Under the Influence of Rome

A mural by writer ROA, in Testaccio, Rome

A mural by writer ROA, in Testaccio, Rome

It's time to bid farewell to the Eternal City, to slip into a hibernation for winter. But what I have witnessed and experienced in Rome will never be forgotten and, through the stories that I will be able to tell, that high will stay (Leggi in italiano)


In the past I've touched on factors, friends, and fables that have unfolded before me while here in Rome. The impressions and imprints of my soul and psyche will forever be altered, as if my DNA has been exposed to a warm and healthy form of radiation. Or as if I've ingested a concoction or potion of the purest concentration, leaving my mind permanently enlightened in a cultural haze. No matter what projection my life will follow, location, vocation, or social station, my outlook and it's vision are irrevocably changed.

But is this influence a two-way street? Can you change the current of the Ionian Sea by simply taking a swim in it's tepid July waters. The sand and sea-life must surely adapt and accept my presence? I'd like to think I too have left a lasting impression on the people I've come across through my existence in Rome. That my feet have left an imprint on these streets that troves before me have traveled; that they too have taken the path down Via della Scrofa vis-a-vis Via Ripetta to the century old bar, behind the busy humming of Piazza Navona, beyond the frequented Cafe della Pace and Bar del Fico, to sit with a glass of wine and their thoughts. I'd like to think somehow the Pantheon appreciated my company more than anyone else, my almost weekly actions of sitting on the fountain steps directly in front of her, trying to comprehend all the stories she's heard, the people she's seen, the history that's unfolded before the pillars that fortify her entrance. These rituals will be duplicated by millions of other visitors and inhabitants as long as those eloquent columns stand. My imprint will indeed be felt, perhaps briefly, but then comes along another wave, another day.

I'd like to think no one has gazed upon some of the world's most recognizable art here in Rome the way I have gazed, what emotions they conjured up, what memories they dusted off inside my head. I'd like to think I was one of the first to see Rome explode into one of leading “Other-contemporary” and street art meccas of the world; to witness ROA's “Lupi” come to life on Via Alessandro Volta in Ostiense, or Spagna metro station be transformed into a vibrant gallery while all of Rome was asleep as night crept into day. However temporary some of these street art murals are, I was there to watch them be created, to come into existence and be admired, before a new building, with a new facade is built over them or a fresh coat of paint erases them from existence. Each day I woke up, perhaps still in a dream recalling what I had experienced the day before asking myself: “Did I really see that?” Time passes. Will this influence and these impressionable experiences be washed away from me and disappear with life's tide? Will the effects of this primordial prim wear off and dissipate I fear this disappearance. I run from it by frequently reminding myself of all that I saw; like an exercise to fight and ward off this “cultural Alzheimers”. I'm afraid the buzz will wear off, this insightful POV will seep out of my mind by way of my body through the sweat of my skin as summer continues and promotes its exodus with the rays of the sun. I panic when I think that Rome with her sharp edges, will dull into the monotonous circles of everyday, ordinary life. But there, amidst that bleak unknowing is a reminder that I have someone new to tell my stories too. Someone that can benefit and stand on the shoulders of everything I've witnessed, to create a new perspective, a new dream. A bit of hope that this high will stay, that I can remain under the influence a bit longer.

Although it is mid-summer, my time in Rome must slip into a hibernation fir for winter. Like the weather throughout the year, the eternal city must enter into this seasonal, cyclical spell in the context of my life, at least for right now. Whether it's the reference of death that coincides with winter, or the rebirth of spring, it is yet to be seen. Maybe it was the warmth of the sun that accompanies summer that accurately describes my stay. However brief, but forever beautiful, I bid Rome farewell, as I vow to never forget.


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