Italian Folk Magic


Title: Italian Folk Magic

Writer: Mary-Grace Fahrun

Publishing House: Weiser Books

Date of Publication: May 1st 2018

Rating: 5 stars

‘’A buon intenditore poche parole.’’

(‘’Few words are needed when speaking to a good listener.’’)

This review is bound to be one of the most personal I’ve ever had the pleasure to write. You see, my late grandmother was Italian, from Naples. She is the main culprit to blame for my obsession with books and Opera. My parents are dedicated readers but when I was a child and mum and dad were at work, I was placed under my Nonna’s care. She filled my hands with books and my mind with stories from her childhood, her homeland, her life with my grandpa whom I didn’t have the fortune to meet. She loved History and stories of ghosts and fairies. Even during the school holidays, I would wake up early, sit on the comfy sofa made from Italian velvet, listen to the morning news on the radio, smelling the wonderful aroma of espresso loudly brewing in the background. When I became an adult, there was always a cup waiting for me when I returned from the classes. When I started working, the double espresso would warm my heart before another demanding day. Now, I live in her house. I talk to her as I’m cooking some of her favourite Italian dishes. I know she’s here, smiling, probably remembering my fervent declarations of refusing to learn how to cook because ‘’I’m a career woman.’’ Fahrun’s book brought all these memories back from the very first pages.


*Meet my mum, Matina (left), my uncle Enrico (middle) and my grandmother, Maria (right). Photo taken in Naples in 1963.*

In this beautiful, lovingly written creation, we learn about traditions from Italy that touch on every part of the daily life. Food, work, love, marriage and children. Remedies to heal the Evil Eye and the negative spells. Proverbs, superstitions, home medicine and witchcraft. The way Fahrun describes her personal memories is direct, friendly, soft. Like a chat over two freshly brewed cups of fine espresso. There were so many moments that made me love this book. The writer’s affinity for crows and ravens, the care for saint altars in the kitchen. The respect over frogs and geckos. Me and my mother have a small gecko living somewhere in the balcony. We call him Leo and always look out for him each time we water the flowers. Malocchio (the Evil Eye) is still something we’re quite cautious of. I don’t believe in it, to be honest, but there have been a dozen of occasions that have tempted me to change my mind.


*My grandma in Venice in 1970*


*And in the Eternal City in 1979*

So, whether one believes in the magic and the rituals born from the very essence of the Italian nature, heart and soul is irrelevant. Everyone will find something to love in this lovely book. It is a treasure of Folklore and tradition. For me, it was a moving journey to my childhood and to the everlasting memory of someone who influenced my life in the best way possible. My grandmother to whom this review is dedicated.

‘’Buon principio fa buon fine.’’

(‘’A good beginning makes a good ending.’’)


*Our family breeds History buffs like crazy. In Pompei in 1979*



  1. Your Nonna seemed like a wonderful lady, Amalia. I loved reading this post. Would you believe that I was exploring Naples and Pompei with my mum in 1979!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Paula!!! Isn’t Pompei such a haunting place?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, haunting is an excellent description, but oh so fascinating. I’ve never been back since, although I love Italy and have visited other parts of the country. Going up Vesuvius was an odd experience, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I understand. The first time I saw Vesuvius from a distance, I got chills down my spine….


      3. It is indeed. Going up Vesuvius was an odd experience, too. I love Italy and have visited different parts of the country over the years (including Venice) but I’ve never returned to Pompeii since that long ago holiday with my mum. I always remember the Pope visiting the town while I was over there – the local people were so excited!

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      4. There are some countries that just beg the visitor to return again and again:) One can never really had enough of Italy:)

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  2. Sorry, I’m doing daft things again, Amalia.I thought my first message had been lost so posted a second! Duh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s quite allright! WordPress has been acting strange lately:)

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  3. I love this post, Amalia! Loved looking at your pictures of your Nonna, loved hearing how she instilled your love for reading…(lots of love, but I am not going to edit it out because I’m feeling very gushy about this blog post of yours!). We have traveled to those places in Italy and it was nice to revisit them with you and your Nonna via this post. Fantastic review as well! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer!! I just had to gush over this book. I admit I was blind to any faults it may have because I was absolutely taken away by all the memories Fahrun brought back. If a book can do that, then it must be successful:)

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  4. Vera says:

    I love when a book gives us that wonderful nostalgic feeling. I enjoyed reading about your Nonna. I honestly could not stop smiling as your love for her was felt throughout the post. ❤️

    I feel like that with Slavic folklore. So many wonderful childhood memories. 😊 I love folklore and Italian one is not so familiar to me yet so will gladly check this book out. I love 🇮🇹 – its warm and welcoming people, beautiful nature as well as rich architecture. Time to explore its folk legends now. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Vera! And the way the writer communicates this love for Folklore and family traditions is very touching. I am a person who doesn’t believe in magic or potions and spells but it is always a joy to read about beliefs and customs. It’s the best way of traveling with a book in our hands:)

      Thank you so so much for your kindest words!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful post Amalia, I loved reading about your Nonna, as my grandmother is responsible for my love of books too, so it felt familiar somehow. ❤ I've lost my grandma last year, but I can still feel her influence in many things I do, and sometimes even her presence. I loved your photos too, this is such a beautiful story woven through the review. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much, Marina! I’ve lost mine almost seven years ago and I still feel her presence in the house. You know, like a little mischievous, kind spirit. She was one to misbehave and probably the kindest person I’ve ever known…I couldn’t help but gash over this book. It brought so many memories back…..

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      1. I know exactly what you mean hehe, lots of love, dear. 🙂 ❤

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  6. It’s so wonderful to read something so personal. Thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Lucy!!

      Liked by 1 person

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