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The sights and culture of Italy form the backdrop for this incredible Italian adventure.
I just loved this book! In it I was transported from the first page, with American Jacoby Pines and his fiancée Claire, from my adoptive country of France into beautiful Italy. The author, Andrew Cotto, who lives in Brooklyn, is a writer whose articles have appeared in many national journals. He is also a teacher and has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City. This Italian adventure is his third novel and in it his wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.
When the story begins the disheartened Jacoby is unemployed following an unfortunate incident at work, and he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy with his accomplished travel writer fiancée Claire.
Arriving in France, together they travel along the French Riviera, then onto the eye-opening Italian Autostrada, enjoying the marvellous coastal views, and staying at a beautiful coastal hotel. Then the next day they head inland to the villa they have rented, in the hills above Florence, for the coming year.
However, although they are primarily in the region for Claire’s assignment for the prestigious Haxby’s Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda. Having never known his mother, he discovered upon the death of his father a box containing a photograph of a woman standing on a great lawn, and written on the back is ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.’ Thoroughly intrigued, the newly orphaned Jacoby looks upon this opportunity to join Claire at this disastrous stage in his career as the hand of fate at work.
With him, we join Claire on her research trips, as she travels the countryside meeting people from all walks of life. These experiences give the reader a wonderful introduction into the food and culture of this part of Italy, and a very entertaining look into the mentality of the Italian males’ mind, regarding women.
However, this story is primarily Jacoby’s adventure, and left to his own devices, he finally tracks down a Hotel Floria-Zanobini, which he discovers is run by another expat American, the eccentric Bill.
When he shows Bill his picture, its story begins to unfold, and an excited Jacoby finds himself beginning an incredible adventure, with Bill showing him the Italy he has become part of in the previous 35 years. Together the friends set out on a mission to track down the mysterious lady in the photograph and discover the link she has with Jacoby.
Encounters with wild boar, incredible museums and artwork, wonderful buildings, and the marvellous traditional recipes, wines, and experiences, this story has it all. The author brings Florence and the countryside surrounding it to life, as with Jacoby his readers embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery of the beautiful experiences this country has to offer. Whilst throughout the story the tumultuous love story between Jacoby and Claire rides a roller coaster, helped in no mean way by Claire’s outrageous cousin Dolores.
Whether you love Italy, dream of visiting it one day (like myself) or just want to enjoy an incredibly enjoyable book set in a beautiful part of the world, I thoroughly recommend this story as the best I have ever read!
About the Author:
Andrew Cotto is the award-winning author of three novels. He has written for The New York Times, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Parade, Maxim, The Huffington Post, Salon, Conde Nast Traveler, Italy magazine and more. Andrew has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.