Travel Essay on Wanderlust     I could live here. Ever get that feeling, when you’re travelling down an avenue full of life, or having a drink in a small town somewhere, and you just get that optimistic, world-beating whiff of air that hints (loudly) to you: you never want to leave here. And you…

Poems of a Rome Unseen

Ode to Chestnut Sellers   It’s dangerous to want What you’ve never wanted before.   I walked out into the Roman twilight And heard love songs sung By the sellers of roasted chestnuts And I loved whatever they loved.   I wanted the same apartment With the same shrouded lover That they wanted in a…

A Tribute to Italy’s Greatest Rose

  “We live for books.” Those of us who do will have woken up to sombre news this morning. The death of the remarkable semiotician, intellectual and novelist Umberto Eco. The greatest Italian writer of this generation. He was one of those novelists who was a whirlpool of intellectual force. A public intellectual, a relentless…

Mamma Roma

Mamma Roma   I return to you as an émigré returns to his own country and rediscovers it… Pier Paolo Pasolini   My first time in Rome was a return to the city I had always known. Not because I live off its heels, or because I even really know Italian but because I am…

An Existentialist Day in Firenze

If you had a day in the Tuscan capital of Firenze – let’s by all means call it by its local name, it’s one of those places that sound better in the local tongue – and you had to choose between spending it shopping or sightseeing: what would you do? I know what you’re thinking….

Poems I Wrote In Salsomaggiore

Sleeping Salso A mosaic of pines in my nose, A morning still in its womb Cradled by the amber moon. Walk in silence, in nothing more, No other wind But the white wind that laps the eye-lashes. Cruelty is still asleep in its braided cage. Improvise perfection with last night’s melancholy In the patio of…

You Don’t Need Your R’s In Salsomaggiore

The receptionist at the hotel, with regal pomp befitting the shining, clean foyer, greeted us in a mixture of over-friendliness and Frankensteinian manner. He spoke to us in his own genetically modified Italian. I thought my Italian would be up to scratch but I found his accent more foreign than his moustache. I told my…