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'Hotel Portofino' Recap: Season 2 Episode 5

Daniel Hautzinger
Albani and Bella look up off frame
Albani helps Bella as a translator while she tries to out-maneuver her scheming husband. Credit: Eagle Eye Drama

Hotel Portofino airs Sundays at 7:00 pm. WTTW Passport members can stream the whole show now. Recap the previous and following episodes. 
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While Bella sends away photographers, hoping they have been satisfied by their snaps of Claudine during a morning exercise class, Lucian realizes his wife Rose has disappeared and goes to search for her. When she hears him approaching their shared room, she hides on the balcony with his sketchbook, which contains a damning sketch by Constance of him shirtless in bed. She flips through and finds a loving sketch of Constance by him, and realizes the object of his affection.

Lucian pulls Constance aside for a private moment and kisses her passionately, even after she says they shouldn’t have slept together. He can’t go back to the way things were, even if Rose is now at the hotel. Nevertheless, Constance pulls away.

That evening, Rose spitefully tells Lucian she spent the day wondering where he was. He suggests that they go swimming together the next day, but she is noncommittal. In their room after dinner, she starts to kiss him in bed. He tells her she doesn’t have to do that; she says she wants to, and he eagerly commits. But when she begins to try out one of the “tricks” her mother Julia suggested to help her in the bedroom, Lucian stops her – where did she learn that? It’s not her. She turns away sadly. 

Julia is dismissive of the idea that desire might play into a marriage; that’s why she shared some “tricks” with her daughter, as she tells Bella when Bella calls asking if she might try to help Rose out with her problems in the bedroom. Rose should grin and bear it, Julia says, or learn to like it. 

Alice and her new fiancé Victor have no such problems with sex. She sneaks him up to a room at the hotel for some time alone, then leaves separately from him so as not to arouse suspicion. After she does, he finds the expensive bracelet given to her by Count Albani amongst her things. 

Bella knows that Albani courted Alice, and advises him that it might be better if he left the hotel so that he doesn’t have to see Alice and Victor frolic. But he has asked his friend at the Interior ministry to look into Victor, just to put his mind at rest.

Albani continues to prove a great help to Bella, acting as her translator to the lawyer Bruzzone. She uses the excuse of consulting Bruzzone on permits for the hotel construction to get in touch with his son, the revolutionary Gianluca, in order to help Anish, who believes he has gangrene and thus must see a doctor. When Albani learns Bella’s real reason for the visit, he worries, but insists on being involved.

Danioni sees Bella and Albani going to Bruzzone and tells Bella to get a lawyer who is not the father of a criminal, but Bella dismisses him. Danioni’s men have swarmed the area in search of Gianluca and Anish.

More lighthearted things are afoot at the hotel, as Paola tries to bake a cake to charm the handsome young construction worker at the hotel. Even though the recipe has never failed Betty, Paola manages to burn it. On a second attempt, she succeeds. The cake leads the worker to ask Paola on a walk – and his older colleague to ask Betty to do the same.

Less happy for Betty is a phone call home to her friend Fanny, Constance’s mother. Fanny’s cousin Joan picks up; Fanny is in ill health and has now had a stroke. Constance’s young son Tommy is currently staying with Joan, but she has her own children and can only keep him for so long – and Fanny probably won’t be well enough to mother him anymore. She doesn’t want Constance to return to England, but if she doesn’t, Tommy will probably have to be adopted. 

When Bella and Cecil go to Danioni to acquire permits for the hotel, he says he can’t approve them because Bella is a controlling owner of the hotel, and Italian law forbids wives from owning things. Cecil feigns outrage, saying he bribed Danioni for nothing. He tells Bella he’ll try to find an English lawyer to help them – Bruzzone is probably in Danioni’s pocket. 

Cecil is actually the one scheming with Danioni, as Bella suspects – and confirms when she follows him back to Danioni’s office. Cecil and Danioni talk outside, in near earshot of the hidden Bella, because Danioni’s superior has arrived to oversee the manhunt for Anish and Gianluca and taken over Danioni’s office. Cecil tells Danioni that he has received a telegram from his whisky supplier stating that he can increase his supply after all, as the Americans have demanded. Danioni gives Cecil a piece of paper with the wordy English name of the law he cited against Bella written on it, to help him remember. 

Cecil returns to the hotel to find Bella consulting with Bruzzone via Albani. She has learned that the law has been repealed – but that Mussolini doesn’t like female or foreign ownership, and so she has only even odds of winning in court. Bruzzone has therefore suggested that she transfer control of the hotel to Cecil – it would be less risky than going to court. Cecil pretends to be surprised and bashful.

When Cecil heads out for dinner with Victor on Alice’s suggestion, since he is still forced to eat leftovers due to the amount of guests at the hotel, Bella searches the pockets of his coat and finds the whisky telegram and note from Danioni, confirming her suspicions.

Victor brings Cecil to Farrino’s soon-to-open casino. He likes to gamble and had introduced himself to Farrino the day before, garnering an invite to preview the casino. He tells Cecil he saw Danioni “thick as thieves” with Farrino then. 

The casino is due to open with a big gala, at which Claudine has agreed to perform. It will provide a welcome distraction from the manhunt, during which Gianluca can help Anish escape. Having sent word through his father, Gianluca meets Lucian at night. Lucian tells him where Anish is hidden, and Gianluca explains that he will spirit Anish to France in a consignment of tomatoes bound for a canning factory.

Bella has her own secret journey to make. She sneaks out to take the first train to Genoa, but Cecil, having eavesdropped on her setting this meeting over the phone, follows her. He sees her meet Henry, her erstwhile epistolary lover. Henry is ready to begin a real relationship after all their letters – they haven’t seen each other in twelve years. But Bella tells him they can no longer write to each other.

Cecil stops Henry as he’s leaving and introduces himself. Henry tells him that he needn’t worry about any affair, and Cecil laughs at the lovelorn Henry. Cecil has already warned the architect Marco to stay away from Bella, using the rumor that Marco’s family are Communists as a threat.

When Cecil returns to the hotel, he is surprised to find Bella waiting for him. She shows him new deeds that have been drawn up by Bruzzone and acts warmly towards Cecil, even kissing him. She gives him time to read over the documents while she fetches Claudine to serve as a witness. When she returns, all three of them sign – but it’s clear that Cecil has not read them. 

He is overlooking a lot. Danioni brings Farrino to his cousin’s vineyard and has him try grappa. Farrino agrees with Cecil that it’s rough, but says it will get the job done. He’ll do business with Danioni – and wouldn’t mind if the “uppity” Cecil is cut out of things. Cecil’s hotel could prove useful, but they can acquire it by other means, and he can be replaced in the whisky importing business.