by Annie Hawes
Category: Travel & Holiday / Travel Writing
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 3 April 2003
Number of pages: 384
How irresistible is a man who first demonstrates his affection and esteem by inviting the author into his vineyard to help him mix up cow manure, which she spends the afternoon slapping onto an old pizza oven to improve its insulation, before driving her at terrifying speed to a Herbie Hancock concert?
Before writing this book Englishwoman Annie Hawes spent ten years living and working amongst the people of Diano San Pietro in northern Italy. She'd bought and renovated a house, tended her own olive grove, and spoke the Ligurian dialect like a native. But a decade is the blink of an eye in a land where rituals and customs go back hundreds, sometimes thousands of years, and Annie's still an outsider, on friendly terms with the locals yet viewed with some suspicion: a foreigner with strange habits and an even stranger diet. This is the story of Annie's true initiation into Ligurian culture, via her courtship with Ciccio (involving his entire family), and the prolonged saga of her collapsing roof (involving the entire community). Rural Italians are outgoing, friendly and ruled by the responsibilities of family life, and in no time Annie is an integral part of this sometimes infuriating patriarchal dynasty. Short tempers, ongoing and unfathomable feuds and regional pride blend with an impish sense of humour, an almost total lack of bureaucracy and an unquenchable thirst for life to produce a riotous mix of the hilarious and the absurd. This book is bursting with Ligurian colour and culture, from the romance of the olive groves with their ancient stone walls and winding tracks, to the bustle of the local cafes and markets where most of the real 'business' is conducted. The litany of home cures, superstitions, institutionalised rackets and petty intolerances is endless but never less than entertaining, and gives the reader an insider's view of the day-to-day intimacies of village life. This book brings northern Italy to life in a way that you can smell and taste. It does for Liguria what A Year in Provence did for regional France. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
"'Annie Hawes is warm, funny, idiosyncratic and a dedicated people-watcher' - Observer"
Annie Hawes, originally from Shepherd's Bush, has been based in Liguria for fifteen years.
In Stock: 14 copies