An adventure of the heart in the mold of literature's classic spiritual journeys.
It began with a girl. Then it was Italian food. After that it was books and discovering that even Mark Twain had fallen for Italy. E. M. Forster was smitten too: :Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land."
What is it about Italy and Italians?
Italian movies immortalize the mystique. Fellini called it La Dolce Vita. Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso took James Shaw back to the sweet memories of his childhood and the Italian family who operated the hometown theater. And just like in the movie, young James had an Alfredo who, by example, taught him about serving people.
James learned that Italians don't feel they're special. Luigi Barzini, author of The Italians, repeatedly asked, "Why are we the way we are?" and found no conclusive answer.
But James was convinced there was a reason why the Renaissance was born in Tuscany and Italy has given the world Saint Francis, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo, and now Benigni, whose film, Life Is Beautiful, showed the world that the Italian zest for living can even make a heaven of a hell.
And so, after a lifetime of thinking about Italy, James became convinced that the way to find out why Italians are the way they are would be to eat with them at their kitchen tables. Day after day he picked their olives, and the Italians began treating him like family. And James began seeing their unique human quality that attracts people to Italy and keeps pulling them back again and again.
But the story doesn't end in the olive groves of Tuscany. To discover the heart of Italian life, James had to travel back to World War II Italy.
An Italian Journey will inspire you to follow your passions, your enthusiasms, to your own beautiful discoveries.
©2012 James Ernest Shaw (P)2015 James Ernest Shaw