Ernest Hemingway is most often associated with Spain, Cuba, and Florida, but Italy was equally important in his life and work. This book, the first full-length study on the subject, explores Hemingway’s visits throughout his life to such places as Sicily, Genoa, Rapallo, Cortina, and Venice.
Richard Owen describes how Hemingway first visited Italy during World War I, an experience that set the scene for A Farewell to Arms. The writer then returned after World War II, where he would find inspiration for Across the River and into the Trees. When Men without Women was published, some reviewers declared Hemingway to be at heart a reporter preoccupied with bullfighters, soldiers, prostitutes, and hard drinkers, but their claims failed to note that he also wrote sensitively and passionately about love and loss against an Italian backdrop. Owen highlights the significance of Italy in the writer’s life. On the night he shot himself in July 1961, for example, Hemingway sang a song he had once learned in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Hemingway returned to Italy again and again, and the places he visited or used as inspiration for his work are many. At the same time, the inspiration goes both ways: Owen describes how the fifteenth century villa Ca’ Erizzo at Bassano del Grappa, where the American Red Cross ambulances were stationed, is now a museum devoted to the writer and World War I. Showing how the Italian landscape, from the Venetian lagoon to the Dolomites and beyond, deeply affected one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Hemingway in Italydemonstrates that this country belongs alongside Spain as a key influence on his writing—and why the Italian themselves took Hemingway and his writing to heart.