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My Two Italies

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A charming, informative personal history that blends the anecdotal, historical, and downright unusual

The child of Italian immigrants and an award-winning scholar of Italian literature, in My Two Italies Joseph Luzzi straddles these two perspectives to link his family’s dramatic story to Italy’s north-south divide, its quest for a unifying language, and its passion for art,
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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No synopsis but a reaction from another 1st Generation out of the la miseria.

Too much to put into a concise review for me, particularly in the short reaction that I usually accomplish. But I do highly recommend this book if you have loved Italy for travel, Italians, or especially if having close association or connection to any 1st or 2nd generation people who are what is now dubbed with the dash, Italian-Americans.

Because there is such a dichotomy in Italy's identity as a nation or in self-iden
Joseph Sciarillo
As a second generation Italian born in the USA, I was curious to read this first generation experience. Dr. Luzzie grew up in a household separated from his parents not only by a generation, but also by at least a century. In a forthright presentation, he examined his family experience with love, respect, and honesty. I found My Two Italies compelling. It is a deeply personal, and, I believe, courageous work. It peals back the Italian myths (both Italy and the USA view Italy through mythical len ...more
The author, an italian scholar and professor at Brad, tells the story of his Calabrian family and the dynamic between northern and southern Italy. His parents immigrated to the U.S in 1956 with four children in tow. Two more children (including the author in 1967) were born on American soil.
Being of Sicilian ancestry, I certainly related to Luzzi's depiction of Italy, the north, south and territorial identities, and learned a lot of its artistic and political history as well as its language (Lu
This is a wonderful book, capturing so well the entirely dichotomous aspects of Italy. As an American living in Italy, I found Luzzi's explorations to be very accurate and evocative- of all the things we love and respect, and find difficult. What remains with me, in particular, is this conversation with Prodi:

“Throughout our interview Prodi kept noticing my iPhone, which I was using to record our conversation. I concluded by asking him if Italy’s celebrated high culture could play a role in help
Filomena Abys-Smith
A Journey of Identity

I watched a short video on FB of Professor Luzzi discussing the reasons he wrote this book, and was quickly drawn to his story by the strong similarity in our Italian-American experience. I'm an Italian immigrant from Naples Italy, and understand the struggles of Southern Italians trying to adjust to the American life-style.
I think most Americans understand how difficult it must be for immigrants to adjust to a new American life style but what Professor Luzzi describes s
M. Mastromatteo
What is an Italian-American?

Luzzi struggles with the same conflict that have plagued my thoughts for awhile: the dual perceptions of Italy (and Italian-Americans). From the beautiful, haute couture (Dante/Renaissance) to the negative stereotypes (corruption/Jersey Shore), where do we stand?

Luzzi writes a touching personal struggle about his two worlds, his Calabrian-American life (feeling not fully American) and his treatment as an outsider in Italy.

Italy, for him (and for me) was the world of
Emi Bevacqua
Joseph Luzzi is from the same part of southern Italy that my husband's ancestors came from, so it was interesting learning a little about the Mezzogiorno as Calabria is also known, and about la miseria that encompasses it. I wish Luzzi had explained why Calabrian men grow their pinkie nails out (I wonder if it's for the same reason men in parts of Asia do); and much he claimed as unique to Italy made me think of lots of different countries where life is hard except for the joys of family, or whe ...more
I’ve been enjoying some “technology free” days over the last couple weeks ... life is good! I’ve gotten to spend more time focusing on my daughter, reading books and enjoying life free from constant stimulus. My book reading rate has increased, but I haven’t reviewed them...

This was my favorite of the bunch! I would have given this book 5 stars, if the last couple chapters had been deleted. The author’s modern worldview intrudes on an otherwise outstanding book. I have a huge weakness for troubl
In this book the author describes his experience growing up in the U.S. with parents who emigrated from the south of Italy. He describes his childhood growing up with parents who brought their way of life to a new place. He describes how his lunches were different from the lunches of peers at school which many children of immigrant parents can relate to. He grew up in a small Italian community who had their traditions, customs and ways of doing things. What is interesting is that the author inte ...more
"My Two Italies" by Joseph Luzzi serves as good background reading for "My Brilliant Friend," by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, set in Naples, and other novels based on the Italian-American immigrant experience. An Italian Studies lecturer and American-born professor of Italian in the U.S. and Florence, Luzzi does a masterful job of reflecting on his family's Southern-Italian-American heritage (Calabrese) within the context of Italy's varied linguistic groups. One book cover blurb states, "My ...more
You don't have to be Italian to enjoy Joseph Luzzi's book.

In My Two Italies, the Italian-American boy who grew up to be an academic, shows that even an Italian can feel like an outsider in Italy.

He has produced a story of two Italies - the more rural South (considered the "backwater") and the more industrial and prosperous North (what tourists consider the "true" Italy.)

The author's writing is a bit uneven, but I found his observations to ring true. I most enjoyed the descriptions and tales of
From my beloved Public Library. Reconciling memories of the old country in an Italian - American family rings true to us young people now as ever. In our family we have come to peace with and relish the opportunities bequeathed from the old timers.
A lovely memoir from a child of Calabrian peasants whose lifelong study of Italy unveils the mysteries of his beautiful country where artistic genius and political corruption have gone hand in hand from the time of Michelangelo to The Sopranos.

