Thomson embraces the culture with open arms, and as is often the case for those transplanted to different environs, reinvents his persona. “In Canada I was more reserved; here I feel free to be more outgoing,” he writes. (Italica, a journal of Italian studies, Feb. 5, 2019)

To improve his spoken Italian quickly Thomson avoids contact with English speakers. He hones his accent by spending hours imitating a 45 rpm of Gassman reciting Dante. This enables Thomson to communicate with Italians at a deeper level than one would normallly expect. (The Ormsby Review, Vancouver, B.C.)

Your book should be required reading for all college students who wish to travel in Italy (or any foreign land). Gail Stephany in Cleveland OH.

Commenting on his year in Italy, Thomson writes:
I discovered many things during this year in Italy. One of the unexpected benefits of the year was to see life in a more moral and spiritual way. I gained insights into my upbringing and education and began to see that they had molded me in a very narrow, materialistic way. I realized that, much like Dante, I was lost in a dark wood, a ‘selva oscura’ and it was liberating to become aware of this.

While cycling up into the Apennines Thomson comments:
I passed the Grotta della Madonna, a cave with a statue to the Madonna in front of it. Nearby is a waterfall and an ancient broken-down mill beside it. God knows how old! It could be from Dante’s time. I can well imagine him trudging along this very road at the beginning of his life-long exile from Florence. Maybe it goes as far back as the Romans, or even the Etruscans! You can feel the history over here. It’s mysterious and powerful…

A few more of Thomson’s impressions:
It’s ten p.m. and I am writing this from my room overlooking the wine-drinking joint across the vicolo (narrow street) It’s quite cosy here. Ede has provided me with a furry goatskin to keep my feet warm while I study. Very nice of her. Anyway, as I was saying, the wine drinkers are really in their cups tonight and having a merry time but for the past few minutes I can hear the language degenerating. One guy has just shouted at someone that he is a ‘vigliacco’ (a coward) and things will probably escalate because this is a fighting word. Tuning in on situations like this is interesting and a good way to get the sense of what some words really mean.
It’s funny how customs are. When Gino bought me a beer I thanked him, at which he took offence. I think his thinking goes like this: “By thanking me you have acknowledged that you feel obligated, but there’s nothing to feel obligated about because this is a kindness that I am doing for you as a friend, because I like you. Also, I get pleasure in doing it so there is no need to thank me. I guess the converse applies: when I pay for someone’s drink
I shouldn’t expect to be thanked! ‘Paese che vai usanze che trovi’. (Whichever country you go to has its own distinct customs.)
I bet that Communism will destroy itself long before Capitalism. Look at Hungary.