This book is a lush and beautiful memoir of a very special house and a superb recreation of a bygone era.
In 1967, veteran travel writer Eric Newby and his heroic wife Wanda fulfiled their dream of a return to life in the Italian hills where they first met during World War II. But this fulfilment would not come easy. The dream materialised in the form of I Castagni ('The Chestnuts'), a small, decrepit farmhouse with no roof, an abandoned septic tank and its own indigenous wildlife reluctant to give up their home. But in the foothills of the Apuan Alps on the border of Liguria and Northern Tuscany, this ramshackle house would soon become a hub of love, friendship and activity.
Whether recounting dangerous expeditions through Afghanistan or everyday life in a country house, Newby's talent shines through as one of the foremost writers of the comic travel genre. Full of Newby's sharp wit and good humour, ‘A Small Place’ in Italy returns, twenty years later, to the life of Newby's much-cherished classic, Love and War in the Apennines. It lovingly recounts the quickly disappearing lifestyle of the idiosyncratic locals, and the enduring friendships they forge, whether sharing in growing their first wine harvest as novices or frying poisonous mushrooms for a feast.