Raccogliamo le vele (Lower the Sails)

Raccogliamo le vele / Lower the Sails Book Cover

Gaia Servadio is a major protagonist of Italian and international journalism as well as an accomplished artist and cultural connoisseur. Her writing and adventures are suffused with a sweetly savage charm and a tireless curiosity that distinguish her life as truly one of a kind. Following a deliberately Virgilian structure, Lower the Sails lays out the facts of her remarkable biography. As the daughter of the Italian chemist Luxardo Servadio, Servadio experienced as early as 1938 the hardships of Italy’s anti-Semitic laws first and of the German manhunt later.  Her family had to flee and change name, with each move becoming more clandestine and destitute. After the war, however, life began anew. Servadio travelled freely between– restless, curious, optimistic, determined. She moved to England having already established herself as a painter, then entered the world of journalism, in both English and Italian – at first on the culture pages, then winning increasingly challenging assignments, such as on the Mafia and the Six-Day War. A passionate music- and theatre-lover, in time befriended Irwin Shaw, Philip Roth, and Mary McCarthy, among many other intellects. She worked with Claudio Abbado, Ted Hughes and, in Siria, with Asma Assad. Her first novel was a world best-seller which took her to the States where she spent time and where she established friends.

Writing with a fiery, vital brilliance, Servadio evokes her life as if always in the right place at the right time. Rich with the personalities, romances, weddings, castles, tantrums and ambitions of an epic opera, she lives through the political happenings of both Italy and the UK, Lower the Sails is not only evidence of a most extraordinary life but describes half a century of two countries and their fundamental changes.


“The author unravels her life in a likeable, unassertive tone which is sometimes light-hearted, often humorous.”
Corriere della Sera

“A book that is unprejudiced, ironic, impetuous, hip, gossipy, hilarious, snobbish, extremely vibrant and cultured.”
La Repubblica

“Bisogna averla vista e conosciuta Gaia Servadio per credere che quello che c’e’ scritto in questo libro sia tutto vera. AlIa sola lettura l’impressione e’ che sia trappo, che i fatti, i personaggi, i luoghi, i tempi raccontati nelle sue 445 pagine non possano essere stati vissuti da una sola persona.”
Corrado Augias

“Lettore, tieni a freno l’invidia. Perche’ poche persone hanno avuto tutto come Gaia Servadio. Tutto vuol dire un ‘infanzia tremenda, rna meravigliosamente formativa nell ‘Italia disgraziata degli anni della guerra; un padre ebreo costretto a nascondersi e a far vi vere la famiglia nella miseria, rna pieno di amore e di storie affascinanti attinte alIa cultura dassica; una giovineza anticonvenzionale nella Londra ante Biba di Francis Bacon, Isaiah Berlin e dell’ aristocrazia … ”
Lidia Ravera