From WWI to Covid, from Florence
to the tiny villages of Tuscany,
stories of love, courage and adventure.

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The Cielo

In the summer of 1944, Italian partisans engaged in brutal battles with the Germans in the beautiful hills of Tuscany. As the SS began committing ghastly atrocities, terrified villagers fled to farmhouses in the hills for safety.

The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany, is the story of some of those villagers. It is, in fact, inspired by the experiences of the author's relatives, and the actual "Cielo" (literally "heaven") is now a farmhouse available for rent in Tuscany.

As the war rages all around them, the villagers at the farmhouse overcome petty differences, face betrayal by one of them, fearlessly take in an escaped POW, and survive a raid by the SS. In the course of this, a girl finds love, two boys become heroes, and secrets are revealed. Then an unthinkable, horrific event changes all of the villagers forever. Not all of them will return to their devastated homes.

The Cielo is a gripping story of courage, endurance and the power of the human spirit in the cruelest of times.

Sparrow's Revenge

Ten years later, after the tumultuous climax in The Cielo, the Resistance fighter whose code name was Sparrow is obsessed by one of the worst Nazi atrocities in Italy during WWII.

But he is also guilt-ridden.

Seeking retribution, he decides to relentlessly pursue the collaborator of this terrible tragedy.

His search takes him first to Florence and then to Pietrasanta, the lovely marble-making town on the western coast of Italy. There he meets the woman who will become a part of his journey and his life.

They travel to the treacherous and mysterious land of the Garfagnana, where secrets are kept and fugitives can hide. Chased by thugs but with the help of aged partisans, they find their prey near a place fittingly called the Devil's Bridge.

Sparrow learns that not everything one has heard can be believed. But he also discovers something he has long hidden within himself.

Sparrow's Revenge: A Novel of Postwar Tuscany is an unforgettable tale of revenge, retribution, guilt and, finally, forgiveness.

Dino's Story

At the end of The Cielo, Lucia, the sixteen-year-old girl trapped in the farmhouse with the rest of her family, has a baby. It is Little Dino, whose father, Dino, was killed in the firefight with the Germans just outside the farmhouse.

In Sparrow's Revenge, Little Dino is ten years old, a shy boy but already immensely talented as an artist.

Now, at the start of Dino's Story: A Novel of 1960s Tuscany, he is a quiet teenager, embarrassed by his big ears and freckles and feeling the pangs of hormonal changes. When he is eighteen, he goes to Florence to study art at the famous Accademia di Belle Arti. As a lonely boy from a tiny village, he is thrust into a world of cultural changes, but finds refuge and satisfaction by volunteering in a soup kitchen.

In the dramatic climax, the Arno River overflows in November 1966, and Dino comes of age by helping the poor and destitute who are devastated by the terrible flood.

The Temptation of Father Lorenzo

The beloved characters of A Tuscan Trilogy (The Cielo, Sparrow's Revenge and Dino's Story) return in this engrossing collection, all set in Florence and the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Father Lorenzo, still exhausted from the flood, is tempted by a beautiful woman. Tomasso seeks his long-lost son. Father Sangretto retaliates when a rival priest produces a "miracle." Donna and Ezio open their farmhouse to tourists. The women of Sant'Antonio join to help the stricken Annabella. Anna leaves the convent. Dino makes up his mind between Sophia and Francesca. And more.

A Piazza for Sant'Antonio

In the first of this series, The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany, terrified villagers were trapped in a farmhouse during WWII. In the second, Sparrow's Revenge: A Novel of Postwar Tuscany, a partisan hunted down the collaborator of a horrific massacre. In the third, Dino's Story: A Novel of 1960s Tuscany, a boy came of age during the devastating flood of Florence in 1966. Then the characters entered a new decade in The Temptation of Father Lorenzo: Ten Stories of 1970s Tuscany.

Now these beloved characters, along with a few new friends and relatives, return in A Piazza for Sant'Antonio, Five Novellas of 1980s Tuscany. In the first story, Donna writes a cookbook that makes her famous and threatens her marriage. In another, little Pasquale, in trying save a cat, teaches the people of his village understanding. When Sant'Antonio is ridiculed because it lacks a piazza, a mysterious man who lives in an abandoned monastery comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, when Dino seeks his roots, he discovers a heroic grandfather, a loving uncle and a doomed village that may be inhabited by ghosts. And in Florence, Father Lorenzo tries to cope with the hysteria brought about by a serial killer of young lovers.

The Fearless Flag Thrower of Lucca

Father Lorenzo, Ezio and Donna, Lucia and Paolo, Dino and Sofia-all the beloved characters of the earlier books return in this final volume as they face new adventures and challenges into the 1990s.

In one story, Father Lorenzo has a surprise reunion with the beautiful woman he met on the hot beaches of Rimini, Lucia and Paolo celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Anna and a television priest become friends, a supermarket threatens Sant'Antonio's shops, a new book celebrates Cortona, Ezio's long-awaited novel becomes a movie, and a shipload of Albanian refugees brings a new life to Dino and Sofia. In the title story, a long tradition in the art of flag throwing is shattered at a festival in Lucca.

We've all grown older during these decades, learned a lot, shared a lot. But there's a new millennium and it's time to move on.

The Ghosts of the Garfagnana

The focus this time is on the Garfagnana, the rugged area of Tuscany that seems both eerie and mysterious.

This was the place with a bridge built by a devil in the Middle Ages (well, of course it was), a mountain that contains a witches’ coven, an underground cavern where voices can be heard, a village that had been flooded when a dam was built (the villagers were evacuated) but whose church bells can be heard under under the lake on cold winter nights.

The stories are interconnected, but span centuries, from medieval times to the present. There’s one about a young monk who was murdered by another in revenge but doesn’t seem to want to leave the monastery. Another about a statue that moves and cures people. One about soldier who returns from “the other side.”

My interest in the musical theater creeps in. There’s a village that goes to sleep for a hundred years (“Brigadoon! Brigadoon!”), a teenager who sings songs from “Hamilton,” and a theater major out to disprove the legend about ghosts in theaters.

They were all fun to write and, I hope, to read.

A Tuscan Treasury

Stories from Italy’s most captivating region.

Ranging over time and place, this new collection of stories reflects people and events throughout the unforgettable land of the author’s roots.

Many are based on actual happenings and some are historical. A soldier writes to his girlfriend and his mother during World War I. A massacre takes the lives of four innocent men in a village during World War II. An elderly woman recalls her life as a staffete, helping partisans during that war.

Some are in the not so distant past. Thousands of desperate Albanians commandeer a ship in an ill-fated attempt to seek refuge in Italy. Frances Mayes’ best-selling “Under the Tuscan Sun” reverberates in Cortona, where it takes place.

Some could be ripped from today’s newspapers. The coronavirus pandemic causes panic for a young family from America. A tour guide loses his job because of it. Women march for their rights.

And there’s at least one just for fun. Shakespeare could not have imagined what happens to two star-crossed lovers.