Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital

Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital

Eric Dregni
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttkgm
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital
    Book Description:

    I simply want to live in the place with the best food in the world. This dream led Eric Dregni from Minnesota to Italy, first to Milan and eventually to a small, fog-covered town to the north: Modena, the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, Ferrari, and Luciano Pavarotti. Never Trust a Thin Cook is a classic American abroad tale, brimming with adventures both expected and unexpected, awkward social moments, and most important, very good food.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7050-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Vicolo Forni
    (pp. 1-6)

    The little street below the new apartment Katy and I are living in is a miniature Italy. The older women in mothball-smelling minks cordially greet each other, then stop for a look into the jewelry store. The shopkeepers from the market, dressed in their white smocks, dotted with blood if they’re butchers, gulp their coffee and discuss last night’s soccer game in front of Maurizio’s bar, Il Cappuccino. A couple of women walk by showing off the latest skintight fashion—this year everything is lavender—and act as if the men at the market aren’t staring at them. Ermes leans...

  5. Permesso di Soggiorno
    (pp. 7-9)

    The stamps in our passports from the Malpensa airport allow us three months in Italy. Technically, if we’re ever stopped by the police within the ninety days, this visa should work. In reality, they will tell us to register at thequestura,or police station, in Modena, so they can keep tabs on all the usual suspects.

    All foreigners staying for more than a week in one place are required to register for the dreadedpermesso di soggiorno,or permission to stay. The European Union nullified this law years ago for E. U. members, but Italian bureaucracy hobbles along, and...

  6. A Page Boy in Pavarotti’s Restaurant
    (pp. 10-12)

    Modena is home to Maserati, Ferrari, and De Tomaso cars, but far more important, to Luciano Pavarotti. The operatic tenor known throughout the world was the symbol and essence of Modena. Not for his voice, which by any measure faded as his girth grew, but for his belly, which bore testament to the fantastic food of Emilia-Romagna. Pavarotti was born and fed here on a steady diet ofprosciutto crudo,tortellini, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar. This is why Modena is the place for me.

    Unable to sleep one early morning, I wander through the Piazza Grande of Modena and discover...

  7. Sleeping with Nuns
    (pp. 13-17)

    Our apartment in Vicolo Forni used to be the chapel of a convent dating back to the fourteenth century. Latin inscription is carved into the walls, wooden beams two feet wide hold up the terra cotta ceiling tiles, and floor-to-ceiling arched windows open up to the food market and the tiny alley of Vicolo Forni below.

    Katy feels at home living in a chapel after attending Catholic schools her whole life. I, on the other hand, went to Catholic school for one year, when I was four, but the nuns hit us kids, locked us in closets, and tied naughty...

  8. Il Cappuccino
    (pp. 18-22)

    We didn’t have a say in choosing the bar we’d frequent. Maurizio’s bar, Il Cappuccino, is directly below our kitchen window, and he greets us nearly every time we go in or out of our front door. If we didn’t go to his bar, who knows what would happen? Even so, we never go there often enough to make him happy.

    Il Cappuccino is the size of a large walk-in closet, but somehow Maurizio has wedged in a couple of tiny tables, a cooler full of chilled Lambrusco wine (not the sweet stuff), and a large counter extending the length...

  9. Lord Arnold and the Knight
    (pp. 23-28)

    My fantasy of being a highly paid travel writer by writing columns in the local Italian weekly is shattered when I cash my paycheck of $60—the sum of a month’s work. To pay the bills, I convince myself that going undercover as an English teacher will yield great insight into Italian culture and I won’t have to compromise my literary dream. After all, even James Joyce taught English in Trieste for eleven years while he was writingUlysses.

    My first day of teaching, I realize this is no ordinary school. The name of the school, Lord Arnold, sounds erudite...

  10. Terror and Courtesy at the Esselunga Supermercato
    (pp. 29-32)

    I’m terrified of little old Italian women. In the crowds at the market, they jab their elbows into my gut as they push their way to the front of the line. These aged tycoons can easily barge through a squadron of large men waiting in line, and no one says a word. Old women can give the evil eye like nobody’s business. Surveys in Italy reveal more than half the population believes in this curse. I’m hardly superstitious, but why tempt fate?

