Dear Alfonso: An Italian Feast of Love and Laughter

By Mary Contini


'This is how I was born. At 7.30 a.m. at the Istituto Annunziata in Napoli on 1 May 1925 ...'

So begins a manuscript, handwritten by Carlo Contini, which lay forgotten and unread for years. The scrawling script unfolds an incredible tale of poverty, adventure and survival which Carlo had not shared with his family during his life time, but left as a moving and extraordinary legacy for them.

Inspired by this document, Carlo's daughter-in-law, Mary Contini, relates in her inimitable style the story of Carlo's life from wartime Pozzuoli, near Naples, and Genoa, and eventually to Edinburgh, where he arrived in 1952 on a three-month visa to learn English. Here his life was to change forever when he met Olivia Crolla and married into her family business, the delicatessen Valvona & Crolla. His experiences and background were a key part of the development of that fledgling business.

Heart-warming, moving and filled with laughter and love, Dear Alfonso is a wonderful celebration of food, family and friendship.

Year of Publication

Author Biography

Mary Contini grew up in East Lothian above her family's Italian cafe. She is the bestselling author of numerous books about Italian life and cooking, including Dear Francesca, Dear Olivia, Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table and The Italian Sausage Bible. She is a Director of Valvona & Crolla, the renowned Edinburgh delicatessen, restaurant and cookery school.