Ahh Italy! The food, the sights, the art . . . the romance?
Having just returned from a vacation in Italy, I was struck by how much that country is a venerable feast for the senses. Smells and tastes of sumptuous food, sights of stunning art and architecture from cities steeped in history, the soul-stirring ringing of church bells, the rugged feel of the cobblestones beneath my feet while strolling the streets.
As a writer of both contemporary and historical erotic romance, I look at Italy as a near perfect setting. Certainly the Italians don’t shy away from love, and they’re not exactly prudish when it comes to the naked body, either.
Take a gander through any art gallery and you’ve got pisellos gone wild. Pisello, as I’ve come to learn, is Italian slang for penis. (the actual definition is peas) They’re all over paintings and sculpture, and contemporary Italy continues to celebrate the phallus through calendars. Yes, calendars. Every year you can get your copy of “Pisello,” a standard wall calendar that comes with a different picture every month of the penis in all its glory. Ancient pisellos from the frescoes in Pomeii brothels, sculpted pisellos from Michelangelo. You want a pisello, or any form of nakedness, you can get it in Italy.
So we’ve got the nakedness, the sensual experience, the fascinating history . . . think powerful Italian families like Medici, Borghia, Farnese, Sforza . . . and it seems like Italy would be the perfect setting for historical romance. But yet, dear readers, we just don’t see it. Historical romances in the U.K. abound, and there are plenty in the U.S. as well. But Italy? In my years of reading historical romance, I can recall reading exactly one book that was set in Italy. How about you? Anyone have a different experience? And if not, then why? Love to hear your thoughts on why publishers say “no grazie” when it comes to setting a historical romance in Italy.
Arrivederci until next time,