How the Legendary Ladies of ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’ Travel In Italy


Since you’d all been to Italy before, was there any city you hadn’t been to that you were excited to see? Or anywhere you loved and were dying to get back to?

Steenburgen: Venice, I’ve always loved Venice. That was exciting, to go see the restaurants that I love there and to spend time there. Sadly, when I was going to go with [my costars] to the restaurant on the island, I, for the first time, tested positive [for COVID]. My husband [Ted Danson] and I both had to leave them one day before the end of the movie. It was heartbreaking for me. But we went to this fantastic Marriott hotel that’s on an island across the lagoon from Venice, where they were so kind to us and took such good care of us. And that’s where we were lucky enough to have COVID.

Bergen: We went to Florence on a sort of pleasure trip, not work related. And I would’ve loved to have spent more time in Florence. 

Fonda: When I was 16, my father was making a movie in Italy called War and Peace. We lived in a home on the Appia Antica, which is the old cobblestone road leading into and out of Rome. When I made Barbarella, we also rented a villa on the Appia Antica, so I was determined that I would find those places where I had lived [on this trip].

Steenburgen: [To Fonda.] Did you?

Fonda: So we spent hours driving, and right across the street from where we lived when my dad was making War and Peace was Gina Lollobrigida’s villa. So we kept looking for Gina Lollobrigida’s [villa] for four hours, but we never found it. But it was fun!

Given that Rome was the longest shoot location, did you establish any favorite hangout spots there?

Bergen: There was a little restaurant right around the corner from the hotel. What was it called?

Fonda: Babette’s?

Steenburgen: Babette’s!

Bergen: Exactly. It was so cozy and we would sort of wander in there. It was run by a woman and her sister, who was the chef.

Steenburgen: Flora and Silvia.

Bergen: They had a lovely patio. And we used to go in there and go out the patio entrance; it was just around the corner from the hotel, and it was very homey and lovely.

Steenburgen: It is on the street where Greg Peck’s apartment was in Roman Holiday.

What were the best hotels you stayed at?

Steenburgen: We loved the Hotel de Russie, which is where the three of us stayed. 

Fonda: Needless to say, we’re very privileged, and the studio was paying; it’s upscale. My routine was, the Hotel de Russie was right next to the Piazza del Popolo, and if you walked up, you would then end up in the Gardens of the Medici. And if you kept walking, it was the Gardens of the Borghese. I would go there as much as I could and walk because you’d be walking past statues and ruins that were a thousand years old. I mean, it was just beautiful.

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