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Ciao, America! Paperback – 13 May 2003

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (A Division of Bantam Doubleday Del; Reprint edition (13 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767912365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767912365
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,864,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"A bella laugh...Wonderfully funny perspective. No Dickensian outrage is to be found in these pages, no close to Toquevillian analysis; "Ciao, America"! is fun from first page to last, pure and simple."
-Jonathan Yardley, "The Washington Post
""Severignini is a master in the vein of Bill Bryson..."Ciao, America"! is a sardonic tale of cultural bewilderment, an incisive peek into the mundane obsessions of our American existence that makes the commonplace seem not only insane but extremely funny."
-"Publishers Weekly
""A delightful read, full of wonderful anecdotes that capture the eye-opening absurdity of life in the United States."
-"Chicago Tribune
""Witty...Whatever you have taken for granted in America is what Severignini observes with the freshness and charm of the outsider, here for an extended visit. He gives us back ourselves-- with our manners and mores and even the fine print on our No Parking signs--in a shining mirror."
-"Philadelphia Weekly Press


"From the Hardcover edition."

From the Inside Flap

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 obsessed with ice cubes, air-conditioning, recliner chairs, and, of all things, after-dinner cappuccinos. From their first encounters with cryptic rental listings to their back-to-Europe yard sale twelve months later, Beppe explores this foreign land with the self-described patience of a mildly inappropriate beachcomber, holding up a mirror to America's signature manners and mores. Succumbing to his surroundings day by day, he and his wife find themselves developing a taste for Klondike bars and Samuel Adams beer, and even that most peculiar of American institutions -- the pancake house.
The realtor who waves a perfect bye-bye, the overzealous mattress salesman who bounces from bed to bed, and the plumber named Marx who deals in illegally powerful showerheads are just a few of the better-than-fiction characters the Severgninis encounter while foraging for clues to the "real America. A trip to the computer store proves just as revealing as D.C.'s Fourth of July celebration, as do boisterous waiters angling for tips and no-parking signs crammed with a dozen lines of fine print.
By the end of his visit, Severgnini has come to grips with life in these United States -- and written a charming, laugh-out-loud tribute.

"From the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to reading this book - an "outsider's view" (a genre I love) written by a professional journalist, and about a city and country I have some acquaintance with. Alas, I emerged disappointed. To begin with it's dated - the author is describing his time in Washington DC in the mid 1990s so we we have a fair bit about the politics and popular culture of the time, about this great new thing called the Internet, and about the wealth-producing possibilities of the industries. This might not matter so much if the author could bring to the book the charm or humour of, say, Bill Bryson - but he does not. Indeed the impression is of a very dilute Bryson, with the occasional episode that amuses or informs, but mostly it's rather bland.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.1 out of 5 stars 61 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and funny. As a half Spanish-half Italian person I have ... 24 Mar. 2015
By Mercedes Ontoria - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The thoughts of the author about the United States can be very useful for foreign people as well as for United States citizens who want to take a look to their own culture from another point of view. It is an interesting and funny way to approach to the United States culture, language and costumes, specially if you are planning to live in this country. It was useful for me and I enjoyed it a lot.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny for Americans who can laugh at themselves 31 July 2010
By J. Brandemuehl - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's filled with funny anecdotes about daily life in urban America and it's interesting to hear it from an Italian perspective. It's best appreciated by Americans who've traveled internationally and can appreciate the nuances of culture. You also miss a bit if you haven't experienced life in Italy. Having been to Italy several times over the years, I could appreciate the Italian awe of how much more efficient American bureaucracy and buying phone services can be. I was on the floor over his description of feeling like a "matador faced with a milk cow"! For Americans in Italy, it's the opposite experience of course - complete naivete at first about how "the system" works in Italy which one quickly realizes is simply that the "system" doesn't work at all and that it's assumed you will find blatant ways to work around the system to get what you need. Unfortunately since his book was written, Americans are not nearly as polite as they used to be, everyone's in rush, we've lost patience with our airlines, our government and so on. And sadly, in the 15 years since his book was written, 35% of Americans are now overweight or obese. He should come back and write a short sequel. A good light-hearted read and highly recommended.
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh 8 Aug. 2014
By S. Meade - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was on my reading list for a couple of years. I enjoy books about culture clashes, as I used to travel internationally quite a bit and I used to live in Washington, DC (the setting for the book).

It is a lighthearted, short book that is somewhat amusing. I actually quit reading it about 1/3 of the way through because it was outdated. Not the books fault; it was written in the early 2000's if I recall correctly. There was a lot of commentary on the internet, technology, etc. and things have changed so much that I just got bored reading it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I rally wanted to like this book, but ... 18 Dec. 2011
By IraqiInAmerica - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book detailing the author's adventures through a year in which he rented a house in Georgetown and went through the processes of discovering life in the US. I bought the book after watching an interview with the author on Book TV (yes folks, I am one of the 17 people in your target audience) and thought that the author, being a former writer for The Economist and other esteemed publications will have an interesting perspective to offer. Sadly, he does not go much beyond telling us about the traffic on his street, the adventures of buying a mattress in the US, that American houses creek and similar anecdotes. This, and the obvious time gap from the time the book was written (mid-90's) until now make it boring and a waste of time.

To his credit, Mr. Severgnini is a good writer, his pen is light and his text is charming and flows well, and his fascination with his subject is obvious. Sadly it did not translate into anything profound.

Bottom line - pros: well written and somewhat entertaining airplane book for people who never lived in the US; cons: Beppe Severgnini is not Alexis de Tocqueville
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger in a Strange Land? 23 Aug. 2002
By Foster Corbin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A stranger in a strange land? I think not. I get the distinct impression that Mr. Severgnini--and I do want to get his name spelled correctly since he says we Americans can't spell-- really had a good time the year that he spent in Georgetown. I know I certainly had a good time reading this often very funny book. He pokes fun at Americans and all our foibles with great wit and little or no mean spiritedness.
There are few aspects of America that Mr. S.-- I'm not taking any chances on misspelling his name-- misses. He covers malls, freeway drivers, obesity, casual attire, overly friendly waiters, political correctness, our obsession with shopping, being in control, being organized, numbers and air conditioning, to name a few.
One of my favorite paragraphs from this book is Mr. S's take on America's bad taste or what he calls "large-scale wanton tackiness." "The hero figures of this America are Mae West, Liberace, Muhammad Ali, Joan Collins, and Ivana Trump. Larger than life personalities who at first sight, and often at second or third, are beyond comprehension. How can they like that stuff? The sacred places of this America are Las Vegas, Atlantic City, every bar in the state of Texas, and every swimming pool in California, as well as 90 percent of official ceremonies and any sports event you care to mention." This is a statement difficult to dispute.
I'm not completely convinced that this writer could get an objective view of the U. S. from hanging out with Washington types. I wouldn't say that people inside the Beltway, as the media would have us call them, are good examples of what Americans are like. I wonder if he would have sung a different tune if he had spent a year, for instance, in Nashville, Kansas City or Miami or some other large U. S. city besides Washington. At any rate, this book is a great read. I recommend reading it during these Dog Days of summer in a very cold air conditioned room!
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