Dreaming of Italy with TA Williams
Dreaming of Italy and literary locations with T A Williams
Have you read any of the lovely dreamy books full of literary travels that make up the ‘Dreaming of’ …series. Author T A Williams has taken us to all sorts of great destinations in his romantic comedies. The latest novel is a bit different as it features not just one but several locations. It’s a trail around Italy so feast your literary lips on the following! TA invites you to join the tour…
Dreaming of Italy is the last in what has proved to be the very successful Dreaming of… series of romantic comedies. As this is the last one, my publishers wanted to go out with a bang, so I decided not just to limit it to one location, but to make it a road trip. In doing this, I have drawn heavily upon my own experience of northern Italy, where I lived for eight years. It’s a country I love (I even married one of them) and it breaks my heart to see the depredations being inflicted upon it by this awful virus. It will survive and it will emerge, once more from the trauma of 2020, and if this book can help to remind readers of its magnificence, I will be very pleased.
The road trip starts in the little known Valli di Lanzo. These narrow rocky valleys directly to the north of Turin are a little-known gem of northern Italy. At the head of the valleys rise the Alps, with France beyond. It’s an area of tough mountain folk, breathtaking scenery and some excellent food – particularly the cheese and the sumptuous stews made with local game. In researching the book, I spent a couple of nights in the charming Grand Hotel in Ala di Stura and can’t recommend it highly enough. Built just before the first world war, it has hosted the King of Italy, Mussolini and the bosses of automotive giant, FIAT. The owners were charming, the food excellent, the views a delight and it didn’t cost a fortune. See attached views from my window.
From there, the group in the book travel southwest through the famous wine-growing area around Asti and Barolo to the Mediterranean coast. This part of the Med is called the Ligurian sea and it is a charming mixture of rocky coastline with hills rising a thousand metres right behind. They stay in Bordighera, a lovely old seaside resort that exudes fin de siècle charm, and travel inland to the little medieval town of Dolceacqua and then back to the coast to visit the gorgeous sub tropical gardens of villa Hanbury, a stones throw from the French border.
They move east around the coast to the delightful Cinque Terre region. This series of little fishing villages, perched amid rocky cliffs and coves just to the south of Genoa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and much of it is inaccessible by car and remains set in time. From there they head down to Tuscany, checking out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which really, really leans) and visiting the historic walled town of Lucca, before moving into Umbria via an agriturismo* in the Chianti hills.
They visit the beautiful town of Gubbio, perched on a steep hillside and stay in a charming villa overlooking the valley. From there they drive north to the ancient university town of Bologna where they stay in a vastly expensive hotel right in the main square. The day after takes them via Ferrara to the equally ancient university city of Padua – once home to Dante himself.
BookTrail the locations in Dreaming of Italy
The trip ends on the quayside in Venice, amid the incomparable splendour of this city on the water whose days, sadly, are numbered as water levels inexorably rise. Once the virus passes, if you haven’t been to Venice, I urge you to go before it’s too late. One tip – do not go in the summer. It is packed out. Personally, I think the best month is December. It’s cold, it’s crisp and it’s empty.
I hope you get the chance to read Dreaming of Italy. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
*If you haven’t come across an agriturismo yet, I do recommend them. These are theoretically farms with accommodation and very often serving their own produce. Be a little bit wary as more and more ordinary houses in the country are jumping on the agriturismo bandwagon, but if you find a real one, they’re great.
Thank you so much Trevor for this FANTASTIC tour around the literary locations of Dreaming of Italy! Ciao!