currently playing on my iPod: Coward by Hayden Calnin
Today brings yet another shameless attempt for me to relieve my week in Italy. I DO have a point to make though. Promise. Scouts honor.
When you visit a place, it may be pretty. Creepy. Inspiring. But if you know the place’s history, the locale blooms into a richer experience. You feel the backstory.
Example Number One.
Here’s moi, enjoying a rainy night in Rome. Sure, it’s atmospheric, but it becomes something else entirely when you know the place’s backstory.
Just behind me on the outside balcony, Mussolini addressed the Romans. Now, how do you feel about the spot? Super creepers, right? The place gave me chills, because in my humble opinion, Mussolini was not a nice fella.
Example Number Two.
At first glance, this is a pretty weird statue, yes? A she-wolf suckling two infants. Yikes. But if you know the backstory, it becomes no less weird, but more interesting.
The twins suckling are Romulus and Remus, main characters in the foundation myth for Rome. Incidentally, Mussolini favored the Capitoline Wolf, as the image is called, and sent several copies of the statue to US cities during his rise.
Example Number Three.
Cool. A view of the Vatican, you might think. But what if I told you the backstory? What if you knew this was the same view one of the most powerful families in Europe, the Medici, had of the Vatican from their hilltop villa? Even cooler. Imagine what those people, those shady possible poisoners and schemers were thinking as they looked across Rome at the seat of the Catholic church.
Backstory is key for me when I travel. I enjoy visiting spots so much more when I know who lived there or visited, what happened, and the meaning behind the sightseeing spots. It’s true in stories too. When I know why the villain hates the main character, why he/she lashes out, what hurts they hide, the story is richer, more alive. When authors share a slice of backstory about a sidekick, I fall for that less pivotal character and enjoy the plot that much more.
So in life, as in stories, don’t forget the backstory!