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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TIBER by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi


Reflections on Time in Italy

by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi

Pub Date: April 23rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-28071-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

An American writer’s dreamy incantations on many decades living between Rome and Parma.

Wilde-Menozzi (Mother Tongue: An American Life in Italy, 1997) meanders among youthful reflections and lasting impressions of her long life in Italy to create both a lyrical journal and traveler’s guidebook. With her background in technical teaching at Oxford, which she abandoned along with her soured first marriage in the late 1960s to try her hand at writing in Rome, she made a living as a teacher and translator of English to Italian noblemen. Originally from Wisconsin, the daughter of a U.S. senator, “raised in an atmosphere of painful splits,” she was determined to live her own life at a time when women were not expected to make their own living and in a place where art was understood “as its own higher law.” Coursing through the various chapters like the living river Tiber are the work of the great artists Michelangelo, Bernini and Caravaggio within some favorite haunts like the Vatican Museum, catacombs and churches. A sense of “inclusion” pervades the eternal city, the author writes, while its enduring squares seem to bear witness to history. She also chronicles her treks to Siena, Etna and the economically challenged south, specifically Puglia, to explore the plight of refugees. Her whimsical observations range from reflections about a 100-year-old man who walked the mountains around Turin, to the Italian way of justice, to the sad destiny of a young woman who was stabbed during an argument with her husband. From her early “hungry and untrained eyes,” Wilde-Menozzi arrives at moments of elegant sagacity and inspired humility.

An up-and-down but useful collection to haul on a trip to Rome.