HBO's eight-episode "My Brilliant Friend" starts with a big plus. It's based on an acclaimed, best-selling novel by Elena Ferrante. But it also presents some challenges. It's the first foreign-language series for the pay-cable network — it will air with subtitles — and collaboration with Ferrante had to be done by e-mail, since the author, who writ...

Like many tourists in Naples, I have only ever been there en route to somewhere else. For years the city has had a reputation for being dirty, dangerous and traffic-choked: why on earth would anyone choose to linger? But this has changed. Naples is becoming a destination in its own right, thanks in part to the huge popularity of the enigmatic autho...

I love my country, but I have no patriotic spirit and no national pride. What’s more, I digest pizza poorly, I eat very little spaghetti, I don’t speak in a loud voice, I don’t gesticulate, I hate all mafias, I don’t exclaim “Mamma mia!” National characteristics are simplifications that should be contested. Being Italian, for me, begins and ends wi...

Ischia is one of those places that, if you’ve been, you tend to keep to yourself. After all, part of its charm, besides its low-key vibe and lack of American tourists, is waking up to a view like this of the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Mezzatorre Resort & Spa. “It’s the anti-Capri,” says Michael Williams, founder of the men’s style site A Continuous Le...

Chances are you’ve read or heard of Elena Ferrante’s popular Neapolitan Novels, or at least caught glimpses of the books’ notably generic “chick lit”–style covers on the subway and on friends’ coffee tables. It’s true that the covers are not very enticing, but you know what they say about books and covers. The Ferrante novels have taken the literar...

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, published in English between 2011 and 2015, tell the story, in sometimes excruciating psychological detail, of the sixty-year friendship between two girls from a crumbling, violent neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. The books became best-sellers in America and England, and because the author had decided to...