«I write about Stresa. The reason is very simple. You just have to look at the photos. It’s stunning. I began falling in love with Stresa as a young boy. Towards the end of the 1970s. I lived in a tiny town with just 80 inhabitants, Nibbio, a hamlet within the Municipality of Mergozzo, around fifteen kilometres away.
Often my father would load up the whole family into his white Fiat 127 special on Sunday afternoons and he would take us to get an ice-cream in Stresa.
I remember that it happened either in the Spring or Autumn. I would wear a white polo neck beneath a beige jacket, just as I did every Sunday to go to mass. I don’t have a single photo – from nursery to primary five – in which I am not wearing that blooming white polo neck and I’m not pulling at the neck, pulling it up, because it’s itching me. Today, social services would probably have intervened. I remember the long, endless traffic jam to get from Baveno to Stresa. The trouble finding parking. Then finally, with ice-cream in our hands, we’d stroll around the lake front, chatting. On the one side of the lake there were the boats, already filled with tourists heading for the islands, while the grand hotels lined the other. I remember the fathers holding pocket radios in their hands to listen to the football results, minute by minute, while the mothers were pushing prams and buggies. This was an extraordinary experience for me. I would wander around, fascinated by this chaotic world. The lake front, the alleys and the little streets that meandered to the small inner square all swarmed with tourists. German, British and French tourists and even sometimes Japanese and other Asian tourists, who I was unable to distinguish from one another quite honestly. I remember beautiful big cars parked outside of the hotels, some with right-side drive.
I remember the painters. With their easels, colours spread across their palettes filling every corner with paint. I remember a few painting exhibitions in gardens or inside galleries. The string quarter that would play classical music on the lawn in front of the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees.
It was here, immersed in this atmosphere that was so different from the one in which I was growing up, that I understood quite how infinite the size of the world was. That is why Stresa was a kind of door to the world for me. In my heart of hearts, I could nothing else but set my novels in this little town. This kind of introduction to the infinite nature of the world is, in some way, a debt that I think it is right to repay».