This is a refreshing change from the usual tale of the well-heeled Englishman who finds an idyllic spot in a sunny clime, moves there and proceeds to lampoon the locals who are usually an odd bunch with funny foreign habits but deep down they are as loyal as a golden Labrador and love to be patted on the head by their English milord when they do something right.
For a start, Parks was married to an Italian woman and moved to a small town in the north, near Verona, where he worked as a teacher and translator.
He was to all intent and purposes a member of the community and certainly not rich.
Therefore, it is a book that is unlikely to appeal to fans of Peter Mayle and his kind.
Having said that, Parks cannot resist presenting the neighbors as foreigners with strange habits and mannerisms, as though the English were renowned for their lack of eccentricity.
I wonder what Italians living in England think of their English neighbors.
Still, he speaks the language, gets on with them and basically gives us a Year in North Italy that is a million times better than Peter Mayles' insufferable "Year in Provence".
On the other hand, Parks does not do much during this year (except become a father at the end) and his descriptions of life in Italy are a bit mundane.
He tackles subjects such as bureaucracy, tax evasion, the political stalemate, role of the Catholic Church, lousy television etc but so what?
I go along with much of what he says because I live in a similar culture with many of the same attitudes that drive a northern European crazy at times but other than that I found little of real interest in this rather insipid work.