A stylish homage

Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best

Melissa Morozzo
October 2, 2008

The same team that brought us the small but perfectly formed Civilized Shopper's Guide to Florence now brings us an alphabetical guide to all things Italian.


From the A of aceto balsamico to the V of vespa, this gorgeous little hardback has a classy 1920s look, each double-page spread introducing a different element of Italian culture with a short explanation alongside bright, appealing and often vintage photos.


The authors manage to see old favourites like il caffè (coffee) and la famiglia (family) through fresh eyes and thus avoid any tired and patronising stereotypes.


What makes this book really stand out is that it sparkles with so many overlooked elements of life in Italy: the crucially important mezzaluna (dicer); why you should never leave a shop without lo scontrino (receipt); and the upside of that fateful Italian word chiuso (closed).


There is also practical information although the focus is definitely on culture and the tone is light and fun.


Some may scoff at what appears an attempt to sum up Italy's vast culture in 51 short chapters, but this book doesn't claim to do anything of the sort. Rather, it pays homage to Italy and does so in a stylish and eclectic way, making the country's icons burst with life. In short, this sleek and sassy guide to Italian culture fa molto bella figura.


Don't miss co-author Lise Apatoff at the Italianissmo book launch at the Paperback Exchange (via delle Oche, 4) on Thursday, October 9, at 6:30pm.




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