I am so excited today to write today’s post as we have Camilla as our guest blogger from Italy under our Flyaway Friday feature. She is a straight shooter and her answers are not sugar coated. I loved reading them and learned so much about the country. I will hand it over to her.
Hello, I’m Camilla. A 24 years old Italian currently living in Rome. I’m a fashion student, a writer when find time and calm mind, warrior reader, your proud in plain sight but also in the closet ace girl. And your nice and bitter blogger at The Reader in the Attic.
1) What do you think is exotic about Italy?
You want me to be honest? That’s difficult. I always lived in Italy, every thing the culture is made of is normal and everyday thing.
Okay, one thing… is that every region of Italy has its own tradition. Carnival, for citing a well know Italian tradition, change very much in forms and traditions depending on where you are. Not everything is Venice’s Carnival.
There’s plenty of sweet (savoury recipes too) that have the same name but change part of their ingredients depending on the region. But also, some sweet, despite being made in the same region, change even from city to city. Sometime even from village to village, despite both places being quite near.
Same thing for dialects. I’ll make a real-life example. I’m born in Carrara, north of Tuscany, really near Liguria, and city of marble. It’s situated up in the mountains, while the zone at the sea is called Marina di Carrara. Both are really near, but their dialects are different and some food recipes too.
2) Will you tell us about Italy’s eating habits and its national cuisine?
Italians can start a war over food. And trust me when I say that, despite saying it with a smile and looking like they’re joking, the great majority of Italians despise the way people outside our country eat typical Italian food.
There are also some deeper social reasons (Italians think often that their culture is the better one, no matter how toxic), but it’s fun to have food discussion. Just recently, I told one of my fellow Italian friend that an American blogger asked me if we eat pasta Alfredo…. and we laughed a lot. No one in Italy eats this Alfredo thing, whatever it’s. A part of me dies every time I hear Alfredo something.
With the same blogger (we’re friends, I swear XD ) we also had interesting discussion about ice cream and gelato, and the great illusion that eating ice cream/gelato (the English translation of gelato is ice cream for Italians) in Italy doesn’t make it the Italian gelato everyone seems to dream of.
I think that is true that Italian kinda fall into the pasta stereotype. It’s also true that in certain families, houses, street, sometimes more rustic corners, people are gonna almost force feed you, drinking on vine, talking at really high voices, and spend entire hours at the table.
3) Tell us more about a typical day in Italy.
Well, I guess you wake up, goes to work or school or university, whatever you have to do. Then you eat something outside and go back to what you have to do. Or find a way to go back home. At night adults may not go out that often, but the young generation are easy to find outside. They don’t do anything particular, just stay in the same place for hours until the sun rise, drinking and smoking (boring, if you want my youngster opinion).
I think the week is kind of common, but it’s when Saturday and Sunday arrive that things change. People go around the city, shops a lot, go to some mall, bring the kids to the parks. Some people go to the church for the mass. Going to watch sport or reunite with fellow friends is also common.
During summer is typical to reach to sea, but to be honest depends a lot from where you live. Here in Rome you can do everything, the only problem maybe is that we don’t snow that often and the city get blocked.
(the image features a pic of a villa, the Casino of Bel Respiro, situated inside the park of Villa Doria Pamphili. Such place was once a park and hunt zone owned by the Pamphili family, and now it’s one of Rome bigger park. The villa is sually closed to public because it’s used as a government base)
4) Can you tell us about some of your unique customs and practices specific to Italy?
*start to go thought the list* As I said, we have Carnival and I think we have a quite good number of our own unique Carnivals, different from the one of other nation. In Italy we have plenty of random festivities days because of some saint and our sort of Halloween, our day of the dead, is just about bringing flowers to the tombs. We have specific kind of sweet for some festivities.
Other things we do, that some people find strange, is that we kiss on the cheeks when we meet, or people shake their hands. Sometimes you bring little gift if you’re invited to someone house, but I think it’s a more education fact than an actual tradition. It’s not observed at all by many younger generations.
