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A light and engaging visit to an Italian valley town. Often it is necessary to go away to see what one has left behind. Tullio was born in the town of Gallinaro, in a mountain valley somewhere (as the title suggests) between Rome and Naples. After an education in England, he married an Irish artist, Susan Morley (whose wonderful line drawings illustrate the book), and settled in Ireland. Like many transplanted Italians, Tullio returns to his birthplace every summer. And, like those who return, he sees things in a different perspective. Where the natives are apathetic and resigned to things such as pollution, political corruption, and petty (and not so petty) crime, Tullio, with a good British sense of fight and wrong, is outraged. But to no avail; as he himself recognizes, the Italians arc a very conservative lot, and it takes quite a bit to stir them to revolution. The town and the valley serve as a prism for the rest of Italy (""it is tempting to assume that all of Italy works in much the same fashion as the valley docs""), while the myriad daily activities arc delightfully recounted; from buying bread and roasting a pig, to picnics and religious feasts, to a quest to find the perfect swimming hole. There are insightful passages on the character of Naples, the politics of judging a local wine competition, microhistory, cafÆ’ life, religion, sex, fashion, and even directions on how to prepare sausages, liqueurs, sauces, and polenta. The book is slightly dated (most of the events seem to have taken place in the early- to mid-1990s), and the occasional Anglicism might throw some readers off (although others will find them charming). The cast of characters has been seen before, which gives the reader a sense of returning to old friends. A winsome visit to a part of Italy ""off the beaten path.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1998
ISBN: 0786116013
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's