    If we’re invited to an Italian friend’s house, inevitably it’s the grandmother who scrutinizes how little I eat...

  11. Foiling the Cheese Thieves
    (pp. 33-34)

    To escape from the abundance of pork fat in my diet, I tour a cheese factory. My editor, Roberto, does public relations for a farming town and offers to lead me around. Modena falls in the official area that is allowed to make Parmigiano-Reggiano, according to government officials, which I call “the food police,” but Roberto is not amused. Authentic Parmesan is edible gold and must be made only with the milk from pedigreed red Reggiana cows. I’m told that wheels of Parmesan fill some local bank vaults, as the value of the cheese wheels remains more constant than any...

  12. Mold Makes a Good Salami Great
    (pp. 35-37)

    Now that my eyes have been opened, I notice this fondness for pork everywhere. Modenese photographer Franco Fontana, who shoots photos for the weekly, pieced together photos of ham next to babies, and pork is paired with long-legged models in ironic collages of hungry desire. Another artist painted copies of Michelangelo’s, Caravaggio’s, and Morandi’s masterpieces on legs of prosciutto ham and displayed them at a fancy Milanese restaurant. My editor, Roberto, went to a villa in Tuscany where a mosaic of fresh salami and mozzarella filled an entire room. “It was absolutely beautiful but stunk like crazy!” he recalls.

    In...

  13. “The Poor Meatball!”
    (pp. 38-41)

    I fooled myself that I was going to support Katy by writing for the weekly newspaper and teaching a couple of English classes at Lord Arnold. Even though I’ve studied Italian and have already lived in northern Italy, Katy steps in and becomes known throughout Modena as the best English teacher around forbambiniages four to fourteen.

    People on the street ask Katy directions, believing she’s Italian, partially because she has a sense of style (compared to my holey jeans and purple socks) but also due to her brown hair. In spite of two years’ living in Italy, my...

  14. Rats in the Canals, Peacocks in the Piazza
    (pp. 42-48)

    While waiting in line at the drugstore, I overhear the pharmacist inform an elderly woman, “I saw your husband today.”

    “Really? Where was he going?”

    “To Piazza Grande.”

    “I believe it,” the woman responds. “He claims he never goes there, but he always ends up there and spends his whole morning talking to his friends. Men are all the same; they all just want to go to the piazza!”

    It’s difficult to understate the importance of the piazza in Italian life. One day in Modena’s Piazza Grande, new electric buses are on display. The next day, schoolchildren show off dozens...

  15. The Bicycle Thief
    (pp. 49-54)

    Bicycle bells ringing through the streets convinced us to stay in Modena. The town center is roped off to cars, so old one-speed steel bicycles with Ferrari stickers on them stumble over the stone roads. Where bike lanes intersect, special stoplights with little green, yellow, or red bicycles give the right-of-way. Most of the bicyclists ignore the warning lights but look carefully for incoming Maseratis flicking their high beams as they go too fast to stop.

    Police will never lower themselves to riding bicycles. Instead Modena’s finest, thepoliziotti,and the military police (who are the butt of all jokes),...

  16. Treachery and Treason amid the Subcommittee of Vespa Paint
    (pp. 55-58)

    In Italy, motor scooters are not just inexpensive transportation or kitsch artifacts. As with many things Italian, scooters are another reason for a good argument.

    I have an old Lambretta scooter back in Minnesota, so I decide to accept the invitation to infiltrate the weekly meeting of the Vespa Club d’Italia, which takes place in a Vespacrazed insurance agent’s office (the location seemed all too convenient for him to also acquire new clients). TenVespisti,Vespa aficionados, are already in attendance, although they bemoan having to meet in the front office while in the prestigious back room the Moto Gilera...

  17. Norman the Conqueror
    (pp. 59-64)

    Signor Truffino announces to everyone at Lord Arnold School that we have a new head teacher who will oversee all the English-language teachers. Neil hails from California and has a laid-back can-do attitude. On his first day at the job, Neil and I walk to the bar next to Lord Arnold School for an espresso. He tells me that before this job, he was living in the Italian resort town of Rimini, “doing research on hallucinogenics for my thesis at the university.”

    “This teaching thing is a temporary gig since I’m really a filmmaker,” he boasts. “I just needed a...

