Art & Culture (le cose belle) / Holidays & Festivals (festeggiamo) / Opinion & Comment (pensieri e perplessità)

My Minas Tirith: Love Song for a Mythical City

Note from YiR: In honor of the birthday of this golden city (I hope I look so good when I’m 2767 years old), we’d like to post an article by the beautiful Fabia Scali-Warner, Italian by blood, American by birth, and blogger by passion. She has grown up in Rome and spends her free time spinning captivating stories for Viral Storytelling. When we read her love song to her city, we couldn’t help but ask if we could share it with our YiRers. She graciously consented, and the result is below (original article can be found here). Buon Compleanno, Roma. Sei stupenda.

Basilica San Paolo Fuori le Mura, picture by Emanuele Longo on Flickr

Basilica San Paolo Fuori le Mura, picture Emanuele Longo (Flickr)

This post is a love song for a concept, and idea, and my city. By now you should know I love Tolkien and Middle Earth, so my comparison should not shock you.

Today I want to talk about Rome. It has many flaws, it’s the kind of place you either love or hate, but it’s your decision based on where you decide to stand, on the values you decide to embrace. Everyone has a mythical city, somewhere in their heart.

To me, Rome is my Minas Tirith, my beloved capital of aging Gondor.It’s not only about white marble and golden sunlight. It’s about the knowledge of centuries passing by, of the walls of the city themselves remembering when they were the heart of an Empire the entire civilization of the West. The Eternal City more than any other place knows how to mingle the sacred and the profane, the celebration of the triumphant Catholic Church building its temple in the very city that had persecuted Christians for so long and the irreverent statue of Pasquino that would post anticlerical leaflets every night. Every corner has a story to tell, of pride or of treachery.

It is also a story of power and corruption, and decadence. Anthony Burgess once had a character in his novel ABBA ABBA describe Rome as a “foul and wonderful sewer”. The stewards of the city can hardly return it to its former glory – how could they? One cannot bring back the past, and the White Tree is all but dead. More than once have I thought, like Peter Jackson’s beautiful, heartbreaking dying Boromir “Leave it! It’s over! The world of men will fall, and all will come to darkness, and my city to ruin”.

But it hasn’t. Rome is resilient – after all, it has been standing for 2767 years. Because every time it was sacked, and that happened twice (in 410 and 1527 a.D), even if it took painful time, someone decided to build again, possibly better. Because Rome, like Minas Tirith, is not just a city. It is the myth and the idea that mankind can build something beautiful and carry a transcendence down to earth. The blood of the Numenoreans still runs in those who have the courage and the will to defend an idea of classical and Olympic harmony. It is Atlantis, Numenor and Shangri-La.

And if you look at it with these eyes, we are all Rangers trying to go home.

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