I’ve always read lots from the age of 4, but ever since starting this fledgling blog, I’ve gone overboard with reading bits and pieces of writings from dozens of unique bloggers who inhabit a blogosphere I had no clue could be such a riot of writing and pictures and personalities.
Keeping up with my weekly post is turning out to be a challenge. Try living and working in Rome on a freelance job that involves driving around the city to reach an average of three locations every day. Everyone’s familiar with the awe-inspiring history of the city and its artistic heritage, but presumably less with the daily hassle of everyday, non-tourist life,
I noticed people seem to like lists, so I decided to take a break from producing anything writer-like this week, and just go for a list of some of my favorites. But what? people, places, things, foods?
I found myself floundering in the infinite items that require digging back into the past. A lot of favorites were imbedded into most of us at a very early age. For me, many hark back to a former gilded life the glamour of which bottomed out somewhere in my early 30s. Which is fine, but has left a bit of a fog around some questions.
I find I have to think surprisingly hard to answer even one “favorite?” question. One of the toughest is the one I’m often asked: what’s my favorite city? Ha. If you’ve paid attention, you know I live in Rome. And it’s definitely not my favorite city. Everyday communion with the impressive remains of a past glory reduce the wonders of even a Coliseum or of the beautiful bridges over the Tiber to mundane postcard emotion. If I really had to mention an Italian city, I’d go for Venice which is truly unique with the added boon of being a no-car city. The idea of walking everywhere, hopping onto a boat-bus instead of the smogged up traffic congestion and black subway tunnels of an average city is tempting.
But then, the invasion of tourism in Venice is on par if not superior to that of these Roman shores, invasions of well-meaning sightseers being one of the main reasons Rome seems to have lost its soul. Whatever it was.
There are dozens of delightful smaller towns dotted all over the Italian peninsula, too many worth mentioning, where quality of life is certainly better. Where squares, churches and architectural remains are no less noteworthy than in larger towns. But once a big city girl, would the relative calm and quiet, the presumed less-things-happening drive one up the wall?
One facet of human nature is that it’s always greener on the other side. Hence the great lure and attraction of tourism. What we enjoy day after day loses its specialness, and thereby excitement. To find the feeling, we dream of otherness, and something different.
Life is funny. Living in Rome, I’ve come to realize I l get my biggest thrill from modern architecture, skyscrapers, bold shapes and steel and glass. Oh so many brand-new shiny modern cities all over the world! I get frowned at: “but modern cities have no soul!”. Perhaps, but they offer the thrill of the future.
To finish on a more optimistic note, I’ll admit to a very soft spot for one great city with a New World past. Chicago – admittedly, it’s the greener pastures syndrome, because I’ve never lived there, only visited a number of times. As I experienced it, the downtown is a gorgeous canal-pierced ode to the history of modern architecture, the sheer beauty of it along the wind-swept shores of the lake. And the various neighborhoods with their own character, some more notorious than famous. Really big city, yet my impression is that the pace is less hectic than on the Eastern seaboard. People had time to really stop and give me patient directions, what’s more, with a smile.
What’s your favorite city?