps.
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