  18. Eat Your Hat, Cowboy
    (pp. 65-67)

    Nowadays, the only hats worn regularly have been relegated to sports and war, baseball caps and helmets. Perhaps a couple of exceptions would be the occasional appearance of hats on the heads of the trendy or the cold. I remember refusing to wear a hat during a Minnesota blizzard and warming my ears with my gloves, risking frostbite to stay “cool” on my way to high school.

    In Italy, I figure I can fit in with my new hat since the old men in the town square never leave home without their hats. Bums and street musicians still pass their...

  19. A Night at the Opera
    (pp. 68-70)

    I grew up listening to punk rock—Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Jodie Foster’s Army, etc.—so I thought it might take a while to appreciate the highest Italian art form. I was wrong.

    My only real exposure to opera was through cartoons of Bugs Bunny as “The Bunny of Seville” or Elmer Fudd singing his heart out to “Kill da wabbit!” over Wagner’s cascading orchestral score. Perhaps opera can be funny after all— imagine if Pavarotti could have fit into a bunny suit! Living in Pavarotti’s hometown, Katy and I have to experience opera firsthand.

    Roberto, my editor, assigns me...

  20. Four, Five, Sex . . .
    (pp. 71-74)

    One of my classes at Lord Arnold is composed of four middle-aged women who all speak at the same time. Somehow they can listen to the three other women chattering away and add their own comments simultaneously. I admire the cognitive ability of these women to process and produce at the same time. I was raised never to interrupt and to let others finish, but think how much time could be saved if we could all process what others say while we speak ourselves. Besides, if you don’t interrupt in Italy, you’ll never speak. In fact, I don’t speak much...

  21. Lessons from Guido
    (pp. 75-85)

    I never have much luck with the Italian mail system. One day when I bring a postcard into the post office, the mailman tells me I have to pay more because there are too many words on it. Not understanding how this could make the slightest difference, I ask him, “Why?” He looks at me as though I’m being belligerent and trying to cause trouble. “Because the postcard now weighs more,” he responds in all seriousness as the impatient people behind look at me annoyed. I’m shocked at this logic. He truly believes an extra bit of ink causes the...

  22. Arrangiati!
    (pp. 86-89)

    TheCorriere della Seranewspaper recently announced that the government in Rome is proud that Italy has only about thirty thousand laws. Opposition politicians estimate there are more like one hundred thousand, but no one’s quite sure, which seems a bit worrisome. Either way, Italy has more laws than probably any other country, but most are rarely enforced.

    For example, if a new tax law is passed, some Italians will hold their breath and hope the law or prime minister is soon changed. New laws sometimes make the old laws illegal, which makes obeying the law in the first place...

  23. A Risky Subject
    (pp. 90-96)

    The Italian wordargomentodoesn’t mean “argument,” but it might as well. When I hear a discussion of anargomento,or subject, it sounds like an argument to my ears, at least it did until I had a real fight, orlite(pronounced LEEtay). You haven’t lived until you’ve argued in Italian, especially when you know you’re right and have nothing to lose. My Italian is hardly up to winning a difficult argument, but I find it easier when I know I have a good case.

    The Lord Arnold School is being audited by the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian...

  24. Casino or Casinò?
    (pp. 97-101)

    Working as a journalist in Italy isn’t done for the pay, but for the perks. My editor, Roberto, orders me to come to the newspaper office right away—it’s always right away—for a very important and lucrative assignment.

    Journalists are the same the world over. They smoke too much because of the stress of their deadlines and never have a moment to talk—except to say how stressed out they are because of deadlines and that they shouldn’t smoke so much.

    Roberto has three telephones: one land line, a personal cell phone (ortelefonino), and an office cell phone....

  25. Commie Pigs?
    (pp. 102-104)

    I think my friend Antonio is a spy. He seems a little too obvious, though. He claims he works for a publicity company, yet he jet sets off to NATO conferences in Brussels and Geneva. He explains how he avoids getting locked up or questioned during his “vacations” in Moscow. He gives long, academic speeches on local TV every week but wrote a book calledEurope Is a Sow.In fact, he often speaks about the pigs, by which I assume he means the Communists in Modena.

    Perhaps Antonio is an eccentric millionaire who drives an old white Fiat Uno,...

