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Jeffrey Bailey

Interpreting Italians

Interpreting Italians is a socio-cultural travel guide designed for people whose interest in Italy goes beyond the readymade impression or the hackneyed cliche. It is a serious effort to understand what the 'Italian temperament' actually is, how it came to be, and the impact it has had both on Italians themselves and on the outsiders who attempt to live intimately and knowledgeably among them. To this end, it offers a thoughtful interpretation of those aspects of Italian culture and history — furbizia and bella figura, the piazza and the casa, the role of the mother, the extravagance of the Baroque and the personal as well as architectural significance of the facade — that have at once reflected and compounded Italians' attitudes to foreigners and to each other by examining their approaches to love and sex, religion and politics, food and the family, language and bureaucracy, regionalism and immigration, sport and the Mafia. The book consists of eighteen concise but well-documented essays and five appendices that, in addition to an extensive reading list, provide practical suggestions to visitors relating to the preparation of menus and the selection of walking tours and excursions to sites often overlooked by the casual tourist. Interpreting Italians will be a useful aid to anyone truly curious about discovering what makes Italians tick.
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    Masha Pankina
    Italiano
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