Annie Hawes- Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin Annie Hawes

What it’s about:

Another that I first read several years ago, and now reread without exception before/ on every summer holiday.  In a nutshell, this is the first in a series of books written by Hawes (though the second one I read) accounting her move to rural Italy (Liguria specifically).  It details her attempts to befriend the locals and generally function as one of the very rustic community.

This is a very humorous but endearing account of her plight as an ignorant foreigner, and she writes with evident affection for the community in which she lives, despite her ability to offend all and sundry at every opportunity.

What I love:

  1. I can’t open this book without feeling like I’m about to eat delicious Italian food and drink delicious Italian wine (not that awful shop bought stuff of course) ideally at a festa of some description.
  2. The vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds and customs of the locals provokes a real sense of peace as well as providing entertainment with numerous anecdotes that are at times humorous and at others deeply poignant.
  3. Gaining genuine insight into the history and customs of rural Italy, and Liguria in particular.

My Favourite Quotes:

    1. “Luigi has taken to sitting and chatting with us whenever he has a quiet moment.  He has educated himself in defiance of the class system that would keep him down; and he is still busy researching.  Why, he wants to know, has the British aristocracy bred so many radicals? Is there any connection between the Labour party and socialism? What is our attitude towards the Irish struggle for national liberation?”
    2. “Franco is the only one who has fathomed the depths of the profound misunderstanding going on here.  Pompeo is selling fifty olive trees and a piece of arable land that just happens to have a useless rustic building on it… We on the other hand, are buying a lovely rustic dwelling with a large garden which just happens to contain fifty olive trees.”
    3. “Tonight we obligingly horrify everyone by putting salad on the plate with our pasta.  Salad, of course, is not eaten with the pasta.  Salad comes afterwards.  It could easily, Maria explains. snatching it back off again with her serving tongs, make the pasta curdle in your stomach”.


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