Miracles in Montanare: Ten Years in Tuscany is about friendship: the value and importance of opening your heart to others, of believing that it is possible to connect despite language or cultural differences and about the life-altering benefits of finding friends who will believe that with you. It is a small story. It is a huge story.
One of the great joys of publishing a book is watching readers receive it. Being in Italy seeing the people Larry wrote his book about receive their copies took that special experience to a new level for me.
Each of the 12 days I was in Italy, Larry and I would drive out in the morning heading for a meeting with one person or another who appears in the book. One day was Pier (The Pavarotti of Montepulciano), the day before was Daniela Borghesi, Administrator of the Seattle-Perugia Sister City program and Daniela Snyder’s namesake, before that it was Primo, and Piero, and down the list.
Larry does a short formal presentation with each of them. He tells them how much they mean to him, he shares with them how they have changed his life. Inevitably, they cry, happily, to realize the impact they’ve had and as it dawns on them that this book is about them.
Then Larry hands them the wrapped book and the magic really happens. They humbly unwrap it and Sonja Gerard’s beautiful cover design comes into view. It features a photograph of the arch at San Galgano, the locals all recognize it. They stop and their eyes go wide, they lose their breath. A moment passes when I can see in their face that the book is exceeding every expectation they had of it. They knew Larry had been writing a book, they didn’t realize he was producing a work of art. They run their hands over the cover, page through the book, marveling at the design, the photos, the Cortonese symbol, the family tree. The look of the book, the feel of the book, its quality and exacting artistry helps them understand the magnitude of Larry’s work before they’ve even read it.
When you produce a book you release it into the world and it is not yours anymore. Most often who receives it and how it impacts them happens out of the publisher’s view. To be present on this book tour to see the book enter the hearts of the people receiving it made my heart bigger and filled me with gratitude.
Buonasera, Cortona. Buonasera, Toscana.
So began my remarks on July 3rd at the Etruscan Museum in the village of Cortona, Italy. Author Larry Snyder and I were there to launch his new book, Miracles in Montanare: Ten Years in Tuscany in Italy by presenting it to Cortona for inclusion in their official town archives (which dates back to the year 525). I had arrived one day before, had never been to Italy before, and speak no Italian. It was my role to introduce Larry to the assembled audience. Maybe it was the jet lag clouding my judgment–I prefer to think it was a heartfelt desire to connect, even marginally, with the locals who had turned out to support Larry’s book–but I was moved to say a few sentences in Italian.
Buonasera, Cortona. Buonasera, Toscana. Questo libro e su di te. This book is about you.
In this book you will find mention of Cortona, Montanare, Camucia, Montepulciano and many other places in Tuscany. But the book is not about those places. It is about the people Larry has met in those places. The people who have opened their hearts and their lives to him and his family, allowed him to become part of this place and this place to become a part of him.
This book is a love story. Questo libro e una storia d’amore. It is about the love he feels for this place and the people in it. Tonight he wants to give you this book as a gift. Questo libro e su di te. Questo libro e per te.
That evening at the Etruscan Museum is one I will never forget. The Italians in the audience forgave me my bumbling Italiano. But more importantly and more memorably, they warmly and enthusiastically embraced Larry’s book. Larry wrote the book to honor the ways in which the people of Tuscany have enriched his life; what they have contributed to his life is a gift, he will be the first to tell you. He traveled there to present the book as a humble offering of appreciation to the people who inspired it.