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Italian Neighbors: Or, A Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  2,025 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Tim Parks and his wife, Rita, came to their flat on the aging, eccentric Via Colombare in Montecchio twelve years ago for a short stay. There was trouble from the moment they moved in--under cover of night--and it has gone delightfully up and down hill ever since. In this amusing and loving tribute to the glorious country he has embraced, British novelist Tim Parks shares ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Ballantine Books (first published July 1st 1992)
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Mar 23, 2016 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A birthday gift of my Milanese daughter in 1992, I read Parks with avid appreciation. Ironic intersection of English and Italian culture: for instance, the class of Italians who want to know foreigners, "They feel they have ideas bigger than the narrow mentality of the people around them"(74). But unlike in England, where such people would want to go to a city like Manchester or London, Italians feel it may be even worse in Rome.
"They look to the fairness and openmindedness of the efficient nati
Dana Delamar
Nov 19, 2013 Dana Delamar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read by Parks about his experiences in Italy, and it was just as charming and well-observed as the first. (BTW, I read them out of order; this is the first one he wrote on the subject.) I recommend this book to anyone who loves Italy and Italian culture. And if you're thinking about moving there, this book and his other ("An Italian Education") are both must reads.

I'm looking forward to his new book on the subject, to be released in 2014. Parks has a knack for captu
Sep 02, 2010 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OK. I've tried to like this book. I've started it -- and stopped it -- 3 times now. For some reason, I just can't get into it. I love the idea of living in Italy among Italian neighbors and wanted to love this book. It didn't happen. I'm moving on.
Emma Adams
Jan 16, 2016 Emma Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing how little changed between Parks' arrival in Italy in the 80s and my own in the 00s...the good, the beautiful, the bad, the impossible to describe...and the especially timely and ocean-crossing observation: "if the country," comments il frate indovino, "could buy politicians for what they're really worth and then sell them for what they claim they're worth, it could pay off its deficits in no time at all."
Dec 12, 2009 D.w. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There are a great deal of people giving this book praise. I can't be one of them. It was a good deal for the money that I paid, since I found it remaindered at Crown Books (Remember Crown?) for 2.99, instead of 19.95, which was indication then that too many of these books had been printed even then.

The problem that the telling is two fold. One of theme and one of technique. Reading Tim Parks was tiring. Short chapters that string together if you lead an existential life, but within these 5 and 1
May 05, 2008 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, italy
This was an interesting memoir of living in Italy - usually they're all romantic about the sunset and the flowers and the wine and restoring some villa - but this is the down and dirty nitty gritty of living in Italy as a foreigner, trying to earn enough income to survive by tutoring English and translating, and attempting to navigate the hardened traditions and prejudices of small-town locals, as well as the insane bureaucracy of Italy. Tim Parks is not at all bitter or frustrated, mind you. He ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JC gave me this book a few years ago and it is the only thing I have read about Italian life that comes close to my experiences during my semester abroad in Florence. Ok, so I was 21 and in college, not an English man married to an Italian lady, setting up housekeeping in Italy. BUT still. I found his observations of Italian life from someone trying to just live there--not vacation, not find themselves, not looking to have an "experience"--funny, insightful and from a mindset similar to mine. Yo ...more
Jul 26, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italo-file
The specificity of this book about daily living in a little town near Verona makes it a pleasure. There was one particular passage that I'd like to mention because I found it so hilarious. The author describes a TV quiz show he watched for which the object is to have the best knowledge of Italian bureaucracy. Whoever is quickest on their buzzer, with the correct answer, wins. "Should an application for a no-parking sign for you garage or gate be made on plain paper, or stamped paper, and if the ...more
Aug 01, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book for exactly what it was, a peek inside the lives of Italians in a little town. Having a sister who has lived in Italy for 15 years, so many of the stories (the paperwork, the cemeteries, the postal service, the health obsession) were exactly what she has tried to explain to us. If you want a true look at what it is to be Italian, this is your book.
May 22, 2012 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an odd little book. The (British) author loves living in Montecchio, Italy (outside Verona, below the Alps) where he and his wife have been for over 10 years. He writes endearingly about his neighbors who are mostly eccentric and difficult but colorful, and often about the wonderful scenery and food. But so much of the book is about the dirty little secrets that most of us would HATE about living there! Chained, barking hunting dogs in every backyard? The "stench" of factory pig farms? ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember having originally read this a million years ago...the year before I worked in Lugano (Switzerland) and studied in Torino. It made me super excited to be working and living in a country(ies) with such interesting characters like Parks describes. And you know what, it was spot on. I reread it while I lived there, after I married an Italian there, and again when our beautiful girl was born. I love Parks narrative.

This isn't an analytical review. It's just one saying: Yup. This is perfec
Mar 03, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't share all the author's particular prejudices, and I think he's a little cynical, but I do think he pins down something essential about what Italy is like. And it's helpful that he's funny.

