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A literary tour of the Langhe

by Dario Morgante last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

We go to the Langhe for a feast of food, wine and literature

A literary tour of the LangheThe Langhe in Northern Italy is a region within a region. Nestling in the heart of Piedmont, the Langhe is a hilly, mist-cloaked area. The hospitality of the people is as famous as its rain. But most famous of all are the region's biggest export - the truffles and wines enjoyed all over the world.

All these gourmet delights make it exceedingly easy to find a bed for the night and a hearty meal to tuck into in the Langhe. So do forgive us if we leave these aspects up to you and concentrate on an extraordinary literary tour in the footsteps of one of Italy's best-loved 20th authors.
Born in Alba in 1922, Beppe Fenoglio was one of the few writers to describe WW2 as a partisan without resorting to unnecessary rhetoric. Fenoglio himself fought with the Partisans for two years throughout his beloved Langhe.

His most famous book is Johnny the Partisan. The novel has recently been made into a film and was shot on location in and around Alba. Fenoglio first came to the attention of the public with his novel "The ruin" (La malora). Similar themes crop up in all of his works: the fight for freedom, the hard life of the local farmers, the Langhe and its people, its hills and valleys, silence and waiting. Fenoglio was a shy man who liked to keep out of the public eye. In 1962 in a letter to his friend Italo Calvino he wrote "I haven't had a photograph taken for seven years". In another letter to Calvino a year later he asked if he had anything "left over" for "I ventitre giorni della città di Alba" (another of Fenoglio's acclaimed works) as he hadn't got enough money for a new type writer.

A good starting point for those wishing to trace Fenoglio's steps is this site with its gallery of photos dedicated to the Langhe and the places immortalised by the writer in his works. The site also includes maps of Alba, Barbaresco, Borgomale, Bossolasco, Castagnole delle Lanze, Coazzolo, Mango, Neive, Niella Belbo, Santo Stefano Belbo and Valdivilla. (The site is in Italian but the photo tour is interesting and easy to follow.)

Beppe Fenoglio - - A biography of Beppe Fenoglio
Johnny the Partisan - - Facts on the film
The Langhe - - An informative guide to the Langhe area.
Beppe Fenoglio - - An exhaustive site on Fenoglio's life, work and native land. (In Italian only.)

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