Here you’ll find information about my writing, teaching, literary and opera reviewing and festival curation. I hope the interrelated subjects on these pages will resonate with you: they range from literature, music, history and creative writing, to why and how different arts engage with each other. Why my engagement with the arts and humanities? Because their economic impact on our societies may defy easy measurement, but that on everyone’s well-being is immense.
Why do I write? To make sense of the world and to make a – certainly infinitesimal – difference. Novels are not ‘useful’ in the way of how-to guides, any more than myth and fairy tale, music or painting are. I dare not provide answers but merely an individual vision of reality’s complexities. Hopefully, a reader or two will find it has added something – whether comforting, encouraging, challenging… – to their perspective, as other authors’ work has done for me.
The painting on this page seemed appropriate because of its personal, literary and historical associations. I was born in Brindisi, Italy’s Porta d’Oriente, or ‘Gateway to the East’. This is a view of its harbour, which opens onto the Corfu channel: the Roman columns mark the endpoint of the Appian Way; on the right is the house traditionally said to stand in place of the one where Virgil died; here Caesar tried to stop Pompey and his army; here Emperor Frederick II married Isabella, Queen of Jerusalem; for centuries the city was fought over by a long series of foreign conquerors who left their mark, a patchwork of Northern European and Mediterranean cultures. The painting is by Luigi Mayer (1755-1803), an Italian-German artist and close friend of Sir Robert Ainslie, British Ambassador to Turkey from 1776 to 1792. Mayer travelled throughout the Ottoman Empire depicting the landscapes and people, from the Balkans and the Greek Islands to Turkey and Egypt. On the way there, he set sail from Brindisi, as Virgil had done and countless others still do today. Voyages take many forms – I hope this website will be a refreshing stopover on yours.
That Summer In Puglia cover photo: © Salvo d’Avila; all rights reserved; reproduced with kind permission of the artist. Book cover graphic design: Edwin Smet.
Photo of Luigi Mayer’s View of the Harbour of Brindisi by Valeria Vescina. Copyright, all rights reserved.
Image of The Appian Way and the later Via Appia Traiana by NASA. Reproduced under Public Domain license.
Image of The Port of Brindisi, from The Book of Navigation of Piri Reis from Wikimedia Commons. Reproduced under Public Domain license.