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Italian Days

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  175 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
"Italian Days" is one of the richest and most absorbing travel books written--a journey that traverses the Italian peninsula and immerses readers in a culture which provides the reader with a definition of the good life.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 25th 1998 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 1989)
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Dec 21, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it
This book would not be the average reader's cup of tea to a 4 star level, IMHO. But it's almost a 5 star to me, despite it being dated. 4.5 star

She's not a writer with succinct word skill. She wanders all over the place with interface, comparisons or neither at all. But as much as she has an opinion, she has knowledge of Italy. Location to location and native to tourist! With cultural lens and within age and class insights, and dare I say- judgments. All told, the result is a mighty tome.

To be t
Jul 31, 2015 Carol rated it liked it
This book is the first of many Italian-set books (fiction and nonfiction) I plan to read over the course of the year, prior to my hoped-for first trip to Italy in May 2016. "Italian Days" is a good start: it's a travelogue, much like Henry James and others who travel aboard and observe and comment, in a very philosophical way, about the culture. Harrison is rather rambling, though, and I found myself scanning pages when she would go on much too long about something or other, such as when she int ...more
Carrie La Seur
Jul 28, 2015 Carrie La Seur rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This book would make a good litmus test of whether you (the reader of this review) and I would enjoy each other and have anything to talk about. Reading Italian Days is like being in the company of a remarkably well-read and well-traveled friend who can sit down without notice for a long conversation about Dante, or modern publishing, or why Milan is a fashion capital, or why certain cities are essentially female or male. I have a library copy but will need to buy my own because there are so man ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Blue rated it really liked it
Only read the part about Rome in preparation of a trip. Harrison has a keen eye for detail and she writes well. There is a good balance of history, research, speculation, and even gossip, so her travels really come alive. The Rome section discusses Roman and recent history mostly. She wanders on many roads, sometimes driving, sometimes walking, she sits in many cafes, and she certainly visits many, many churches. Apart from the religious stuff, her musings are entertaining and timeless, and the ...more
Debbie Robson
Feb 08, 2012 Debbie Robson rated it it was amazing
Where to start on this wonderful book? It is so much more than a travel memoir. I love Grizzuti's prose, her manner of expressing herself. She doesn't just describe what she is seeing but the history behind the sculpture, the piazza, the place. Also what she is feeling.
She will give you a new slant on something famous and obviously being well read she will come up with a marvellous quote from Keats, James, Stendhal, even Iris Origo for instance; a writer I have now marked down to read.
From readi
Aug 19, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok
Not overly impressed with this novel. It exists as a melting pot of part travelogue, part history book, part discussion of art and religion, and part receipe book. A very dense read (as an oversized paperback), it was a struggle to get through even ten pages at a time. While I loved the descriptions of different foods and meals, the author had an annoying habit of talking in tangents. For example, she would have three paragraphs on the architecture of some church then all of sudden a random sent ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
This book came very highly recommended, and I have to admit, I was disappointed. I found it self-absorbed and opaque, inscrutable. Grizzuti Harrison's Italy sounds like a place I would never want to go -- indeed, nothing like the place I've been to -- full of peevish storekeepers, American-hating townspeople, predatory men. I found nothing to love about the Italy depicted in this book and couldn't imagine why the author would subject herself to further months spent there.

The writing is very stra
Jun 14, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. Now, would I recommend it? Conditionally, yes. If a wonderful trip to Italy, for you, would be hitting the high spots in Rome and Venice (and how awesome is that?!), you may feel overwhelmed by Grizzuti Harrison's tome. It is very long, and it's very detailed. I'm guessing the reader visits 30+ churches with her in Rome, alone. The book is part travelogue and part "Roots" in Italy.

I found myself mesmerized by both (and I'm just going to call her Barbara and move forward with th
Sep 07, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
Although maybe slightly dated at this point, as it was written in 1989 this is a great book to read prior to taking a multi-city tour of Italy! I went on my term abroad there and reading this book took me back - as the author visited pretty much all the cities that I did. She is sort of obsessed with Rome and the largest section about how she lived there for a few months. Sometimes she goes on weird tangents that could have been edited down but overall great mix of people watching, Italian histo ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Traczy555 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book, but could not read past the first 40 pages. I felt as though I were reading in ADD. The author's thoughts are jumpy at best, incohesive and divergent. I actually agreed with most of her perceptions of Milan, but the writing style was simply frustrating. Thinking this might be something found only at the start of the book, I jumped to the Florence section and found the same difficulties.[return][return]It was also disconcerting that her translations of Italian were inc ...more
Rose Anderson
Mar 10, 2016 Rose Anderson rated it really liked it
Vivid descriptions of her travels through Italy interwoven with comments from clssic authors Henry James, Dickens, Goethe, Stendhal, Montaigne, Burgess, Calvino, Gide,& Hawthorne.
Mar 29, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Reread for me. Second reading as excellent as first reading over 15 years ago.
Paul Barnes
Jun 21, 2016 Paul Barnes rated it really liked it
Essential prep for Italy trip.
June Geiger
Sep 23, 2011 June Geiger rated it really liked it
Shelves: need-to-finish
To truly connect with this one I think you need to be as much a fan of Barbara as of Italy. Which I SORT of am--which doesn't explain why I GAVE my copy to an acquaintance whose parents were about to travel abroad. I must've had some sort of agenda at the time; now the acquaintance is long gone from my life, and i just wish I had my book back. I WILL buy another copy...which in itself is a great review. It's not about pictures--it's about words. Cozily, caustically, comically, cleverly, WONDERFU ...more
Jul 08, 2014 Maureen rated it it was ok
I couldn't get into this one and even more so realized it's one for a slow read. Maybe in a cold winter I'll try it again.
Dec 17, 2012 Marilyn rated it did not like it
Shelves: isurrender
Being a big devotee of Italy and its culture,I really thought this was going to be a fabulous book--I was extremely disappointed. The author was more interested in her own thoughts and religious beliefs to really do any justice to the Italian landscape.
May 17, 2012 Bee rated it it was amazing
Nostalgia influenced my loving this book, but the writing is great. A different, more personal and intimate approach to Italy. And the damn book kept making me tear up at the oddest moments!
Celia B
Dec 19, 2013 Celia B rated it really liked it
Still reading, but love the way the author captures the spirit and culture of Italy. So far, I have journeyed to Milan with her, and we are now in Venice.
Feb 19, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
The first part, particularly the first chapter, I loved. Toward the end her introspective analysis was beginning to weigh me down.
Maria Tatham
Aug 21, 2012 Maria Tatham rated it really liked it
very, very interesting account of a journey from Northern Italy to the south. sterling prose.
Dec 17, 2008 Deanna rated it it was amazing
I often reread this book when I am particularly yearning to go to Italy and can't.
Dianne Merridith
Dec 15, 2013 Dianne Merridith rated it liked it
Dated. Not written in a very interesting style.
Feb 22, 2008 Dad rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Travel writing at it's best in my opinion-
Hank Stuever
Jul 14, 2013 Hank Stuever rated it liked it
A fantastic writer and thinker.
Jeza Wursten
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Sep 20, 2016
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Sep 15, 2016
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Robin Hudson marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
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Bill Bushlen marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
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Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (14 September 1934 – 24 April 2002) was an American journalist, essayist and memoirist. She is best known for her autobiographical work, particularly her account of growing up as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and for her travel writing.

Her first book, Unlearning the Lie: Sexism in School, was published in 1969. Harrison was one of the first contributors to Ms. magazine.

More about Barbara Grizzuti Harrison...

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