The novel, Facing East is set in Chicago, but considerable time is spent in Italy. I once visited Tuscany with my garden club, and remember the joy of it all. Based on my own experience, and the research I did, the scenes that take place in Italy are some of my favorite. There is a funny story attached to the research. I spent an entire morning googling areas in Rome that I might use. Along with the right neighborhood, I looked at several dozen hotels to suit my purposes. Shortly after finishing my research for the day, I checked my Facebook page. Along the side where advertisements appear, there were ads for hotels in Rome. Along with my startled, “How did it know?” reaction, I was thankful I had not been researching topless beaches or some other embarrassing location.
Lunch at the Hassler Hotel in Rome is one of my never to be forgotten memories. Using the Hassler as the setting for a scene allowed me to live life twice. This memory always includes Marilyn Toelle, who has since died, and Shari Bruckstein, very much alive and well! You can arm chair travel to Italy as you read Facing East. Enjoy!
By the time they climbed the Steps to the Hassler Hotel, the temperature was warm enough so they could eat their lunch in the Palm Court, the most charming garden restaurant and bar Katherine had ever seen. There were wrought-iron tables and chairs surrounded by pots of flowers and vines growing up the walls of the hotel’s inner court yard.
Katherine tried to read the menu out loud, pronouncing the selections in Italian. With Robert’s help, she repeated the choices she liked the sound of. When it came time to place her order, however, she wasn’t confident enough to say, Frittata di carciofi e misticanza. Instead she said, “I’ll have the artichoke omelette with the seasonal salad .” She hoped her enthusiasm made up for her inability to say the Italian words correctly…Robert raised his glass of theVerrazzano Rosso Chianti towards her. “Here’s to the good life in this beautiful place.”