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Pasquale’s Nose: Idle Days in an Italian Town

by Michael Rips

In this lively book, an American expatriate tries to make a new home in a small Italian city famous for its clannish ways. He succeeds in many ways, but not without plenty of gaffes and cultural misinterpretations–all of which make Michael Rips’s memoir that much funnier.

“If you live in Sutri for a hundred years, you won’t have a friend; if you live in Sutri for five hundred years, you’ll have a friend, but you’ll regret it.” So runs a proverb from the city in which Rips, a sometime attorney and full-time student of the good life, sets his narrative, a place that defies guidebook description and most of the rules of logic. There, a first-class idler in a town where no one is in much of a hurry, he encounters such figures as a diviner who heals sick tractors by touch; a Calabrian outsider who gauges people by the smell of their feet; a chef whose favorite dish is porcupine; and an illiterate postman, plus a bewildering array of secrets and strange encounters that test the innocence of our innocent abroad.

Tinged with the bittersweet, Rips’s extraordinary memoir will please Italian and armchair travelers alike.