Saturday, July 05, 2014

Unexpected Italy - Annie West

 Recently I published a novella set in Italy - BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED. It featured a suave, urbanite hero, Fabrizio, from Rome, who drives a Lamborghini and can't imagine a day without the perfect ristretto (or the perfect woman). The story is set predominantly in the south of the country. Think heat, sea views, colour-washed houses and Latin passion.

The word Italy conjures up so many different possibilities, from sun-drenched terraces with grapes hanging, ripe for the plucking, to mist hanging over the Tuscan countryside at sunrise. Or a Venetian canal with the sound of church bells and the gentle lap of waves. Or maybe hot-baked Sicily with its rich cuisine and history of blood feuds.

There are so many sides to this country. I thought I'd quickly share one I discovered recently. Those of you on FaceBook might have followed my travel photos there. If not, it's not too late to check out some of my pics. This link should get you there.

After attending a wonderful readers convention in Berlin, I took time for a little travel and research, including a short spell in the Dolomites of Northern Italy. Aren't they spectacular mountains?

This is an area where German is still for many their first language (a hangover from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and there's even a local language, Ladin, spoken in some valleys, which dates back to the days when Roman soldiers tramped the mountain roads! It's not uncommon to see signs in three languages, including Italian.

I knew this, but still, I was surprised at how the area was so unlike what I'd expected of Italy. Sure the wine was great, as were the pizzas (yes, I had one along the way) but the South Tirol surprised in so many ways. For instance, I expected Italians to be have high standards when it came to making coffee or pasta, or love (hey, I'm a romance writer). But I hadn't expected such attention to detail when it came to stacking wood.

The green of the country was incredible. I hadn't really thought of Italy as dairy country but of course it is here - and delicious dairy too.

There were amazing chalet-style houses in the mountains with overhanging balconies and lots of wood carving everywhere. We also noticed some old style, and absolutely beautiful, painted furniture in some of the older places.

Even the outdoor furniture in parks was often hewn from local timber and build along local, traditional lines.
All in all it was a wonderful trip to a glorious part of the world. We drove amazing alpine passes alongside Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and hordes of Giro d'Italia wannabes, testing their cycling skills on the steep slopes and never-ending hairpin bends. We met lovely people and ate terrific food and discovered something unexpected at almost every turn. Now I'm wondering about the possibility of a future story set in this gorgeous area.

In the meantime, if you yearn for a taste of Italy, why not try Fabrizio and Jenna's story? It's a short, spicy bite of Mediterranean romance that readers so far are loving. (Thank you if you're a reader who's posted a review!).

It was love at first sight when charismatic hotelier Fabrizio Armati swept Jenna off her feet in Venice. That chance meeting led to a night together, then to sizzling hot affair that lasted till the day she discovered he sees her as nothing but an expendable mistress. 

Six months later Jenna tells herself she’s moved on. Until the day Fabrizio walks into a meeting to discover her working for his greatest rival and she discovers just how far he’ll go to get her back.

When passion ignites again, will it be on his terms, or hers?

 You can grab BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

What's your favourite part of Italy? Maybe somewhere you've visited or dreamed of visiting? A dream ride up a canal in Venice, a night in a romantic villa, or maybe sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome, watching the world go by?

Arrivederci, and happy reading,


Mary Preston said...

I'd love to see it all. Take my time & soak up the history & art in particular.

Annie West said...

Hi Mary, wouldn't it be fabulous to see the whole country? I've been lucky enough to see a couple of small areas in Italy but there's far more that I haven't seen. The trouble is there's so much in each area. Sigh. I suspect you could stick a pin in the map and choose almost anywhere for a great holiday.

Susanne Bellamy said...

We didn't get as far north as you but I loved Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast inspired my own novella. Sicily was sun-drenched and historically intriguing with its blending of successive waves of culture and we hope to return to explore further. I loved Back in the Italian's Bed! Thanks for sharing your trip! :)

Sasha Cottman said...

Florence wins it for me, I walked the streets imaging I was a member of the ruling Medici family during the Renaissance.

Annie West said...

Sasha, I've never been to Florence! One day. All the photos I've seen of it look marvellous. Hm, I'm not sure I've quite got the cut-throat attitude to survive as a Medici, but it would be an interesting fantasy.

Annie West said...

Hi Susanne, I'm so jealous. I've been wanting to visit Sicily for years and still haven't made it there. The Greek temples there are supposed to be fantastic, as is so much else there. Now you've just increased my desire to visit. Thanks for the lovely feedback on Back in the Italian's Bed. That made me smile!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, thank so sharing photos of your l trip. It sounds amazing! I'm sure your mind is firing with ideas for further stories in your Hot Italian Nights series. I read and enjoyed your first, BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED.
I haven't visited Italy for a long time but Florence was one of the most beautiful cities I have been to in the world. And I still have the gorgeous handbag I bought there!

Aurian said...

Lovely post Annie, thanks for sharing!

Annie West said...

Hi Aurian! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post. I had such a wonderful time exploring this part of Italy it was a pleasure sharing - and an excuse to check out the photos again!

Annie West said...

Kandy, it's lovely to see you here. Yes, the trip was amazing, if short, and as you say, it got my mind ticking over with ideas for the next Hot Italian Nights story. I've got the opening in my head already. I just need time to write it - after the next book.

Another vote for Florence? I'm definitely going to visit there one day. I wonder when the best time of year is.

I'm chuffed that you enjoyed 'Back in the Italian's Bed'. How lovely to hear that.

TashNz said...

Hi Annie, love your travel pics! I'd love to see any part of Italy but my fave has to be anywhere that would dish up authentic italian food, fresh made pasta and pizza oooh yuuummo!

Annie West said...

Hi Tash, I'm glad you enjoyed them. Laughing here at your stipulation for good Italian food. Doesn't that go without saying? I must say we did enjoy eating our way through the South Tirol!

Peggy M. said...

Hi Annie, lovely post and beautiful pictures! I went to Venice and the region of Umbria this year. It was really wonderful. But I really want to go to Rome some day.

Laurie G said...

I'd like to hike along the Five Fingers of the Amalfi coast. Sorrento with it's lemons sounds unique! The Dolomites' gorgeous views and a Swiss chalet, I'm ready to go!

Eli Yanti said...

maybe italian food :)

Annie West said...

Hi Eli,
Yes, definitely somewhere with great Italian food!

Annie West said...

Sigh, the 'reply' button doesn't seem to be working. Waving hi, Peggy. I'm glad you liked the pictures. Venice is amazing, isn't it? And a holiday in Umbria sounds perfect. I hope you manage to get to Rome some time. I'm not sure whether I'd spend the time seeing the sites or in a café, eating and watching the world go by.

Annie West said...

Hi Laurie, that sounds like a perfect holiday, and of course I'm imagining it in perfect weather too. Lemon gelato too of course!