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.
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.