I just read a really genuine, authentic, intimate account by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison about her trip to Rome, and having traveled there recently myself, it was a delightful read that brought me back to my own trip. I thought I’d share some excerpts from it to give you some insight on what it’s like to fully experience Rome.
“Rome cannot be learned by rote. It is absorbed through the pores.”
Everybody watches everybody else and calls this minding their own business.
Perhaps you do not think these matters are worthy of discussion. But to enter into Roman life, you must do two things, one of which is to take coffee seriously (or take seriously the Romans’ love of coffee, which they regard as both invigorating and relaxing, and their desire to discourse thereupon). The other is to not exclude the Baroque from your affections – do not, that is, remain overly attached to simplicity.
“…if you enter a courtyard in Rome, you are treated as if you have done something clever; trespassing is invariably rewarded.”
A city that anticipates all one’s needs and fulfills some needs one didn’t know one had.
“…ecclesiastical garments and undergarments are sold together with babies’ booties and women’s filmy lingerie. Perhaps this has a metaphysical meaning that I cannot grasp.”
My body, as is so often the case in Rome, has understood something before my mind has.
I dream incessantly, intensely, fruitfully when I am in Rome. My unconscious mind replicates the topography of the Eternal City. It caresses anomalies: it reaches an intuitive understanding of the past (my past), only to see more levels, deeper levels, hidden pasts, leering like a satyr smiling like a becalmed saint; it meanders sinuously among artifacts lost and found, unknown but known; it plays hide and seek; it travels many ways to arrive at the same place.
“There is no color in the world that is not represented here, no texture, no flesh.”
It occurs to me that Romans are taught to see things from all sides, and not entirely to trust the face of things.
Everybody I know in Rome wants to live on Via Giulia. I do too.
“You may never have this kind of Roman holiday…But if you are radically and transparently open to experience, you will stumble on something equally wonderful. One always does. Rome is generous.”
…that a child’s mind might have conceived but that only a genius could have executed.
It is marvelous to climb lower and lower into the ancient world.
There are times, in my love affair with Rome, when I wish to be nothing but passive. Rome will always be there – that is my hope and conviction. There is no need to rush here and there. It is enough to know that delight is all around me. When I feel this way, I spend the better part of my day sitting in a cafe facing the Pantheon, eating ices and contemplating the changing scene. Perhaps that, after all, is why I love Rome. In a city suffused in history and teeming with the most operatic people on earth, it is possible to be absolutely still.
Thanks for finding this! I went to Rome a few years ago, and even just the passages you chose really resonated with me.
Yeah, same here! I really like her writing style too.