5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stumbling, not faltering, 1 Feb 2012
If you consider yourself to be a traveller, as opposed to a tourist, then I think you will appreciate Stumbling through Italy. As Niall Allsop himself says, he and his wife Kay give the usual tourist attractions a wide berth. Instead, they make for the less obvious places, small towns or villages where Italians are going about their daily lives, and there they find the unpretentious restaurants and bars where the locals gather. And, in his inimitable way, it is here that Allsop finds a way, initially without much Italian, to make a connection with people. If ever anyone needed encouragement to have a go at communicating with people without a common language, this is it! Now and again the person who spoke English would be thrust forward, but Allsop's strong desire to make a proper connection is very appealing. And connect he does, since he and Kay now seem to have friends all over Italy - all made during annual 2-3 week holidays. It's the people of the different regions that we get a real sense of with Stumbling - their daily lives, their families, their feuds, their celebrations. And Allsop and his wife are warmly welcomed into all of this - at one point in Calabria `like long-lost family'. Allsop's writing of the people he and Kay befriend is full of warmth and respect.
Having not been to either Sicily or Apulia, I felt I got a good sense of both. There is also a helpful chapter about the Italian language. Despite Allsop's claim that his Italian isn't very good, he clearly has an ear and an understanding of language. There is also an amusing chapter about `the Italian driving experience'. We're even given the recipe for Sardinian orange and coffee liquore - extracted from the generous Rina.
Stumbling through Italy is a warm and funny book underlaid with an intelligent appreciation of the country and its people.