I'm not aware of an English translation of this book, so I expect I'll end up translating it myself. I'll probably start with my favourite bits and then fill in the gaps. I'll put some samples in here in the hope that someone will see it and like it. Apart from anything else, I have no idea how one goes about publishing these things. The book is very old, so maybe the Italian text is in the public domain... hmm.
Anyway, the book is by "Vamba", whose real name was Luigi Bertelli. The book was originally published as a series in the Giornalino della Domenica in 1907, and in book form in about 1920.
The Italian version is on-line thanks to Liber Liber.
As I say somewhere on my home page, this book is possibly the best Italian children's book around. When I lived in Rome, I asked people to recommend children's books to me, and this was on everybody's list.
Well, actually, so was Cuore, which is ghastly. But I digress.
I'm working from the "Biblioteca Universale dei Ragazzi" edition, easily obtainable in any decent bookshop in Italy. I paid 9000 lire for a copy in 1993. More expensive and larger format editions with at least some colour illustrations are also available, but I'm not sure they contain the footnotes found in the BUR edition. In Rome, try Feltrinelli in Largo Argentina, Via del Babuino or just north of Piazza della Repubblica, or Rizzoli in Largo Chigi (about halfway up Via del Corso). I've also seen it on sale in La Cittą del Sole, Rome's best toyshop, in Via della Scrofa (which is between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona).
I've now split this document up so that each .html file is one day from the diary, but for now here I've only actally translated a few scenes mostly from about two-thirds of the way through the book, covering most of the "Maralli-Venanzio incident".
Anything in square brackets is a comment added by me.
You should be able to estimate how far I am from finishing my first pass through the book by counting the blank entries. I'll worry a lot more about correctness etc. the second time through. I'll be asking Italian friends for help with some of the bits I'm not too sure about. I'd be interested to receive comments from anyone who reads this. Can anyone think of a snappy way to translate "Viva la pappa col pomodoro!"? "Hooray for tomato soup!" (suggested by Claudia di Giorgio) is the best I've heard so far.
Giovanni Vanucci has sent me a translation of September 21, and the following explanation of what "pappa col pomodoro" actually is:
It is an old-fashioned first course made by soaking all the leftover bits of two- to six-day old bread into hot vegetable broth, with appropriate condiments (such as tomato sauce) to make it palatable and mask the stale-bread flavor. It can, actually, be quite tasty; but it is a poor man's dish dating back to the days when a humble lifestyle was the norm in Italy.
He suggests calling it "gruel", but that makes me think of Oliver Twist.
Bear in mind that the book is set in 1905, when a thousand lire was a considerable sum of money. When sums of money are mentioned, imagine that one lira is about one pound or one dollar.
Note that I will sometimes/often leave this file in a bit of a state, with links to images I haven't scanned in yet, or whatever. I apologise in advance for anything which interferes with your reading enjoyment... Last update: October 1996.
Quick access to later sections:
The reading of Venanzio's will