Writing a book has been a dream of mine for years, but I never knew what story I wanted to tell.
Until I visited Italy.
My book, which tells the tale of two friends reuniting in Rome after fifteen years, will be out later this year. As it turns out, I'm not the only one writing a book that takes place in the charming boot-shaped nation. In fact, I threw together a list of seven recent books that all take place in lovely Italy.
One of the seven featured books was written by Italian author Elen Chase, who began writing in 2015. "Writing gives you this amazing superpower to escape reality and bring readers along with you," says Chase. "To me, this is the best feeling ever!"
Chase has a three-part Italian romance series, with the final book releasing in June to coincide with Pride Month. When asked to describe the series in three words, Chase said: "queer, heartwarming, and sweet."
The first book, When We Were Sea and Stars, takes place in Southern Italy. "The whole series was born because of the immense love and nostalgia I feel for the South," explains Chase. "I’m originally from there-- born and raised in Calabria, the 'tip of the boot'-- and now that I live in Florence, I really miss home. The rhythm of life in the South is slow and relaxing, especially during the summer. People are loud but friendly, the food is simply the best, and we have the most beautiful beaches in the world."
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The second book, When We Were Fire on Fire, takes readers to Milan at Christmastime, which Chase describes as "a magic time full of traditions, that usually people spend with family. Where I’m from in the South, we have some traditional recipes and we celebrate for three days in a row: we have dinner on Christmas Eve (strictly fish-based), then we have Christmas lunch (meat-based), and then we meet again on the 26th (that’s still a National Holiday – St. Stephan) to eat the leftovers of the previous days."
Milan is also where the third book, When We Were Out of the Ordinary, takes place-- at least in the beginning. There are also scenes in Central Italy, a fictitious island in the Mediterranean Sea, and, my personal favorite, Rome.
"There’s just so much I love about Rome," says Chase. "What really made an impression when I visited Rome for the first time is how chaotic and diverse it is: each district is like its own world. The city center holds so much history, and it’s obviously beautiful, but at the same time it’s just a drop in the ocean that is Rome. Some say that Rome is a mess and it’s 'ungovernable,' but I think that’s also part of its beauty."
Chase says that the characters in her Italian Romance series were inspired by many of the people she's met during her travels. "People are wonderfully weird, and I like to capture that uniqueness and turn it into book characters!" For readers who can't wait until June for the third installment of the series, she offers this juicy little nugget:
"South Korean Kim and Italian Alessandro have been working in the same building for years and fighting an endless prank war. Alessandro is messy, he oversleeps, drinks too much, and enjoys making the downstairs tenant miserable. Kim, the downstairs tenant, runs an Italian language school and a tight ship. He suffers no fools, especially the fool in the science lab upstairs. When they agree to meet to celebrate their 'rivalniversary,' they begin to see a side of one another they weren’t expecting, and on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, their rivalry turns into friendship… or that could be just the start of something dangerously perfect."
Readers can find Elen online at elenchase.com.
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Laura Botten is a voice actor and producer who is currently working on her first book Spaghetti Friendship: A Reunion in Rome. Get a FREE "Taste of Italy" when you sign up for her monthly newsletter here.