Postcard from Rome
by Helen McGinn
I set my new novel, This Changes Everything, partly in Rome for purely selfish reasons. It’s one of my favourite places on earth and by setting it there I had a legitimate excuse to spend time thinking about it, always with a virtual negroni or chilled glass of white in my hand. We went to Rome for our honeymoon, returning years later with our children and when writing the book, I’d go on holiday in my head recalling favourite spots – and meals! – remembering how they made me feel.
The story revolves around Julia and her two grown up daughters Annie and Jess. When Julia is invited to Rome by her first love Patrick, a man she hasn’t seen for fifty years, her daughters decide to follow her. They just don’t tell her. What unfolds in Rome changes all their lives forever and the story takes a turn as they all face their own truths.
Essentially, it’s a love story – first love, old love, eternal love – but most of all I really wanted to write a story you could escape into. A mini break for the mind, if you like. Over the week, we’re going to be sharing some of my favourite places in Rome…
SLEEP: Hotel Locarno
A beautiful Art Deco hotel not far from Piazza del Popolo, it’s got the Tiber to one side and the Spanish Steps on the other. Stepping into the hotel lobby is enough to make you feel like you’re in a rather fabulous film.
COFFEE: Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè
A must for coffee lovers, this traditional coffee shop located just behind the Pantheon keeps the Romani caffeinated. The sound of coffee cups hitting saucers on the counter, the smell, the pastries – heaven.
ICE CREAM: Giolitti
You can’t move for ice cream parlours in Rome but this is the one Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck went to in Roman Holiday so basically it wins. A real old-fashioned beauty.
A restaurant, bakery, deli and wine shop all rolled into one, this is the place to head to for a bowl of freshly made carbonara like no other along with a glass of Italian red.
VIEWS: Palatine Hill
The heart of Rome with stunning views of the Forum, Colloseum and across the city. And a walk up the hill is the perfect way to work up a thirst for a glass of prosecco when you get back down.
COCKTAIL: Hotel d’Inghilterra
Impossibly louche, this elegant townhouse hotel was frequented by the likes of Byron, Keats and Hemingway. The lounge bar is the perfect spot for a martini or two (but definitely not three).
WINE: La Piuma Orvieto, £7.99, Waitrose
Rome is awash with wine, much of it white from Frascati and Orvieto (the latter is in Umbria but spreads into Lazio). And this is where things get interesting, largely thanks to a lovely grape called Grechetto. This gorgeous Orvieto has some Trebbiano and Chardonnay in the blend too and it’s all about the peach and pear fruit flavours with a touch of creaminess. The perfect fridge door white.
This Changes Everything is out now in ebook, audiobook and paperback! Click on the banner below to see more from Helen McGinn…