by Alexa Schnee
Writing in Italy has come to be an experience that I will never forget as an author. I have a book project that is set in Italy, and I had a taste of what it was like being an author in a foreign country when I was researching it three years ago when I was living in Venice. The book is about Casanova, the 16th century libertine who stole possibly thousands of women’s hearts. While that project is finished and going through the self-editing process, I am also working on another novel. Although it is set in Montana in America, which was where I grew up, I would not have had the opportunity to work on it has I have if I hadn’t come to Italy. Distance from the setting you are writing about can often be a good thing—inspiring new creativity and thoughts.
I often come up with some of my best ideas when taking a walk or run, and Florence has offered the perfect place for me to explore. Writing can be an extremely frustrating process, but usually getting out and seeing something new helps to formulate a new way to approach a specific scene or dialogue strain that might be troubling me. In America, unless you live in a large city with access to a lot of different things to do, it’s hard to feel as though you are gaining a cultural experience—in Italy, taking a stroll through the streets is enough.
Whether I take some time to peruse the different museums Florence has to offer or journey to a town not so far away like Pisa, there is always something to do or see. I have noticed a huge difference in my writing since arriving. Everything I put on paper seems to have a lot more depth, something every writer strives for in his or her work. To have been able to reach a new maturity in who I am as a writer could have been achieved somewhere else, but to say that my writing grew here is a privilege.
While I head back to the States in about a month, I am planning on returning in the fall to continue my writing and to travel around Europe and Italy. I’ve come to need this place in order to produce my best writing, and nothing brings me more joy than knowing I will return to a country that now feels like a second home—a location that continues to inspire and offer something new every day.
Alexa Schnee has always wanted to be a writer. She loves the smell of the bookstore, because nothing in the world smells exactly like it. When she isn’t writing, she’s murdering some musical instrument or hitting the road. She will never, ever like math and will always love dancing in the Montana rain. She is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and currently spends her days traveling the world and drinking too much coffee. Her first novel was released April 2012.