The Song of Rome


Of St. Peter’s Basilica Dickens writes, “It is an immense edifice, with no one point for the mind to rest upon; and it tires itself with wandering round and round.” This is similar to how I feel about all of Rome. It’s too full of monuments; there’s so much going on, it’s hard to rest the mind on any one thing. It’s like a house busy with clutter.

The clutteriest parts of all are the sounds of Rome. Each sound might be delightful if listened to singularly, but like Dicken’s view of St. Peters, there’s no one thing to rest your ears on. Like static, sound is heard but the ear cannot appreciate it. As a lover of quiet and a devotee of silence, this was the most challenging aspect of the trip abroad–the unrelenting bombardment of commotion. At one point, I felt anxious with the realization that days were left and there would be no getting away from the noise. I attempted to solve this problem by encouraging my ear to stop trying to rest on any one sound. For it occurred to me Rome’s noise is like an orchestra, not a single instrument. In theory this should have aided me to adjust, but it didn’t. I never did acclimate to the song of Rome, but I did accept it.

As I write this, I’m happily installed on my quiet ten acres, so it’s easy for me to write of the cacophony that is Rome, something I just couldn’t do while I was there. If I’m disappointed in anything it’s probably my inability to absorb the chaos and still think at the same time. But alas, I fear Rome is one song I’ll never acquire a taste for.


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