This is a story about a 14 year old American girl who spends a summer in Italy with her Italian pen pal (hence the title: a totally different summer). Once in Italy, Lisa is exposed to the grandeur, excitement and culture of cosmopolitan cities such as Rome and Florence; life in a small Italian town, the Italian countryside, museums and different foods.
Each chapter is written in Italian and mainly written in the present tense. Many cognates are used to facilitate immediate understanding.
The content is simple but not simplistic. The exercises that accompany each chapter maximizes the use of basic vocabulary, easy comprehension and basic sentence structure. (no answers are provided as this is used as a supplemental text for students of Italian-middle school or high school). There are about 150 pages.
Although this can be easily read by a second year student of the Italian language,(or even a second semester first year student), an adult on self study would also enjoy this-particularly to learn the idiomatic expressions and sentence structure. It is highly recommended for those reasons.
This is a good reading book, but more importantly, a good book if your learning Italian. Good story and good vocabulary aids to go along with each chapter. Study questions to review what you have learned. Give it a try.
I teach Italian in a college-preparatory high school. This book clearly meets the needs of my second-year students. But it's got plenty of typos and an incomplete vocabulary list. The most frustrating aspect is that woefully incomplete word list in the back. For example, the entire "T" listing has been omitted. That means that if you need to look up a word starting with "T," you must consult a dictionary. There are many, many other words starting with other letters that have also been omitted from the list. My students have totally given up on using the list and instead of consulting it go right to the dictionary whenever they come across an unfamiliar word.