If one is looking for a silver lining in growing up under the fascist regime of Mussolini, perhaps you could say at least one would be prepared for the hardships and extreme poverty caused by World War II. Pietro's Book, written by Pietro and Jenny Bawtree, is the story of Pietro's life in the Tuscan countryside. Award-winning narrator, Richard Ferrone, takes listeners on a journey from Pietro's birth in 1927 through the Second World War. Tuscany is often a subject of expats, but here is an insider's view, complete with witty and colorful anecdotes of the hardscrabble life of the mezzadri.
Pietro Pinti, born as he says "in the Middle Ages", worked the land with hoe and plow from his earliest youth. Growing up under Mussolini's Fascist regime on a farm near Florence, he and his family lived under conditions of extreme poverty, as sharecroppers to generally unscrupulous landowners. But during World War II, when millions in towns and cities suffered untold hardships, the hardy Tuscan peasants were well equipped to face the rigors of the era. War or no war, work on the land went on, and Pietro describes month by month a typical year in their lives: how they made wine and olive oil, planted and harvested the wheat by hand, made baskets and ladders from chestnut wood - skills now lost.
With sly wit and salty wisdom, Pietro, a natural storyteller who played the trumpet, wrote poetry, and grew famous for his tales of peasants, knights, and brigands, recreates in colorful detail a world and peasant culture that is fast disappearing. Jenny Bawtree, an Englishwoman long settled in Tuscany, was so fascinated by Pietro's stories that she helped shape them into this autobiography, full of color and humor, hardship, and nostalgia.
Narrator was aweful. His voice was very difficult to listen to. It distracted from paying attention to the story. Couldn't listen past the first 90 minutes.