Inspiration, Italian Style

So I spent the last two weeks in Italy. It was one of those trip-of-a-lifetime sorts of vacations, where we packed in just about every major tourist site, and quite a few minor ones. My husband is a classicist, so there was a heavy emphasis on Roman ruins–Colosseum, Forum, Villa Adriana, Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc.–but we also spent some time in Venice and Florence.

I visited Italy once before, in college. I had an unpleasant experience there and so cut my trip short. Perhaps as a result, I have never had any particular interest in Italy, other than the food, anyway. In getting ready for this trip, though, an idea for a story stuck itself into my head, and so while I was there I spent a lot of time taking crazy pictures that might at some point be inspiring,

Mt. Vesuvius

or useful,

Scale model of ancient Rome

or just amusing.

I have no idea what this is, but there were about a dozen of them in a row, holding up display cases at the Naples Museum.

I have written about inspiration before–for some reason I find the topic endlessly fascinating. I think the interesting thing about this trip, is that I didn’t find it particularly inspiring, although I expected to. Instead my sojourn in Italy was more about taking it all in–soaking up atmosphere, smelling the particular odors of each place we visited (for as Eleanor Lavish said, every city does indeed have its own smell), tasting the food, feeling the unrelenting heat of the Italian sun, and washing off the dust of ruins built nearly 2,000 years before.  I spent more time than I ever have looking at things through a writer’s eyes.

Perhaps that is a kind of inspiration too.

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