How A Love Affair For Italy Led To A Novel New Setting

How does a love affair with Italy start?

Author of Novel Lucina's Letter
The author of Lucina's Letters, Barbara Francesca Murphy.

How does a love affair with Italy start?

Is it the picturesque, medieval villages with their cobbled streets that draw you in? The sunny climate, the stylish sense of fashion Italians carry so effortlessly, the gusto for life so apparent on peoples’ faces, or simply the delicious scents of citrus and olives wafting through the warm air? If it isn’t that, it could simply be the melodic language that got you hooked.

For me it all began in childhood, as Italy was the destination of choice for our vacations. “Just down the road,” my parents would say, and embark on a twelve-hour drive all through the night to reach southern Italy.

As a small child and throughout the subsequent years, I explored the long boot of Italy with my family. From Tuscany to the Amalfi coast, to Calabria, Puglia, Sicely, and Sardinia—each part as beautiful as the next. My mom and dad’s appreciation for gourmet food and wine rubbed off on me and I can safely say Italian cooking is still one of my favourites today. I travelled all around the world and was exposed to different cultures from an early age, yet this Mediterranean gem has a special place in my heart, one I return to as often as possible.

I was delighted when the results of my DNA test for ethnicity showed 1 percent Italian—not much, but I now had proof that I am part Italian.

But it was always more than that for me, more than a blood test or tracing family roots. Italy always made me feel different, in a way I cannot describe. The place has something magical about it, something soothing. This is especially true for the southern parts of the country, my firm favourites.

When I started my second novel, Lucina’s Letters, and the idea for the plot had formed in my head, I knew that a big part of the book would take place in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. Lucina, the matriarch of the family in the novel, has her own love affair with Italy, one that was instilled in her from birth, a family tradition going back a long way. It was important for me to portray this part of Italy as accurately as possible in my book. I went back there to visit the small villages, soak up the atmosphere and admire the trulli houses with their cone-shaped roofs. Experiencing it all in the flesh certainly gave me enough material to base a large portion of my novel on Puglia. I do hope the authenticity translates to the pages and that my readers are curious about this charming place and willing to explore it someday.

It was easy to write these parts, as Lucina’s passion for Italy really is my own.

Barbara Francesca Murphy was born in Austria in the 70s. She started writing at an early age, with some of her short stories published in local magazines. As a child and teenager she travelled extensively, getting a taste and knowledge for foreign cultures and fuelling her imagination.

She graduated from high school in America and went on to study tourism and management shortly after completing her college course. She settled in Ireland, where she has been living ever since. Lucina’s Letters is her second published book. Her first one, Second Chances, was published in 2019.

Lucina’s Letters is publishing with Austin Macauley Publishers on March 31, 2022. It is available now for pre-order from Amazon,, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold.

Novel Lucina's Letters Cover