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While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, 17-year-old Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.
Guest Post from April Lindner:
The Top Ten Things I Love About Italy
By Lucy Sommersworth
10. Train stations. They make my heart beat a little bit faster. I especially love the departure signs lit up with the names of exotic cities. They make me want to pick a destination at random—Venice or Milan or Naples, basically any place I’ve never been before—and just jump on, trusting that some kind of wonderful adventure will be waiting for me when I hop off. I would do it too except for the fact that Charlene, the friend I’m traveling with, likes schedules and order. I could never talk her into doing something that reckless.
9. The language. Italian is so lush and musical. Not that I can speak it, exactly. I took Italian in high school, and I can remember just enough to say basic things like excuse me and I would like the Spaghetti Bolognese, please. But even just reading the street signs out loud makes me feel like a different version of myself—more worldly and glamorous. And even the most ordinary words, the ones that mean ATM or supermarket—sound glorious in Italian.
8. Italian men. What can I say? I’ve always had a thing for dark brown eyes.
7. Window shopping. I could do it all day long. Window displays are different in Italy, quirkier and more colorful. I especially love the sparkling little jewelry stores on the Ponte Vecchio, the funky clothing store displays, and store windows full of colorful, exotic treats—marzipan fruit, and candied rose and violet petals.
6. Sidewalk cafes. Nobody minds if you linger forever over a single cappuccino, just soaking in the atmosphere and watching the people pass by.
5. Gelato. After a few hours, walking around Florence can make a person exhausted. Luckily, wherever you turn, there’s a glass storefront gleaming with refreshing gelato—a miniature rainbow-colored mountain range of it: raspberry, mango, lemon, dark chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio—and all of it amazing.
4. Street Performers. Though Charlene insists they’re just begging and we shouldn’t give them our money, I can’t help myself. I love them all: street musicians, the people who draw chalk masterpieces in the street, the folks who dress up as statues and pose for tourists. I’ve even got a soft spot for mimes!
3. Riding on a Vespa. Please don’t tell my mom, okay? She would have a panic attack if she knew.
2. Pretending I’m Audrey Hepburn. Roman Holiday is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the reason I wanted to go to Italy in the first place. Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Ann, who has grown deathly bored with having to give speeches and act stiff and regal. On a stop in Rome she runs away, and wanders through the city pretending to be a commoner. Of course she falls in love with Gregory Peck. Like her, he’s pretending, acting like a nice, ordinary guy who just wants to show her around Rome, when really he’s a reporter with ulterior motives. He recognizes her, and plans to write a tell-all story about her for his newspaper.
I won’t spoil the ending. I’ll just add that if you’re planning a trip to Rome, you need to see Roman Holiday first. And then, if you happen to meet a gorgeous, dark-eyed stranger, maybe you can get him take you on a Roman Holiday tour, and you can pretend to be Audrey Hepburn the way I did.
1. The amazing people I met along the way. Swapping stories with other backpackers about our travels and misadventures. Vacation flirtations with dark-eyed strangers. And, just maybe, experiencing a real summer romance.
About the Author:
April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, due out in January, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.
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