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Lonely Planet A Small Place in Italy (Travel Literature) Paperback – July 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Review

dangerously liable to induce a craving for one's own patch of Italian paradise' -- Sunday Telegraph
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Eric Newby was born in London in 1919. In 1938, he joined the four-masted Finnish barque Moshulu as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Australia to Europe, by way of Cape Horn. During World War II, he served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section. In 1942, he was captured and remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945. He subsequently married the girl who helped him to escape, and for the next fifty years, his wife Wanda was at his side on many adventures. After the war, he worked in the fashion business and book publishing but always travelled on a grand scale, sometimes as the Travel Editor for the Observer. He was made CBE in 1994 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. Eric Newby died in 2006. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Travel Literature
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 2 edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 174179529X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741795295
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Ebeling on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1967, British travel editor Eric Newby and his wife, Wanda, bought a primitive farmhouse in the hills between Liguria and Tuscany, the region where they met during World War II, Newby a soldier on the run between POW internments, Wanda a relief worker. They are the first foreigners to come live in their neighborhood, which remained unchanged from the time of the War; in fact, the country people, contadini, probably lived pretty much as they had for a couple of centuries or more. In the 25 years that the Newbys stayed, using the farmhouse as a second home but tending the land seriously, they were accepted and came to know the people and area well. A SMALL PLACE IN ITALY is a profile of their neighbors, their work, customs and the surrounding area. He offers up historical notes and chronicles the arrival of the late 20th century and loss of old ways.
This book has everything going for it. Newby is honest, a truthful writer. He never sells out his subject for entertainment or sentimentality. He does not go the route of portraying the noble savage, he does not paint the peasantry as buffoons or children, he does not go over the top to prove that he is one of them. It is obvious that he and Wanda were quickly accepted into the community because they were hard workers who respected the land and were happy to share. There is a fine wit and spirit at hand. Newby has to be the most resilient person on earth (see A SHORT WALK IN THE HINDU KUSH for more evidence).
Other virtues of this book: the pages whip by because Newby is brilliant at ordering his information. He also translates the Italian phrases and words that pop up routinely, so that those of us unschooled in Italian, particularly northern Italian expressions, are not at a loss.
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Format: Paperback
Eric newby, and his wife, Wanda acquire a small and ruined farmhouse in the foothills of the Alps. This book is about how they set about restoring that house, and their life in this rural area of Italy. Newby met Wanda when he was a POW on the run during WW2, a story recounted in 'Love and War In The Appenines'. This book reads as a much more 'authentic' experience than the current penomenally successful 'Under The Tuscan Sun', which it pre-dates by a couple of years.
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Format: Paperback
Having a love for Tuscany and Umbria but not the income to live there, my partner and I read with some initial pleasure two books by people who renovated villas at vast cost and labour to the local tradesmen and wrote down lots of recipes - 'hell I'm such a cute and cultured Californian poetess patronising the locals once a year'.
Then a friend lent us the Newby version. Forget the rest. Get the best. He and Wanda work hard. They know and respect their neighbours. Crisp words give life to vine-growing, mountains, meals and breakneck roads.
This is the one: all else are imitations.
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Format: Hardcover
The urge to escape the comforts, routine and refinements of our living conditions to somewhere more challenging, primitive and raw is something that many of us feel - especially those who read books. The books we read can sometimes stimulate the urge, sometimes satisfy it. All I ask of such books is that the author can write well and that he is not boastful.
Eric Newby, especially in "A Small Place in Italy", meets these requirements admirably. Indeed, he ranks for me as a travel writer of near genius. He was almost 50 years old when he and his Italian born wife Wanda took up permanent residence in a ruined farmhouse in northern Italy. His account of the trials and tribulations that followed, the neighbors and the locality, is told in this wonderfully witty, readable and valuable book. Part of the value rests in the sociological and historical dimensions it gives. Even while he lived there, the customs, the occupations and the life styles were fast disappearing.
If you enjoy this genre, you'll want to give "A Small Place in Italy" a prominent place on your bookshelf.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of my favourite Italy books! Italy during the 70's and 80's, when life in the country was so very different from now and neighbours were so much more part of one's daily life. Mr. Newby's way of describing all their beautiful (and in one case not so beautiful) characters is very moving.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I suspect that this will be my favorite re-reading book from this author. The title made me a little cautious as I have read some of the sometimes rather twee books about someone buying a wreck in Tuscany and converting it to a charming rose-covered cottage. In essence though, this is precisely what Eric and the ever indomitable Wanda did - however, the actual book also turns out to be charming. Interlaced with recalls of Eric's wartime experiences in the region - he was sheltered by many of the characters in the book and region when on the run as an escaped POW (Love and War in the Apennines) - the work includes many of the author's wonderful descriptions and flashes of pure wit. Wanda, as usual, plows through the expected difficulties that arise from realizing their joint dream of resurrecting (as the building required far more than remodeling!) an ancient farm and creating a home for both themselves and a somehow acquired resident friend and local guide. There are several instances when poor Eric get the reminder many of us married men need from time to time - that no man is a hero to his wife or secretary!

The sadness described in the final chapter his other work; On the Shores of the Mediterranean, of about eventually having to part with I Castagni, the farm, becomes readily explained in this adventurous and engaging yarn.
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