Istituto Italiano di Cultura Nieuw Amsterdam Uitgeverij
Italiansonline Amsterdam

invite you
to a meeting with

Beppe Severgnini
Journalist of Corriere della Sera. Since 1998, he has moderated Italians on Corriere.it,
a popular online forum. In 2004, he was voted "European Journalist of the Year".
Author of several bestsellers. "La testa degli Italiani" has been translated in 8 languages.

interviewed by
Marc Leijendekker
Former correspondent in Italy for NRC Handelsblad and NOS Journaal.

Monday 19 May at 20h
at Auditorium of the University of Amsterdam
Oude Lutherse Kerk - Singel 411 - Amsterdam (corner with Spui)

La testa degli italiani Italianen voor gevorderden La Bella Figura: a field guide to the italian mind
...a lively tour to the italian mind, culture and language.
"The last undiscovered part of Italy is the italian itself !"
You won't need luggage for this hypothetical and hilarious trip. Your destinations are the places where Italians are at their best, worst, and most authentic: the chaos of the roads, the anarchy of the office, the theatrical spirit of the hypermarkets, and garrulous train journeys; the solitude of the soccer stadium, and the crowded Italian bedroom.

For Italians a traffic light is the beginning of a "philosophical investigation."
Click here to read an excerpt from Beppe Severgnini's book
For Italians a traffic light is the beginning of a "philosophical investigation."

In Italy rules are not obeyed as they are elsewhere. We think it's an insult to our intelligence to comply with a regulation. Obedience is boring. We want to think about it. We want to decide whether a particular law applies to our specific case. In that place, at that time.

For instance, traffic laws are interpreted a bit differently in Italy. Instead of red meaning "stop" and green meaning "go" for Italians a traffic light is the beginning of a "philosophical investigation."

When many Italians see a stoplight, their brain perceives no prohibition (Red! Stop! Do not pass!). Instead, they see a stimulus. OK, then. What kind of red is it? A pedestrian red? But it's seven in the morning. There are no pedestrians about this early. That means it's a negotiable red; it's a "not-quite-red." So we can go. Or is it a red at an intersection? What kind of intersection? You can see what's coming here, and the road is clear. So it's not a red, it's an "almost red," a "relative red." What do we do? We think about it for a bit, then we go.

And what if it's a red at a dangerous intersection with traffic you can't see arriving at high speed? What kind of question is that? We stop, of course, and wait for the green light. In Florence they have an expression: "rosso pieno" (full red). Rosso (red) is a bureaucratic formula, and pieno (full) is a personal comment.

There is one rule, by the way, that cannot be violated. It is wrong, and possibly illegal, to order a cappuccino after 10 a.m. This is worse than eating pizza in the middle of the day. It is non-negotiable. Discussion over. Rosso pieno.

Excerpted from La Bella Figura ("La testa degli italiani" - "Italianen voor gevorderden") 2006

* Free Admission *
English language