'Only an Italian can say that properly and there’s only one person left who calls me that. The rest are dead.
'The first words I ever heard were Italian ones. The first word I ever spoke was an Italian word – papà. This was according to my poor mum who stopped speaking Italian when her vocal cords froze, together with the rest of her, in a nursing home bed, a few weeks before she died. We sat with her and exchanged the occasional Italian word. We spoke Italian words to her even though we didn’t know if she could understand.' (Introduction)