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Roberto Saviano, a writer and expert on organized crime in his hometown of Naples, has been under 24-hour protection since his book came out in 2006. ((Salvatore Laporta))

The author of a book examining how the Mafia operates in Naples, Italy, says he's leaving his country after spending two years in hiding.

Roberto Saviano has been under 24-hour police protection since his book Gomorra came out in 2006.  It has since become a massive bestseller in Italy and been translated into 42 languages.

The film adaptation won second prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival in France.

Saviano told the daily La Repubblica that he's planning to leave the country after reports surfaced that the Neapolitan Mafia, known locally as the Camorra, is stepping up its plans to assassinate him by Christmas.

"I shall leave Italy, at least for a period and then we'll see," said the author, who has faced repeated death threats from the Casalesi crime clan of Naples.

"I want a life. I want a home. I want to fall in love. I want to [be able to] drink a beer in public, go to a bookshop and choose a book after browsing the back cover," said the 28-year-old writer.

 "I want to go for a walk, enjoy the sun, walk in the rain and see my mother without fear — and without frightening her."

He compared his life in hiding to that of imprisoned crime boss Francesco Schiavone, head of the Casalesi.

"He deserved it," said Saviano. "But what has been my crime?"

Saviano, who comes from Naples, said he can't be a writer if he's not living in the real world and felt he had deteriorated as a person.

"In private I become an unlovely person — suspicious, wary and, yes, mistrustful to a completely irrational degree," he noted.

"My humanity had been impoverished."