“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…Tweet