La Bella Figura
Being Italian is a full-time job, begins Beppe Severgnini in La Bella Figura (http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/) . The book, `an insider's guide to the Italian mind', is a 10-day tour of 30 places, including Malpensa, Milan, Rome, Naples and Sardinia. "Don't trust the quick smiles, bright eyes and elegance of many Italians. Be wary of everyone's poise," cautions the author, a columnist for Italy's daily Corriere della Sera.
He describes his country as "an offbeat purgatory, full of proud, tormented souls each of whom is convinced he or she has a hotline to the boss." Italians are prepared to give up a lot for the sake of beauty, even when it doesn't come in a mini-skirt, frets Severgnini.