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Seasons in Basilicata: A Year in a Southern Italian Hill Village Paperback – Bargain Price, July 5, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Intrigued by Carlo Levi's book on life in the Italian province of Basilicata, Christ Stopped at Eboli, the author and his wife, Anne, decided to live for a year in Aliano, the village where Levi was kept under house arrest by Mussolini for seven months in 1935–1936. In Levi's day, Basilicata, situated in the instep of Italy's "boot," was a place of poverty. Unlike Levi, however, British travel writer Yeadon (The World's Secret Places) was there to "live happily with Anne, learning, and generally have a spanking good time dining on all those gorgeous porky products and homemade olive oil and wines and wild game and pasta galore." In his entertaining book, he describes how he did just that, renting an apartment with a terrace overlooking the village square, making friends who enjoyed serving him sumptuous meals, learning how wine and olive oil are made and investigating the local superstitions. He tries to find out from the older inhabitants what life was like in the 1930s, but they are reluctant to talk about it, claiming that they are better off than they were. But Yeadon doesn't dig too deeply: finding it hard to reconcile his experiences with Levi's bleak portrayal of conditions in Basilicata, Yeadon concentrates instead on the comradeship and good food. Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After his exile in southern Italy for anti-Fascist activities during World War II, Carlo Levi wrote Christ Stopped at Eboli, in which he explores the "dark, ancient, and richly human ethos" of the south's Basilicata region. More than a half century later, summoned by the "siren calls" in Levi's masterwork, Yeadon, with his wife, retreated to Aliano, a tiny village tucked within Basilicata's remote, snowcapped peaks and the site of Levi's imprisonment. There, in a community dating back to at least the sixth century B.C.E., they found winding streets and a wonderfully eccentric populace, including Pietro, the town's geriatric parking attendant, and Viva, a spirited breakfast hostess, who, like many Italians, seemed to have "an inbred natural ability to express all [her] emotions instantaneously." Also evident was an ancient, underlining fascination with the occult, with frequent whispers of werewolves, sorcerers, and death curses. Yeadon's focus on the Aliano people gives this funny, surprising story its lifeblood, as does his avoidance of cliches. His illustrations are a nice touch, too. Andy Boynton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060531118
  • ASIN: B000GG4FF4
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,825,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Read this book. You won't be disappointed. Although its initial appeal for me was the connection to Carlo Levi's, "Christ Stopped at Eboli," I was enchanted by Yeadon's narrative of daily life in a small town in the Mezzogiorno. I am a little tired of the mania for Northern Italy and have been seeking to experience the "other Italy." After all, it was the southerners who migrated to America in vast numbers and it is their legacy that has thrived and enriched the culture of the United States. If you enjoy this, read Paul Paolicelli's "Under the Southern Sun." Both of these books are a feast. Buon appetito!
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Format: Hardcover
David Yeadon has done a great service in his excellent narrative of a year spent in the remote and little known region of Basilicata. He initally is interested in the town of Aliano where the anti-fascist writer Carlo Levi was exiled in 1935. There he and his wife spend a year getting to know the region and its people.

I would recommend reading Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli before reading Seasons in Basilicata. I would also recommend the film of the same title based on Levi's work.

The only small criticism I would make is that there could have been more careful editing. There are some instances of misuse of Italian words: such as using "padronale" as a noun--it is an adjective relating to a "padrone" or boss in all senses of the word. There was also an instance where he gives the equivalent of fifteen million lire as seventy-five-thousand dollars: it was actually less than ten-thousand dollars. But, considering the work as a whole, these are minor.

Thanks to David Yeadon for exposing this hidden corner of Italy. The reader will find a place far different from the Italy on the tourist trails--and he or she will be richer for it.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book with high hopes...my husband loves the book "Christ Stopped at Eboli", we've lived in southern Italy for over five years when you add it up (thank you, U. S. Navy!), and the reviews were promising. I have to admit that I was disappointed, and my husband couldn't even bring himself to finish the book. What bothered me most was that the author, who is a veteran travel writer, took himself off to Italy for an extended stay and didn't bother to try to learn more than tourist Italian before he got there, and then didn't manage to improve his language skills once he was settled. Most of the interviews and conversations he describes in the book were translated for him by someone else. Now, I am the first to admit that Italian is a fairly complex language, especially when it comes to verbs. However, I can attest to the fact that it's possible to learn basic Italian by living in Italy and trying very, very hard to speak with everyone, read newspapers, watch TV, etc. The author's failure to do this results in some assessments of southern Italian life that are a little off kilter. For example, his reference to "colpo grosso" in the section about Italian eroticism and TV shows misses the fact that the game show he was watching was a well-known game show with that phrase as its name. (It's now syndicated.) It isn't a genre of TV shows at all.

I did love the author's sketches of the Basilicata region. I wish he'd sketched more and written less, because I would have liked the book a great deal more. Basilicata is indeed a wonderful and under-rated region of Italy. It has much to offer; it's mysterious, beautiful, remote and unique. It's nice to see that publishers are interested in bringing out books that reveal the secrets of the "untouristed" Italy.
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Format: Hardcover
Thanks to a previous reviewer, after checking this book out of the library I decided that I'd better read "Christ Stopped at Eboli" first. The books, read together, make for a wonderful literary experience. "Christ Stopped at Eboli" is really a masterpiece, and after finishing it, I was even more interested in reading "Seasons in Basilicata" and finding out more about this fascinating part of Italy.

Having read a number of travel books in the last year, I would rank this book in the top third. I like the fact that Yeadon spent almost an entire year in this one little town; in some books (like "Under the Tuscan Sun"), the author makes twice-yearly visits to an area -- I don't think it's possible to really capture the "flavor" of a place under these circumstances. Also, Yeadon has a good sense of humor, and there were many places in the book where I simply laughed out loud. While the food of the area was certainly described with relish, it wasn't overemphasized. Yeadon has lots to say about lots of things -- and I came away from the book with a much better understanding of the history, architecture, economy, and atmosphere of the area. Yeadon clearly has a gregarious, extroverted personality which shines through the pages -- he got to know a lot of natives on what seemed to be a more than superficial level. When Yeadon's year in Basilicata was over, the sense of poignancy and sadness at leaving was palpable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the beautiful work of Carlo Levi years ago "Christ Stopped at Eboli" and have been hungry ever since for more about this fascinating region- the home of my grandfather. So I read this book with relish as a source about the culture of the region. Travel resources are hard to come by, and don't seem to exist in the common "lonely planet" type format. Given this scarcity, the book is a great source and Yeadon clearly has an affectionate love for the people and the region. As others have aptly noted, the editing staff must have been on sabbatical too. If you like Yeadon's sense of humor you may be as tickled by his inner and outer ramblings as he is himself. If not, you may find yourself mining the pages for wonderful stories and descriptions about food, traditions, culture, people, the Italian bureaucracy. Perhaps the kind of stories you loved to hear your elders tell about the old country and all the endearing ironies of their beliefs and traditions. Some are here- he is a good story teller. As are vivid descriptions about food, people, places. Just be prepared to wade through a great deal of time spent focused on Yeadon himself, which for me was not interesting and took away from the main subject. It's a shame because better editing could have made the personal aspects of this piece more easily appreciated.

Again- given the dearth of English writing (memoir or travel guide) on this region, I enjoyed the experiences through each season and what it means to live close to this land. I was able to certainly take a lot of notes on places I would like to see (and eat !). It was helpful to read about this region during the last 10 years.
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