Barefoot in the Piazza

Young, British and black. It’s a novel concept to the Italians in 1973 and there’s no use trying to play it down….

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It’s the 70s and Anjelica is a lone black-British girl working in Florence where her high visibility means she can run but she can’t hide from the wolfish Italians. In the piazzas it’s open season but she’s determined to find her feet in Florence although she’s soon in danger of completely losing her head.

Jeli (Anjelica) isn’t crazy about her job in the huge leather store where she’s besieged by tourists and bullied by her bosses all day long. But it’s 1973 and she’s 19 and living in Florence, one of the most alluring cities in the world. What more could a girl want?

Like every foreign girl, she’s fair game for the Italian men, but being black triggers a level of racial and sexual harassment that feels like outright persecution. Dodging the predatory Italians is becoming a full-time job, and it’s a relief to take refuge with other ex-pats like herself, all living on a shoestring and parroting just enough Italian to get by.

Then Luca explodes into her life. He’s exuberant, witty, and an inveterate charmer in four languages, but at 45, he’s far too old to take seriously as boyfriend material. Still, he has got that nifty little Alfa convertible, and as her friends keep reminding her, Luca is ‘big fun’.

Plunged into Luca’s hi-octane world of fast cars, fine dining and sexual adventure, Jeli is quickly transformed; from another bored shop girl in the piazza she’s turning into a glamorous, exotic creature with a growing appetite for la dolce vita.

But when the fun takes a serious turn Jeli is forced to make choices that require a strength of character she is only just beginning to discover. Suddenly, there can be no more teetering on the edge of life’s big piazza.

Time to take the plunge…