5) Which books / films in your opinion were very much true to the Italian culture?
I’m not a great film watcher, so I can’t give a good number of titles but I’ll say: films made by Italians.
They know their thing. We either have really useless romantic comedies, that heavily relies on gender stereotypes… and are actually quite painfully true when it comes to many relationships I’ve seen. Or are really obtuse. We have a real passion for idiotic film with extremely low and misogynist humour. Another thing that is not far away from Italian behaviour.
I may suggest you to check out things like Suburra or Gomorra, or old films about the fascism and such periods. These are quite truthful about Italy. Or any other film by an Italian that show some rural village or the rich part of the society.
Those are quite good indicators that you’re reaching for what can be the right film. So many Italians were really angry at films like La Grande Bellezza, because it painted a really decadent image of Italy, talking about the richer people.
But I’m a girl that kind of lived between the more common and everyday life of Italians and had the chance to slip into places represented in such film. So, yes, I can confirm that is kinda true in what it represents.
6) Tell us about some of the stereotypes about Italy as depicted in the media, books / film etc that annoy you.
One thing I say is that: stereotypes about Italians are false but also true at the same time. One part of me relate a lot when some POC talks about their family behaviour or mom way of being. That’s because is also typical Italian parent material.
On other sides, recently I was talking with a friend that read a book, in which the protagonist was all about how amazing was the Italian family she was with: those women that sang, dance and drink wine and her Italian lover who was a fervent feminist.
Oh, please… Italian party, we have loud voices and use a lot hand gestures. We drink and laugh, but is not like we jump on table and dance. We’re not that passionate, because the passion that is usually represented is straight up misogyny and possessive behaviour. Italian men are hardly feminists.
Italian are also shown as friendly and welcoming, and we can be. Some people will do everything to please you and treat like an actual human being. Some other people will open the door of their house while openly mocking you in term of gender, race, sexuality and disability. The same moment they are called out, they will tell they’re joking.
For Italians everything is a joke. So, even the warmest welcome can be not actually that nice. Italians, if they hate you, will heavily display that, from touching you without permission, to abusive behaviour, physically hitting and verbal assault.
Also, we have this horrible habit of using slurs of every type as common words. Do not let me start of bigotry, culture levels and such. Also, I think that people have this idea of mafia like another sort of thrilling thing to take inspiration from.
Mafia is a thing and is not nice at all to write book inspired by mafia system, describing it as “interesting and dashing”. It’s not. Mafia exist, is present, it’s deadly, kills tons of people every year, and terrorize the others.
It’s corruption and murder, that keeps growing in every part of the govern, even inside religion. It’s drug and human traffic. Do not let me start on the damage it does to younger generation. Every year we remember people killed by mafia, including whom that fought it. Who is alive, is currently forced to live under special condition, because they denounced the mafia system.
Basically, what people do with their mafia’s romanticized idea, is insulting and spitting on the dead.
7) What are your favorite fictional (bookish or otherwise) characters native to Italy?
That’s hard because I’m not exactly passionate about my country literature and work, while if I reach outside, like to US production, at beast I can find some mafia involved character. So, the answer is no one.
8) Tell us more about your national language. Teach us some very common words and few uncommon ones.
For this last answer I searched around the internet for finding some Italian words you people may find interesting, and I found this article and I found it too be behind silly. What is even sprezzatura? No one use it in common everyday language (at least in my zone). Same thing for impiraressa. And why would you need this world in English when you have words with the same exact meaning already?
Fascination with Italian language is.. strange.
But let me start with the uncommon, because it is much more easy that way. Mostly of our uncommon words, I think are from dialect. Romanaccio is the dialect of Rome and we have particular way to say things like yay, which is daje. Or when we want to say that we’re going to see at a certain hour, we say: ce vedemo a una certa.
