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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,606 ratings  ·  120 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dana Delamar
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
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Susan
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.
D.w.
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
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Jane
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
Alan
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
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Ryan
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
Pat
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
Jen
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
Laura
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
...more
Amandine
Some interesting tidbits, but altogether I felt that it lacked a real plot line. It presents a very limited Italy, one from his own concrete apartment building, as the title suggests, it is almost uniquely about the quirks of his neighbors. There are a few humorous passages. I do not disapprove of his more negative approach towards the country, in comparison to say Frances Mayes' over zealous reaction to the country's sensory aspects (food, color, antiquity, etc.). Negative can be good. All in a ...more
Carrie
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
Shelley
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.
Vero
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
Hilary Hicklin
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
Tisha
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.
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.
Robin
I thought this book was well-written. I am enamored of all things Italiano.
Lisa
Interesting read but did put me off wanting to live in Italy.
Janneke
Een aardig boekje over het wonen in Italië, over de contacten met de buren,wanneer je cappuccino drinkt en wanneer prosecco. De schrijver vertelt over seizoenen, corruptie, feestdagen en de afgunst tussen ambtenaren, zelfstandigen en degenen die in loondienst werken. Kortom over het hele leven in een stadje dichtbij Verona.
Jammer alleen dat het al een ouder boek is. Tim Parks schreef het in 1992 en de vertaling is van 1998. Misschien moet je het lezen met een vleugje weemoed naar vroeger tijden
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Rita
***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
Ian Mapp
Perfectly acceptable travel book, in which an English Author moves abroad (Italy this time) and writes about the people and his new life over the course of a year or so.

A year in Provence. In Verona.

Its easy reading, witty and you get a sense of the love the author has for a place, even when he is describing things that no-one would like.

This one is more people focused than others of its ilk.

Serves it purpose well - entertaining and educational.
Frances Sawaya
As Parks says, this is not a travel book, but an arrival book in that he has given up home in England for home in Veneto. Some insightful and amusing looks at his life there during the first year. I enjoyed the sections on tax returns (always a quagmire of red tape, no matter the country --- see a similar chapter in Bryson's "I'm a Stranger Here Myself). And the consistent return to "valdo, discreto, relativo." Not sure though if I would other Parks books on the same topic.
Stephen
Diverting. An important read for stranieri considering living in Italy. Affectionate but not effusive. Unforgettable account of the correct way to get someone to take a bribe: put the bustarella (the little envelope of cash) inside a book. The book opens by accident, letting the envelope fall to the floor in front of the intended recipient, who picks it up and says "it this yours?"
coffeealias
Welcome to the neighborhood. An insightful capture of an Italian setting. More than just a food-sites-driving observation, but a genuine look at Italian neighbors: their passions, priorities, ways of coping, sharing and loving. Especially love the descriptions of taxes, subsidy schemes, and orchestrated conflict. One almost feels as if they are footing about an Italian village of their own.
Tina Lamb
I recommend Italian Neighbors. Mr. Parks recounts his time in the neighborhood with colorful vignettes of people and places. I felt I might recognize his characters if we were to meet. (I have now added molto simpatico to my Italian vocabulary.) The homes and gardens reminded me of my childhood's neighborhood. But then, I had some Italian neighbors too! These pages made me smile.
pianogal
I don't know how I got on to Tim Parks, but I kinda wish I hadn't. He's vaguely negative and pessimistic about everything. This is the second book I've read of his and both of them made me not want to like Italy - which I did when I was there. I don't know...maybe I should just pass on the rest of his Italy books and find someone else who actually likes what they are writing about.
Anne
I can't think of another book that made me laugh to the point of tears! This is the REAL ITALY (at least, the real Italy as viewed by an me). Priceless for anyone thinking of making the move, or who is interested in a regular "slice of life" that isn't all sunflowers and wine, pasta and mandolins... This reminds me of the small town my relatives are from Bari.
Katherine Wilkins Bienkowski
I liked it, especially as I started it on the airplane as I flew away from Rome so it allowed me to remain in Italy longer than I actually was, but the way he writes about women bothered me (I'm not sure why his wife is not more well-rounded, and he tends to mention groups of women with an objectifying-and-then-dismissive slant.
Danielle
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
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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
More about Tim Parks...
A Season with Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusion, National Character . . . and Goals! An Italian Education Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence

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