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Italy Passport: Author Eloisa James discusses her Florence

Submitted by on July 30, 2010 – 3:00 amOne Comment
Eloisa’s Florence

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.
After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. 
Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her “double life” is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.


I was one of those girls in college who never considered dating foreign guys. They wore fancy sweaters and spoke with accents; I came from a farm in Minnesota, and carefully packed my legwarmers to bring with me. Sometimes I am still shocked to discover that I was tricked out of my comfort zone in a blind date and ended up married to an Italian. My husband is from Florence, Italy, and since we’re both professors, we’ve spent the last fifteen or so summers here.

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Florence. My best advice is that you throw away the list of must-see museums culled from a shiny guidebook. Florence is a city that is best discovered in its back alleys, savored in its restaurants, and slept through in its afternoons. Save frantic art-collecting for Paris or Rome; treat Florence as if it were a visit to a town you once loved, the town where you fell in love the first time… enjoy it for its beauty, and not for its cultural holdings.

First, walk. Get yourself into the center of town, the centro storico, where no cars (except taxis) are allowed. Just poke about. Stick your nose into a store selling Florentine paper – if you have a scrapbooking habit, you’ll be in heaven. Florence is full of shoes: try some on! Italians don’t expect you to speak Italian – though if you give it a shot, they’ll be startled and happy. Find the San Lorenzo Market; Florentines are famous for their ceramics, their fabrics and their lingerie – and bargaining! Don’t hesitate to strike a deal; it’s expected.

Second, sit down. Pick one of the big cafes lining a piazza. The Duomo is utterly gorgeous no matter the time of day, so that’s one possibility. Another is Piazza Signoria, where gorgeous statues by Cellini and Michelangelo line the piazza. Why not get your art in a painless fashion?

Third, take a nap. Italians nap in the afternoon so that they can play at night. I can honestly say that it is unusual to find a bad restaurant in Florence. Wander about and enter any small trattoria. Most of them will open up about 7:30 in the evening; afterward, go back to activity number one: walking. The center of Florence fills with musicians, jugglers, salesmen and beautiful people. The merry-go-round in Piazza della Repubblica plays gaily, the prosecco (Italian champagne) flows, and the people dance.
Dance with them!

If you’d like to know more about Eloisa’s Florence, check out the Extras section of her website
If you’d like to hear more about that pivotal blind date, check out the video of Eloisa and her Italian husband;

And finally, if you’d like to read one of Eloisa’s books (and she devoutly hopes you do), A Kiss at Midnight will be published on July 27th. It’s her very own version of Cinderella!

The Dolls would like to thank Eloisa for sharing her Florence experience, and taking the time out of her busy schedule (writing a new book – yay!) to take part in our Italian Passport. 


Noa first fell in love with books when she discovered 100 acre wood and its inhabitants. To this day, the last pages of “The House at Pooh Corner” make her cry. In a good way. From“Calvin and Hobbes” to “The Iliad and the Odyssey” and lets not forget “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes”. Biographies, mysteries, history books and romances all have a place on her bookshelves. Who needs furniture? This 29 year old singleton’s dream is to invent the zero-calorie chocolate. But until that day arrives, she tries to create sweet confections with whatever chocolate she can find. An MA in conflict studies (need a mediator?) means Noa loves a good debate, especially when she wins. If she were in charge, books would be free for everyone.
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