Sex in Rome and Conform in Stockholm

Couple of Rome Bridge

As destination marketers we are always looking for ways to capture the essence of the place so I was particularly struck recently on reading American author Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love (made into a film a year or so back with Julia Roberts). Elizabeth takes herself off to Rome after a divorce and depression to luxuriate in learning Italian and eating fabulous food. One day she is discussing with her friend Guilio why, although she loves Rome, she can’t see herself living there. Guilio shares his theory that all cities and their people can be encapsulated by one word. So to be truly comfortable living in a place you need to share the word.

For Rome (Guilio suggests) it is Sex. For Naples it is Fight. Elizabeth’s Swedish friend Sofie thinks Stockholm’s is Conform. And Elizabeth thinks that New York is Achieve and Los Angeles Succeed.

This got me thinking that perhaps what we are talking about is the cultural essence of a place. So I think Paris might be Romance, and Las Vegas perhaps Excess or Bling. Closer to home Ludlow would be Food and Hay-on-Wye Books (yes, I know these are the easy ones). The Western Isles of Scotland would be Elemental and Edinburgh would be Douce (a Scottish word, presumably derived from the French, which means well-mannered, established and attractive). Windsor might be Tradition, Newcastle might be Revelry, Sheffield might be Steel (of the place and reflective of the people?), York might be …

I hesitate to offer more (and what happens if your word is a negative one?). But maybe it is worth giving some thought to what the word for your place would be for therein lies its true self.