‘I was at the end of my tether, truth be told.’ This is a reflection that Leo Gazzara returns to again and again after moving to Rome. It is never entirely clear whether or not Rome is to blame for his chronic loneliness in Gianfranco Calligarich’s Last Summer in the City, a 1973 cult classic now published in English for the first time. It is set in the late 1960s, by which time Italy’s capital has been transformed by the economic boom. People are richer, but Christmas trees are now made of plastic and dinner party conversation has become vapid. For Leo, nostalgia is painfully acute.
Leo does not help himself. He longs for the company of other people but does not quite know what to do with them when he has them around. A similar failure plagues his relationship with Arianna, who, he realises too late, is the love of his life. He