General Fiction

C'era una volta adesso

(Once Upon a Time There Was Now)

Casa Editrice Longanesi&C., November 2020, pp.288

over 160,000 copies sold in 2 months!

#4 Bestseller List!

Mattia is eight years old in Spring 2020, when the world shuts itself at home because of a virus. In the distant future when he is telling this story, his perspective becomes once again that of a child as he recalls the salient moments of that epoch-making lockdown, remembering what it meant for his family.

An intense, empathic story set during the latest months.

Andrei, Mattia’s dad, comes to Milan because the following day, 10 March, he and Mattia’s mum are getting divorced. It’s a shame that the evening news on television informs him and his family that not only the courts but the entire country are going to be closed. Instead of running away to his new girlfriend in Rome, Andrei decides to stay in Milan so he can be closer to his son. However, Mattia wants none of this father who abandoned him when he was three years old; as a matter of fact, he hates him. In spite of himself, the boy starts living in the microcosm of his everyday life turned upside down, with school downsized to a computer, neighbours singing from their balconies and a father he hates locked in with him. Among mysteries to be solved and surprises around the corner, the lockdown becomes for Mattia partly an opportunity to take a close look at things and realise that perhaps growing up also means trusting other people, even your worst enemies.

Casa Editrice Longanesi&C., November 2020, pp.288

  • “Gramellini, the writer who, in the past few years, has been able to capture the most the menacing and electrifying cornerstone that is the transition to adulthood, is once again here to tell us that we are not alone this time either […] Poetical, painful, hopeful, revealing, intimate, sentimental (in a surprising way), C’era una volta oggi (Once Upon a Time There Was Now) has the tenderness with which we can – and only we can – protect the frightened part of ourselves”.

    Teresa Ciabatti, Corriere della Sera

  • “Massimo Gramellini is unequalled in identifying and presenting in every detail this childhood that’s somewhat wise, somewhat frail, in need of adults to trust, and rather disillusioned by their behaviour but always willing to be awed and to trust once again. He is unequalled in showing that vacuum, that fear of invisibility that drives a child to hide inside imagination and humour…”

    Annalena Benini, Il Foglio

  • “it shields from sadness, loneliness, ignorance, selfishness (…) it has no side effects except laughter and tears, which often happen together.”



  • C’era una volta adesso is a wonderful novel full of tenderness, poetry and hope. (…) Gramellini uses fairy-tales and imagination as an antidote to grief. And he does so magnificently.”

    Michela Marzano, ttL

Rights Sold

World Arabic: Al Arabi; Korea: Haewadal

Massimo Gramellini

Massimo Gramellini is a journalist and television presenter. Since 2017 he has been writing for Il Corriere della Sera, of which he is a deputy editor. Since 2016 he has has been hosting the RAI 3 TV programme Le parole della settimana. With Longanesi, he has published the essays Ci salveranno gli ingenui (The Innocents Will Save Us, 2007), Cuori allo specchio (Hearts at the Mirror, 2008), La magia di un Buongiorno (The Magic of a ‘Good Morning’, 2014) and the bestselling novels L’ultima riga delle favole (The Final Line of Fairy Tales, 2010) and Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams, 2012), which sold over a million and a half copies and has been translated into 22 languages. In 2019, he published Prima che tu venga al mondo (Before You Come into the World).

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