All Roads Lead to Rome

I thought, there, where all this began, I might find something of before. Some treasure, some sign… some relic of a former life. In a way I was totally right. In a way I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I found a skeleton, all flesh decayed and returned to dust. It seems time does not preserve transitory things such as joy or the skins of memory. My heart mellowed. Yet I saw sunlight as I turned away, streams of naked light skidding across The Waste. I saw it, if only for a moment… there was still something left, a flash of lightning for the retina of the mind.

They say you cannot repeat a thing, that things are never the same twice. Perhaps they are right… perhaps I’ve been travelling in circles all this time. Or, perhaps, like a detective retracing his steps, I needed some sort of proof… a clue to help me find where the miracle first began; or to find where it first started to go wrong.

Naples. June 2019.

It was a very good year, to quote Frank. Indeed it was. It started off like all good years do – with a lot of trouble, trial and difficulty to overcome. But you know by now, don’t you, that to start a fire you must first feel the longing to burn? To take up your arms and move out of the battlefield you must first taste a defeat, a victory or a surrender. Something has to start, from something else. We are a part of Creation after all, not beyond it. Cause and effect; happens on all levels, yet many remain blinded to it even at the simplest level. A tree comes from a seed, a seed from a fall, a dance from a song, an ocean from that first tiny droplet… to really fly you must first feel the suffocation, the life underground, the binding of wings. At least that is how things are in our world, under current dominion.

As I travelled through Italy I found myself of course heading more and more south as the weeks passed. I had after all started in the North. I hit Naples and finally found some sun, made a few companions for a time, breathed in that noise, that dust, that age. A place I’d longed to see.

I spoke a lot of Italian here, mainly with local friends like Domenico. It was good practice. My tongue found itself wrapping nicely around those rippling Rs and curling Ls after some time. I loved telling my roommate Simon tales from many years of travel, watching his eyes light up like lamps with each hair-raising detail. I saw a glimpse into a way of life here, of a people; the edifice of the current age. I made a mark, stalking through dark empty streets in the earliest hours lit by moon and lamp light, with friends I knew for only a time, yet those, as all companions made on any sort of journey, made immortal in the organ between heart and mind.

Like all good agents I packed up my things and made my leave as soon as I’d got what I needed. The train brought me swiftly to Rome as the sun still glowed brightly in the sky. There isn’t always time to reflect on things as you live within them. Eyes are always on the next horizon, and how to get there. A strange sort of balance between careful calculation and complete caprice.

But Rome… oh Rome. How was I back here so many years later? It was never my intention to stop here although it was of course inevitable. All roads lead to Rome after all. Tomorrow I would fly to Athens. But today I would roam Rome; Rome of old, a hunting ground my feet knew all too well.

I can’t really say this Rome was anything like Rome was for me in days gone by, and yet, it still had that Rome smell, the ‘white noise of the city’ formed somewhere between the Metro, the constant babble of passersby, and the symphony of honks and sirens of the ancient metropolis.

Sitting in one of my favourite squares I watched, as sky fought to keep its blue, great fountains hushed and splattered out of every monument, as children fluttered around like butterflies searching for pretty things to land upon, and Rome remained the eternal city it had always been. Entirely different and entirely the same.

editor’s note – Rome video should also read June ’19 not May… I guess that’s the funny thing about time – it’s always passing… a fact for which I am extremely grateful, and equally contrite…

I have recently made a Facebook page for Dairy of an Aesthete where I will be sharing all my travel films and video diaries from my journeys, some of which won’t be posted here on the blog. This blog will always be my ‘official site’ for all my travels and stories, with the usual write-ups, photo-essays etc. whenever I have access to good time and good wifi. But not all films will be posted here for convenience sake. Please come over and follow me there to keep up-to-date with my adventures! Love always,


Facebook link accessible at the bottom of the page or by Clicking Here

Ad Astra ❤


    1. Thank you! Rome, Naples, Athens… I love these cities ! If I get a chance to go back to one of them this summer (once all this madness blows over) (most likely Athens) I will be sure to whip out my best Panama hat and high waisted trousers… the smell of Jasmine lining the boulevards, the soft hiss of fountains… sirens in the distance battling the chorus of birds beating their wings through warm thick air… I’m gone… ❤


  1. Didn’t you climb the dome of the Vatican?
    It was not easy to get to the cusp, and even harder to get down. From there I saw that I was on the Great Harlot. I saw the seven hills … and that that had nothing to do with Jesus and his mother, or with God, and I also saw, devils hanging around.
    Traveling, and scrutinizing, you learn a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t on this trip, but I did during my first time in Rome. Very high up but quite some view. I would never do it again though. A beautiful city, for me, mostly because of vintage films and personal nostalgia (I lived there for a couple months back in 2013). But… in all my time wandering and exploring Rome I never once felt any holy energy at all… in fact, I never really felt it in Italy… I always felt distant from God there… I couldn’t feel Jesus, or His mother like you said, or, really, the presence of God at all… and yet their ‘image’ is everywhere… Jerusalem is a different story altogether. I’ll write about that soon. The energy is blocked in Rome for sure. Travelling teaches you a lot, like you say, if your heart is open…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my dear friend. I am still catching up on a lot of writing at the moment, reflecting deep on this journey as always, with a constant sense of the Almighty dawn before me, but, really, living and breathing for now… just now. Much more to come 🙂


  2. James it is really refreshing and interesting to read your posts and to enjoy those great photographs which always accompany your very wise and well written narratives. You are a great writer and a human being with great insight into the world and especially into others of our species. Great post and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
    My greetings from Spain and all the best,

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Francisco. As always I don’t quite know how to reply to such lovely words, words I find deeply encouraging and am highly grateful for. I am always learning, and just a beginner in all this, as I often say… I want to hang onto the novice, the student in me as long as I can. There is still so much to see, so much to feel in flesh and spirit. God willing! But of course, so many years of travelling and experiences have moved me time and time again, and there is much to be shared from what I have discovered so far…

      Greetings to you from South England’s wet and windy coast! It’s frightfully wonderful here right now… In peace and gratitude, Jx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First I’ll say that your English coast, wet or not, is beautiful! And I quite agree with you as I also like to remain the eternal novice, the eternal student, the insatiable seeker but with the background of experience I’ve gained. You are not only a very well travelled person but a very talented writer capable of making your experiences interesting and available to us all. Greetings from the Mediterranean coast of Spain,


  3. James, Your words are prolific, assuming you won’t mind a compliment from a hack. When I share your blog with Laura it is certain to create conversations for a return to Italy or maybe Greece in forthcoming travels. I am additionally inspired to spend time upgrading my own site and remove its appearances from beginner category. Beautiful words my friend, may God bless and protect your journeys. Steve

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A compliment indeed! Thank you very much, Steve… Greece and Italy have held my heart for many years, although Greece is increasingly winning me over these days. Those skies, those seas… plus so many beautiful hidden monasteries… but of course Italy has forever forged a path for me, changed me, evolved me… Wishing you all the best for your future journeys, in prosperity and Grace. God bless you both, always and ever!

      And p.s. yes! always worth beautifying your little corner of the net. My own brings me a lot of joy I must say… Happy blogging. In peace. Jx

      Liked by 1 person

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