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Ciao, America!: An Italian Discovers the U.S.

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,116 ratings  ·  140 reviews
In the wry but affectionate tradition of Bill Bryson, Ciao, America! is a delightful look at America through the eyes of a fiercely funny guest — one of Italy’s favorite authors who spent a year in Washington, D.C.

When Beppe Severgnini and his wife rented a creaky house in Georgetown they were determined to see if they could adapt to a full four seasons in a country obsess
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Broadway Books (first published 1995)
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This is the first adult-level book I’ve ever completed in Italian, so I’m sure I missed some of the subtleties and the humor, but I chose to read it because 1) an Italian friend gave it to me and 2) because I’ve just completed the inverse of Severgnini’s premise: my first year as an American in Italy.

The book is light and episodic. Italians will find it funny that Americans keep their buildings as cold as a refrigerator in the summer, and that Italians like to complain about it. Severgnini is fa
Jennifer Moore
After living in Naples for three years, the first couple of chapters of this book made me laugh out loud, read parts aloud to my husband, and then laugh again with him. As Joe put it "It's like the inverse of every conversation we had moving there." He's amazed at how easy it is to set up a phone line - only funny if you've waited months and eventually bribed somebody to get yours hooked up. He comments that watching Americans stay in their lanes and drive the speed limit on the highway is "surr ...more
I recommend this book for anyone who wants some insight into how someone from another culture views some aspects of our everyday life. It is a very funny book. However, it is a bit dated, since it was written in 1995.
Un libro molto carino e divertente, adatto a tutti coloro che vorrebbero andare negli Stati Uniti e che sognano davanti ai loro telefilm. Certo, il libro è del '95 e le parti riguardanti la tecnologia informatica sono ormai superatissime anche qui in Italia e non si può fare a meno di sorridere di fronte (ad esempio) all'incredulità di Severgnini davanti a chi fa shopping online (io ne fatto ormai così tanto che mi è venuto a noia...) e a chi scrive sui Social Network (abitudine quotidiana della ...more
Callie S.
Leggere Severgnini è, per me, l’occasione di ricordare ogni volta come possa intrattenersi con intelligenza un lettore e conquistarlo grazie a una penna agile, arguta, mai eccessiva e prossima, anzi, alla precisione chirurgica del bisturi.
Severgnini racconta, ma soprattutto interpreta, l’America degli anni Novanta; lo fa con l’arguzia irriverente del terzo osservatore, senza presunzioni di stampo sociologico. Ne viene una cronaca di vita appassionante e anche un godibile documentario letterario,
Nov 01, 2008 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travellers
Recommended to Amy by: Read It and Eat
So fascinating to see America through the eyes of a foreigner living here. Having lived overseas, I thought I had a broader perspective on life in the States, but I'm still an American, so I apparently can't totally remove myself from the picture. I think the author basically likes American culture, but sometimes it was a little hard to tell. Excellent read, if you can handle having our great country's lesser points highlighted at times.

Blog Stories Review: http://storiesbooksandmovies.blogspot...

La scoperta dell’America – che resta una faccenda complicata, come fu quella originale – non dipende dalle miglia percorse in automobile, o dal numero degli Stati visitati. L’America si scopre attraverso i dettagli.”