One thing about my national language is that it’s really heavy and for saying a single thing, we take hours of our time. And also, verbs. So many verbs. We are also very vulgar, and swear words can be kinda incorporated in our language… despite having people who still react like touched by a bee if someone swears. Like, we can say easily sticazzi (literal translation is: these dicks) for meaning something that impressed us to what we don’t care at all.
Okay, few words that can help when you’re in Italy. If you want to say hello, go with ciao. Our good morning is Buongiorno. If you want to say good evening to someone or to pass a good night out, you said, respectively: buona sera or passate una buona serata. You want to wish a good night you will go with buona notte. Grazie and per favore are our ways to say thank you and please.
If you want to ask for things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, those are colazione, pranzo e cena. We also do a thing called meranda during the afternoon, when we eat a little things, usually sweet, and a drink.
We also take aperitivo or apericena. The first consist in drinking specific types of drinks along with savoury snacks, like potato chips, olives, peanuts… The apericena is kinda the same thing but with much more food, and is a mix between a dinner and an aperitivo.
Wow that is a lot of Italian for a day, I suppose. But again, we can always reach out to Camilla to ask for more help. You can contact her via.
I guess this is the end of this month’s travel, the Italian edition. I hope we will meet yet again next month with another country with its books, author and bloggers. I can’t wait!
Tell me what makes Italy such a romantic place to visit. Have you visited Italy? If so share your favorite Italian memory. Do you have any Italian stereotype that you would like to talk about? Let us chat.
Set in 1944, after the war the British occupy Naples and things are not any better. Food is scarce and the economy isn’t moving forward with people struggling to meet ends. Soon there is an increasing number of Bristish soldiers applying to marry local Italian women.
Captain James Gould is appointed to discourage this. He is dubbed as ‘the wedding officer’ by the locals. Ironically he falls for a young widow who is a fabulous cook.
What you can expect:
The Wedding Officer is a perfect blend of history, romance and a lot Italian cooking. Italy and food – your weekend can’t get any better.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
The Birth of Venus begins with the death of a nun and as her habit is stripped off, a particularly provocative tattoo is found. Thus we are taken on a journey when this mysterious nun was a fifteen year Alessandra Cecchi.
Set in the Renaissance Florence that is being suppressed by the religious and political forces, Alessandra is married off to an older man but her attraction to art and a particular artist survives the tumultuous time.
What you can expect:
What is more Italian than painting and painters? Add a bit of renaissance to the mix and you will love the suspense filled romance.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
If you are into best sellers this one is for you. Set in 1950s, the book follows the friendship of Elena and Lila right from the childhood to their adult life. Lila is the more beautiful, smarter, Elena is understandably jealous but she is the one who escapes their life through education.
What you can expect:
Read about the dirt poor Naples and the lovely friendship and rivalry between two girls.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The story revolves around four major characters a nurse, a maimed thief, a bomb disposal expert and the nameless English patient just after the World War II. This non linear story takes us through war, love, culture and mostly memories.
What you can expect:
This Booker Prize winning book is all you need to read this week. Or better catch the movie, which is surprisingly does justice to the book.
Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career.
But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year.
Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
A fallen self help author who is trying to restore her reputation while hiding away under the Tuscan sun until she meets a silver screen star is vacationing in Italy.
With the townspeople trying to driver her away and the guy who wouldn’t leave her alone, she definitely doesn’t have a breathing room.
What you can expect:
A perfect romantic comedy for a lazy afternoon set in Tuscany.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
When Oliver spends his summer in Italy with his Professor Perlman, the professor’s son Elio begins to fall for him.The two young men have so much in common yet they cannot fathom the reason for their attractions. The six weeks’ of powerful romance is dreamy, seductive and the prose is beautiful and lyrical.
What you can expect:
This bittersweet coming of age romance is perfect if you are looking for YA read set in Riveria.
