NEW! – Italics Magazine Launches Its First E-Book Series

Plants, humans, the Alps, anthropology and a beautiful love story are waiting for you.

Plants, humans, the Alps, anthropology and a beautiful love story are waiting for you

On December 5, Italics Magazine has launched its first series of e-books called “Franco Fasiolo Novels” by columnist, writer and former university professor Thomas J. Puleo. You’ll be able to buy a copy of Phaseolus (first novel), Vitis (second novel), or the Special Edition (including both novels) at a discounted price here.

If you’re uncertain which original story should you read next, or what Christmas gift you should do to your book lover fiancé or best friend, this is the right idea for you. Plants, humans, the Alps, anthropology and a beautiful love story are waiting for you.


Franco Fasiolo Novels

Franco Fasiolo lives in a relict and repurposed hothouse in the Italian Alps. As a plant expert he gets pulled into many situations across the Alpine Arc and around the Adriatic, and sometimes throughout the world, and thus has become a reluctant cosmopolitan. Some of his character traits fuel this reluctance while others push him past it. Reclusive and introverted by nature, almost to the point of misanthropy, he prefers to remain secluded in his greenhouse with his botanical companions. His devotion to plants, as well as his love for different languages and cultures, however, spur a gregariousness and curiosity that finds fulfillment in his travels across geographical and social borders. In each story, he is called in to solve a problem that involves a plant. He is a botanical forensic scientist, but a somewhat unwilling one. While he solves plant-involved mysteries in places throughout the world, he must also tend to unruliness that arises at home among his many plant companions while he is away. Here is where he engages his fascination with plant social dynamics, with plant ecologies, which he views in terms usually associated with human collectives. Events inevitably bubble on the human social front, leaving Franco to deal with a number of relationships with others who he knows and encounters through his work and at his home.


In this first e-book of the Franco Fasiolo Novels, we meet the eponymous forensic botanist who lives in a relict greenhouse in Furmentùn, a small village in the Italian Alps. We just catch him as he heads to Davos to give a speech at the World Economic Forum. Disdainful of automobiles and most other forms of transportation, and a great walker at heart, Franco sets out on foot, and clarifies his thoughts as he makes his way to the meeting. He has some encounters along the way that help him formulate his talk, and yet others that complicate the task. Eventually he arrives at the forum and makes his presentation, which receives a mix of reactions from his colleagues and new acquaintances. After the conference, Franco finds renewed inspiration and insight on his trip home, especially with a visit to a museum in Bolzano and then in a sudden and unexpected encounter on the road. Upon returning home, Franco finds the plants he lives with, particularly the beans, Phaseolus vulgaris, to be at the center of an intriguing occurrence, while his neighbor, Giovanna Squercia, fills him in on other happenings.



In this second e-book of the series, Franco is hired to research the origins of a Malvasia vineyard in northwestern Istria. Catia Piagenti joins him and the pair carries out its work by examining the vines that they find on the property, moving from one parcel to another as they were planted over time. As they do, they find that the vines reveal stories from the period in which they were planted, as well as those from previous periods that were passed down to them, including their origins in Greece and their long voyage to Istria. Initially expecting to write a routine report, Franco and Catia eventually find themselves to be the recipients of a story that is at turns adventurous, funny and heartrending. Contained within a single field, the investigative team uncovers a record of a long history of a single variety of the story’s true protagonist, Vitis vinifera. The insight they gain into the lives and histories of the vines instills in the partners a new empathy for them.


About the author

Thomas J. Puleo holds a doctorate in Geography and was a professor of Global Studies for several years at Arizona State University. He now splits his time between Italy and Croatia, where he pursues his intellectual interests as a writer, researcher and translator.


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