Peppi has just buried Anna, his beloved wife of almost 45 years. They met and lived in Rhode Island, but Peppi was born in the Italian village of Villa San Giuseppe. He has relatives in Rhode Island, but he and Anna had been childless.
He came to America as a young man, bringing with him his love of bicycles and bike racing. He hasn’t been home to Italy since he left. But the deed to the house of his parents and its attached mill is still in his name, and he wakes up one morning firmly resolved. He’s going back to Italy, back to where he was born, and he’ll live in the house of his parents. All he brings with him are a couple of suitcases and his bicycle.
Not long after, Peppi’s childhood friend Luca, a fellow bicycling enthusiast, is preparing to leave the village square with his cycling friends for a Sunday morning ride. Luca sees another cyclist coming, and he recognizes who it is. With a bare acknowledgement and no fanfare, Luca and Peppi pick up their friendship right where it left off 45 years before.
Things in the village have changed, of course. An earthquake destroyed Peppi’s family home and the mill. Luca now owns his family’s candy business, and his fiery daughter Lucrezia runs its daily operations. She’s been something of a terror ever since the accidental death f her husband a decade before. She still mourns him, just as Peppi carries the loss of his wife with him. Gradually, a May-December romance begins to bloom.
Pezzelli is the author of six novels, all set in Rhode Island or Italy. In his 20s, his girlfriend (and later wife) gave him an electric typewriter, which he used extensively while recovering from a rugby injury. He used the recovery time to try his hand at short stories. Later, he took creative courses at nearby Brown University and the Wesleyan Writers Conference. He eventually set short stories aside to write novels. He lives with his family in Rhode Island.
Home to Italy is a charming, funny, and highly entertaining story. Peppi discovers that it is possible to go home again, even as many things have changed. But the things that matter – the people – have not.