Exquisite Description of Italy from a Valued Reader and a Request for Prayer

Happy New Year to all of you!

Please keep me in your prayers this coming week as I have major surgery. Although I feel a peace about it, there are the usual concerns with complications, infections and unexpected biopsy results.  I’ll send an update when I return home. Mille grazie in advance!


Photo of Itri, Italy, via Wikipedia

So, one of the most gratifying aspects of being an author are the wonderful letters and notes readers send to me. A few months ago, one reader from the Northwest — a woman who has asked to be known only as “C” — sent me a delightful, and powerful, letter I thought many of you would appreciate. She lived in Italy in the 70’s and 80’s and recounted how many Italians she befriended had lived through WWII.

“I had a good friend who looked German,” she wrote. “He was about 40 — married and had a child … and an excellent job, BUT he was an outcast in the town. He was very tall, had blonde hair and a sharp nose and slate blue eyes. I never learned his history, but I assumed his mother had either been raped by a German or had befriended one to survive. I know there are thousands of Italians that wear his same shoes. That is war after all … for Americans who lived in America during the war, they can never understand what war brings: starvation, corruption , rape, burnt fields, occupying forces, people lined up and shot in your town — and heroic acts of kindness.

“Your book, Bianca’s Vineyard, really hit home with me and reminded me of all the people that I knew and loved in Itri — a lovely little hamlet that I lived in … Your book brings it all to light in the true way [things are] happening there now — the beautiful and simple way that generations of farmers know.

“I miss the foods of Italy. I miss the cypress trees and the red poppies of summer fields. I miss little old bent women in their black, wrinkled stockings. I miss the old rocks in the old villas and the stone-paved old lanes. I miss the beautiful Italian mountains and the smell of Porcini and the butterflies up in the mountains. I miss … the smell of cafes.”

As if “C’s” description of Italy wasn’t written well enough in her text, she also included an extraordinary poem she wrote, along with sketches she had drawn. In part it read:

I once lived in a painting

where every roof was tiled in red,

and silky poppies crimson bled

all around the edge of town

tall, green Italian Cypress grew 

on the boulevard, but prickly pear 

cactus too, and I found

ripened fig & golden persimmon


— and olive orchards by the miles

marched over hillsides, behind

the tiles …

A lifetime later, yet still I know

the musical sound of belled goats below

the towering mountains …

I once lived in a painting, so full of beauty —

that part of me was captured, in the wide


of western Italy

THANK YOU AGAIN, “C” for blessing me with your beautiful descriptions. I hope in sharing it, others will be equally touched! And if you’ve never been to Italy and are dying to go, maybe this will inspire you!


  1. Posted on January 25, 2015 at 4:43 am by Sarah

    “I once lived in a painting” – what a fabulous phrase! I love knowing that your wonderful story resonated with C in such a significant way. Bianca’s Vineyard is at the very top of my all-time favorite books. I love to read and have enjoyed so many stories but it is the ones that “stay with me” that are the most special. I literally carry them around with me – in my heart and my mind – after reading them. I send my prayers for the very best outcome for all your concerns! God bless you! (P.S. Write some more!)


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