Upside down
Photo by Pensiero used under a Creative Commons license.

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Italian Days (Ticknor & Fields, 1990).
Something like a cross between a journal and collected essays, with eight chapters about Harrison’s time in Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi coast, Molise and Abruzzo, Puglia, and Calabria. Venice gets 30 pages and the last two chapters are about 20 pages each. Harrison is an American with relatives in Italy, whom she visits in the last third of the book. I liked this book so much that I am hard-put to explain why. Harrison is such a sharp observer and a good writer that there is more of Italy to be found reading this book than in some of the days I have spent there.

Here is Google Book Search, with the opening pages and more. Wikipedia’s entry on Harrison is relatively lengthy as these things go. Douglas Martin wrote this obituary when she passed away in 2002. Here are reviews from Eva Hoffman (The New York Times), Andrea Lee (The New York Times), and here is bloggy goodness from Kelli, Robin Reagler, and Katie.

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