Reading All Day Long, Preparing For a Grand Tour

Today, I decided to read about Rome and Florence and Siena. Found myself reading Mary Mccarthy's 'Stones of Florence' yesterday, seeing in her text the colors and sensibilities of this city. Today I turned to 'Desiring Italy,' a compilation of excerpts of travel writing by 28 women. The authors include George Eliot with a soul wrenching segment from 'Middlemarch: The Wedding Journey'; Edith Wharton's 'Roman Fever', a killer short story; Kate Simon's take on Siena; a chapter from Iris Origo's autobiography describing an escape over Tuscan hills from German soldiers in WW11 and a evocative piece from Eleanor Clark's 'Rome and a Villa.'
After reading Clark, I immediately ordered her book, written in 1952, from Amazon. I couldn't help myself. I must read the entire book. She writes of Roman fountains and the frank indecentness of them:
"The very genius spent on them makes them shocking..they are not objects d' art held off from life...there is a closeness, an imminence of touch around them that nothing in our life has except dreams and sex,whence the awful burden on those. They are always bring drunk from and splashed in and sat on, everybody dips into them as into his own private memory...."
Clark writes about Roman churches and public spaces:
"The churches likewise; it is all physical and close; God is not up in any Gothic shadows but to be touched and smelled and fondled, reached into up to the armpit...
"The spaces are shocking. They are close too, and give no warning, so that suddenly the Pantheon or the huge volutes of Sant' Ignazio are crowding right over you; you are not allowed to stand off, it seems you are not allowed to admire at all; it is as though a giant mother were squashing you to her breast. Besides those freakish squares and the narrow streets around them, most visibly in the old quarters, Trastevere and all the parts between the Corso and the Tiber, do not constitute an 'outside' in our sense, but a great rich withinness, an interior, and running water as its open fire...in Rome to go out is to go home...the big spaces are distressing too. There is nothing French about them, none of that spacious public elegance of the Place de la Concorde or the views up past the Tuileries."
Why am I holding on to her words? I can hardly wait to get to Rome. And feel those spaces and put my arms in the fountains.
ES and I will fly to Rome in just four months. Fortunate man has a semester sabbatical and I am his companion. I am preparing for this adventure with a stack of guidebooks, laminated city maps, twenty Donna Leon Venetian mysteries and this foray today into the words of women writers.

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