This is how it all began.
Ah… remember those days when we were not only allowed to leave the house, but in fact travel to regions hither-to-for unknown to us.
I take us back to many, many moons ago, when Mr. Librarian and I went on our first overseas trip together. We had just gotten engaged and were celebrating with a two week trip through Italy.
I think this also marks the first time that I can remember having a Bookish Travel Experience. If you’ve read my previous two posts about my most recent travel (click here for my Danish travels and here for Sweden), you will recall that I am often inspired to travel to places are featured in the books I read and sometimes while traveling, I search up a something (could be a landmark, could be a food item, etc) that I’ve previously read about in a book.
Well, Italy is the first place I remember this happening. That’s not to say that I hadn’t traveled before. Or read a book about an exotic location before. This was the first time I put them together (seriously, I can’t believe it took me this long!)
Back in those good old days, Dan Brown had just published his best-selling book, The DaVinci Code, which I had liked. Liked enough to pick up his previous work, Angels and Demons. Now that one, I really liked. I liked it so much that when we visited Rome on our trip, I was on the lookout for the locations featured in the book.
For those of you who don’t remember the plot of the book or have never read it, well, here’s a brief description (it has been so long since I read it, that I’m literally going to the book jacket description on Goodreads for this one…)
World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization — the Illuminati. In a desperate race to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and deserted cathedrals, and into the depths of the most secretive vault on earth…the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.
Mr. Librarian and I meandered all around Rome all the while me making bookish commentary about all the (fictional) things that had happened in just this spot. (That is addition to actual history which is also exciting and I do care about.)
While this could have been the end of the story, it isn’t. After listening for one too many stories and wandering around the Vatican – Mr. Librarian took it up a notch, by casually mentioning that he’d read a similar book. A book about an Israeli spy who was investigating the Vatican for evidence that they conspired with the Nazis during WWII. I was intrigued. A Mossad agent? Taking place in Rome and Venice (another spot we had just visited)? I’ll hit that.
Let me introduce you to… Daniel Silva. I devoured The Confessor.
This was the first Gabriel Allon book I read (subsequently, I read the previous two). For those of you who’ve never heard of Gabriel, well, you’re in for a treat. If you like thrillers, I mean.
At the start of Silva’s series, Gabriel is an art restorer living in Venice under an assumed name. You see, Gabriel was part of the Mossad team tasked with seeking retribution against the perpetrators of the massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. With his team of other Mossad agents, Gabriel tracked them all down and killed each one. (or did he?) In the first few books of the series, Gabriel deals more with the past, mostly a response to WWII – Nazis and the Holocaust – before Silva transitions into more of a traditional spy thriller with a variety of different big bads.
The Confessor is one of these early ones, but it’ll have you on the edge of your seat!
So there you have it. My first Bookish experience. I haven’t been back to Italy since, but I have read other books recently that have me dreaming of a future (hopefully soon) return visit.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, published 2000
The Confessor by Daniel Silva, published 2003