  26. Never Trust a Thin Cook
    (pp. 105-108)

    Si mangia bene, si paga poco!(you eat well, you pay little) is the Italian paradise and the best possible review a restaurant can receive. While making a gesture of filling up a fat stomach, my Italian friends tell me I have to visit Trattoria Ermes. Italians hate to wait in line at restaurants, but this place is so good that it has a crowd out front hoping to find a spot at the five tables inside.

    “Never trust a thin cook” is an old Italian proverb, and Signor Ermes is anything but underfed. Ermes’s arms are as wide as...

  27. Angry Noodles
    (pp. 109-112)

    Friends back home think Katy and I spend all of our time in Italy sitting around drinking large amounts of espresso and eating pizza. Of course, that is my goal, but sooner or later money runs out and reality sets in. “Just as long as you’re in Italy, everything must be wonderful, right?” someone actually asked me.

    Most people come to Italy on vacation with money to burn, and have a good time. Earning Euros changes everything. I have to rustle up more students to teach, since journalism pays peanuts and leads to dangerous run-ins with portly restaurant owners who...

  28. Walking over Death
    (pp. 113-114)

    Signs of death are all around in Italy. Churches display bones of martyrs and important citizens. Obituary posters line the streets, and a wreath is put on the door of houses where someone has died. Even the Ghirlandina tower supposedly has some saint’s bones tucked away in the top of the spire to watch over the town.

    While visiting Vignola, a castle town in the hills, we witness an enormous funeral procession of solemn old men with a slightly out-of-tune marching brass band repeating a mournful dirge. The cars stop and the kids turn off their mufflerlessmotorinisince obviously...

  29. Super Pig Trotter
    (pp. 115-118)

    Although it seems impossible, the Modenese have discovered something heavier than lard, calledzampone,which loosely translates as “big shank.” The rear legs of pigs are packed with salt to make prosciutto. The hams are periodically poked with sharpened horse bones, which are smelled by the experts. The front legs, on the other hand, are shaved, deboned, and stuffed with extra fatty ground pork for zampone.

    An American tourist visiting Modena brought home a zampone to his family for Christmas but assumed it was like prosciutto and didn’t cook it. He ate the zampone raw and survived to tell the...

  30. Reggio’s Blockheads and Bologna’s Baloney
    (pp. 119-123)

    To greet people in Modena fresh off the train from Bologna, a huge line of graffiti is spray painted on a brick wall, “GRAZIE ADIO NON SONO BOLOGNESE!” (Thank God I’m not from Bologna!).

    Town pride runs deep in Italy and has a name,campanilismo,or loyalty to yourcampanile,or church bell tower, which is the highest structure in Italian cities and always shows you which way is home. Mostly, this allegiance means boosting your town at the expense of your neighbors. At least since medieval times, Modena and Bologna have resented each other, as shown by a mock...

  31. The Secret World of the Balsamic Vinegar Elite
    (pp. 124-128)

    Vinegar is not taken lightly in Modena. One store on the main street has a couple of very small bottles of the traditionalbalsamicoin the window—behind bars—priced at $150. Aweeklong vinegar conference features the mayor and food dignitaries from around Italy and the world.

    Not until my second year living in Modena was I able to crack into the secret world of the vinegar elite and get a bottle for myself. I stumbled into this illustrious society when I made a grave error. I told Franco, the owner of the pet store in Vicolo Forni, about our...

  32. Pet Pigs
    (pp. 129-132)

    Every day in Italy has a saint. In fact, there are not enough days in the year for all the saints. La Festa di San Antonio is today, and one of my students explains that many churches open their doors for owners to bring their pets to be blessed. Since she often speaks about her Siberian husky, which digs holes in her garden, I ask if she’s going to bring her dog to Mass.

    “My dog needs all the blessing he can get! Unfortunately, he eats cats,” she admits. “We’ve found two dead cats in our yard recently. The priests...

  33. Buon Natale!
    (pp. 133-136)

    The couple at thetabacchi,or tobacconist’s, are always thrilled to see us. Usually, the gregarious clerk and her husband say “ciao” no less than eight times before and after I buy stamps for a postcard. Even after I shut the door behind me, they are still wishing me a good day. As Christmas approaches, they have a whole new list of greetings to give:Auguri! Auguroni! Buon Natale! E anche Buon Anno!(Best wishes! Very best wishes! Merry Christmas! And also Happy New Year!”).

