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La testa degli italiani

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,555 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Per alcuni stranieri, l'Italia è solo una grande, poetica, immutabile ""Toscana mentale"". Una terra di luce e profumi, aperitivi al tramonto, mattoni a vista e indigeni cordiali. Ma nella testa degli italiani — purtroppo o per fortuna — c'è ben altro. Percorrendo la Penisola in compagnia di amici venuti dall'estero, Beppe Severgnini diventa cicerone ironico e implacabile. ...more
Kindle Edition, BUR SAGGI, 209 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli (first published 2005)
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Michael Goldman
While I learned that as an overthinker who flies by the seat of his pants when travelling, I may relate more to Italians than Americans, I think that's about all I learned.

Through a combination of strange prose and incomprehensible tangents, Beppe gets me more lost about his vision of Italy than a twisty Roman street. I set out to read the book to try to understand the country I'm about to visit and was left almost not wanting to visit it at all.

There were a few helpful tips (i.e. d
...more
Mark
I really enjoyed Severgnini's smart-ass sense of humor and wit. He's an Italian David Sedaris. He makes fun of and adores Italians at the same time, meanwhile pointing out all their contradictions, anxieties and passions in very Italian, self-effacing way. He says of Italians that they make fun of everything because they respect nothing, and he is not different. Like a comedian/anthropologist he dissects everything from the modern Italian family structure to the meaning of the Vespa and the tele ...more
Kathy
Neither very enlightening nor very funny, this book does NOT do what it says on the tin. Yes, it's written in an easy and lightweight style, but it seemed to me to be empty of anything really revelatory or thought-provoking about its subject. Although it is framed as a 'journey' through Italy, it does little to evoke or describe the differences in temperament or landscape in the regions of the country. This book was full of the kinds of generalisation about Italy that I might have expected from ...more
Tommy
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See the original review here: http://justanotherbooknerd.tumblr.com...


I think it’s about time I take a break from fiction don’t you? Now, I am going to have to come clean here, my family have owned a property in Italy for many years and I have been going out there for a long time before that too. So what would make me want to read a book about a place I am already in love with despite the quite clearly obvious reason that I am already in love with it?

Well the answer is simple really, it’s Italy from the eyes
...more
Kayla Chapman
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After living in Italy for a year, reading this book brought back memories and also explained a few hidden ideas in the Italian mind. Severini is hilarious in his description of his homeland but also acknowledges age-old problems that fill the country. I wouldn't recommend reading this book before your first trip to Italy because it will distort your view and may cause you to be hyper-critical. Read after you've been there a while or after you've left so you can laugh a bit. This book is filled w ...more
Megan Baxter
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look into Italian culture. Severgnini details the complexity of the Italian mind, from its attraction to all things beautiful, to its suspicion and personal interpretation of top-down authority (hence the "red lights are suggestions" thing.

Being an American completely in love with Italy (rolling amber hills, strong architecture, astounding artisitic genius), I found myself rethinking my view of this country. Now, my view is not shadowed, but it isn't idealistic either.
...more
Elizabeth Tangora
Aug 05, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If the author was narrating this book to you over dinner or drinks, I imagine it would be a charming way of passing the time. Or if it was just a travel column published once a week I'd probably be a fan. But lumped into a book the twee observations about Italians just seem to go on forever. The paragraphs all have the same rhythm to them and by the 30th time I'd read about how "Italians are (adjective) and (adjective), but also (contradiction) and (contradiction)!" my eyes just rolled back into ...more
Rochelle
Oct 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the plane to Italy, having already been there twice, I was hoping to gain further insight into the Italian psyche. I chose the wrong book. Mr. Severgnini did a disservice to his own people by keeping his observations facile and boring. I would not recommend this book to anyone. My advice -- if you want to learn about Italians, go to Italy and make friends with a local -- spend the $25 bucks buying them a pastry and a cafe' latte over some good conversation.
Ryan
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Italy, especially those living here or planning a visit.
Not so much a travel guide as a sociological exploration, this book is packed with fascinating insights and telling weaknesses. The author, an Italian that has worked as an English journalist at The Economist and other venues, explains the difference between Italy and Italia - the former being an imaginative invention of the English later adopted by the Americans, and the latter being the real thing. But, don't worry about remembering which is which, because after explaining both the difference ...more
Julie
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Virginia Byrne
The premise of the book was intriguing: learn about Italy from an Italian's point of view. However, it was only when I read in the last pages of the book (after the conclusion of the story) that this book was a number 1 seller in Italy (and not America) that I realized why the book didn't absolutely grab me. The author is humorous and clearly well educated on his subject. Unfortunately for me (an Italian enthusiast, even), many of the references were too obscure. The tales jumped all over the pl ...more
Brittany
Sep 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, really
Well, I was hoping to learn a lot about Italy from this book; but I did something that I rarely do...I put it down before I got to the end. While I learned a couple of possibly useful tidbits, like the table fee at restaurants and the fact that pedestrians are more like target practice for drivers, overall I felt like this was written with SWEEPING generalizations. And the generalizations weren't limited to the Italians, they were also applied to Americans, Britains, Germans, etc. Since I'm tryi ...more
Khalid Ismail
Apr 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book never met my expectation and curiosity. I bought it to read about the Italian culture and tradition and how life is like in Italy. I figured out that the book is very far off what I thought it would be. How the Italians park their cars, traffic in the roads, how they shop in malls, blah blah blah !!!.
I didn't read the whole book. I stopped reading it after finishing the first half of it.

And definitely I won't read it again...it is a waste of papers and time.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
Beppe Severgnini takes us on a tour of the Italian mind, and what a mind it is. Intelligent. Intuitive. Good intentions. Intimate. Genius. Gusto. Guts. Generosity.

