It is the summer of 1927… and Bella Ainsworth is still devoting her considerable energies to the Hotel Portofino, which has overcome its early teething troubles and is starting to prosper. To Bella’s relief, her no-good husband, Cecil, hasn’t been seen since returning to England at the end of the previous summer. More regrettably, her son Lucian has also been absent, having set up home in London with his new bride, Rose. As Season 2 begins, Bella is looking forward to Lucian’s imminent arrival for a vacation and the chance to discuss with him her plans to convert rooms in the Hotel’s basement into a spa, but she is also concerned to learn the truth about the state of his marriage, given that Rose will not be travelling with him. Bella is also trying to encourage her daughter, Alice, to take a holiday with friends on the French riviera, having persuaded her to relinquish her responsibilities at the Hotel to Constance March, who has been promoted to assistant manager. A shadow is cast over Bella’s plans, however, when Cecil turns up unannounced in Portofino.
Over the course of three hot weeks in the middle of the Italian summer, Bella will be forced to confront the reality of her relationship with Cecil, and to decide whether to accept him back into her life in the face of her growing friendship with a handsome local architect, Marco Bonacini. Bella will have to forge alliances with returning guests, Claudine Pascal and Carlo Albani, as Cecil plots to make the Hotel part of his murky money-making schemes with local Fascist dignitary, Vincenzo Danioni. Bella will have to deal with the fall-out from the messy private lives of her children, as Lucian struggles to reconcile his undeniable attraction to Constance with his marital responsibilities to the unhappy Rose, and Alice threatens to throw her usual caution to the wind with an unsuitable engagement. Bella will have to help Lucian save his closest friend, Anish Sengupta, from the consequences of his dalliance with local activist, Gianluca Bruzzone, and the anti-Fascist resistance, and work with Betty to resolve the future of Constance’s son, Tommy. And, as she does her utmost to keep all these plates spinning, Bella will also have to deal with an anonymous visit from a travel guide inspector, which could make or break the Hotel’s future. A rash move by Cecil puts the hotel’s ownership in jeopardy and tragedy strikes with fatal consequences for one member of the family.
Set in the breathtakingly beautiful resort of Portofino, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval and of the liberating influence of Italy’s enchanting culture, climate, and cuisine on British ‘innocents abroad’.