The Lost Art of Second Chances by Courtney Hunt
When Lucy Parker’s eccentric grandmother dies, Lucy must return a beloved painting to a mysterious man in Italy, leading her on a journey to discover family secrets, secrets buried in the chaotic aftermath of World War II.
Lucy’s childhood best friend, estate lawyer Jack Hamilton, agrees to accompany her, opening up a opportunity for them to find their second chance at love. Will they find it? From a tiny town in Massachusetts to the rolling hills of Tuscany, never-told family secrets unfurl in The Lost Art of Second Chances.
What you can expect:
This heartbreaking love story set in WW II is perfect if you are a sucker for happily ever afters.
Classics set in Italy
Where Angels Fear To Tread, by E.M. Forster
When a young English widow takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in-laws are not amused. That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected.
But that Lilia should have had a baby — and that the baby should be raised as an Italian! — are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his dour sister Harriet, and their well-meaning friend Miss Abbott.
A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim
The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon.
The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.
A Room With A View, by E.M. Forster
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance.
Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?
Young Adults books set in Italy
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Two orphaned children are on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways of the city of Venice.
Befriended by a gang of street children and their mysterious leader, the Thief Lord, they shelter in an old, disused cinema. On their trail is a bungling detective, obsessed with disguises and the health of his pet tortoises.
But a greater threat to the boys’ new-found freedom is something from a forgotten past – a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors about an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist’s dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.
As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen.
There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef’s rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets. It is not long before Luciano is caught up in the madness.
What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.
What you can expect:
A luminous and seductive novel, it is, at its heart, a high-spirited tribute to the fruits of knowledge and the extraordinary power of those who hold its key.
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years?
All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries.
A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
What you can expect:
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more
The Eternal City by Paula Morris
Laura Martin is visiting Rome on a class trip, and she’s entranced by the majestic Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon. . . . Everything in this city seems magical.
That is, until the magic seems to turn very dark.
Suddenly, statues of Cupid and ancient works of art come to life before her eyes. Earthquakes rumble and a cloud of ash forms in the sky. A dark-eyed boy with wings on his heels appears and gives her a message. Laura soon realizes she is at the center of a brewing battle — a battle between the gods and goddesses, one that will shake modern-day Rome to its core.
Only she and her group of friends can truly unravel the mystery behind what is happening. As tensions mount and secret identities are revealed, Laura must rely on her own inner strength to face up to what may be a fight for her life.
What you can expect:
Acclaimed author Paula Morris brings the ancient world to vivid life in this unstoppable tale of friendship, love, and the power of the past.
Have you read any of these books? Did these books take you all over Italy virtually? Share with me your favorite books set in Italy. Let us talk more.
Do you know that the “new shiny thing” is really a syndrome? I am positive that I might be afflicted by it. I am talking about the feature we started at the beginning of the year called Flyaway Friday. I know it has been a while since we visited France and Finland, so I guess it is time for another trip, don’t you think?
So pack your bags and get ready to spend your Fridays dreaming about Italy this month.
We will learn about the country, talk about books set in Italy and I am saving the best for the last, have an Italian blogger tell us more about the country and its people. Sounds exciting right?
So let us start with the basics about Italy, shall we?
Italy is one of the common country in the bucket list for many of us, thanks to all the books and the characters we fell for.
I am sure we know Italy is an European country, somewhere in the Mediterranean region but we need to know a bit more than that before we travel, don’t we?
1.Italy, or Repubblica Italiana, is surrounded by water on three front and shares its land border with a lot of countries viz France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and Vatican City.
2. The eternal city of Rome is one of the oldest city’s of the world and it is about 3000 years old.
3. Rome is the home to the famous Trevi fountain, which is 85 feet in height and 65 feet in width is one of those must see tourist place in Italy. Yes, it is the one where people make a wish by throwing in coins.
4. The major Italian cities you need to know are: Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Naples
5. Did I say almost 80% of Italy is hilly or has a mountainous terrain?
6. It may come as no surprise that the Italians brought many of the cheeses like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta to the world.