"Hai scoperto l'America!" voi direte ora. Eh sì, solo ora scopro questo titolo. L'importante, però, è non lasciarselo sfuggire. Dopotutto gli Stati Uniti rimarranno sempre interessanti, avvolti in quell'alone di mistero e d
This book is fun to read if you've just come back from Italy and people are asking you "what's different over there?" That sounds like a dumb question, but it kind of is one of the best things you can ask someone who's just traveled to another country. It's all the little things you'd never think of, and you almost don't even notice them because sometimes they're quite subtle. The more I've traveled, the more I've realized we're all human and we're all basically the same (yeah, yeah, nothing new ...more
OK, so I'm prejudiced. I read this right after returning from Italy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been criticized for being dated - it describes 1994-95 in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., which made me nostalgic since I left that area in 1995 after 5 happy years of prowling around DC on weekends. Sure, a lot has changed since then, but Americans are still obsessed with air-conditioning, ice, recliners, infinite choice when it comes to processed snack foods (although maybe we've gotten a touch ...more
I'm just about done and probably will eventually finish it, but I have to push myself. I'm just not finding it very humorous or as interesting as I expected it to be. (The author pales in comparison to Bill Bryson.) He just doesn't "sound" like any Italian I've met (warm, funny, charming) and I've been to Italy 5x. What I found annoying were the obscure, rarely used English words ie perfidious ferrago. I often look up words I don't know the meaning of but I didn't bother this time, thinking i'll ...more
The concept of this book -- an Italian and his wife move to America for a year to study the culture -- is the reverse of the ever-popular situation in which the American goes to Italy and does the same thing, which is why it interested me. I was reminded of I'm A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson, which is an awesome book and provided lots of laughs and witty observations about American culture from an outsider. Unfortunately, I think Bill Bryson did a far better job of it. This book started o ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Gwen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gwen by: browsing at the library
Shelves: biography-memoir
My biggest complaint with this book is the title--An Italian Discovers Georgetown might be better, as the book very rarely ventures outside that neighborhood and the bizarre idiosyncrasies of Washingtonian life. (Although when it does, the author's experience of non-elite American life is fascinating, if sobering.) Also, his knowledge of Washingtonian life outside the Georgetown bubble was lacking; a previous reader of my library copy assiduously crossed out every reference to "North Virginia," ...more
I'd say this book would be more aptly called CIAO, WASHINGTON DC or even more pertinently CIAO, GEORGETOWN b/c it's written by an Italian journalist who lives in G'town from '93-'94. His observations and insights about what he sees and the people whom he meets are hilarious, but I'm just not sure they can be extended to represent all of America. It was a pretty narrowly defined experience, mostly in DC, the suburbs, and a few other areas nearby on Eastern seaboard (such as Ocean City, MD) (verrr ...more
I really liked this book. The comments he provides about his time in the U.S. are priceless. The book is a classic example of someone from another culture entering a foreign country and providing keen insight into both his native and host cultures. Here are a couple of fun observations/comments:

The Weather: “[In Britain] talking about the weather is a way of looking forward to the discomforts it will bring. In the logical United States, it’s a damage-limitation strategy.”

On Waiters: [American wa
Reading it in 2015, this book has the disadvantage of being rather outdated as it is from 1995. I still enjoyed reading it to see what an Italian thought about the U.S. culture at the time, but the world has changed a lot since then.
Another issue that I have with this non-fiction book is that I don't really see what it's trying to achieve. Each chapter focuses more or less on one topic - such as the topic of camper vans or shopping in Safeway or the differences between British and American Engl
Valentino Spataro
Dovendo provare la lettura su ipad e kindle di qualcosa di leggero mi sono lanciato su questo testo, che sembra un classico.
Un po' annoiato ho iniziato a gustarlo sul kindle, abbandonando l'ipad dopo pochissimo. E mi sono trovato ad andare al bar con il Kindle per leggerlo ancora.
Ti aiuta a guardare dentro. Ti fa sorridere. Ti tiene compagnia. Ti sembra di essere accanto a lui quando la sera, accanto al camino, ti racconto cosa gli e' successo quel mese.
Mese dopo mese. Dall'innamoramento all'ins
I loved the observations that Severgnini made of Americans and believe that, for the most part, he did a good job to keep from making gross generalizations. I read this book while in Italy and made for a great comparison/conversation point with Italians. Although the audience is clearly Italians, I did my fair share of laughing at how incredibly normal some of the sketches were.

