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Head of Zeus
The Po
The Po: An Elegy for Italy's Longest River by Tobias Jones

A captivating journey along the iconic River Po and through Italian history, society and culture.

'Delightful... A wonderful cornucopia of history' TLS
'Uncovers the Po's fascinating history' Guardian
'Tobias Jones is the perfect guide' Spectator

The Po is the longest river in Italy, travelling for 652 kilometres from one end of the country to the other. It rises by the French border in the Alps and meanders the width of the entire peninsula to the Adriatic Sea in the east. Flowing next to many of Italy's most exquisite cities – Ferrara, Mantova, Parma, Cremona, Pavia and Torino – the river is a part of the national psyche, as iconic to Italy as the Thames is to England or the Mississippi to the USA.

For millennia, the Po was a vital trading route and a valuable source of tax revenue, fiercely fought over by rival powers. It was also moat protecting Italy from invaders from the north, from Hannibal to Holy Roman Emperors. It breached its banks so frequently that its floodplain swamps were homes to outlaws and itinerants, to eccentrics and experimental communities. But as humans radically altered the river's hydrology, those floodplains became important places of major industries and agricultures, the source of bricks, timber, silk, hemp, cement, caviar, mint, flour and risotto rice.

Tobias Jones travels the length of the river against the current, gathering stories of battles, writers, cuisines, entertainers, religious minorities and music. Both an ecological lament and a celebration of the resourcefulness and resilience of the people of the Po, the book opens a window onto a stunning, but now neglected, part of Italy.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Travel
07 Jul 2022 * 288pp * £10.99 * 9781786697387
'A delightful book that is part history, part travel, part a picture of contemporary Italy... The Po is a wonderful cornucopia of history... Modern history at its most enjoyable'
'Travelling its length, Tobias Jones uncovers [the Po's] fascinating history'
'Tobias Jones is the perfect guide to the sweet Po as it runs its course'
'A meditative and evocative account... Like the Po, which has shifted course countless times and is notoriously prone to flooding, the book veers off on enjoyable tangents'
Geographical Magazine
'This is a bleak tale at times, but compelling reading'
'Jones has an eye for the quirky, and a talent for storytelling that keeps the reader engaged, amused, and enlightened. Recommended for all Italophiles, travellers, and lovers of the past'
Archaeology Worldwide
'Tobias Jones profiles not just a river but a country, from ancient history to contemporary environmental challenges'
Financial Times
Tobias Jones
Tobias Jones
Tobias Jones is the author of eight previous books, including The Dark Heart of Italy, A Place of Refuge and the prize-winning Ultra. He is a regular contributor to the British, American and Italian press and has written and presented documentaries for the BBC and, in Italy, for RAI. The co-founder of two woodland charities in the UK, he has recently launched a new project, Common Home, in Parma.
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