Worn down by life in New York City, Justine van der Leun sublets her apartment, leaves her magazine job, and moves to Collelungo, Italy, population: 200. There, in the stone maze of a borgo, she sets up house with the handsome Italian gardener she met on vacation. This rash decision develops into an eye-opening series of adventures when village life and love turn out to be radically different from what Justine imagined. Love lost with the gardener is found instead in a rusty pen where van der Leun stumbles upon an abandoned hunting dog whom she rescues. With the dog by her side, she discovers the bliss of living in the lush countryside, finding a world deeply connected to the earth, while she rides her newly acquired horse, tends the lambs, and communes with the pigs (soon to become prosciutto). Van der Leun discovers a passion for the natural world, comes to understand the impact of culture on one's character, and has some hilarious encounters with Italian family life along the way.
Justine van der Leun has written for various publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Observer, Marie Claire, and The Bark. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.