Gift Guide

As the Romans Do: An American Family's Italian Odyssey [NOOK Book]


A celebration of the character and style of one of the world's most spectacular cities! This vibrant insider's view of the most mature city on earth is the perfect companion for anyone who loves anything Italian. In 1995, after a twenty-year love affair with Italy, Alan Epstein fulfilled his dream to live in Rome. In As the Romans Do, he celebrates the spirit of this stylish, dramatic, ancient city that formed the hub of a far-flung empire and introduced the Mediterranean culture to the rest of the world. He also...

See more details below
As the Romans Do: An American Family's Italian Odyssey

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99 price


A celebration of the character and style of one of the world's most spectacular cities! This vibrant insider's view of the most mature city on earth is the perfect companion for anyone who loves anything Italian. In 1995, after a twenty-year love affair with Italy, Alan Epstein fulfilled his dream to live in Rome. In As the Romans Do, he celebrates the spirit of this stylish, dramatic, ancient city that formed the hub of a far-flung empire and introduced the Mediterranean culture to the rest of the world. He also reveals today's Roman men and women in all their appealing contradictions: their gregarious caffe culture; inborn artistic flair; passionate appreciation of good food; instinctive mistrust of technology; showy sex appeal; ingrained charm and expressiveness; surprisingly unusual attitudes toward marriage and religion; and much, much more.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061847578
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 521,342
  • File size: 491 KB

Meet the Author

Alan Epstein holds a Ph.D. in European history from New York University. A successful author and speaker on Italian life and culture, he also offers corporate and private escorted tours, special events, and retreats in Rome and other parts of Italy. He has reported on Italian life for America Online and is a regular Europe correspondent for American radio. He has appeared on Oprah and numerous other television shows. He lives with his wife and two sons in the heart of Rome.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Just Another Day in the Piazza:
The Show Must Go On

Not everybody who comes to Rome, either to visit or to stay, as we have, likes it. In fact, if you polled visitors arriving from other countries, asking them where their favorite places are in Italy or where they would want to live if they were ever to embark on just such an enterprise, few would list Rome as their first choice. Most of them would focus variously on some spot in Tuscany, either the cities — Florence, Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Cortona — or the delightful countryside that surrounds these beautiful places and gives new meaning to the words "bucolic" and "tranquil." In fact, there are so many people of British extraction living in the Florence-Siena vicinity that it has been dubbed "Chiantishire," in honor of the English way of identifying place.

Rome is considered too "Italian" for the tastes of many of the English and North Americans who come to Italy to vacation, recreate, sightsee, or indulge. Rome is too "other," too much like venues the average English-speaking traveler would never think to experience-Cairo, Beirut, Jerusalem, or other placesin the Middle East, or Sicily, Greece, or Turkey, lands that barely qualify for being called "Europe."

What gives Rome this character, what makes Rome, Rome, is a sense of drama, of the theatrical, the exaggerated; a quality that pervades everyday life and distinguishes the city from most places one would find in the United States, Canada, England, and the other countries in the English-speaking world, as well as northern Europe. People live in these places precisely for the reason that nothingmuch happens, that nothing much should happen, at least not in a way that creates public spectacle. Rome is not like that. Every ounce of its soul is devoted to the art of being seen, to the show, to a way of being that opts for dramatization at the expense of understatement, histrionics that push aside silence. The ethos of Rome partakes of another culture the Levantine, the Latin-rather than the European. The first thing I noticed on the way to my hotel after landing at Cairo, another Mediterranean capital, other than the fact that I was thinking that I probably wouldn't make it there alive, is that every driver, for no apparent reason, is leaning on his horn, creating a maddening cacophony that has only one purpose —create a disturbance, to liven up the moment, to add a stupefying sense of dislocation in order to cancel out the reality that nothing much is really happening.

Although drivers do not use their horns much in Rome (in fact, it is considered bad form, a brutta figura; if you do hear a toot-toot, chances are someone is trying to acknowledge his friend on the street), the same principle of commotion applies. The other day, in the Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice, in Testaccio, not far from Piazza Testaccio, one of Rome's most characteristic open-air markets, popular among the locals and near to where we live, an incident erupted that illustrates perfectly the sense of making the ordinary encounters of everyday existence a matter of life and death.

The piazza was crowded with people of all ages. The elderly were occupying the many benches, while children made use of the swings, slides, and climbing frames of the play areas as their parents watched and chatted with one another. Several young boys, including Julian and Elliott, our nine- and six-year-old sons, were playing soccer with a soft, light ball not far from a bench where four elderly women were sitting. The ball strayed often in the direction of the anziane, and, in fact, on more than one occasion glanced off their bench, bringing less than loving looks and sporadic admonitions. Finally, exasperated at her inability to carry on conversation — as she has done in the same spot for probably the last forty years-without the nuisance of having to dodge a harmless but definitely annoying ball, one of the anziane grabbed it and would not let go, placing the palla in a plastic bag she was holding.

The six boys crowded around the bench, engulfing the four steadfast matrons. Loud words and a million hand gestures began to fly — to no avail, as it turned out, because the woman would not budge. This brought into the fray the mother — obviously peeved that the conversation in which she was excitedly engaged on her telefonino, her portable cell phone, had been interruptedof one of the offending ragazzi.

She was dressed alla romana, that is, as if she were on her way to an audition for a movie, TV show, play, commercial, or whatever anyone would have for her. She was wearing heavy makeup, accentuating her deep blue eyes — a rarity for Romans — with dark liner that extended past the sockets, creating a kind of catlike effect.Her long, full head of curly jet-black hair was flying in the breeze, as were her bronzed hands and arms.She wore a glowing orange sweater that crisscrossed in the fron and revealed, here and there, glimpses of her bright white bra, made more obvious by her outsized body guestures — which forced her to become distracted now and then from her primary mission by having to pull together the folds of her sweater so as to avoid revealing everything — and by the dark skin of her killer tan.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must Read for Italophiles

    If you have ever wanted to visit Rome, have visited Rome, or harbor a romantic notion of moving there to escape the "rat-race", you simply must read this book. There were times I literally laughed out loud, and other times where I ran to fetch a pen so I could underline a passage I knew I'd want to refer to later. Mr. Epstein admits Rome's faults (the crowds! the traffic! and why does everything take so long?!) but he also does a phenomenal job of highlighting Rome's many charms and delights. His references to places in and around Rome could serve well as a brief itinerary. It was a fun and easy read. I truly enjoyed this book and I know it's one I will read again and again. I only wish Mr. Epstein had included a bibliography or a list of recommended reading. I'm always on the look out for all things Italian!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)