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Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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"As you would expect from a designer of Fili's caliber, the book is not only charming but gorgeous. Essays are elegantly laid out and accompanied by memorable photos, collages and, best of all, an illustrated chart of hand gestures. Weight and comprehensiveness are not the objectives here; the diminutive size of Italianissimo makes it ideal for carrying in purse, suitcase or even backpack, in case you plan on trekking across Italy. This little book may entice you to do so." --STEP inside design
"What do Italians do best? Many things, according to 'Italianissimo,' a most unusual and idiosyncratic guide to Italian culture. The list includes things that one might expect, such as balsamic vinegar, coffee, soccer, gelato and the art of eating, to quirky items such as hand gestures, neorealist cinema, patron saints, the motor scooter and, my personal favorite, Pinocchio. What makes the book especially enjoyable is the surprising quality of the choices. The Fiat 500 (the Italian car made for the masses, was introduced in 1936, followed by the Nuova Fiat 500 in 1957. Discontinued for a while, it reappeared in 2007 in time for its 50th anniversary) Also here is the piazza, or town square, as Italian an icon as you'll get." --The Chicago Tribune
"Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best is a slight but informative and entertaining compendium of all things Italian. Authors Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff write brief and engaging summaries of mores and manners, cultural traditions and icons. The encyclopedic book covers patron saints and Pinocchio, opera and olive oil; gelato and gondolas...While the book is a diverting read, there's also practical advice for those who will be traveling to Italy." --The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"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...What makes this book really stand out is that it sparkles with so many overlooked elements of life in Italy...There is also practical information although the focus is definitely on culture and the tone is light and fun...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." --The Florentine
"Italianissimo – The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best is a small book, just over 100 pages, but it packs an enormous amount of pleasure into its modest borders. We shouldn't be surprised—it's designed by Louise Fili, one of the truly great graphic designers, and written with Lise Apatoff. Within: Vespas, pasta, Italian light, shoes, soccer, and more. A cover-to-cover delight. " --Manhattan User's Guide
"With the help of Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best, I can do some delightful armchair traveling...This nice square book, with glorious photos and great design, is itself very Italian-and, like a serving of pasta at Dal Bolognese in Rome, just enough to satisy. The book is a list of 50 categories. Each gets a two-page spread: smart text, full-page photo. Like a luxury magazine, only on a single subject-the glory of the Italian spirit...Good enough to eat, yes?" --Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com
“For the veteran or budding Italophile, there's a new book, Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best, by Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff, that offers a special look at all things Italian, from L'Aceto Balsamico (balsamic vinegar) to La Vespa (the wasp-shaped motor scooter)–all in alphabetical order too. For my money, this (and watching almost any Fellini film) is the next best thing to being there. And there's no fare la coda (waiting on line–or not) at il mercato (the market) or suffering le autorita (authority figures) oril maschio (the Italian male) to get a copy.” –The Daily Heller, by Print Magazine
About the Author
A resident of Florence since 1978, Lise Apatoff earned her bachelor of fine arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her master of fine arts from the University of Washington. She is an official museum guide for the city of Florence and has worked all over Italy as a translator, interpreter, tour planner and leader, and museum lecturer. She has been visiting and tasting in kitchens all over Italy for twenty-five years, and for the past decade has been taking lucky guests with her to explore the marvels of the food and culture of Tuscany.
More About the Author
Fili is the author of Elegantissima, Grafica della Strada, and Graphique de la Rue. She also co-authored and designed Italianissimo and The Cognoscenti's Guide to Florence. With her husband, the design historian Steven Heller, she is co-author of Italian Art Deco, British Modern, Dutch Moderne, Streamline, French Modern, Deco España, German Modern, Design Connoisseur, Counter Culture, Typology, Stylepedia, Euro Deco, Scripts, Shadow Type, and Stencil Type.
Top Customer Reviews
surprised when a 5 x 5 inch hardcover arrived at my door. The book is a collection of text with photos, of things considered "the best" of Italy or places/ideas that are quintessentially Italian. Each vignette occupies facing pages in the book...photos on one side and text on the other. There are addresses and websites referring the reader to a place (i.e. best place to get gelato) or other information. The photos and illustrations are first rate, and the text offers basic information without overwhelming the reader. A cute display book that doesn't take up too much room on a table...
Now the Ferragamo is on the other foot. The Euro reigns supreme, and here in New York, the best restaurants and shops post their prices in dollars and Euros, for the convenience of our currency-advantaged foreign guests.
For the foreseeable future, Americans --- well, my friends and I, anyway --- might as well not have passports.
But if you think I'm going to say that my expedition to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is as satisfying as dinner in the Roman ghetto, dream on. I have only to close my eyes to smell the wood smoke of a Tuscan evening, or hear the madness of traffic in Rome, or see a cathedral ceiling.
And then, when I open my eyes, I can do some smart importing of Italian products and culture --- I can splurge on artisanal foods from Gustiamo.com, watch movies like The Conformist, read about Elizabeth Gilbert's hunt for the perfect pizza in Eat, Pray, Love.
And, with the help of Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best, I can do some delightful armchair traveling.
It doesn't take much to get me dreaming, so I don't want a thick tome. This nice square book, with glorious photos and great design, is itself very Italian --- and, like a serving of pasta at Dal Bolognese in Rome, just enough to satisfy.
The book is a list of 50 categories. Each gets a two-page spread: smart text, full-page photo. Like a luxury magazine, only on a single subject --- the glory of the Italian spirit. Like....Read more ›
Witty, informative and elegantly presented, within its small size (the book consists of about 100 pages) Italianissimo (literally very Italian) presents a colorful and unique digest of 50 iconic - and few unknown - symbols of Italian culture, spanning from pasta and the art of eating to the Fiat 500 and post World War II neorealist cinema.
The content of each section is written with great style and complemented by fascinating snapshots of real Italian life style related to the topic. The majority of the photos are unique prints coming from the Photographic Archives of Fratelli Alinari of Florence, the oldest company in the world operating in the photographic industry since its establishment in 1852. Some of the photos are also part of the private collection of Louise Fili.
The authors did a good job of choosing each of the subjects described, unfolding the basic symbols and elements of the Italian culture, without reducing these to a rehashed roundup of Italian stereotypes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cute little pocket book for Italian culture! Enjoyable pictures and text that delights.Published 20 days ago by Tamara (Spector) Crandall
Even though I know a lot of little facts about Italy this book was fun and charming. The authors made me laugh at Italians and myself and taught me a lot more about the country I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tillie L. Chapman
good seller of course. Book is so-so but I am Italian-American with a father born in Italy. Nothing really news.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I bought this book for my boyfriend's parents, who were going to Italy on vacation. It's a small book and I'm not sure how helpful or insightful it is, but I think it would be a... Read morePublished 5 months ago by JessinNJ
It's a great little book, to pick up any time and read a pagePublished 8 months ago by Sonja Marchesano
What a fun little book about Italian culture, short and sweet and makes you smile!Published 8 months ago by Lisa M