Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Bicycle Runner

The Bicycle Runner

A Memoir of Love, Loyalty, and the Italian Resistance

G. Franco Romagnoli

Thomas Dunne Books



Like all boys growing up in Rome during the 1930s and 1940s, the author was expected to join the Balilla—Italy's fascist Youth Organization. With political divisions running deep in the families within his palazzo, he and his motley group of friends were recruited into the underground Resistance. Racing around Rome on bicycles, they smuggled messages and weapons for the partisans. Later, the author fled to the Italian countryside and narrowly avoided German mop-up operations—despite being sold out by his most trusted of friends. But this is much more than a war story. Lyrical in language, rich in sentimentality, and possessing the magic of a classic Fellini film, Romagnoli's memoir is a charmingly told tale of the search for manhood and the bonds of family and friendship.


Praise for The Bicycle Runner

“This book reads like a movie--one of those wonderful Felliniesque narratives filled with characters and events that could only happen in Italy. It’s a beautifully told tale that illuminates one of the darkest and least understood periods in Italian and World War Two history, told with the humor and optimism of youth. It explains a very complicated and painful time through the eyes and activities of an unwilling yet fully engaged participant and, in that sense, gives deeper understanding than scores of historians could possibly accomplish with daunting dates and data. Romagnoli’s writing is elegant, poignant and completely engaging; a truly wonderfully told story.” —Paul Paolicelli, author of Under the Southern Sun and Dances with Luigi

“With the heartache and ravages of war as its backdrop, this beautiful memoir is foremost a paean to the innocence, optimism, and lessons of youth: carving out a role in the family, celebrating the loyalty of friends, reveling in the intimacy and mystery of love, dealing with the jarring pain that accompanies sadness and disappointment. Like the artist he is, Franco Romagnoli paints a colorful portrait replete with all of these emotions across the bleak canvas of Mussolini's Fascist Italy. The result is a true work of art and a terrific read.” —Stephen Puleo, author of The Boston Italians, Dark Tide, and Due to Enemy Action: The True World War II Story of the USS Eagle 56

“Personable, gently humorous memories of adolescence under Mussolini by an Italian chef and author....It was a heady, dangerous time for the youth, and his portraits of these local heroes and villains form an invaluable depiction of a historically significant time and place. Heartfelt sketches of a deeply troubling era in Italian history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In this heartwarming memoir, Romagnoli offers a picture of a young boy whose passions and longings for love, homeland and family abide with him as he turns quickly into an adult because of WWII.” —Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

G. Franco Romagnoli

G. FRANCO ROMAGNOLI cohosted the first American television program on Italian cooking, The Romagnolis' Table, for which he coauthored two very successful companion books. He taught seminars on Italian culture and cuisine at Boston University and wrote several books and articles on Italian culture, including Italy, the Romagnoli Way (with Gwen Romagnoli) and A Thousand Bells at Noon: A Roman Reveals the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City. The author passed away in December 2008.

G. Franco Romagnoli

From the Publisher

Thomas Dunne Books

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