Four Seasons in Rome

Cultural Insights, Travel Writers & Books — By on October 15, 2008 at 7:38 am

I just finished reading a book called “Four Seasons in Rome,” by Anthony Doerr. One the surface, it’s the tale of a husband and wife who move to Rome for a year (for a writing fellowship) with their two children. The catch is that the children are twins and are only a few months old when the sojourn in Rome begins, so the story is really about learning to navigate Rome while also learning how to be a parent to two young boys.

The story is fun to read and has the added benefit of wonderful prose and interesting insights into Italian life. A sample of Doerr’s writing about Rome:

Every time I turn around here, I witness a miracle: wisteria pours up walls; slices of sky show through the high arches of a bell tower; water leaks nonstop from the spouts of a half-sunken marble boat in the Piazza di Spagna. A church floor looks soft as flesh; the skin from a ball of mozzarella cheese tastes rich enough to change my life.

And an observation about Italians:

“Italians,” our friend George Stoll says, “will stop anything for pleasure.” And the longer we’re here, the more we feel he’s right. Espresso, silk pajamas, a five-minute kiss; the sleekest, thinnest cell phone; extremely smooth leather. Truffles. Yachts. Four-hour dinners.

I’m always amazed when writers catch my eye with just the poetic power of their prose, and I love to discover random nuggets of cultural insight buried in manuscripts about other topics. On both of these counts, “Four Seasons in Rome” was a good read.

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