The Other Side of the Tiber : Reflections on Time in Italy
A moving and illuminating memoir about a singular woman’s relationship with a fascinating and complex country
A fresh, nuanced perspective on a profoundly perplexing country: this is what Wallis Wilde-Menozzi’s unique, captivating narrative promises—and deliver.
The Other Side of the Tiber brings Italy to life in an entirely new way, treating the peninsula as a series of distinct places, subjects, histories, and geographies bound together by a shared sense of life. A multifaceted image of Italy emerges—in beautiful black-and-white photographs, many taken by Wilde-Menozzi herself—as does a portrait of the author. Wilde-Menozzi, who has written about Italy for nearly forty years, offers unexpected conclusions about one of the most complex and best-loved countries in the world.
Beginning her story with a hitchhiking trip to Rome when she was a student in England, she illuminates a passionate, creative, and vocal people who are often confined to stereotypes. Earthquakes and volcanoes; a hundred-year-old man; Siena as a walled city; Keats in Rome; the refugee camp of Manduria; the Slow Food movement; realism in Caravaggio; the concept of good and evil; Mary the Madonna as a subject—from these varied angles, Wilde-Menozzi traces a society skeptical about competition and tolerant of contradiction. Bringing them together in the present, she suggests the compensations of the Italians’ long view of time. Like the country, this book will inspire discussion and revisiting.
Praise for The Other Side of the Tiber
"In this elegant volume, Wilde-Menozzi turns her patient gaze on everything from the red brick walls of Siena to the volcanic rock of Etna. This is not a guidebook but a passionate account of a country’s contours and its hidden wisdom." --Mythili Rao, The Daily Beast
"Permesso, the Italian word for work permit, gave Menozzi what she was really after in 1968: permission to write. She never forgot the clerk’s clear instruction. Books. Plural. --Alexandra Johnson, Christian Science Monitor
"Wilde-Menozzi’s stunning prose and astute cultural observations untangle meanings in a country where ancient history constantly brushes up against contemporary life, compassion trumps individualism, and beauty infuses every cobble-stoned step…. The reader couldn’t find a more enlightening guide to Italy and to an Italian state of mind."--Maria Laurino, Were You Always an Italian and Old World Daughter, New World Mother
"I can't help thinking that Montaigne in his tower would have loved this book." --Patricia Hampl, A Romantic Education and The Florist’s Daughter
"A rare and mesmerizing book, a meditative memoir that feels like its description of a Bernini fountain, ‘an event underway.’… Her observations, unromantic and beautifully focused outside the self, reflect the parallel story of the birth of the writer. Italy has given her what St. Augustine found: ‘a self changed by a new inner life.’ " --Rosanna Warren, author of Stained Glass
Part memoir, part art history, part philosophy, the author creates a mosaic that suggests why Italy is loved.