Clever. Funny. Paradoxically true, which is always the truest sort of true.
Kathy Davie
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travelers, those interested in other cultures
Recommended to Kathy by: C Campbell
Read this before going to Italy! Funny. Inspiring. Thought-provoking. I really felt as though I had received an excellent introduction to the Italian mindset!
Ciaran Monaghan
Mar 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the observations in this book - as far as I can see - are not specific or unique to Italy but could be attributed to almost any country or culture, particularly 'Western' countries. The author relies on tired and tiresome stereotypes to illustrate what one country (UK, USA, Germany, France) does differently to Italy and Italians, none of which are true, at least not anymore. Even if there is something interesting that he touches upon, it is explained in so little detail that it offers no ...more
Renee
May 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This "New York Times Bestseller" is awful. The book consists of general observations that are either obvious, ill-founded, or applicable to almost any culture, if they make sense at all. Here is an example, from page 6:
Ours is a sophisticated exhibitionism that has no need of an audience. Italians are psychologically self-sufficient. What's the problem? Well, we like nice gestures so much we prefer them to good behavior. Gestures gratify, but behaving takes an effort. Still, the sum of ten good
...more
Tyler Scheff
Definitely didn't think this book would turn out the way it did. Many times I found the author just blabbing and jabbering about things that were important to him, not so much the reader. I think the author had a hard time just getting the point across, and liked to drag it out. Often times the author would go off subject and just yap about something that had nothing to do with the book (in my opinion).

As people were saying, this is not a book that you want to read in order to "get t
...more
John
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Italophiles
I really liked the author's "Ciao, America!" quite a bit, so got a hold of this one on Italy. Interesting approach of covering national sociological observations and regional differences together, rather than treating the latter separately.
Jean Pham
Jan 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up reading after the first 30 pages. I expected to experience the landscapes of Italia as well as the stories behind their characteristics, turned out the author only bragged about some minor things that were over-generalized about Italians.
Deedee
Who knew? Italians are just like Americans, except they are worse drivers. (See: red lights don't mean stop, they mean: look around and consider whether or not to stop.) Very disappointing read.
Msimone
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a book by an Italian journalist who describes how Italians live to the foreigner who might not recognize the deeper meaning beneath the observed "bella figura" - appearance behavior, posture, and speech of Italians. Severgini takes the reader on a tour from the airport of Malpensa to his home town in Crema describing and interpreting signposts of urban and country living, Unlike Tim Hawks' books "Italian Neighbors" and "Italian Education" that recount the way things are in Italy through ...more
Pamela
Journalist Beppe Severgnini takes his readers through Italy in 10 days, linking each place he visits with an aspect of Italian life - traffic, politics, football etc. Through this he aims to explain the Italian psyche, revealing the real Italia that he describes as an 'offbeat purgatory'.

A bit of a mixed bag - there are flashes of real insight, and moments of humour, but it can also be quite repetitive, has some strange generalisations (particularly about Americans) and sometimes s
...more
Rich Saskal
This is the follow-up to "Ciao, America." I remember enjoying that book, in which the Italian journalist took a look at America.

This time, he turns his lens on his own country. I didn't enjoy it as much, maybe because it wasn't about me, maybe because of the translation, maybe because it structure was overly loose. That said, the author, who writes with a humorous bend, did earn some laughs out loud.

Amusingly, I found the receipt for my purchase of this book tucked inside
...more
Sara
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't decide how I feel about this book. If you have no knowledge of Italy at all, or haven't spent much time there, I can't imagine you will enjoy it. As someone just a thesis short of a degree in Italian Studies, I am not entirely sure I got much out of it either...it's very intimate and very particular and probably very amusing to an expat living in Italy long term. It rambles and wanders, commenting on various elements of Italian culture (like schools or cappuccino or what have you), but i ...more
Dan Barnes
Some chapters better than others, lots of valid and interesting points about Italy. Two trips in and the book is certainly accurate based on my experiences, hopefully many more to come. Overall enjoyed the book but it was choppy, not always on message or to the point. Lots of reading between the lines, not unlike Italy itself. The best stuff isn't the most obvious.
Katie Moronta
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was overall good. I read it during my study abroad program in Florence, Italy. The book helped me better understand the enviroment I was living in and what I should expect of my surroundings and people when in certain areas of Italy. If you are ever traveling to Italy, I reccomend reading this to help you prepare for your trip. Its an easy read.
Brad Barnes
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious, insightful peek inside the minds, spirits, habits, faults, and strengths of Italian people, from one of their own. Special props to the translator, who nailed the humor and subtlety of Beppe's original writing. This was laugh-out-loud funny and completely charming.
Leigh Stringer
I appreciated the Italian perspective, but the English was a little strangely worded (needed more editing) and the book can be summarized by the epilogue. I would enjoy a tour by Beppe though. Sounds like he is just full of stories.
Barbara Ahlquist
It was a fun book to read in preparation for a trip to Italy. Interesting to know that the stereotypes one has are often recognized by the very people who are stereotyped and the author does a good job of "explaining" Italians.
Matthew Dambro
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very funny but insightful examination of the Italian psyche. The author is a northerner [from Crema] but he does have a good sense of the problems of the south of Italy. I look forward to his book on America.
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Giuseppe "Beppe" Severgnini (born December 26, 1956) is an Italian journalist, writer and columnist.

“First of all, let's get one thing straight. Your Italy and our Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It's alluring, but complicated. It's the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters, or in the course of ten minutes. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.” 75 likes
“Orson Welles used to say that Italy was full of actors—fifty million of them—almost all good. He claimed the few bad ones were on the stage, or the cinema screen.” 1 likes
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