Hours of research for a novel are often condensed into a few sentences, but the research on Lucca convinced me that it has everything a person could want if they are considering a move to Italy. In writing Facing East, Robert Davis, one of the main characters, flees to Italy looking for a kind of Shangri-la. He thinks he has found it in Lucca. I hope you can go there one day, but until then, visit this beautiful place while reading Facing East.
Robert stood blowing cigarette smoke out the bedroom window. He’d given in to this old habit, telling himself that the stress of finding the right place to live was temporary, and so was smoking. The lights were on in the apartment across the narrow street where a young couple lived, fought often, and made up in leisure; both with an equal amount of rumpus. It amused him, this Italian gusto. Robert was now listening for the young man’s return each afternoon. Calling up to the open window for his wife, she would appear, shouting down, gesturing and excited. This Italian exuberance was invigorating.
The close proximity of the apartments along his street formed an enclave where the inhabitants had become a distinct congregation unto themselves. At the end of the day, it was as if the residents duly noted whether all were present and accounted for. In time, Robert hoped his neighbors would account for him. He already loved the sights and sounds of the tapered street, the smell of cooking, and the laughter and vitality that lingered after all was dark and quiet. The combination of these things served as a tonic Robert intended to imbibe daily.
Though I was born in Chicago where the novel is set, raised in Evanston, which plays its part in the story too, writing about my one and only trip to Italy was deeply satisfying. I hope you have time to read what happens to Robert while taking a six month sabbatical in Italy. Thank you for joining me this week in a magical place.