The Italian Job

Coat of Arms of the King of Italy
Coat of Arms of the King of Italy

As you probably know if you read one of my earlier posts, Book 7 centers around a royal client – the youngest of the Princesses in the House of Savoy. In 1931 when this latest book is set, Victor Emmanuel III is the King, Elena of Montenegro his wife and Maria Francesca Anna Romana (1914–2001) is their youngest daughter.

Castle of Racconigi
Castle of Racconigi

There are quite a few Residences listed as part of the Royal House of Savoy, but after reading through many of them, I think Castle of Racconigi is the best choice of setting for the majority of the book.

Unlike many of the other residences I read about, it had not been donated to the state (a rampant habit of Victor Emmanuel it seems!) or used as a barracks for World War One.

Racconigi is a town in Piedmont, Italy located in the province of Cuneo, 40 km (25 mi) south of Turin, and 50 km (31 mi) north of Cuneo by rail.

How does one travel from London to Italy in 1930? So glad you asked!

Well, Portia would have to travel by train from London to one of the ports (Folkestone for example) and then take a boat across to Calais, France. From there she would take the train towards Turin, Italy through France.

The train system in Italy was very well developed by the 1930s (you can read all about it at Wikipedia here)

Google Map
The train trip through France to Turin

I updated my Google Map (called Portia’s London – click on the map on the left there to see the full GoogleMap) to include this trip.

The idea is that you can take the train straight through (except for the English Channel of course).

The distances are:

Train from London to Folkestone: 64.8 mi
Boat from Folkstone to Calais: 31.23 mi
Train from Calais to Lille: 57.92 mi
Train from Lille to Paris: 126.72 mi
Train from Paris to Chambéry: 283.77 mi
Train from Chambéry to Modane: 43.75 mi
Train from Modane to Turin: 50.37 mi

For a grand total of about 750 miles.

Trains at this time traveled at about 70-80 mi/hour, so I’m going to say a total of two days of travel for Portia to get from London to Turin. She could surely get from London to Lille in one day, and then spend the entire next day traveling from Lille to Paris, but let’s assume that there were wait times etc.

How the heck and I going to get THAT fact-checked? Where is Marty McFly when you need him?

Adding some locations from Book 6 to the Google Map

Screen cap modification of a Google Map
Portia’s London

I added two more locations to Portia’s London – that of WhiteChapel, where Portia’s newest clients are from and ply their trade, and of Mecklenburgh Park where they meet.
There is a lot of history to the area, and after Portia’s time, quite a few famous authors and literary types called Mecklenburgh home. Read more about it at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecklenburgh_Square

UPDATE: The WordPress Daily Challenge for Jan 7, 2013 was called ‘Map it Out‘ so I totally nailed that one friends!

A streetchase

Book4, writing a street chase, and since 221B Baker Street doesn’t really exist in London (at least as a townhouse, not as a Museum), I’m working with the area instead.

So, running South down Siddon’s Lane and then West towards Chagford Street – that makes sense right?

I need someone from London to actually help me before I go ‘un-suspending’ people’s disbelief with erroneous directions.