Original title: Italiana

Publication Date:

February 2021



Original language and publisher

Italian | Mondadori

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

Arabic (Almutawassit)
Hungary (Európa Könyvkiadó)
France (Buchet-Chastel)
Film/TV rights (The Apartment, at auction)
Albania (Botime Dudaj)
Slovakia (Inaque)


Historical Fiction


Original title: Italiana


Ciccilla: an irresistible protagonist of a grandiose novel on freedom, set in the deep South of Italy, untouched by other Italian authors. Avvenire

By referring to Giovanni Verga and Émile Zola, Catozzella immerses the readers into the Calabria’s mountains, whose beauty charms through pages written with literary brilliance and narrative radiance. — Corriere della sera

“A story told with rare freshness, filled with memorable characters engraved with a steady hand and unique lyric descriptions of the landscape. Maria’s voice is utterly original, introspective and visceral at once. Catozzella conveys his vivid characters into bodies who love and suffer, into vibrant and tragic destinies, consecrating the defeated without ever being rhetorical.” — La Repubblica

“A novel to read, but above all to “feel”. The writer has a powerful style and retraces a powerful story, a woman who fights in the arena of life, a woman who doesn’t want to be silent. Catozzella proves to be one of today’s best writers.” – Il Giornale

“A compelling read, a beautifully written portrait of a poor and brutal world and its desire for redemption. Catozzella is terrific” – Simonetta Agnello Hornby

“Italiana moved me, which so rarely happens to me. Giuseppe Catozzella has written a book of such greatness and strength with the utmost maturity” – Michela Murgia

“How graceful is this book that comes from the past and yet knows how to speak to the present, like very few others” – Marco Missiroli

“Giuseppe wrote an impressive and engrossing novel. “Italiana” is the story of Maria Oliverio, told with a wild, vivid voice. Maria is a strong woman, torn between love, suffering and a tragic destiny.” – Roberto Saviano

“Intense, powerful and multifaceted novel.” – Michela Marzano

From the bestselling author of Non dirmi che hai paura, more than 500,000 copies sold worldwide

Giuseppe Catozzella uncovers a little-known episode from history and invites us to accompany him on the human, emotional and political journey of Maria Oliviero, known as Ciccilla: the first woman to lead a band of rebels in the fight against subjugation by the Kingdom of Italy, from 1860 onwards.

Ciccilla is born into a very poor family in the heartlands of Calabria. At the age of 12, she is forced to leave the family home where poverty rules – her mother sews in the dark to save candles, Ciccilla has to give up the small bed she already shares with one of her brothers, for her older sister, Teresa. Temperamental and domineering Teresa returns to live with her parents following the violent death of the acquaintances who had adopted her, providing her with a sort of aristocratic education.

Ciccilla is taken in by an aunt – a brusque and dismissive woman, but kind – who lives in a cabin outside of town. This is how Ciccilla spends her youth, in the woods. She learns the language of freedom and the laws of nature, gets to know the mountains, learns to tell the difference between right and wrong, and becomes a young woman who is not afraid to fight, no matter whether it’s her feelings at stake, or the far broader prospect of a different society.

Italiana is based on a real person, Maria Oliviero, and, using official papers and historical documents, it retells her story, an unforgettable heroine’s struggle for freedom and the story of the betrayal that gave rise to the Italian nation. Catozzella reconstructs Ciccilla’s life through a mixture of real historical documents and myths, developing a breathtaking, emotional, well-paced plot: her poor childhood, her passionate and painful love for the rebel Piero, her fiercely hostile relationship with Teresa, her struggle for freedom as a woman and as part of the exploited class.

An unforgettable conclusion reveals the end of Ciccilla’s life, and almost 160 years later, her story becomes the universal story of anyone who fought against centuries of oppression, at a time when personal freedom did not yet exist and it was dangerous even to dream of breaking free from being enslaved to ‘gentlemen’. Ciccilla is young, like so many heroes who make history, even the history of a country constantly on the verge of being born, of a nation eternally on the threshold of its dawn.

Italiana combines family with historical drama, centered around the memorable figure of Ciccilla, and shows us, through the filter of difficult and rebellious femininity, what can be achieved with love for a new humanity, and for freedom.

Marketing Information

  • Soon to be adapted into an 8-episode Rai Uno TV series, to be broadcast in early 2023!
  • In the bestselling chart #15
  • French translation available
  • Impressive press kit