In my middle-grade fantasy series, The Adventures of Rupert Starbright, young Rupert shakes the leaves from his gray world and travels afar to magical lands and strange new roads. The impact on him is immediate and powerful.
As a writer, travel is one of the greatest sources of inspiration and, I feel, a must for anyone who writes for love and or profit. I recently took an amazing trip with my wife to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We chose the Mediterranean as our destination and got to see amazing places in Spain, France but especially Italy where I felt a strange and wonderful sense of belonging. Being of Italian decent, I fell in love with this beautiful land which felt like home from distant memories.
I despise the "ugly" traveler. Be they American or Zimbabwean, nothing irks me more than folks who find it necessary to make comparisons to their homeland with the places they visit- pointing out flaws or problems in the guest land. When traveling soak and revel in it all. The bumps and bruises are part of the character of a place. Unless you hail from a Utopian heaven-on-Earth, there is no sense in pointing to the black stains on the kettle, to use a cliche.
Exposing yourself to new landscapes, faces, foods and cultural artifacts makes you a better person. It sparks the imagination and adds new entries into our inner library of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that can be later plucked and put on the page. But beyond the practical use of your experiences in your writing, it opens up your mind and broadens your outlook. If you let it.
Its fun to see the popular tourist attractions, especially if it is your first visit to a place. But it is also a great fun to find peculiar and unique sites. Being animal lovers, especially cats, my wife and I learned that there was a cat shelter located in the heart of Rome. We found it on the map and were determined to visit this site which was located in an ancient Roman ruin known as Largo di Torre Argentina. Fresh off our flight from NYC, we wandered the sunny Rome cityscape until standing before us was a square block sized sunken ruin. Dotting this landscape (where Julius Ceaser was killed in 44 AD) were fuzz balls of difference colors. I volunteer at a NYC cat adoption center but to see one of this nature was a joy. We met many of the residents, some who looked rather beat up but were very friendly and obviously well cared for. Despite the huge difference between Ollie's Place in NYC and Largo di Torre - the common denominator was the love of gattos. The distance from NYC to Rome shrunk to pea size. It proved that we share so much as humans but simply do things with different cultural masks.
I returned from this adventure filled with a desire to continue to learn to speak Italian, to read up on Italian history and to write. My itchy feet were scratched for now and I feel a richer person for it. I await the next itch. Until then- bouna scrittura!
More info on Mike DiCerto's books can be found at www.mikedicerto.com