The Villa Diana: Travels Through Post-war Italy by Alan Moorehead
Above Florence and the valley of the Arno stood the Villa Diana, in one of the oldest inhabited parts of Italy, at the end of an old Etruscan road that wound among olive groves and lines of cypresses. The home of Poliziano in the fifteenth century, it had been occupied by the troops of seven different armies during World War Two but otherwise escaped damage, if one overlooked the looting of the grand piano. It was here that Alan Moorehead, one of the greatest correspondents of that war, moved in 1948 to travel through Italy and write this celebrated book.
His experiences illustrate the issues of the day, yet surrounded by extreme physical beauty and governed by the rhythms of the seasons, he describes with wit the daily drama of life among the servants, the reviving fortunes of Portofino, the 500-year-old horse race around the main square of Siena, the gondoliers' union in Venice, and a traffic clash between a family of pigs and a cart full of crucifixes.