    Any Italian grammar book teaches that formal situations call for the greetingsbuon giorno or...

  34. Sunny Italy
    (pp. 137-143)

    The A1autostradais known as the Highway of the Sun because it leads to the balmy climate of southern Italy. Today, on Christmas Eve, it’s an enormous parking lot as far as the eye can see. Katy and I are scrunched into the backseat of Sonia’s dad’s car, and we’ve been completely stopped for about half an hour now. Many of the cars have turned off their engines, and a man has even gotten out of his car to walk his dog next to the road. A few other people are in the grass, having a picnic of prosciutto...

  35. The Hot Springs of Ischia
    (pp. 144-147)

    Getting to the island of Ischia is no easy task. Lugging heavy backpacks through downtown Naples is not the ideal way to sightsee this densely populated city, so we head straight for the ferry. Although some boat trips have been canceled due to the rough waves, our captain risks it.

    Once out at sea, we understand why many ships are staying docked in Naples. Our boat bounces like a basketball, so we ask at the bar if they have any motion sickness pills. “No, those can only be sold at pharmacies.” Instead, plastic bags are passed around on deck to...

  36. Naples at New Year’s
    (pp. 148-156)

    “Naples is probably the most beautiful city in Italy,” many of my northern Italian friends who have been there tell me. Others, who have only heard television reports from the south, immediately make gestures of people stealing, being handcuffed and tossed in the clink. “Just be careful they don’t trick you!” they say as they pull down slightly on their eyelid to make the gesture offurbo.

    I admit I’m a little nervous to visit Naples since I spent one night there about ten years ago. Outside my hotel room near the train station, I heard some yelling and five...

  37. San Geminiano and the Festival of Fog
    (pp. 157-160)

    Back in Modena, the lines stretched all the way out the doors of the cathedral to see the bones of San Geminiano, the town’s patron saint. Roberto told me that the legend says that Attila the Hun and his troops were coming down through Italy, so San Geminiano performed the miracle of covering Modena in fog. Forever after, the town has been in debt to San Geminiano (and covered with haze).

    The mist settles over the plains of the Po Valley for months, and everybody accepts the fact that half of the town is out withl’influenzaorla febbre(fever)....

  38. Soccer Season
    (pp. 161-168)

    When Italy won the World Cup, fans stripped naked and bathed in the fountains. Train conductors refused to work, and the whole country came to a standstill. Modena suffered thousands of dollars of damage as statues were knocked down and shop windows cracked. It was all great fun, I was told.

    With visions of a glorious party running through my head, I accept Roberto’s invitation to go to a soccer game. He tells me I haven’t lived unless I’ve experienced the thrill of the stadium when the stands explode in cheers after a goal. I try to hide the fact...

  39. Truffles and Cotechino
    (pp. 169-172)

    “Yankee go ’ome! Yankee go ’ome!” someone yells into the receiver as Katy holds the phone away from her ear. Rather than worry that this is some sort of terrorist threat against the Americans living in Modena, Katy says nonchalantly, “Here, Eric, it must be another one of your crazy friends,” and hands me the phone. Afriend of Marina’s, Walter, is on the phone, and after repeating his anti-American rant, he breaks into a hearty laugh.

    Walter is an ex-journalist who prefers to live in the hills above Modena and raise a variety of breeds of animals rather than suffer...

  40. Porn and Puritans
    (pp. 173-175)

    “Mamma mia! I’d like to have the job of painting those posters!” says my visiting friend Dan when he sees the porno posters around town with all the dirty parts covered with gray paint.

    The porn cinema is located next to a touristy pizzeria, across the street from a playground, and in the same building as a church. Looking in from the street, I can see the lobby has a big brass statue of a naked couple in some difficult position with arms flailing in the air in ecstasy.

    The newest porn poster for a film features two “actors,” a...

  41. La Tivù
    (pp. 176-178)

    Living in the center of town surrounded by brick buildings, we have terrible reception for the TV (or “lativù,” as it’s called here). Down at the bar, Maurizio gets perfect reception. He explains he has an electrician friend who tapped into the big antenna on the roof and ran a line down the outside of the building. The work had to be done on a Sunday, so thecarabinieripolice wouldn’t notice.

