Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona by Tim Parks

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“Am I giving the impression that I don’t like the Veneto? It’s not true. I love it. But like any place that’s become home I hate it too.”
How does an Englishman cope when he moves to Italy – not the tourist idyll but the real Italy? When Tim Parks first moved to Verona he found it irresistible and infuriating in equal measure; this book is the story of his love affair with it. Infused with an objective passion, he unpicks the idiosyncrasies and nuances of Italian culture with wit and affection. Italian Neighbours is travel writing at its best.

Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona

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A Season With Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusions, National Character and Goals by Tim Parks

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Is Italy a united country, or a loose affiliation of warring states? Is Italian football a sport, or an ill-disguised protraction of ancient enmities?
After twenty years in the bel paese, Tim Parks goes on the road to follow the fortunes of Hellas Verona football club, to pay a different kind of visit to some of the world’s most beautiful cities. From Udine to Catania, from the San Siro to the Olimpico, this is a highly personal account of one man’s relationship with a country, its people and its national sport. A book that combines the tension of cliff-hanging narrative with the pleasures of travel writing, and the stimulation of a profound analysis of one country’s mad, mad way of keeping itself entertained.

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An Italian Education by Tim Parks

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How does an Italian become Italian? Or an Englishman English, for that matter? Are foreigners born, or made? In An Italian Education Tim Parks focuses on his own young children in the small village near Verona where he lives, building a fascinating picture of the contemporary Italian family at school, at home, at work and at play. The result is a delight: at once a family book and a travel book, not quite enamoured with either children or Italy, but always affectionate, always amused and always amusing.

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The Pillars Of Hercules: A Grand Tour Of The Mediterranean by Paul Theroux

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At the gateway to the Mediterranean lie the two Pillars of Hercules: Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. Paul Theroux decided to travel from one to the other – but taking the long way round.
His grand tour of the Mediterranean begins in Gibraltar and takes him through Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul and beyond. He travels by any means necessary – including dilapidated taxi, smoke-filled bus, bicycle and even a cruise-liner. And he encounters bullfights, bazaars and British tourists, discovers pockets of humanity in war-torn Slovenia and Croatia, is astounded by the urban developments on the Costa del Sol and marvels at the ancient wonders of Delphi.
Told with Theroux’s inimitable wit and style, this lively and eventful tour evokes the essence of Mediterranean life.
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The Dark Heart Of Italy by Tobias Jones

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Tobias Jones’ remarkable book essential reading for Italy enthusiasts: The Dark Heart of Italy (subtitled Travels Through Time and Space across Italy) is unlike any book on the country you may have read before. It is not a guide to Italy’s art, or her geographical splendours. Nor is it a guide to her amazing cuisine. And it is not an examination of the Italian character. It does, however, contain elements of all of these and much more. When the author emigrated to Italy in 1999, he expected the customary ravishing of the senses that Italy usually provides. But, looking beneath the surface, Jones was astonished to encounter surprising undercurrents, among them national paranoia and the crippling fear inspired by terrorists (the Italian parliament, it seems, has a ‘Slaughter Commission’).
This is, of course, the country of Silvio Berlusconi, the tycoon whose controversial election via his stranglehold on the media was (to British eyes at least) something that should not be countenanced in a non-totalitarian country. While always taking on board the glories of Italy, Jones’ picture of the country is both fascinating and disturbing: this is a land torn apart by civil wars and endemic corruption, the still influential Cosa Nostra and unbending Catholicism exert considerable sway.
Italy remains utterly unlike any of its European neighbours. Jones sees links between the powerful creativity of the Italian soul and the ‘dark heart’ that he refers to in his title. What is most remarkable about the book is the fact that no one who loves Italy will be at all disenchanted to encounter the truths that Jones presents to us.
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The City Of Falling Angels by John Berendt

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Taking the fire that destroyed the Fenice theatre in 1996 as his starting point, John Berendt creates a unique and unforgettable portrait of Venice and its extraordinary inhabitants. Beneath the exquisite facade of the world’s most beautiful historic city, scandal, corruption and venality are rampant, and John Berendt is a master at seeking them out. Ezra Pound and his mistress, Olga; poet Mario Stefani; the Rat Man of Treviso; or Mario Moro – self-styled carabiniere, fireman, soldier or airman, depending on the day of the week.
With his background in journalism, Berendt is perfectly poised to gain access to private and unapproachable people, and persuade them to talk frankly to him. The result is mischievous, witty, compelling – and destined to be the non-fiction succes d’estime of the year.
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