"The Seasons Of Rome"

The Seasons Of Rome by Paul Hofmann

This is one of several travel books I have left on my tbr shelf. I could read a steady diet of these for weeks but I'd never get anything else read if I did that, so I allow myself one as a treat now and then.

This one did something no other travel book has ever done for me; it cured me of any desire to actually go to Rome. I loved the format of the book; it's written like a journal with dated entries, but I expected (admittedly my mistake) a kinder, more charming look at life in one of the most popular cities in the world.

What I got was a lot of information about the constant political struggles, strikes, terrible traffic congestion, crime (organized and otherwise), major public transit difficulties, air pollution, out of control soccer fans, housing problems and bureaucratic headaches that constitute life in Rome. It sounds like a miserable place to live and even to visit. All large cities have these problems to some extent, but most of the travel books I've read try to infuse at least a little bit of romance into the mental pictures they paint. The author refers to Rome as "the most beautiful city on earth" but unfortunately this book made Rome seem like a dirty and unfriendly destination.

The writing is good, it's the material that I found boring, maybe because it was so much fact and so little feeling. There was no atmosphere, no sparkle; I didn't even enjoy the section about the city's great hotels and I love hotels. The last third of the book I more or less just scanned the pages to see if there was anything interesting and I was very glad to get to the end of it. I hate saying that because I know it takes an enormous amount of commitment and hard work to produce any book and I feel guilty every time I have to say I didn't like one. And to be fair, there are probably many people who would love "The Seasons Of Rome", but darn it, it didn't appeal to me at all.

3 comments:

Chelle said...

Oh dear, I hope you'll reconsider visiting Rome. I was there last summer and it was incredible. I didn't notice any air pollution at all. The people were great and helpful especially considering we didn't speak any Italian. We went the cheap route - stayed in a person's flat/bedroom for a week. It worked well. We took airplanes (to Turin), the subway (in Rome), trains (nearly all around Italy) and bus (in Rome) and all were great though the bus is tricky (you must pre-buy tickets). I fell in the crack between the subway car and the platform - my leg went into the slot - and an Italian man helped me out. Everyone was concerned for me. I never felt in danger and was simply careful about my purse. It was hot in June. That's my only complaint. But the art, ruins and atmosphere are lovely. I recently posted some pictures on my blog. Check it out if you have time! p.s. found you through the hop!

....Petty Witter said...

That it cured you of any desire to visit Rome is not exactly a good reference for this book. Well written it may have been but to leave you bored isn't a good sign either. Something tells me I'll give this one a miss seeing I've always wanted to visit Rome and would like my dreams of it to remain in tact.

Ordinary Reader said...

Petty, it's definitely not a book I'd recommend if you cherish a romantic view of Rome, which I did. I won't read any more of his books - I want to hang on to the rest of my dreams, even if they are more fantasy than fact!

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