Not all those who wander are lost.

Writer’s Block

When a city defines itself as “eternal”…where does one begin?

I have been living in Rome for nearly two months, and I have fallen victim to what many call a writer’s block. I have had plenty of time to write, but when I actually sit down in front of my computer, my mind goes blank and nothing flows. Surely Rome is not lacking in inspiration. So what gives?

I initially thought my paralysis was due to the distraction of “setting up shop.”  I arrived in mid-August and had countless items to attend to: networking, setting up my room, finding work, determining my “budget,” scouting out the best gelateria, etc. But true to Katie Wax form, I had all the aforementioned items completed by the first week of September.

So nearly a month has passed since I “settled” into Rome, and I still can’t write. At least this week I think I finally figured out why: I am simply too overwhelmed by the immensity of this city, I don’t know where to begin. Rome is unlike any other – layers upon layers of history, art, architecture, religion, and culture – it is baffling.

Ancient Rome alone covers nearly 1,000 years of history – this is the age of Caesar & the Senate, business in the Forum, and triumphal arches. This is the age of unfathomable perfection in architecture and the incredible power of aqueducts to alleviate the city’s thirsty people. This is the age of gladiators and the Colosseum. This is the age of temples to the Pagan gods and the persecution (and later acceptance) of Christianity.


Fast forward to Renaissance & Baroque Rome in the 15th-17thcenturies and you find an age where humans are beautiful, intelligent, sensual beings. This is the Rome of Michelangelo, Bernini, da Vinci, and Caravaggio. This is the Rome of curiosity, of dreams, of exploration and of the discovery of human potential. This is the Rome of the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Dome, the Sistine Chapel and Villa Borghese. This is the Rome that inspired me to appreciate art and whose treasures continue to take my breath away.

Going forward 250 years and you have Contemporary Rome – the Rome of Garibaldi and Mazzini, the Rome that was designated as the capital of a newly united nation. This is the Rome of fascism and Mussolini’s definition of what it meant to be “Italian” instead of simply “Roman.” This is the Rome of a strategic effort to be internationally recognized. This is the Rome that allied with Nazi Germany and forced its Jewish inhabitants to once again reside in the “Jewish Ghetto.”

Then there is Modern Rome – the Rome that exists today, adding an additional layer its vast and complex history. This is the Rome of chaotic traffic, constant noise, and seemingly random transportation strikes. The Rome whose graffiti speaks of soccer fanatics and lovers’ anniversaries. This is the Rome who, despite an economic crisis, still honors the mid-day siesta. The Rome whose markets only offer seasonal vegetables to be selected for you by the farmer himself. This is the Rome I fell in love with 5 years ago, and this is the Rome which I’m proud to say is exactly the same.

And all that is just the city’s history. I haven’t even touched upon the smell of pizza in a wood-burning oven, the feeling of cobblestones under your feet, or the sound of Stadio Olimpico after A.S. Roma has scored a goal. I haven’t introduced the concept of “Monument Drinking,” a favorite past time which was created while studying here 5 years ago. I haven’t attempted to describe my own day-to-day experiences, like the old woman next door who scolds us regularly, or the incredible warmth of the man who works at the bar at the bottom of our building.

This is Rome – all these pieces existing simultaneously – I could write for years and not do this city justice. I simply have no idea where to begin.


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