Rome, twins, insomnia and the biggest funeral in the history of the world

Four seasons in Rome: on twins, insomnia and the biggest funeral in the history of the world by Anthony Doerr is part traveller’s tale and part personal memoir.

Author, Anthony Doerr was notified by letter that he was being awarded a fellowship in literature at the American Academy in Rome, merely twelve hours after his twins were born. Shocked, stunned and surprised Doerr realised that all he had to do in order to accept the offer was be willing to say yes. You see he didn’t apply for the fellowship, his work had been nominated by an anonymous committee. Needless to say he said Yes. And in return for his consensual acceptance, all he had to do was write. He didn’t even have to show anyone his writing. He was provided with a studio, the keys to an apartment on Janiculum Hill, Trastevere, two bath mats, a stack of bleached towels every Thursday, and $1, 300 a month. And eventually he did write. (He worked on his novel, later published as All the light we cannot see) but his early days in Rome were filled with the challenges of learning life in a two foreign countries. He battles with understanding the apartment plumbing, with basic Italian greetings and ordering bread, with learning how to dodge the tumultuous Roman traffic, and is totally perplexed by the new frontier of parenting twins. Finally when he gets past the sleep deprivation and he gets a grasp on manoeuvering the twin’s pram through the neighbourhood Doerr opens his eyes to the wonders of Rome. He basks in the beauty of piazzas, fountains, gelatti and all things fantastically Roman and Italian.

Four seasons in Rome is thick with personal confessions and observations. Wonderfully descriptive and beautifully evocative.