Living Italian Style

Destination: ITALY

 Books: By Tim Parks– A Season with Verona; Italian Neighbors; An Italian Education

 The Ohio State University Buckeyes played the Texas Longhorns at the Fiesta Bowl. Texas won. This caused deep gloom to settle over our house. I am not an every-day sports fan. But I pay attention when The Ohio State University plays Michigan or any bowl game opponent.

 My sudden burst of fan-dom reminded me of the first book by Tim Parks that I read before traveling to Italy.  A Season with Verona

Parks captures the ferocity of the soccer fans as he rides buses to away games, the first time leaving at midnight to go to a game between Verona and Bari, 550 miles away. They arrive at the stadium full of booze and vitriol. “It’s a place,” he says of the stadium, “of collective obsession, of exaltation.”

 The book zeroes in on a small, and not very attractive, segment of Italian culture. It also provides a vocabulary lesson that you will not get at the local community college. This crash course in expletives and vulgarities may come in handy if you are ever caught in an Italian traffic jam and wondering what all those gestures and angry words mean.

 If sports and swear words are not your thing, try Italian Neighbors and An Italian Education: The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona .

 As a British citizen  married to an Italian, Parks lived in Italy for several years and writes about every day life in a shared apartment building and the cultural glitches that occur. In the second book, we learn about the cultural lessons learned by a Brit who is  putting his children in an Italian school, and the difference between the way British and Italians look at children.

Adding books like these to my travel library lifts the curtain that separates cultures, and helps me understand the real world beyond the familiar tourist grounds of hotels and restaurants and museums.

 Have you found books about every day life in far away places that I should add to my travel library? If you live outside the United States, what books help you understand Americans?

See also Exploring the Dark Corners of Venice

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

2 thoughts on “Living Italian Style

  1. Tim Parks — interesting to come across his book again. That’s the book my husband read before our trip to Verona last year. I thought it was just him (hubby) — reading a soccer book as a travel guide! But of course you can get much more of a “feel” for a place that way. (I didn’t read the book since I’m not really into sports.)
    I love the way you relate books to cities. If you ever do my hometown (Delhi, India), do please check out City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple. Excellent.
    There’s also a book I have, but have not yet read, set in Istanbul, which is a city I love. (I think I’ll write something about the city on my own blog soon. You see, you are an inspiration!)

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