Luzzi is a wonderful storyteller, and at times he feels like a travel guide as he takes the reader through what can sometimes seem like a schizophrenic character of Italian culture.

Perhaps I enjoyed this read a bit more than the average reader because my
Realized I know next to nothing about my homeland heritage
I enjoyed reading this, feel I can relate to my mother-in-law on a different level since she was born in Sicily.
This was a very interesting and well-written book, a combination of memoir and cultural-political commentary, written by an American-born son of immigrants from Calabria (southern Italy). I heard him interviewed on the CBC and enjoyed the interview, so I ordered the book.

Though from a poor family, the author, through scholarships, went to Yale and became a professor of Italian literature. His many trips to Italy were to Florence - cultural centre of northern Italy.

Southern Italy is very differe
Kenneth Iltz
Before moving to Rhode Island, the author’s family originates in Calabria, the toe of Italy's boot, is one of the most economically depressed provinces in Italy. This is the story of several Italies: the Italian community in Rhode Island, Florence, Calabria and the historic and modern Italy. This is an interesting read with a good historic and cultural background of Italy and Italian immigrants to the United States. The book is a short, interesting read.
So interesting reading this almost immediately after finishing Little Failure (which I could not STAND .. the author really REALLY annoyed me as a spoiled, self-centered jerk!...I felt THAT strongly. It's amazing I actually finished the book...)

but here we have thoughtful, somewhat painful, historically interesting...and although I can't say I agree w/ his assessment of all things Florentine, I appreciated the parallel.

I was enjoying this because I adore Italy. A lot of insight into different cultures within Italy, from the author's personal experiences. 3/4 of the way through it got too political and I got distracted with other books. I finally finished it. Got a bit over my head with the Italian poetic references, but poetry is never my strong suit. The ending was quite poignant. I wish the author well.
Deb Jackson
Well written & interesting, this author is from Westerly, RI & I looked forward to reading his story.. the only thing that I found I didn't care so much for was the references to the history & literature of Italy. I was much more interested in his own family, which I found quite interesting. I did however realize the background he added in on the history was all part of this, to have the reader understand the "Italian-American" struggle, especially for his parents. All in all a very ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Randy added it
A personal account by a first generation Italian-American who searches for his ethnic roots in his parents' homeland.
Well written, insightful, and touching, Joseph Luzzi explores his upbringing, ancestry, and perceptions of Italian ethos and its profound effects on his persona and beliefs.
Very interesting book from the child of two immigrants who goes on to get his doctorate and has a career as an academic in Italy. Much is written about the differences in the North and the South of Italy and also how different is the Italian Erican experience. I enjoyed the book and learned from it.
Sheila Pace
A lofty undertaking by Joseph Luzzi to tell his family story, his personal journey & weave the complex cultural & political history of Italy in to a 200 page book. A short read; well worth the time for anyone who is an Italophile. I better understand the contradictions & complexity of this country.
I enjoyed reading this. It is part memoir and part a sociological look at Italy from various perspectives and the culture of the Italian Americans who immigrated from the Italian South.
Nicely written book which moves between the author's life with his family in America after they immigrated from Italy post WWII and his experiences when he works in Italy as an adult. His family is from Calabria, which is in the toe of Italy, which has it's own poverty, way of life and societies, all different from those in the rest of the boot of Italy. A good read for anyone interested in Italy, especially the southern regions.
This starts as your typical family memoir going back three generations along with Calabrian family traditions in Italy and then how they were imported to America with the family migration. Extremely well written and achingly personal--especially the childhood memories. Then, midway through tragedy strikes, and all the generations and family love rally to life for the author. It jolted me into another world as if the door in my room opened onto this family and they walked into the room bringing a ...more
I enjoyed the book and learning about Calabria customs and people, and also how they coped with emigrating.
Sue (booknbeachbag)
Perfect book to read during the first week of an Italian vacation.
Terry Tessar
Actually requested library purchase this, very disappointing.
A little unfocussed and full of obscure references for the average reader. Good insights about Italy and his family's experience.
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Joseph Luzzi, the first American-born child in his Italian family, holds a doctorate from Yale and is a professor of Italian at Bard. He is the author of "Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy," which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association, and "A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film." An active critic, his essays and reviews have appeared ...more
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“For Petrini, Slow Food is not just the title of a book or the name of a movement; it reflects the conviction that eating should be an enjoyable experience consisting of varied, healthy, and flavorful food—the opposite of fast food. “The Official Slow Food Manifesto” argues that the twentieth century, “which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.” The ascendancy of “speed,” along with what Petrini calls “Fast Life,” now “disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.” According to Petrini, “a firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.” 0 likes
“Calabrians, to be sure, also dreamed of moving to Florence or Turin for a better way of life, and many did leave the south for such great factories of the north as Fiat. But up north, a southerner’s accent, clothes, and table manners would expose him as an outsider.” 0 likes
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