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The Italian Summer: Golf, Food, and Family at Lake Como Hardcover – April 28, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416563539
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563532
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,506,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the summer of 2007, novelist and golf fanatic Merullo (Golfing with God; Revere Beach Elegy) set off with his family in search of the slower ways of life on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. Interspersing descriptions of various rounds of golf with trips to local restaurants and taverns, Merullo attempts to capture the sights, smells and sounds of the Italian and Swiss countryside. He recalls some of the characters that he and his family met that summer, such as Harold Lubberdink, real estate agent, who swept the family under his wing, leading them through various nooks and crannies of their temporary home country. Merullo takes readers on a harrowing journey through winding mountain roads in search of a perfect meal in a restaurant called La Baita. Finally, he tries to incorporate the slower pace of living into his own life, but finds it almost impossible. Part travel guide, part memoir, Merullo attempts to offer meditations on the richness of a life lived more slowly with good food and good company, but succeeds at little more than his frantic attempts to find a few good golf courses far away from home. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Imagine a Venn diagram connecting all those who love Italy, wine, food, family outings, and golf. The epicenter of those overlapping circles is not going to be all that large, but for anyone who lands there, this travel memoir delivers unadulterated joy. Merullo, the prolific author of an improbably wide range of fiction and nonfiction, wanted to slow the pace of his frenetic life by spending a summer with his wife and two daughters in Italy, not scurrying about from city to city but relaxing on Lake Como and indulging his passions for food, golf, and things Italian. His account of those idyllic weeks recalls Calvin Trillin in its casual tone, good humor, affable interactions with family, and Everyman’s love of regional food and wine. But it’s hard to imagine Trillin drawing a 260-yard drive around a dogleg or even four-putting from 20 feet for a double bogey. And, yet, even non-golfing gourmands will recognize that Merullo describes fairways and greens with the same kind of low-key charm and wit as he rhapsodizes over prosciutto and Pinot Grigio. A special travel book for a special audience. --Bill Ott

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. O'Brien on June 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a fan of Roland Merullo, I was a little disappointed in this book. It is an enjoyable read but not up to his previous works. As a golfer, I appreciated the details and episodes on the course but could not recommend it to my wife. His voice is still clear and the descriptions of people and places are enjoyable and distinctive as always. However, it did not grab me and make the book impossible to put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Raymond on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on my sister's recommendation. It seemed to be the perfect book for me. I am an avid golfer. I have Italian roots. I have traveled to Italy with my family and I love to cook and eat Italian food. In spite of all those connections, I found myself wondering if someone without my background would enjoy it. I found it a good vacation read. The golf stories are plentiful and well written and they will evoke many memories for the avid golfer. His writing is enjoyable to read as he describes the people and places in and around Lake Como.
Unfortunately I don't think the book will be as enjoyable to the average reader as it was to me.
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Format: Paperback
I read Golfing with God twice. I've been to Lake Como a few times, though many years ago. When I read this I decided to get it for my boyfriend's mother, who is Italian and an avid golfer. Because it wasn't in the bookstore, I thought I'd put a picture of the book cover, the synopsis, and some of the reviews on a piece of paper and wrap that up, but............what's up with the bad reviews?

It's been a while since I read this but I didn't find any of it condescending. I recall his descriptions were vivid, friendly, and his golf stories funny, easy to follow, and captivating. As his second book, I found it as good as GwG, but for different reasons. It's a very different type of book than GwG (which is awesomely thought provoking and brilliant in its analogous stories, by the way).

I'd be more specific, but it's been a while since I read this. I stopped to write this quickly, specifically to offset the other reviews.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book after a two week trip to Lake Como. By coincidence I met many of the people mentioned because we are also avid golfers and we rented a property from the same property company. I suspect that the author never intends to return to Lake Como. His condescending attitude and terrible descriptions of perfectly nice and friendly people made me wonder why he bothered to write a book about a place that he obviously loathed.

