Levi , an artist, writer, and qualified (although not practising) doctor was exiled to Basilicata as a result of his anti-Fascist views on the eve of the war in Abyssinia. In Basilicata he found great kindness from many of the peasantry, but also brutal grinding poverty in a stark, unforgiving landscape. Forced to practice medicine in a land with no doctors or health service, Levi re-evaluates the Italy that he thought he knew. This is a stunning read, and a worthy companion to many of the other great left-wing books of the 1930s - most notably George Orwell's The road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia.
This is a book to soak into, to absorb the sights and sounds and smells. It is an Italy that can seem as remote as Roman times, and yet is only 75 years ago. A must-read.