Aiming to track down a small oasis town deep in the Sahara, Annie Hawes leaves her home in the olive groves of Italy and sets off along the south coast of the Mediterranean. This title follows her journey, where she discovers that life at a date-farming oasis is not so simple and uncomplicated as she has imagined.
Ever since Annie got together with Ciccio, his Calabrian family have spoken of their homeland as an earthly paradise, of wild nights dancing the tarantella, of almond milk sold fresh from roadside stalls, of honey cakes and amaro made from wild liquorice roots... Now, at last, Annie and Ciccio are travelling down to see the ancestral home and extended family for themselves, along with a bunch of vocal and lively de Gilios who don't want to miss out on the fun.
Will everything Annie has learnt in her years among the Ligurians stand her in good stead among the Calabresi? Or is she in for another steep learning curve in the intricacies of Italian rural life?
During the course of Annie Hawes' new book, local culinary superstar, Ciccio, gradually takes over as Annie's constant companion. How irresistible is a man who first demonstrates his affection and esteem by inviting her into his vineyard to help himmix up cow manure, which she spends the afternoon slapping onto an old pizza oven to improve its insulation, before driving her at terrifying speed to a Herbie Hancock concert? But even with Ciccio's help, the everyday life of Ligurian folk never seems to lose its surreal edge for Annie. How long does she have to stay at Diano San Pietro before it all becomes normal run-of-the-mill stuff and ceases to amaze her? Will she ever manage to go native?