Aubrey Menen's Italy will never be found in the guidebooks or even in the novels of ""knowing"" expatriates. A land that has hypnotized sophisticated travelers into a false sense of familiarity is fundamentally as elusive as it is tangible, as fraudulent as it is honest. In his brilliant collection of essays, this urbane and witty author explodes popular myths (of tourist towns, and the Vatican), shatters stereotypes (of the Italian lover, the open friendliness of the natives) and creates a brand new portrait that will tempt the most seasoned traveler to return pronto. A dozen years of living in Italy has convinced him that he will never ""speak the language like a native"", no outsider can. The paradox of the Italian personality, the contrasts between the mores and ideals of Romans, Milanese, Neopolitans, Caprises, the special character of a world where the modern and ancient thrive simultaneously are the themes of many marvelous anecdotes. And yet, the real Italy is far more intriguing than the illusory one. A scappatino from San Gumignano to Florence, a unique trip through the ruins of Pompeii, a frantic luncheon with a Milanese business man, an illuminating view of the pappagallo indicate the range of interests here. Mr. Menen writes of his beloved adopted land with warmth, with and unusual perceptiveness. Broader in scope than his Rome for Ourselves.