My husband and I both read this book before we moved to Italy, and we have been surprised by how well Parks captured certain aspects of Italian life. It was probably a good thing that we read it ahead of time, because it has saved us a certain amount of utter disorientation. Most other books and movies
Jan 04, 2012 Carrie rated it did not like it
Tim Parks has an engaging, sometimes humorous writing style, but I can hold no respect for this book. Aside from the pointless and meandering egotism the reader is forced to endure, the reader must also read about Parks and his wife actually attempting to poison a dog, because it is barking at night. Because it is supposed to be funny. They go so far as to buy rat poison and make a few tests about what the dog will eat. Thankfully, they decide not to go through with it.[return][return]What Tim P ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Shelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009, travel-lit
I am in love with anything Italian - so it's a given that I would enjoy this book. The author moves to the Veneto with his Italian wife, and we dive into the culture along with them. Very different from the typical travel lit, didn't focus on food/wine or home renovations - just on people. Now that I'm finished, I feel like I've moved and will miss the neighbours.
Pleasant read. Parks provides an inside look into the day to day life of small town Italians. He manages to capture the small details, beliefs, quirks, and traditions that make up the culture. By the end of the book you feel like you just spent a year living outside Verona!
Elizabeth Campbell
I should have read this within the first year of moving to the Veneto. I have lived here for 4.5 years now. I enjoyed the book, and there were many moments of recognition. Nice read, hard to categorize book. I will read italian schools next, but after a break.
Jesse Kraai
Jun 03, 2015 Jesse Kraai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roberto Sessa
Shelves: 1990s
A great introduction to Italian society more than 20 years on.
It's a very English presentation. There are no exclamation points. Life is basically pointless and then you die. But you might see a couple nice flowers along the way. Just don't shout about them.
Sarah Sammis
I think I've over-dosed on the "Briton living abroad" sub-genre of the memoir. The flow of the text seemed to get stuck so often when Parks would go out of his way to point out how different he found Italian culture. I found it quite tiresome after awhile.
Jul 29, 2015 Aloke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, borrowed, travel
Dry humour but with honesty and a bit of sentimentality. It teaches you about Italy but also England and life too. It will make you miss the pasticceria.
Sep 08, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read but did put me off wanting to live in Italy.
Jul 06, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was well-written. I am enamored of all things Italiano.
Sep 23, 2016 SharlG rated it it was amazing
This book explained a lot of the idiosyncrasies of some of my older Italian relatives. It was very entertaining and well written. If you are of Italian descent, you may remember experiencing some or hearing about some of the same situations that Tim Parks writes about.
Apr 16, 2016 Garnette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another quick, light read that I enjoyed very much. Tim Parks writes about a year's experience living in an apartment building in a village a short distance from Verona. He uses the details of village life to illustrate many of the same features of Italian life that are exemplified by railroads in his more recent book, Italian Ways. He claims the charm of Italy lies in its schizophrenia: "the Pope adored and ignored, the law admired and flouted, politicians despised and reelected." So much of wh ...more
Ann Joyner
Sep 15, 2016 Ann Joyner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not great literature but entertaining, funny, literate and reflecting of so many experiences like those related by my expatriate friends living in Italy. Highly recommended.
Jun 25, 2015 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, memoir, europe
This is the story of a neighborhood in Italy. Tim Parks and his wife are British citizens who have relocated to Italy to teach English and write. This is the story of their move to a new apartment and getting to know the stories of the neighbors and the area.

There were some interesting parts. I enjoyed the cultural details - everything from the appropriate time to drink a cappuccino to the importance of a residence card. He also had some entertaining experiences with neighbors. Unfortunately I
Mar 31, 2014 Rita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
***1/2 is my actual rating. I enjoyed this read but in a limited way. I found that I could only read a chapter or two at a time and then I would pick up another book. Mr. Teem (Tim) and his wife Rita have moved to Montecchio near Verona, in northern Italy for 10 years. He paints a rather negative picture (in a typical dry English humor manner)of his eccentric neighbors, the chronically barking neighborhood dog, the dirty malodorous pig farm and chemical producing factories nearby, the reams of p ...more
Hilary Hicklin
Feb 22, 2015 Hilary Hicklin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Italy is a country at once adorable and exasperating in equal measures. For anyone interested in what makes it the way it is this book is essential reading. Tim Parks, an excellent writer, settled with his wife in a village near Verona and recorded his first year there, their gradual acceptance into the community, their fascination with the inherent contradictions of Italian life: " ... that profound schizophrenia, which is also the charm, of all matters Italian: the Pope adored and ignored [Ita ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Vero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fijn boek over het 'echte leven' in Italië. Tim Parks trouwde met een Italiaanse vrouw en beschrijft met een flinke dosis humor wat hij meemaakt in zijn nieuwe thuisland. Hoe hij buitenstaander blijft, tot hij vader wordt ..dan plots hoort hij er echt helemaal bij, de vreemde heiligenkalender die je in elk huishouden terugvindt (love it! ik krijg m nu elk jaar toegestuurd door een Italiaanse vriend), het tijdstip waarop je cappuccino MAG drinken om niet door de mand te vallen als buitenlander, d ...more
This book wasn't as flowery and romantic as Frances Mayes' accounts of her life in Italy, but it was still enjoyable and highlighted a who other side of the culture. The book is really about the neighbors of an English couple who move to Montecchio. One becomes attached to the real-life characters in the small world they live in. I love reading boks on Italy because the culture seems so old-world simplistic, and at the same time very furstratingly complicated in ways that make absolutely no sens ...more
Nancy Wilkinson
Apr 01, 2013 Nancy Wilkinson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh! This is perhaps only the second book in my life that I haven't finished. I got half way through the author's drivel about all of the ways his Italian neighbors make his life interesting/annoying/miserable and he does this without ever getting to each persons story, and how they interrelate. Maybe that is yet to come, but meanwhile he seeks to enthrall the reader with wordy descriptions of the smells (bad), the corruption, the small minds and very minimally, the food and wines which you migh ...more
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Born in Manchester in 1954, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. In 1981 he moved to Italy where he has lived ever since. He has written eleven novels including Europa, Destiny, Cleaver and, most recently, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, as well as three non-fiction accounts of life in northern Italy (most recently A Season with Verona), a collection of 'narrative' essays, ...more
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