Tozzi started working on a cinematic adaptation and helped Moccia broker a deal with the publisher Feltrinelli. “One Step to You” was released in a new edition in 2004, the same year the movie version came out.
The film, in Tozzi’s words, “went well, but not exceptionally well.” But the book made a splash, selling more than 1.2 million copies. “We were overwhelmed by its success,” said Alberto Rollo, Feltrinelli’s editorial director at the time. “Suddenly we had reached a new public, that went well beyond that of usual book readers. It was uncharted land.”
“Two Chances With You,” the sequel, revolves around Step and his new love interest, the independent and strong-minded Gin. “Three Times You,” the final book in the trilogy, follows the three characters into adulthood, with Step happily settled down with Gin and a child on the way — but still holding feelings for Babi.
Today Moccia is considered one of the writers who shaped Italian millennials’ coming-of-age literature. The books are largely set in Parioli, an upscale neighborhood in the northern part of Rome, and “Roma Nord” has now become a metonym for “glitzy,” and “pariolino” slang for preppy.
He is a divisive figure in Italy, where, as the critic Mariarosa Mancuso put it, “We don’t have the concept of entertainment literature because there’s this idea that books shouldn’t entertain people.” In some circles, mocking Moccia is a common pastime.
“Every time I write, a Moccia book self-ignites,” Willie Peyote, an indie rapper, rhymes in “Peyote451.” When he gave a speech at a Roman university a decade ago, Moccia was heckled by students. A neologism, “moccismo,” was coined, usually as a derogatory description of youth-oriented books and movies.
The writer is unfazed. When he started working on “One Step to You,” he said, “I just wanted to write the book I would have loved as a reader.”