"Che Ti Dice La Patria" was first published under the title "Italy-1927" in New Republic on May 18, 1927, and later the same year in the short fiction collection, Men Without Women. It is based on an actual excursion Hemingway and friend Guy Hickok took in March 1927. Written during the time between the end of his marriage with Hadley Richardson and engagement to Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway agreed to go on an Italian tour with Hickok to revisit Italy and also to obtain a baptismal certificate which predated his marriage to Hadley. He needed this certificate to marry Pauline in the Catholic Church. Hemingway would track down Don Giuseppe Bianchi, the priest who had anointed him while he was wounded in Milan in 1918. All of this biographical information is left out of the text.
In the first section of the story, the road is described as "not yet dusty," and this intimates some optimism. The narrator and Guy give a young man (a Fascist) a ride to Spezia. The man is condescending, telling them when to leave, offering an informal "thanks" for the ride and the narrator's refusal to take any payment, not to mention he does not return a wave when they part ways. The narrator says "he will go a long way in Italy" implying that this is the new self-preservation, the new attitude of Italian behavior toward foreigners in the new Mussolini-governed Fascist state.
In the second section, "A Meal in Spezia," Guy and the narrator stop at a restaurant, where they realize the waitresses double as prostitutes since Mussolini has abolished the brothels. Guy is accosted by one of the girls and the narrator has some fun as the translator between her and Guy. He tells the girl they are German misogynists, which, although it was in jest, could bring hostility: fascism and xenophobia. Also in the restaurant are a sailor and a clean cut man, who tells the girls not to bother with Guy and his friend because "they are worth nothing."
The description of the landscape in the third section, "After the Rain," is bleak and muddy. They stop in a restaurant with no heat, have a sub-par meal, and notice a sad couple watching their breaths in the cold air. The waiter must take Guy to someone's house to use that bathroom because the restaurant doesn't have one. Leaving Genoa, a Fascist on a bicycle stops fines them 25 lire for having mud on their license plate. When the narrator blames the condition of the roads, the Fascist takes offense and ups it to 50 lire.
They return to Ventimiglia where they started. The story is Hemingway's political critique of Mussolini's Italy, reflecting on his return for the baptism certificate. Also, it was a return to the war, where he fell in love with, and had his heart broken by the Red Cross nurse Agnes von Kurowsky. "Che Ti Dice La Patria" translates to "What do you hear from home?" Although Italy may have not been "home" to Hemingway, his WWI time there had a profound impact on his life; and to return there to find it in such a deplorable state sullied the memories of his idealized Italy. The images of wind, rain, and dust shifting to mud supplement the cultural changes in Italy and the changes in the author's perception of it. This, and being in the midst of a divorce, probably only added fervor to the political critique and is also perhaps why Hemingway left out his autobiographical reasons and thoughts about this return trip to Italy.