copertina guidaINTRODUCED TO MONTEFALCONE THE TOURIST GUIDE BY PROF JAMES RICHARDS  I’d like to dedicate this guide to my fellow citizens in Montefalcone as a tribute to the warm welcome they gave to the two foreigners – my wife and I – who arrived here nine years ago. And especially to our neighbours: to Polonio and his children, Pietro and Gigetta, and their families; to Marisa, Enzo, Gianluca and Sara; to Mimi and Vincenzina; and to Luisa.   Italy is aptly known as il Bel Paese, the beautiful country, and there is nowhere more beautiful in that lovely land than Montefalcone set between the mountains and the sea. And it puts me in mind of two fictitious villages in Great Britain. The first, Little Hintock, is to be found in a nineteenth century English novel written by Thomas Hardy called  The Woodlanders, published in Italy as Nel Bosco. Like Montefalcone, Little Hintock is set amid woodland, and Hardy celebrates the simple, dignified lives of the woodcutters and countryfolk who inhabit his novel. Just as in Montefalcone many of the families can trace their roots in the village back over the centuries. Hardy was born in 1840 and died in 1928. He uses the village of Little Hintock to pay tribute to the world of his youth, a world which the advent of modern transport – first the steam-locomotive and then the motor car – was destroying. A world of real communities with deep roots where children could play in the streets without threat from either people or vehicles. Happily, this world still survives in Montefalcone.  The other village, Llareggub, is the setting of the Welsh poet Dylan Thonas’s play Under Milkwood, Sotto il Bosco di Latte. Just like Montefalcone, Llareggub has a castle and lies beneath a wood. Like Montefalcone, Llareggub is full of charming and characterful inhabitants. In Llareggub, Dai Bread, the baker, has two wives – one for the day, the other for the night. He’s very different from our baker, Enzo – well let’s hope so!   The play ends with these moving words:     The thin night darkens. A breeze … sighs the streets close under Milk waking Wood. The Wood … that is a God-built garden to Mary Ann … who knows there is Heaven on earth and the chosen people of His kind fire in Llareggub’s land …I believe these words to be equally true of Montefalcone Appennino.