Cat Connelly is a 34 year old, single woman who has taken care of her father and sister after their mother left the family– working as an accountant and living her life without taking any risks. When her grandmother embarrasses her at her sister’s wedding and a man she is attracted to turns out to be married, she decides take her un-used vacation time and take a trip to Rome, a place she visited as a college student and which hold memories of happier times. Cat’s trip to Rome becomes a journey to find herself, to discover her passions and to reconnect with her past. Hamel has a knack for describing not just the city of Rome but the atmosphere, sounds and flavors as well. The small “moments” in Rome captivate Cat—old men playing chess in the park, the taste of crisp Roman pizza, families walking arm-in-arm, children playing soccer. There is romance in Italian for Beginners, but much of the story revolves around Cat’s self-discovery. The story is told with warmth and humor and excellent descriptions of the sights and sounds of Rome. The author even includes recipes for some of the Italian specialties served to Cat in the story. This is a delightful story—a great escape novel!