Book: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

I now forget where I heard about this book, but as we are planning a trip back to Sicily (our 3rd) to see “la famiglia” I thought it would be a great way to immerse myself back in that world.

As with many American books on Italy, there is a bit of the typical “gee, don’t they do things differently here” stuff, but there is much, much more heart and soul here that make it a worthwhile read. I wish American writers could get over that part of the experience and simply immerse themselves in it. It tends to make them sound naive and a more than a bit ethnocentric.

That said, I enjoyed “Four Seasons in Rome” quite a bit. My son was 2 1/2 when we first visited Rome, so I could relate a bit to their struggles with their newborn twins. It must have been so much harder than our visit, but actually “living” there for a year, in an apartment, was certainly an advantage. We were in a nice, residential hotel, but as I found when visiting London on that same trip, a flat of your own is an amazing thing.

I found myself reliving my own initial feelings on visiting Rome and later meeting my Italian in-laws. Yes, it truly is a different world, but different in both good and bad ways. The history of Rome, and Italy in general can overwhelm you in some ways. There is such an accretion of history, all layered on top of each other, that it can leave you standing and staring as you try to contemplate the age and complexity of it all.

While I might contemplate living in Sicily for a year, under the protective eye of the family, I think living in Rome would be a lot like living in New York City — too much of too much — and would probably burn me out within a few weeks. It is nice to be able to see it through someone else’s eyes and enjoy it vicariously.

Amazon Link: Four Seasons in Rome

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