This is probably the most disappointing book I have ever read. It also provides clear evidence why Americans abroad are often treated suspiciously by the locals. The next time I am in Como I will apologise to those he slams as they don't deserve this kind of treatment.
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By Sharon Carlson on December 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story focuses primarily on golf experiences such that the reader must be as obsessed with the sport as much as the author. Putting, chipping and driving a golf ball "over hill and dale" of Italy was repetitive and boring. Only a "die hard" golfer would appreciate this book.
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More About the Author

Roland Merullo was born in Boston and raised in the working-class city of Revere, Massachusetts. He had a scholarship to Exeter Academy and graduated in 1971, attended Boston University for two years, transferred to Brown and graduated from Brown in 1975, then earned a Master's there--in Russian Studies-- in 1976. Roland has published thirteen novels and six books of non-fiction, and given talks at hundreds of universities, schools, bookstores, and other venues. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Amanda and their two daughters. He can be reached via his website:

Merullo has a new novel just out: The Return. A thrilling sequel to Revere Beach Boulevard, it follows the lives of a circle of people who are linked by one man's addiction.

His humorous travel memoir, Taking the Kids to Italy, is a light read that tells the story of a disastrous family trip to Italy. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong, from illness to cold houses, but Merullo shines the light of laughter on all of it and creates a story that will appeal to armchair travelers and to any family that has met with vacation challenges.

His novel, Vatican Waltz, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal and was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the five best books of 2013 on the subject of religion. It tells the intriguing story of a young Catholic woman who believes she is being called by God to become a parish priest. Provocative without being irreverent, this book dovetails nicely with the changes being initiated by Pope Francis.

He's also the "as told to" writer of John DiNatale's memoir, The Family Business, which is the story of DiNatale's decades as a Boston private eye. Full of anecdotes both personal and professional, The Family Business provides an inside look into a profession that TV shows always get wrong.

Still available in various formats (including a collector's edition) is Merullo's recent novel, Lunch with Buddha, the long-awaited sequel to Breakfast with Buddha. Lunch with Buddha details a road trip from Washington State to North Dakota with the same wonderful characters as its predecessor. In a Starred Review, Kirkus Magazine called it, "a beautifully written and compelling story about a man's search for meaning that earnestly and accessibly tackles some well-trodden but universal questions. A quiet meditation on life, death, darkness and spirituality, sprinkled with humor, tenderness and stunning landscapes." Lunch with Buddha recently went into a third printing and will soon be available in audio format. The last book of the trilogy, Dinner with Buddha, will be published by Algonquin in June of 2015.

For more details go to or Roland Merullo's FaceBook page or website.

His best-selling novel, Breakfast with Buddha, recently went into its 17th printing. Like Golfing with God before it, and American Savior after it, Breakfast with Buddha treats questions of philosophy/spirituality from a multi-denominational viewpoint and with a healthy dose of humor. The novel has become a favorite with book clubs all over the country. It was based on an actual trip Merullo took from New York to North Dakota, most of it in the company of his wife and daughters. Another novel, Golfing with God, has just been re-optioned for film by Gemfilms. And American Savior has also just been optioned for film.

His Alex Award-winning 2011 novel, The Talk-Funny Girl, now out in paperback, is the story of a teenage girl in rural New Hampshire who escapes an abusive home life in a most unusual way. It follows a theme that can be found in almost all Merullo's books: a person overcoming some past trauma, whether that be the stress of war, illness, divorce, addiction, or early abuse.

The Alex Awards are given by the Young Adult Library Services Association to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

Several old favorites--Leaving Losapas, A Russian Requiem, Passion for Golf, Revere Beach Boulevard, and Revere Beach Elegy, have just been reissued from AJAR Contemporaries, in print form and as e-books. AJAR has also brought out Roland's small book of writing advice, Demons of the Blank Page. Roland does workshops based on this book at libraries and other venues. Watch his FaceBook page for news of these workshops.

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