In the wry but affectionate tradition of Bill Bryson, Ciao, America! is a delightful look at America through the eyes of a fiercely funny guest — one of Italy’s favorite authors who spent a year in Washington, D.C.
When Beppe Severgnini and his wife rented a creaky house in Georgetown they were determined to see if they could adapt to a full four seasons in a country obsessed with ice cubes, air-conditioning, recliner chairs, and, of all things, after-dinner cappuccinos. From their first encounters with cryptic rental listings to their back-to-Europe yard sale twelve months later, Beppe explores this foreign land with the self-described patience of a mildly inappropriate beachcomber, holding up a mirror to America’s signature manners and mores. Succumbing to his surroundings day by day, he and his wife find themselves developing a taste for Klondike bars and Samuel Adams beer, and even that most peculiar of American institutions -- the pancake house.
The realtor who waves a perfect bye-bye, the overzealous mattress salesman who bounces from bed to bed, and the plumber named Marx who deals in illegally powerful showerheads are just a few of the better-than-fiction characters the Severgninis encounter while foraging for clues to the real America. A trip to the computer store proves just as revealing as D.C.’s Fourth of July celebration, as do boisterous waiters angling for tips and no-parking signs crammed with a dozen lines of fine print.
By the end of his visit, Severgnini has come to grips with life in these United States -- and written a charming, laugh-out-loud tribute.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Ciao, America!|
|Release Date: 06-18-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Ciao, America!|
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Our house is made of white wood and faces west. The black-painted door has a fan carved above it and the shutters of the three windows are nailed back in case some prudish European should think of closing them at night.
At the back, hidden from the street, is a garden with an ivy-covered lawn. In the midst of the ivy, like a mermaid rising from the waves, is a concrete cupid. The owners may have hoped that Washington winters would make it look antique, but if that was the case, they are going to have to wait a little longer. For the time being, the concrete cupid still looks like a cupid made of concrete and continues to pour imaginary water from a concrete jug while staring in open hostility at the world round about-squirrels, blackbirds, and the occasional Italian tenant.
The house is on Thirty-fourth Street, which runs one way downhill through Georgetown. Actually, Thirty-fourth Street itself is a curious thoroughfare. It's only busy from four to six in the afternoon, when the massed office staffs of Washington descend toward M Street and cross the Potomac over Key Bridge on their way home to the immaculate suburbs of North Virginia. For the remaining twenty-two hours of the day, Thirty-fourth Street is a quiet road of brightly painted houses where people call each other by their first names and pretend that Georgetown is still the sleepy village that used to make a living from the tobacco trade at the time of the Revolution.
Apart from a certain number of lawyers, who in America are practically ubiquitous, our stretch of Thirty-fourth Street, from Volta Place to P Street, boasts an allergy specialist, a clerk at the...