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Rome – a Mecca for Writers

Written by 25 February 2012 6 Comments

“Finally I have arrived in the capital of the world.“ This is what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said when wandering the crowded streets of Rome for the first time in 1786. He was mesmerized by the variety of palaces and ruins, gardens and wilderness, arches and pillars – all united in one city.

And Goethe wasn’t the only one. Especially in the 18th century literally all roads seemed to lead to Rome, the city was like a magnet for travellers on educational journeys, who were strangely drawn to the chaos and the vibrancy of the place. Not only was history made here, but also the Italian way of life, “la dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing must have been chicken soup for every writers soul and therefore his creativity.

Lord Byron referred to Rome as “the city of my soul”, John Keats spent a year living at the Piazza di Spagna, hoping the vibrant city might cure him from tuberculosis and Henry James explored art, religion and the nature of travel itself while getting lost in Rome. As artists they all desired one thing: Inspiration. And in this urban rag rug of ruins, restaurants, people and piazzas all of them found it in their very own way.

Till this day, the former navel of the world attracts writers from all over the world. Elizabeth Gilbert dedicated a whole section of her novel “Eat, Pray, Love” to it and by the way added an interesting fact about Italian men:
“To my taste, the men in Rome are ridiculously, hurtfully, stupidly beautiful. (…) They’re like show poodles. Sometimes they look so good I want to applaud.”

No matter if you fall in love with the men, the food or the sights – there is just something about Rome you can’t quiet put into words and maybe that is why writers still mingle in the little alleys or grand piazzas to let the soul rest for a while.

Because after all: When in Rome, do as the Romans do…

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  • Julia said:

    This is such a great idea for a post — and I love Rome. The energy, the food, the screaming conversations from speeding mopeds, and the very attractive people!

  • Heide said:

    Many roads lead to Rome! I wanna take one soon!

  • Wanderfull Traveler said:

    Although I didn’t enjoy Rome myself the first time I went I am willing to give it a second go one day.
    I blame it on where we stayed which seemed far from everything.
    I am in the midst of studying the first expats and travel writers pertaining to the British empire for an art history class. It is fascinating as I am trying to be travel writer as well and am struggling with the various components to it. I like a more literary tone to the writing and I find Eat Pray Love slightly bland. It seems throughout most travel writing for women in a contemporary context, that divorce must be a catalyst for them to go and travel and nourish themselves in this way. I did find one womans writing, a Canadian who also spends her time in Greece – Karen Conelly – fantastic writing and she is more open than these previous female writers. I can only strive to write as well as her.

    Sorry for the long comment, your blog post inspired me this morning!

    The Wanderfull Traveler

  • Gesa said:

    @Julia: Thanks! I fell in love with Rome, too. Hope to go again this year – I’m in desperate need of Italian pasta :-)

    @Wanderfull Traveler: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic and for your tip on Karen Connelly – I will def. add her to my reading list!

  • Gesa said:

    @Heide: We will, sunshine, we will!

  • Sehar said:


    No doubt Rome is beautiful, loved it. cool n calm , that you can write your life.

    Thanx for sharing .

    Cheers !

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