Comments: We thought the world really, really, really didn't need another comprehensive Italian cookbook that in a world with Hazan, Bastianich, Bugiali, Esposito, etc., all the bases had been covered. Frankly, the English-language cookbook publishers think so, too. But Anna Maria Volpi was convinced there was room for at least one more book and published it herself.
We have to admit she was right. What sets her book apart is the historical information it contains, covering the country from north to south (and including Sicily), reaching back hundreds and occasionally thousands of years. Since Italian cuisine is not troubled by the rest of the world's madness for fusion, innovation, and nouvelle-everything, a historical record of Italian cooking, recipes, and procedures has lasting value. The dishes these recipes produce are at least on par with those of the Italian standards on most people's bookshelves.
There are flaws here that are inherent in a self-published book misspellings, typos, and certain conventions missing that major cookbook publishers have worked out over decades that make their books and recipes easier to follow. Despite drawings that illustrate certain processes, some of the directions will be confusing to novice cooks. Nonetheless, a solid cook will appreciate learning more about Italian cuisine while turning out really good food.