“Milano–Roma–Palermo,” by Tim Parks

I’m scarcely sure what nationality I really am these days. All I know is that for the past thirty years I’ve lived and worked in northern Italy, and like most of the people around me I know little of the South, though the South is always present to us as an idea—a bad one, for the most part. The news we get of the South does not endear it to us. It is Gomorrah, it is corrupt, it soaks up our tax money, and when it isn’t corrupt it is superstitious, primitive, sentimental, saccharine. In Milan the presence around us on the streets and in the workplace of all the southerners who have escaped to come to a serious place to work only confirms our opinions. And having made the journey north, these southerners are understandably eager to convince themselves that they have done the right thing; they rarely speak affectionately of their home without that sigh that reminds you that, much as they love it, it was impossible to stay. The fact that so many politicians are southerners doesn’t help; Italian politicians rarely inspire confidence. So when a northerner travels south he does so more often than not with a slight sense of trepidation, as if entering a different zone—a different country, even. I remember once, when traveling to see Hellas Verona play in Naples, as the train drew to a standstill beside police lined up with batons, an older fan warned me, “We use our fists, they have their knives.”

But all of a sudden, I had an urge to head south.

………………………..Read more in Little Star Weekly


Tim Parks is the author of sixteen works of fiction, including the Booker-nominated Europa, and, most recently, Sex Is Forbidden. He has lived in Italy for thirty-two years. His reflections on Italy by train will appear next month in Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo.

Little Star featured a story and essay on the reading life by Parks in our inaugural issue, and excerpts from his reflection on meditation, the body, and thinking, Teach Us To Sit Still, as well as Sex is Forbidden, here on our blog.


Italian Ways

Excerpted from Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo, by Tim Parks. Copyright © 2013 by Tim Parks. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.




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