Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Rome. Italy’s capital city, in which the novel begins with lovers Giorgio and Ippolita meeting for the first time in the Via del Babuino. The city is immediately established as a point of departure; the story then hurries on to a point, two years after their first meeting, when they are consulting a Baedeker travel guide for inspiration. No sooner have they left the city, however, than they begin to immerse themselves in their memories of it. It becomes part and parcel of their existential predicament that wherever they are, they will soon yearn to be elsewhere. They find it hard to select a destination, and in the early phases of the novel they are often sidetracked. There is a sense in which Rome remains the center of their conceptual universe no matter where they are, but they cannot be content to remain or return there. Perhaps, for Giorgio at least, Rome is symbolic of life itself; he finds it impossible to leave the city in any meaningful sense, even though he does not want to be there.

Villa Cesarini

Villa Cesarini. House in Albano, not far from Lake Nemi, at which Giorgio and Ippolita stay while on their first excursion. Their mail catches up with them there, bringing them news from other places, renewing their restlessness and drawing them back to Rome.


*Guardiagrele (gwahr-dyah-GRAY-lay). Town in Chieti Province in which Giorgio was born and where various members of his divided family still...

(The entire section is 616 words.)