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La Bella Figura [Paperback]

Beppe Severgnini
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 7.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

26 Jun 2008

'First of all, let's get one thing straight. Your Italy and out Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, white wine and raven haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It's alluring but complicated. In Italia you can go round and round in circles for years. Which of course, is great fun.'

Beppe Severgnini was The Economist's Italian correspondent for ten years. A huge Anglophile as well as an astute observer of his countrymen, he's the perfect companion for this hilarious tour of modern Italy that takes you behind the seductive face it puts on for visitors - la bella figura - and uncovers the far more complex, paradoxical true self. Alongside the historic cities and glorious countryside, there'll be stops at the places where the Italians reveal themselves in all their authentic, maddening glory: the airport, the motorway and the living room.

Ten days, thirty places. From north to south, from food to politics, from saintliness to sexuality. This witty and beguiling examination will help you understand why Italy, as Beppe says, 'can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred metres or ten minutes.'


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La Bella Figura + The Dark Heart of Italy + La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (26 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340936037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340936030
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A keen observer of human nature, he watches his compatriots with amused insight... Laugh-out-loud funny.' (International Herald and Tribune)

'A luscious disquisition on the Italian national character' (The Washington Post)

Book Description

WATCHING THE ENGLISH for the Italians... an affectionate, witty guide to Italians at their most enchanting and infuriating

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good man Beppe! 9 Aug 2010
By coyno
Format:Paperback
Beppe Severgnini is an author as comfortable in English as he is in his native Italian. This is a highly readable mini-travelogue , highlighting all of the places in Italy that a Briton would consider as a holiday destination and embellishing it with colourful stories of the locals, while selecting the best of civic traditions as well as those of the wider sense of "Italianess". The observations seek to bring out the best of the Italians and those that could be deemed to be " curious/eccentric" are treated with sympathy and humour, but above all they are tailored to an english speaking and in particular, a British audience.
Clearly, he has a fondness for his adoopted country (he lived in the UK for several years) and its citizens and you get the feeling that working on it was a labour of love. highly recommended
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars another tourist menu... 23 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback
While this book claims to be a "hilarious tour of Italy", and that it covers "thirty places in ten days", and while its table of contents contains titles such as "day two: in Milan", "Day seven: in Naples", "Day eight: in Sardinia", giving the impression that the author is covering all these places, the content barely contains ANYTHING at all related to them, suggesting the author has not left his seat nor even had the grace to research his destinations in "google earth".

At the start of every chapter supposed to cover one destination or the other, the author sometimes mentions a few very general things about it, without any "commitment" to a concrete description of anything, and, after which, he launches into talking about topics such as cars parked in a certain way, how italians regard this or that, italian attitudes and beliefs towards something or the other, etc..etc.. The repetition of the name of a specific destination in the first pages of "its relevant chapter" seems to serve the sole purpose of make-believe that the author is talking about that particular destination, while he is, in fact, talking about very general things that could apply anywhere in Italy!

The fact is, this book is NOT about any of the destinations it promises to portray, it is about the author's view of Italians. Why he packaged the book as to pretend it tours the country north to south, is open to conjecture. My guess would have been, "either he is not very clear in the head, or, he is deliberately misleading"; however, reading on the back cover that he has worked as a columnist for places like the newspaper "corriere della sera" and "the economist" eliminates the "not-clear-in-the-head" bit. He is simply misleading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average book! 23 May 2012
By Paolo
Format:Paperback
Having read "the dark of Italy" this book is totally different. It doesn't go into depth about Italy's history but it gives you an insight into Italian way of life. Having been brought up in an Italian family I can relate to some of the things that are said. But the book is about a journey and it never flowed like that. A light hearted book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a fun read during my travels to Tuscany but ultimately gave up on it so that I could get on and enjoy my holiday in beautiful surroundings that bore little resemblance to those described by the author. I found the writing smug and cynical and, in some places, so repetitive that I thought there had been copy and paste errors. As with other authors who stereotype entire regions (Bill Bryson, Peter Mayle), Severgnini's claims that "all people in Milan do this" and "all buildings in Tuscany are like this" didn't square with the experiences I was having on my travels. This is the only review I've written for a book I haven't finished, so perhaps it is not entirely a fair one; however, the sun is shining in Italy and, despite the assertion that no one drinks a cappuccino in the afternoon, I think I'll go and do just that.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars La boring figura 23 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
I thought that this book was aimed at people like me....If so this book is not just off target but out of the stadium!

If you have had any experience of Italy, or read books by Tobias Jones, Tim Parks or Joe McGinniss etc. I would save your cash.

The author uses the book as an excuse in delivering elaborate rhetoric - in an impressive use of language (English). Rather like a rower with one oar this doesn't get us anywhere much...

To give an example... the fact that many Italians do not regard traffic signals with too much seriousness is worthy of much comment. Is there anyone with any interest in Italy that does not know this already?

Need I say more?
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this book... 20 Mar 2014
By MR
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... if you already have a copy of Severgnini's "An Italian In Italy". It's the same book, whose original title was "La testa degli Italiani". Sharp practice by the publishers.(Hodder).
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Every so often since the 1990s the journalist Beppe Severgnini publishes a volume of his latest destination he has lived and worked in, and has it translated into various tongues. La Bella Figura (2008), a 10 day journey inside the Italian mind and down the length of his home land, is in its present format quite different. It is aimed at English speaking Italophiles wishing plausible answers to complex questions, something a self proclaimed Italian Anglophile feels he can provide.

It is an attempt to demonstrate that the foreigner's image of Italy is very different from the real Italia of the natives. In a nutshell, "Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages such as hills in the sunset, olive groves and raven haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. In Italia you go round and round in circles for years. Which, of course, is great fun."

Excellent start and intention: it is much more than pizza, Mafia, corruption of public administration, Berlusconi and his bunga bunga parties, and of over paid football and film stars clad in Armani, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, as featured in the columns of world press.

Though focusing on certain key tourist hot spots since the past Grand Tours of the rich: Milan, Florence and Tuscany, Rome, and Naples, Severgnini's ten chapter day tome is not a traditional tourist guide.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK read
Took this on holiday with me to Italy. He certainly sums up the Italians but not as light a read as I wanted on holiday.
Published 6 months ago by alison munro
4.0 out of 5 stars amusing read
it's on the ball and rings true.
A good introduction to Italian ways and quite amusing for those already familiar.
Published 7 months ago by imbain
4.0 out of 5 stars Good condition
I have yet to read it as I have other books on the go. Look forward to reading it as my daughter has an Italian partner and they have just given us our first Italian grandchild.
Published 12 months ago by BK
3.0 out of 5 stars Its all Italian to me.
Good perspicatious read that showed all the pleasurable but also irritating aspects of the Italian character.
Easily read id bed.
Published 13 months ago by Cyril Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars LA BELLA FIGURA
AN INSIGHT TO THE ITALIAN PSYCHE, EXPLAINS MUCH ABOUT THE GAP BETWEEN NORTHERN EUROPEAN THINKING AND THE UNIQUE ITALIAN TAKE ON LIFE.EASILY READ BUT PROFOUND.
Published on 16 July 2011 by Mr. Robert P. Green
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive, poorly written, cutesy and arrogant, lacks insight
What we have here is a book that lacks discipline and a strong editor. There are some good points, but they are lost in a cacophony of words. Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2011 by Sully
2.0 out of 5 stars For non Italians
This is the perfect present for Italians that want to introduce foreigners to Italian culture. However the mannerism of the author for the Italian stereotypes makes this book... Read more
Published on 24 April 2011 by coguar0
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial and stereotypical
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... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2011 by moby-dick
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