Mal di pietre (The House in Via Manno)

The House in Via Mano (published in Italy as Mal di pietre), is Milena Agus’ second novel. The novel won three Italian literary awards and has been a bestseller in Italy, France, and Germany.  I read somewhere that a film adaptation of the novel is to follow.

I did not know anything of what I just wrote above when I first came across the tiny volume (120 pages in total). What attracted me to it was the volumes’ cover that looked oddly familiar. And that it was written by an Italian woman, (Milena was born in Genoa to Sardinian parents, and now lives in Cagliari where she teaches at secondary school).  In one of my previous lives I lived in Italy for almost two years, the place left a permanent mark in me.

The House in Via Manno is one of those books, and not that there are many of them, every mother should gift to her daughters and make sure they read it. Because it is an exploration of womanhood in the truest sense possible; through the search for perfect love, told in a powerfully whimsical voice of a highly skilled and truly honest writer. TheHouseinViaManno_LR_titlecover

A young Sardinian woman narrates the life of her paternal grandmother; her Nonna. Nonna is an unforgettable character; bewitchingly beautiful, hopelessly romantic … a dreamer with fierce loyalties and unbridled passions.

Nonna is also somewhat crazy, or everyone things so, especially her mother to whom Nona’s unusual and eccentric behaviours brings nothing but worries and shame in the small Sardinian village at the beginning of the Second World War. But Nonna is on the quest to find perfect love and nothing will deter her from it. Worse yet, she freely expresses her passionate feelings to any number of young suitors who are initially attracted by Nonna’s beauty, but soon stop turning up. Nonna is a gifted writer!

In May 1943, Nonna married Nonno and along the way, against the struggles of war, the stunning beauty of Sardinian landscapes, a magical story is told of a family, love, loss and mysterious Veteran, the man of Nonna dreams whom she meets in the autumn of 1950. But nothing can possible prepare the reader for the last few pages and surprise they hide!

I read the book in a night. Once I closed the last page and traced my fingers over the cover, I realized why it looked familiar. Flowery pattern climbing upwards forming a border remained me of a tablecloth my Nonna used to spread over our kitchen table on Sundays, or when we had visitors. And then I remembered that my own grandparents also married in 1943 … and all the stories they told during those years I lived with them, which was all my life, before crossing the oceans.


Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

36 thoughts on “Mal di pietre (The House in Via Manno)”

    1. It really is wonderful, and I have a feeling you would like it -:)!

      I have indeed lived and Italy and was fluent in Italian … how years go by and I do not have anybody to speak to in Italian regularly (the same goes for Croatian too -:)), it is harder and harder to find the right Italian words … you should see my shopping list … groceries are written in three languages – basically which ever comes first when particular item is written down! And if anyone here is to be ‘envious’ it ought to be me – of your ability to write in English in a way I cannot!

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,
      All the Best


  1. It does sound like a wonderful book. I have read books/memoirs of famous people, but often it is the writings and stories about just —- people that really leave the lasting impressions.
    I have also read books that I wanted to continue holding or
    touching…….because they have touched me so.


  2. Tako je Daniela, i mene podsjeća na te starinske stoljnjake. Moja baka (ona koja je ‘autor’ nekih mojih tekstova) i djed (s očeve strane) vjenčali su se daleke ’30te, a u Zagreb su došli ’43. iz Karlovca i ponijeli sa sobom ‘sve što je stalo na kamion, a to je bilo sve osim kuće u kojoj su živjeli’. Tako su se tu našli i stoljnjaci koje je baka čuvala. Sjećam se posebno jednog, tj. dva – donji, veći, bio je od bijelog lanenog platna s rubom, ne od čipke nego ukrašen vezom od bijelog konca, a unutrašnjost tih oblika bila je izrezana tako da je to djelovalo kao čipka. Sjećam se toga dobro jer sam volio gurati prste u te rupice što je jako veselilo moju baku, ha ha. A gornji je bio manji i izvezen raznobojnim koncima i stavljao se dijagonalno na ovaj dolje. Jasno, to se na stol stavljalo blagdanima ili povodom proslave nečije godišnjice rođenja ili braka. Za nedjeljne ručkove je bilo drugačijih, malo jednostavnijih.

    Još napomena – ne znam kako vidiš ove hrvatske grafeme, vjerujem da koristiš UTF-8, ali ako nemaš u pregledniku i imaš problema s njima, obavijesti me, molim. Jer ja se toga sjetim tek kad napišem sve, a onda mi se lijenom ne da mijenjati 🙂
    Pozdrav 😀


    1. Tocno tako je bilo i u mojoj kuci … dva stoljnjaka, bijeli vez prvi, i zatim sareni preko njega … ko da sada vidim. Moja baka je bila iz Like (okolina Senja), a deda iz Moslavine (okolina Garesnice). Oni su se vjencali 1943 u Bjelovaru i nasli se u Zagrebu 1945 kada im se rodila prva kcer (moja mama) … njihova je prica zapravo prica o jednom vremenu … nadam se jednom skupiti snage (i umijeca) da je ispricam.

      Puno hvala za posjet i osobito komentar … stvarno me od srca veseli!



    1. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! I so ‘envy’ you for living in Mediterranean … Croatia is my country of origin, it has most beautiful coast!

      And I think you would love The House in Via Manno -:)!

      All the Best,


    1. Dear Alice,

      I love the expression ‘book-sounds’ … I am just working on an essay (might become a blog post or at least a part of it) on sounds of words and meanings/feelings they trigger in us, especially when using the language different from the one, one learned to speak initially.

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,



    1. You are most welcome and I do hope you will found the book both interesting and useful. I do however believe that each one of us defines a loving relationship in our own unique way. Many thanks for reading and commenting.


  3. Isn’t it just lovely to discover that serendipity does, indeed, happen? And when it does, it is our duty to find delight in what it brings!! ((:

    Your post left a smile on my face, Daniela. Thank you for that!

    Blessings to you!!



  4. It’s always little things in life that trigger the deepest emotions, like a tablecloth. In a Chinese family, we don’t use a tablecloth, perhaps Chinese people are more ‘practical’ — why using a tablecloth when it’ll soon be covered with grease? While living in the west, I alway find decorative items (including a tablecloth) fascinating.

    Daniela, I’m surprised that WordPress didn’t send your new posts to my Reader anymore, though I’m still following you. I may have to un-follow you, then follow you again to see if it helps. WordPress has changed a few things that make things a bit different.

    All the best to you in the New Year, Daniela.


    1. Dear Janet,

      Thank you very much for your kind comment. Indeed, more often than note little things in life trigger the most meaningful recollections. I love your views on table cloths … and knowing few Chinese people here in NZ, I can safely vouch for the practicality and pragmatism of Chinese -:)!

      I have much the same issues as you pointed out with the WordPress … I do not know what exactly has changed but am finidng increasingly difficult to find the blogs I follow … hopefully WP will see to those glitches.

      I wish you too all the best and hope that both of us will blog happily in 2013 and beyond!

      Many thanks,


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