The Bicycle Runner: A Memoir of Love, Loyalty, and the Italian Resistance
At 14, the young Romagnoli, like any other Italian youth, marched to the beat of the Balilla, the Fascist Youth Organization in Italy. Not long after his days in his little squad, he realized the error of his ways and became a bicycle runner, secretly delivering books, pamphlets and other materials to members of the Resistance. Romagnoli, who died in 2008, at 82, and developed an affectionate following as a writer on Italian culture and cuisine (Italy, the Romagnoli Way: A Culinary Journey), warmly chronicles his coming-of-age in the midst of upheaval and conflict. This memoir covers 11 years in Romagnoli's life (from 14 to 25) and contains the outline of a portrait of the young man as famous artist. During his stint with the resistance, he meets a young American pilot named Bob, and with their insatiable appetites whetted by their hunger, the two dream of home by exchanging constantly their favorite succulent menus. Romagnoli reminisces, too, about first love; his forays into lust and sex with his neighbor; his fear of confession to the local Catholic priest; and the warmth and largesse of his extended family. In this heartwarming memoir, Romagnoli offers a picture of a young boy whose passions and longings for love, homeland and family abide with him as he turns quickly into an adult because of WWII.
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