By 1972 the hamlets and villages of southern Italy had not been transformed by the economic miracle of the 1950s and 60s. At the age of 11, I visited a town near Naples named San Mango, my dad’s birthplace, and my cousin who had gone there six months earlier had warned me. When the cab had dropped his family off, he had taken one look at the medieval homes, and he had run back in the direction of the airport. But I had promised my parents that I would suck it up.


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