Those tuning in to Hulu and BBC Three's Normal People may be wistfully dreaming of the moody architecture and cultural delights of Dublin where much of the show plays out. But a later episode will transport those daydreams to Italy as the main characters take their troubles to the Mediterranean – in a rustic villa that also features on Airbnb for less than €50 ($55) per night.
Normal People is the new TV obsession of the moment. As well as offering us a tender portrayal of young love, the 12-part drama series based on Sally Rooney's bestselling novel of the same name, is giving us a touch of wanderlust. And with coronavirus lockdowns still going strong, we've been swept up in the striking settings almost as much as we have in Marianne and Connell's love story.
While the series is mostly set in Ireland (we've dived into those filming locations here), episode eight plays out entirely in Italy when the main characters retreat to Marianne's family's holiday home in Trieste. Marianne comes from money so naturally the villa is a quintessential Italian farmhouse framed by mountains, meadows and a striking blue pool.
In real life though, the onscreen villa is actually in Sant’Oreste in Lazio, about a 40-minute drive north of Rome. And it's listed on Airbnb so we've been able to peek inside.
The villa is backed by five-star ratings from guests and is described as an "unspoiled old country house in the Roman countryside," with enough room to accommodate six people. According to the listing, the house has belonged to the same family for 150 years and has been used in a number of film and advertising productions, including the 2010 film Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts.
It features two large bedrooms, a dining room, kitchenette, bathroom and living room. And though it has plenty of modern facilities, owners have maintained many period furnishings throughout, like the timber-framed windows, clay-tiled floors and exposed brickwork and beams.
Typical rates for the villa work out at €47 ($51) per person per night but with borders closed in Italy and international travel off the cards for now, we'll have to stick with a virtual vacation instead.