The book is the first in a series that introduces, in a series of vignettes, the characters that populate a small village in the Poe Valley of Italy after WWII. The parish priest is the arch-enemy of the communist population, the mayor is his best friend and a staunch communist (so also his constant foil), and for advice, Don Camillo talks to and is answered by Christ on the Cross. The stories are memorable, and applicable to any time or place. The simplicity and yet subtleties of the relationships are profound. One of the best books I have ever read, and re-read.