On the wall in front of my desk is a map of Rome overlaid with metro and train routes. They’re unassuming, so it just looks like a map of Rome. On this map, with a red marker that I stole from my old job, I have made small dots where my friends live. Three of the dots are in a loose cluster on the middle right side of the map: Luca and Alfio near the Porta Maggiore, in their sunny, breezy loft at the old bread factory on the train tracks:
Marco’s hovel, built into an aquaduct off via Casilina:
And just down that road, Leo and Vincenzo’s house, Roman-era ruins buried under their rosemary bush in their enormous garden:
The Tevere river gives a sloppy, voluptuous look to the map of Rome. Not like the smooth sinuous turns of the Thames. The Thames makes London look like that famous Natasha Kinski poster that all the guys had in college, the one with the boa constrictor wrapped around her naked body.
That’s London. A map of Rome looks more like Klimt’s “Die Jungfrau”: A hot mess of color from far away, but upon closer inspection it’s a tender portrait of innocence, companionship and sensual laziness.
I could be reading into that, though.
The Seine makes Paris look like the hat/elephant drawing in The Little Prince: clumsy, charming, and undeniably French.
What do you see in your favorite maps?