Having walked down the Appian Way for his acclaimed book Between Two Seas, Charles Lister found himself irresistibly drawn to the land of contrasts that is the extreme south of Italy. A French traveller once observed that Italy south of Naples is Africa, yet this had once been Magna Graecia, a land of luxury, and home of the Sybarites. George Berkely had visited in search of tarantulas, and George Gissing, in a feverish dream, had imagined he was back in Ancient Greece. So what is it like today, twenty five centuries after it was a region studded with Greek temples, where Hannibal and Pyrrhus had massacred thousands, and where Pythagoras had tried to invent democracy? Lister had planned to travel by bicycle, but an Italian said he was mad and insisted he take his moped. He travelled extensively, as engaged by the wines of the region and the beauty of the local women as by the plethora of temples and the weight of history. With great skill and in captivating prose, he reveals it to be a place haunted by its extraordinary past; once great and famous, still beautiful, and, in places, now tragically abandoned. Heel to Toe is a fascinating and utterly enjoyable portrait of a lit
Charles Lister was born in San Remo, Italy in 1930. After Cambridge, he taught in Rome and Naples, then in Africa, before becoming a BBC announcer. Thirty-five years ago he founded an independent sixth-form college in the Midlands. He now lives in Leicestershire.