Un Amico Italiano

Eat, Pray, Love in Rome

Luca Spaghetti - Author

Antony Shugaar - Translator

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ISBN 9781101514061 | 256 pages | 26 Apr 2011 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP
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"Luca Spaghetti is not only one of my favorite people in the world, but also a natural-born storyteller. . . . This [is a] marvelous book." -Elizabeth Gilbert

When Luca Spaghetti (yes, that's really his name) was asked to show a writer named Elizabeth Gilbert around Rome, he had no idea how his life was about to change. She embraced his Roman ebullience, and Luca in turn became her guardian angel, determined that his city would help Liz out of her funk.

Filled with colorful anecdotes about food, language, soccer, daily life in Rome, and Luca's own fish-out-of-water moments as a visitor to the United States-and culminating with the episodes in Liz's bestselling memoir, told from Luca's side of the table-Un Amico Italiano is a book that no fan of Eat, Pray, Love will want to miss.


Believe It or Not

“Among all the nominees on my Potential New Italian Friends List, I am most intrigued to meet a fellow named . . . brace yourself . . . Luca Spaghetti. And that is honestly his name, I swear to God, I’m not making it up. It’s too crazy. I mean—just think of it. Anyhow, I plan to get in touch with Luca Spaghetti just as soon as possible.”

Writing in 2003, Elizabeth Gilbert, the journalist and author, used those words to introduce one of the characters of her new book, Eat, Pray, Love, the true story of her yearlong journey of rebirth across Italy, India, and Indonesia, in search of herself and true love. That young man—whose name seemed like something out of a tourist brochure about Italy, who had driven her around Rome on the back of his beat-up scooter, dragged her to the stadium to watch Sunday soccer matches, and had taken her out to sample dishes that only a real Roman could love and appreciate—was me. And, yes—since you ask—I really do exist, and my last name really is Spaghetti. Born and raised in Rome, a self-taught guitarist, a devoted soccer fan, and a lover of good cooking. Until seven years ago, I had no idea of the adventure that lay before me. Because no one, much less me, could have imagined that Eat, Pray, Love would be translated into practically every language on earth, enchanting an incredible number of readers everywhere with its candor and irony and becoming a phenomenal international bestseller, with millions and millions of copies sold. But for me, Liz’s book was simply the true— and therefore all the more remarkable—story of what happened when a blond American girl, pretty but unhappy, full of curiosity and love of life, came to Rome. I met her one September day, through a mutual friend, but in a short time she became one of the most important people in my life. A real friend, a friend I’ll never forget.

How could I ever have imagined that, in any country I visited around the world, I’d find copies of Liz’s books at the airport, or that my face would wind up on one of the most popular television shows in the United States, the Oprah Winfrey Show, where Liz would show the viewers a photograph of the two of us together in Rome? Who would have thought that readers from every walk of life and from around the world would ask me, curiously: Are you the Luca Spaghetti? And last of all, who would have ever thought that the story would be made into a movie, with Julia Roberts playing my friend Liz? Or that I myself would be portrayed in that movie, played by a likable and jovial Italian actor.

Life is odd and full of surprises: Liz taught me that. And she taught me the value of true friendship, the kind of friendship that neither time nor distance can undermine. Friendship, as she and I have said to each other many times, is almost a different kind of love.

In this book, I’ve tried to tell my part of the story: my life, my dreams, my passions, my unexpected and extraordinary friendship with Liz, and the joys of my beloved birthplace, Rome. The Rome that I have known my whole life, since I was a child playing soccer in the courtyard, being made fun of for a surname that smacks of red checkered tablecloths and tomato sauce; the Rome that I explored inch by inch with Liz, sharing with her my loves and my memories—sharing my whole self, because that is how true friends are made—and in turn learning from her a valuable lesson about life and starting over, how you can always find the strength inside yourself to search, search, search, until you find what you’re really looking for. And most important of all, I discovered that happiness can be hiding where you least expect it: in a plate of pasta with fresh tomatoes, in a goal scored by your beloved soccer team, in a glass of ice-cold wine in the Campo de’ Fiori, in the excitement of learning a brand-new word in a language you’re just beginning to know.

Because, as the great Roman poet Trilussa once wrote, in a poem entitled Felicità, “When you add it all up, happiness is a small thing.”

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