7. The world’s first woman graduate and a Ph.D holder, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was born in Venice, Italy.
8. The Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino are located with the Italian territory.
9. Europe’s three active volcanoes Etna, Vesuvius, and Stromboli are all in Italy.
10. Many of the leading brands like Lamborghini, Gucci, Prada, Aramani, Ferrari call Italy their home.
11. While Italians have a long life expectancy with one of highest number of centenarians, they also have the lowest birth rate in the western world.
You all know how am kinda obsessed about reading books set in different countries currently. Though I do not explicitly search for them I am paying attention to the locations these days.
I think it is partly due to the fact that I am re-learning the forgotten geography and partly because of the new series, Flyaway Friday, in my blog. So when I had the opportunity to review Waking Isabella, that is set in Italy I grabbed it with both hands. How did it turn out for me? Read on.
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author and iRead Book Tours for the Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
The story begins with the murder of Isabella de Medici, an Italian princess in the 16th Century. We then read about the protagonist Leonora (Nora), a young researcher (a glorified fact checker, as she calls) who is recovering from a failed marriage and focusing on her passion finally. Nora reconnects with an old friend which ignites to return to Italy;. She packs her bags to Italy to film a documentary on Isabella, the renaissance princess with whom she has a special bond.
She meets Luca, an antique businessman who tells her about a missing antique painting that belonged to his family of the princess Isabella and her mother. The story now deals with a young girl Margherita, Lucas grandmother, who smuggled antique paintings from the country during the World War II. How these three women are connected and does Nora find the missing painting form the rest of the story.
Waking Isabella is clearly an output of sheer hard work in terms of research and writing. One can understand how much effort has been put in by the author to bring about a sense of authenticity to the art and history world.
Waking Isabella may be tad difficult to get into, but if you want to cherish the language and to learn more about Italy and the art world it would be worth it. I liked how the author’s writing style changed between the historic and the contemporary worlds, ie, between the stories of Isabella and Margherita, and that of Nora.
Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta—the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned.” Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.
Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano,” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.
Waking Isabella is Melissa’s second novel and follows Dreaming Sophia, published in 2016. In this new novel about Italy, the reader is taken on another art history adventure, inspired by Melissa’s experiences living and traveling in Italy, specifically Arezzo, as well as her familiarity with the language and art. For more information about Waking Isabella and links to Melissa’s blogs and social media sites, visit www.MelissaMuldoon.com.
After a long time, I am writing a review… In fact, after a long time have read a book worth reviewing – Eat Pray Love… Not that it is a classic or must read… But it just is closer to my heart in many terms…
Title: Eat, Pray, Love
ISBN: 0143038419 (ISBN13: 9780143038412
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Setting: Italy, India, Bali
Simply I loved the way the term GOD has been dealt with… My philosophy of God is also more similar to Liz’s, maybe less compulsive and more forgiving… But that’s how God is supposed to be… I hate the clutter around the term GOD and since there was none found in her world, things seemed more acceptable…
Secondly, the lucid style in her narration that wasn’t too hard to imagine, yet very pleasant… Her stay at Bali as well as India were just as fresh in our mind as hers… I simply loved the cheeky Richard from Texas and the plumber/poet though they had not much to give the story in terms of substance or the usual clichés…
Wayan and her simple daughter would easily touch anybody’s heart but the reality in them, in terms of being practical enough to squeeze whatever one could from Liz, was much needed in the “too good to be story”… Because this what is the real life is all about, isn’t it?
But again a year taken as sabbatical, is too much to dream of even, so I am happy enough for Liz… God knows none of us could afford it…
Bottom-line: I loved it – not for the writing style or for the wonderful language or any of the technical stuff – but for the realism maintained in an unrealistic environment… J I could not stop imagining Julia Roberts in every scene, even when I have not seen the film yet, So definitely an “one time read” rating for the surreal fairytale…