After reading and thoroughly enjoying Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See" I decided to seek out more of his work. When I saw this book I said "That's a Bingo!" and immediately requested it from the library.
This is a fun little bit of nonfiction. Anthony was awarded a special award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, it was an apartment and a stipend to live in Rome for one year. He, his wife, and his infant twins pack up their lives and move to Rome for the year.
(It's funny because he works on reading and writing a book the whole time that he is in Rome. The book ends up being "All the Light We Cannot See." When he talks about writer's block or insomnia I want to be like "You can do it! Stick with it! It's going to turn out really great!")
His family really makes the effort to integrate into Roman society and learn Italian. Though at least once there was a mix up with the Italian word for "sauce" and "grapefruit". As in "I want grapefruit with mushrooms". (No you don't. You really don't). All of the locals that they come in contact with say how beautiful the kids are, and they even bond with the parent's of other twins in their neighborhood. They try to encourage them that someday they will sleep again!
They happen to be in Rome when Pope John Paul II dies. The descriptions of the crowds, the rituals, the funeral, and all of the media's swarming of the Vatican was really interesting. I remember it being on CNN 24/7 so it was interesting to see a "local" perspective.
I've never been to Rome, but when I go there will be one thing I will keep my eyes open for; 220 plaster flowers the size of patio tables on the underside of a Michelangelo carved cornice at the Palazzo Farnese.
I love how Doerr writes. Here's one of my favorite sentences describing when he and his wife managed to get a few minutes in an empty gallery at the Sistine Chapel: "It's darker than I thought it would be, and rawer, and older. It smells like musty newspapers." Also this sentence when he talks about when he, his wife, and his twins all were sick with the flu: "It feels like we have been locked in a trunk this is slowly sinking towards the bottom of the sea." I know I've felt like that when I didn't feel good.
I loved this book for it's glimpse into everyday Roman life, and an author's writing process. I highly recommend it. I will seeking out other books by him now as well! I give it 4 out of 5 stars!