While driving back this morning from visiting Petaluma, I was overcome with gratitude for the many lovely people I’ve gotten to know over the years. Thanks, Ann-Christine for coming with me! And thanks to friends and authors Frances Rivetti and Suzanne Maggio, who live and gave us the most wonderful walking tour of Petaluma, 45 minutes north of San Francisco!
We visited artists’ studios; found out which of the fabulous 1800s historic downtown buildings are haunted; checked out the many unbelievable Victorian houses, one of which served as the basis for Frances’ newest novel, THE HOUSE ON LIBERTY STREET (see my review); and biked pathways along the Petaluma River.
A particularly marvelous moment — besides eating homemade scones with a view of the rolling green hills around the town! — was sitting on the lawn of the Petaluma Historic Museum and having Frances read from her nonfiction book, FOG VALLEY WINTER: Pioneer Heritage Backroad Rambles & Vintage Recipes. The prose ignited my imagination of what the town must have been like in the days of saloons, horse-drawn wagons and busy river transport. A time when powerful families like the McEvoys and McNears influenced the entire region.
We were thinking of staying at the recently restored historic Petaluma Hotel, we decided on the Metro Hotel and Cafe, a fantastic boutique hotel only a few blocks from the downtown. Lovingly outfitted from roof to patio with French memorabilia (and gnomes!), the hotel has about 17 rooms and 3 Airstreams like the one where we stayed. Crepes and coffee for breakfast, bikes for riding to lunch and bocce ball before dinner, the hotel is everything chain hotels are not.
For those of you close enough to visit, or who might visit the area someday and like to take a side trip, here are the places we enjoyed, along with links to the books.
Have you ever been to Petaluma? If so, what more could you add to the to-see-and-do list?
— Frances’ Rivetti’s website and books, including the novel THE HOUSE ON LIBERTY STREET and nonfiction FOG VALLEY WINTER
— Suzanne Maggio: website and books (I'm currently reading her memoir, THE CARDINAL CLUB!)
— Petaluma Historical Library and Museum
— Stellina Pronto bakery (breakfast/lunch)
— Lynch Creek Trail (biking/hiking)
— Cucina Paradiso (lunch/dinner)
— Magic Shop Studios (local artists)
For updates about Martha’s forthcoming books, new and giveaways, subscribe to her website: MarthaEngber.com.
BLISS ROAD, a memoir, June 2023
THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD, a historical novel, Sept. 19, 2023