Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves: An American Naturalist in Italy

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9780140239720: Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves: An American Naturalist in Italy

By the winner of the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing.
 
“Gary Nabhan went to walk in old Italy like a pilgrim. . . . This is a story about moving from sad uncertainty to part-time joyousness. It is a great book.”—William Kittredge
 
“In part to ponder my Mediterranean roots and in part to learn of the land of my saint, San Francisco,” Gary Paul Nabhan, one of America’s finest nature writers and author of The Desert Smells Like Rain decided to walk the two hundred miles from Florence to Assisi. Along the way he met peasant farmers eager to share the love of their plants and seeds, recipes and customs. The fruit of this pilgrimage is writing that imaginatively traverses the boundary between nature and history.
“Unusual but important . . . entertaining and informative . . . the book afford[s] an evening retreat as satisfying as a shot of grappa with a plate of anisette cookies.”—The New York Times Book Review

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A journey from Florence to Assisi in the steps of St. Francis proves as much a spiritual quest as an eclectic scientific inquiry for enthnobotanist Nabhan (Enduring Seeds, 1989). While recovering from a painful divorce, Nabhan, who's part Lebanese, decided to walk the two hundred miles between Florence and Assisi ``in part to ponder my Mediterranean roots, and in part to learn of the land of my saint, San Francisco.'' Before he set off, he made a brief visit to Genoa, home of Christopher Columbus, where, in a local market, he found prickly pears, native to the Americas but now at home in the Old World: This sort of cross- fertilization of plants and seeds--as well as of cultures--is one of the author's subtexts here. Another is the need for ``rough country land where we can be truant and not have to pay to get in or be inspected on the way out.'' Nabhan discovered that little of such wilderness is left in Italy: The wolves have gone; the forests where chestnuts or truffles grow are planned; and even the ancient oaks at St. Francis's shrine, protected as artifacts rather than as living organisms, are dying from benign attention. Civilization is always close by, providing a mix of old and new: rock music and the waltz at an Umbrian corn festival (leading Nabhan to a brief history of corn in Italy, where it once caused pellagra among the peasants); farmers cultivating ancient native crops alongside New World imports like tomatoes and sunflowers; the tasting of the season's first truffles, dug up by dogs rather than by the traditional pigs. Throughout, Nabhan relates his experiences with a beguiling candor that's spoiled by only a few obvious thoughts and insights about human relationships. An enjoyable mix of information and opinion from a writer whose delight in nature is always wise and thoughtful, never sentimental or smug. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. After two decades in the Southwest studying plant use and cultivation by the native hunter-gatherers and first farmers of the New World, Gary Nabhan, one of America s finest naturalists and nature writers, turns his attention to the Old World, walking the Franciscan Way, nearly two hundred miles from Florence to Assisi. Accompanied by a friend, Nabhan enters the heart of the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside in order to read the landscape as one reads a sacred book, slowly and with growing delight. He talks with peasant farmers, truffle sellers, cooks, and bakers, all eager to share their plants, seeds, cooking methods, and cultural insights with the American pilgrims. Saint Francis has come to be a model for what it means to be human in the natural world, and Nabhan takes him as a guide. This journey becomes a spiritual quest as well as an ethnobotanical field trip. Together with Nabhan we discover what is useful in the old ways, what remains wild in the civilized world, and what in ancient science has survived to make its way into contemporary culture. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140239720

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. After two decades in the Southwest studying plant use and cultivation by the native hunter-gatherers and first farmers of the New World, Gary Nabhan, one of America s finest naturalists and nature writers, turns his attention to the Old World, walking the Franciscan Way, nearly two hundred miles from Florence to Assisi. Accompanied by a friend, Nabhan enters the heart of the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside in order to read the landscape as one reads a sacred book, slowly and with growing delight. He talks with peasant farmers, truffle sellers, cooks, and bakers, all eager to share their plants, seeds, cooking methods, and cultural insights with the American pilgrims. Saint Francis has come to be a model for what it means to be human in the natural world, and Nabhan takes him as a guide. This journey becomes a spiritual quest as well as an ethnobotanical field trip. Together with Nabhan we discover what is useful in the old ways, what remains wild in the civilized world, and what in ancient science has survived to make its way into contemporary culture. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140239720

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