Rebecca Chace (CRF 2021) wrote about her experience reading The Leopard by Giuseppe de Lampedusa and visiting Sicily this past summer.

“I thought I had read The Leopard, by Giuseppe de Lampedusa, when I was a teenager—I was wrong. I knew that I’d never been to Sicily, where the novel takes place, but I didn’t expect to go anywhere in the summer of 2021. The pandemic wasn’t over, it was simply coming in and out of focus depending on the position of your ship. In New York, I had watched the body bags and death toll mount in Italy; they watched us as the city parked refrigerator-truck morgues by the curb and built a field hospital in Central Park. We all paced inside our apartments and got good at pretending that Zoom wasn’t so bad. After the Italians started applauding their essential workers from the balcony, we did the same from our fire escapes.

Nothing would ever be the same, we told each other, secretly hoping that we were wrong, and the dead would rise.

Then I received an invitation to a six-week writing fellowship in Italy, along with a letter on impressive stationary written in both English and Italian that would open the still-closed border between our countries. Once I was fully vaxxed, tested, and through passport control the summer seemed like an intermission in the “global death event” as a friend calls it. I saw no reason to rush home, where too many states still pulsed from red to orange on the digital pandemic map. I bought a ticket to Sicily and borrowed a copy of The Leopard from the library of an American friend.”

Read the full piece here.