This week, we are thinking about Italy. As the country cautiously begins to reopen after the longest lockdown in Europe, we look toward Venice, guided by the acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin. Before the coronavirus devastated Italy, she returned to one of her favorite cities on a magazine assignment, which became, in the end, a deeply personal, meditative book about both Venice and Rome, sister cities in her heart.
We’re publishing that book, Two Cities, in July. We invited Cynthia on our podcast this week to talk about the particular enchantment of these resilient Italian cities and the magic of travel during a time when many of us miss it. Cynthia reads from two transportive excerpts—which are available online—that capture something not listed on any itinerary. As she says:
“There’s a feeling, for me, of at-homeness in Rome, and the idea of a part of my life occurring there that I really am at a loss to explain. I am enamored. You never can really tell why you fall in love with a person, can you? You can say lots of things, but it’s all completely meaningless. For me, it’s the same feeling about Rome.”
For those in Venice and Rome, we hope that, as you begin to rediscover your cities, Cynthia’s words will help you to fall in love all over again. For those who are elsewhere, we hope these excerpts can take you on a trip, even for a little while.
— David Zwirner
Cynthia’s students write pieces on Place on the Yale Daily News blog: