Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 1 Chapters 25 27 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 1, Chapters 25–27 | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Chapter 25

In this chapter Gilbert reports on a six-hour walk she took through Rome on the day she writes it. She begins by describing the neighborhood where her apartment is as an "upscale district," a "cosmopolitan shopping center." Then she describes landmark structures like arches, churches, and other buildings she passes as she walks. She goes along the Tiber River to Tiber Island, a quiet place associated with the healing arts.

She crosses the river to a neighborhood called Trastevere, where she lingers for hours over her lunch before crossing back over the Tiber to walk through the Jewish ghetto, "a sorely tearful place." She visits the famous Pantheon and then a place that strangely draws her—the Augusteum. It was built by the emperor Octavian Augustus as a family mausoleum. The magnificent building fell to ruins in the Dark Ages, but it was turned into a fortress in the 12th century. Next the Augusteum became a vineyard, then, during the Renaissance, it was a beautiful garden. In the 18th century the Augusteum was a bullring. After that it was a fireworks depository and a concert hall. The dictator Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) tried to restore it as a personal burial site. Today all of this history is literally buried along with the ruins as the Augusteum sinks steadily, inch by inch, into the ground.

Looking at the Augusteum makes Gilbert feel that maybe her life hasn't been so crazy after all. It makes her realize that she, too, can keep surviving to reinvent and transform herself.

Book 1, Chapter 26

Gilbert shipped herself a big box of books before she left the United States to come to Italy. Two months later, she has still not received them. This tendency for packages to get lost in Italy seems to simply be accepted. Gilbert comes to realize that she doesn't need the books, anyway—which were apparently "all sorts of due-diligence research material about Rome"—and adopts a "so what?" attitude.

Book 1, Chapter 27

When Gilbert meets a young Australian girl one day and gives her directions to the train station, she suddenly realizes that she wants to travel—she feels that she lives in Rome and is ready to explore more of Italy. Soon she invites Sofie to go to Naples and eat some pizza. Just a few hours later they are on the train for the short trip to "wild, raucous, noisy, dirty, balls-out Naples." Gilbert vividly describes the sights and sounds of the city, particularly pointing out how it differs from Rome—or any other place.

Giovanni and Dario grew up in Naples, where was pizza was invented, and they have told Gilbert where to go for the best pizza. Sofie and Gilbert are not disappointed—in fact they are ecstatic—about the pies churned out in the two-room restaurant with one wood-burning oven. Daily, long lines of people hope to get their order before the dough runs out. There are only two varieties (regular and extra cheese) and the crust is somehow both crisp and doughy at the same time.

Analysis

Gilbert again combines her observations with facts in Chapter 25, giving readers a historical lesson about Rome while helping them see and feel the city as she travels through it. Along the way readers also continue to get to know her and what makes her tick.

Gilbert's comments at the end of Chapter 25, when she compares the Augusteum's adaptable history to her own life, show her steady movement toward better health and clarity. This shines forth in the next chapter, too, when she lets go of the loss of her books in favor of relaxing into her life in Italy. At the end of Chapter 26 she notes that she is gaining weight, regarding it as even more evidence of her healthy outlook. At the pizzeria in Naples she looks at her image in a mirror, sees "a bright-eyed, clear-skinned, happy and healthy face," and gives thanks. The contrast with her description of herself as a skinny, "pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to [her] own eyes" in Chapter 5 is striking.

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