I only have a few notes/complains. The first is with the translation. I didn't read the Italian version, but Giles Wat
Frank Inserra
Enjoyed this book enormously. Although some critics have lamented the author's fascination with the mundane dimension of American day-to-day and street life, that is really what enlivens the book and makes it real. I think It is a much broader commentary on the perils and joys of America than its plot summary would reveal.
Second time through this book. Lots of fun insights into American way of life. This time through it felt much more dated and irrelevant but that is the fault of technology taking off and leaving the 90's and early 2000s in its dust. But when he talks about people and observations between cultures, that is quite interesting.
Translated by Giles Watson. A light-hearted look at American mores and foibles from an Italian journalist. He finds himself amazed by the efficiency of American bureaucracy and telephones, encouraged by shop clerks’ smiling helpfulness, and bemused by such American institutions as the pancake house, political correctness, and love of pointless gadgetry.

It’s not exactly hilarious stuff, but it’s intelligent and informed, and Severgnini obviously has a lot of affection for the New World, despite o
He mostly writes about the DC area, which, given the number of internationals living there (diplomats, military, etc) is not entirely representative of the us. Still, amusing, especially if read in concert with a book on an American living in Italy!
This book definitely has its amusing moments, but it becomes somewhat repetitive, craving the strong pen of a good editor. Additionally, while the humor may have been spot on in 1995 (pre mainstream Internet), it is a bit dated.
Andrea Patrick
This was written in the late 90s, so it's very dated, and that colored my opinion of it. I expected to like this book and laugh a lot, but I was disappointed. Severgnini spent a year in the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C. and extrapolates that this is what Americans are like. As someone who grew up in South Dakota, moved to Colorado for college, and then to Texas, I learned that regional differences can be very large. Not very many things rang true for me.

Severgnini also seems to write for an I
This had been sitting on my shelf for years due to my wife’s reading it years ago. An amusing if disposable account of an Italian living in mid ‘90’s America for one year. Interesting from the perspective of a European finding the u.s. private industry more impressive that European bureaucracy. This of course seems dated as it was written before cell phones were available in wide use, and when internet usage was still in it’s infancy.

Some funny asides on the ridiculousness of freezing air condi
Howard Mansfield
May 20, 2013 Howard Mansfield rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Howard by:
In the early 1990s, Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini lived in Georgetown for a year. His account is frothy and funny. He is amused by our over-consumption, our obsession with ice and air conditioning, and America’s “sheer predictability.” While he is not on the hunt for inequality and the great failure of the American Dream, he has the visitor’s keen eye for what we might miss. Observing a poor family at the shore, he writes, “The mere fact of being American – even when America has given you ...more
Soobie's still hurting like the first day
Eppure a me è piaciuto parecchio. Al tempo lo lessi perché la mia persona speciale era del Minnesota e volevo farmi un idea di cosa avrei potuto trovare oltreoceano.

Ma poi... Erano solo sogni.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Americans are obsessed with bottled water and the weather. True! Living near DC, I enjoyed reading a story that takes place near my home town.
After the heavy "Angle in Repose", I am going to the opposite end of the continuum. This is light and fluffy. The story is about the year that an Italian spends in America. Usually I read about Americans in Italy, so this will be a nice change of pace. I am only a few pages into the book, but there have been a few chuckles.
* Americans are like turtles, they pack everything they have when they move.
* A few funny descriptions about the decor when trying to rent a furnished American home.
It was a
This was an entertaining "period piece," particularly as a Washingtonian of sorts.... Severgnini is an astute observer, a humorous commentator, and a clear and cogent writer, so the whole enterprise works. Ultimately, however, this snapshot of life in Georgetown (moreso than life in the USA) - a one-year chronicle of a foreigners life in DC during the Clinton administration era - is sufficiently dated that it seems, at this point, equal parts history and travelogue. Still, it's sufficiently amus ...more
Stephanie Mayo
An interesting take on the travelogue. An Italian comes to spend a year in Washington and relays his perceptions of the USA, it's inhabitants and idiosyncrasies.
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Kansas City Publi...: Ciao, America!: An Italian Discovers the U.S. 2 8 Mar 16, 2014 10:02AM  
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Giuseppe "Beppe" Severgnini (born December 26, 1956) is an Italian journalist, writer and columnist.

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