'You can't go and live there,' a despairing friend remarked, 'it's not even in Rome.'
And it certainly wasn't, but still the author and his wife went to Avea, tucked away amongst the woods and gorges of the Lazio countryside.
There they found no Colosseum, or Pantheon; there were no Ferraris racing around the Palazzi Navona, Venezia or Farnese. Instead they discovered the true agony and beauty of Italy: the instinctive warmth of the Avea villagers, the camorra, Little Tony - Italy's answer to Elvis - the elegant and sophisticated Colasanti family and a landlord like no other, Pippo, the self-styled Duca di Avea. This is not a story of the high culture of Italy's big cities, instead of how two foreigners learned to eat the Italian way, drive the Italian way, survive the Italian way - even to have a child the Italian way - and how in doing it they came to love this hidden corner of the most visited and least understood country in Europe.
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He then moved to Italy, where he and his family lived for more than thirty years, and taught at the British International School in Rome. He and his wife currently live in Hastings. Simon Mawer is the author of several novels including the Man Booker shortlisted The Glass Room, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Tightrope.