Novel research in San Gregorio da Sassola

My new novel, Rome’s Last Noble Palace, will be releasing 6 December. You can learn more about that novel and see early reviews here.

Although most of the novel takes place in contemporary and 1896 Rome, a small portion of the 1896 timeline takes place in the tiny town of San Gregorio da Sassola, specifically, in that castle you see dominating the skyline.

San Gregorio da Sassola/ Kimberly Sullivan

This town is an easy trip from Rome, about a 30-40 minute car ride east of the Italian capital.

The noble family in my story purchases the castle in the 1890s, thereby becoming an important reference point for this tiny hamlet of Lazio.

Isabelle, the protagonist of my 1896 timeline, enjoys her time here with the villagers and develops a special relationship with some of them.

San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

In my novel, the town also serves as a welcome refuge for Isabelle, who happily escapes there when her life in Rome is imploding. The tiny, hilltown hamlet surrounded by the Prenestine hills provides her with needed solace:

“Isabelle walked through the cobblestoned streets, up and down the hilltown steps, greeting the townspeople by name. One week had turned into more than three. Although the immediate task at hand had been dealt with, Isabelle had happily been pushed into the plethora of smaller household concerns to tackle. Auntie Elizabeth, preoccupied as she was with Zio Salvatore’s business interests in Naples, was grateful to allow her niece to expedite all pressing issues. Maintaining a castle was no small feat, and various caretakers and artisans were pleased to have Isabelle there as the princess’ proxy.

And, truth be told, she felt like a new person in the village. The simple ways of the townspeople. The slower pace of life. The fresh air and the scent of summer flowers hung in the air. The lush green foothills rising dramatically all around them. The cooler temperatures compared to stifling Roman summer. And the sense of peace that enveloped her daily, the tranquil, trauma-free nights of slumber she fell into each evening.”


San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

I enjoyed going to San Gregorio da Sassola last December to explore the town, so I could more realistically portray it in my novel.

The horses and carriages may have been replaced by cars, but in a village like this, it’s easy to feel you’ve been transported into the past.

As an author, I love being able to bring locations to life in my fiction, and I was gratfeful to be able to visit modern-day San Gregorio, with my imagination fully in the past as I pictured Isabelle traipsing through the streets of San Gregorio. What’s better than having one foot in the presnet, and one in the past?

… occupational hazard for a historical fiction author.

How about you, authors? Do you enjoy visiting (and revisiting) your novel locations?

And readers, do you enjoy visiting locales of novels you’ve enjoyed? Or, better yet, do you take those novels along on your journey?

San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

San Gregorio da Sassola, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

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