A probing and poetic examination of language, food, faith, and family attachment in Italian life through the eyes of an American who moved to Parma with her husband and family.
In the 1980s, the American writer Wallis Wilde-Menozzi moved permanently with her Italian husband and her daughter to Parma, a sophisticated city in northern Italy, where he became a professor of biology. Her search for rootedness in the city that was to be her home introduced her to complexities in her identity as she migrated into another language and looked for links beyond the joys of Verdi, Correggio, and Parmesan cheese, which visitors have rightly extolled for centuries. The local resistance to change perceived as individualistic led Wilde-Menozzi to explore the pull and challenge of difference and discover the backbone she needed for artistic freedom.
In Mother Tongue, Wilde-Menozzi offers stories of far-sighted lives, remarkable Parma men and remarkable women, including the Renaissance abbess Giovanna Piacenza, the fighting Donella Rossi Sanvitale, and her own indefatigable mother-in-law. Framed with a new introduction by the author, and a new foreword by Patricia Hampl, this classic on diversity and tolerance, family, faith, and food in Italy and the United States is at once timeless and timely, a “large, beautiful window into the intelligent, literate, reflective life of Italy” (Shirley Hazzard).