Having moved to Verona to teach English and live with his new Italian wife, Tim Parks was approached by the same editor who commissioned A Year In Provence, who wondered if he could possibly be the new Peter Mayle.
Tim duly sent off the first few chapters of Italian Neighbours, only to receive a rejection letter.
The editor explained that Tim's life in the scruffy suburbs in a modern rented flat wouldn't have the same appeal as Mayle's stone farmhouse surrounded by vineyards.
But he was mistaken.
Italian Neighbours was a steaming success and shortly followed by An Italian Education and A Year With Verona, Tim's life on the road with Italian football hooligans.
Anthony Sattin goes behind the scenes to see if, after almost twenty years writing about Italy has made Tim an Italian.