    Changing the outside of the building in any way is illegal because the historic center of town is considered a museum. Once we hung out some clothes on...

  42. Politics, Italian Style
    (pp. 179-183)

    It’s election season again. Anyone who can get hold of a bullhorn is marching up and down the Via Emilia first thing in the morning stumping for their party. Enormous posters of smiling politicians munching on cigars are tacked up wherever there’s wall space—even over all the porno movie posters with the swaths of gray paint covering the dirty parts.

    The old men in the piazza are especially worked up. Betting on fierce card games ofscopausually creates a silent hush for the card counters, but different factions have formed along party lines, with the occasional infiltrator sneaking into...

  43. The Art of Eating
    (pp. 184-187)

    Please don’t be offended if I ask you something,” one of my students said shyly. “I’ve heard that in America sometimes the people not you, of course take the food home that you don’t eat in restaurant. You call it ‘doggy bag,’ but these American people other people, not you don’t give this food to dog but eat this old food. Is it true?”

    When I tell him it’s very common, he’s awestruck, “You Americans I mean they Americans are animals!” When I explain that sometimes Americans eat sitting on the couch watching TV rather than at the dining room...

  44. Eating Venus’s Navel
    (pp. 188-190)

    “If you manage to make tortellini, when you return home to America, you’ll have lots of friends!” saysla nonna,the grandmother of one of Katy’s students.

    We’ve gathered for a day of making fresh pasta atla nonna’slittle house. After she shows us the Moto Guzzi that belonged to her late husband, we’re ready to get to work. Or rather, Katy andla nonnaare ready to roll out the pasta, but I’m not allowed too close to the kitchen table because I’d get in the way.

    Instead, I’m in charge of writing down all the recipes as...

  45. Back to High School
    (pp. 191-195)

    “You want me to teach high school kids?” I ask the principal of a local Modena high school. “They’ll eat me alive!”

    He assures me they are very well behaved and respectful, but I remember attending a year of Italian high school in Brescia and my out-of control classmates. The students stay in the same classroom all day, so the teachers must enter enemy territory. I tell him I have to mull it over.

    My Italian friends Guido and Sonia say I must accept immediately. They tell me that many friends have studied for months to take a huge exam...

  46. La Ferrari
    (pp. 196-204)

    It’s Sunday morning, and the sound of mosquitoes flying everywhere wakes me up at 5 a.m. The scary little plugin insecticide device won’t get rid of the bugs this time. Then I realize the buzzing emanates from Maurizio’s bar below us, where the regulars are watching the Formula One race, live from Malaysia. I consider asking him to turn down the TV, but then I hear the noise coming from nearly every one of my neighbors’ windows.

    Modena is the land of automobiles: Maserati, Lamborghini, De Tomaso, Bugatti, Stanguellini, Cizeta, but most of all Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari built his first...

  47. Touch Your Balls for Luck!
    (pp. 205-208)

    A recent survey reported just under half of Italians believe in the evil eye. My students assure me those people are just gullible and scared. When I tell my Italian high school students that we Americans are terrified of the number thirteen—no thirteenth floor of skyscrapers, no room number thirteen in hotels, no row thirteen on planes—they think we’re crazy. “Doesn’t the person in the fourteenth row realize it’s the thirteenth?” they ask me.

    While they taunt me about the world’s only superpower being superstitious, horoscopes feature prominently in Italian magazines, and Italians are constantly “touching metal” with...

  48. Why Would You Ever Leave?
    (pp. 209-218)

    It’s spring, and the fog has lifted from Modena. Even the bum is sporting slick new sunglasses. These shades make him look more like the Unabomber than someone to pity enough to give alms. Eventually, he shaves his face—perhaps to get a better tan—and puts on shorts for summertime.

    Vicolo Forni is finally closed off to traffic, and daisies fill new flower boxes lining the busy alley. The old lady upstairs lets her little dogs loose. They are thrilled at these new flowery targets to pee on. Cars still try to squeeze illegally through the tiny street, causing...

  49. Parli Italiano?
    (pp. 219-226)
  50. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 227-228)
  51. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-229)