She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome

What makes Rome Tick?

When Mark Tedesco sent me a review PDF of his latest book I glanced at the title and winced. We don’t need another book in which yet another author gushes over the Eternal City’s Ten Best Churches to See in a Half Day’s Stroll! I thought as I filed the pdf away. We didn’t need more trophy travelers lining up their money-shot selfies in front of the Turtle fountain after a big bowl of “spaghetti Bolognese” at The Best SpagBol Restaurant Ever!. Love is odd—and it’s getting odder.

“Now, more than ever,” I ranted inside my head, “we need stories, we need to know how the Romans went about their day, we need to head for the baths, whose heat generation was denuding forests and polluting the air way back then, and spy on those fierce warriors as they, like their modern counterparts, gossip about the shortcomings of their rivals and then plan for their dinner outing. We need to interact with people who aren’t like us or we’ll end up hating everyone and blaming them for our personal failures.”

Perhaps it’s too late. But I digress.

I reflected on the word “seduction” while I began to read on a spiffy new e-reader that reformatted the PD when I made the font bigger so my ancient eyes could read it. I discovered I’d been had. Led astray.

Seduced, in other words. She seduced me.

Mr. Tedesco’s tome was just what we needed. It is full of stories of the people who make up this raucous city in central Italy. He doesn’t just tell you that most Italians recognize you as an American from 100 feet away, he digs for the story, he finds the exact indicators that the apparent Roman mind-readers look for when determining the origin of the creatures who look out of place in this sprawling city. He digs likewise into the lives of American expats and immigrant street performers and gets them to tell you what they do, how they live and what the city has taught them.

At a time when America has lost most of its habitat for creatives, it’s time to look for them in the wild and record their thoughts. Can starving artists save the world? They can certainly bring light to its many dark corners. Let’s include them; history always has, and Mr. Tedesco does as well.

And he eats. I wanted to follow him inside these historic eateries. Are they the best? I have absolutely no idea and it doesn’t bother me. I enjoy eating in a place that makes me happy, where the food is prepared by folks with love and care.

But can She Seduced me: A Love Affair with Rome, be a guidebook?

Can these discussions about bad boy Caravaggio encourage you to explore further the artist, his life and the subjects he painted? Isn’t that what guidebooks should do? Guidebooks don’t have to all be fashioned around the anti-story they uniformly serve up, “do this, then go there and do that”. I mean, this kind of thing is great if you see yourself as a foot-soldier in a totalitarian state of being. But for the traveler who retains a child-like sense of wonder, for the geek who loves to learn, this is a “gem” of a guidebook.

There, I’ve gone and used the uber-cliche of travel writing. I proves I’m not a book reviewer. But I’m pretty certain you’ll like this one. Please let me lead you astray.

She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome Paperback
by Mark Tedesco

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She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome originally appeared on , updated: Nov 21, 2022 © .

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