A 30-year residence in Rome has given Hofmann, a former New York Times bureau chief, a special intimacy with the Eternal City. He writes about his adopted home with sophisticated humor and warmth and, with the adroitness of a seasoned travel writer (That Fine Italian Hand), he records the sorts of fine points of daily life in the city, its ambiance and the quirks of its inhabitants that bring it to life for both armchair travelers and visitors. This year-long journal interweaves his broad knowledge of the city's history and culture with gossip about the Vatican, the trials of parking a car, the preference of the elite for Filipino maids and nannies over Eritreans and his own pleasure in hot Roman summers, when most other good Romans flee, leaving the sweltering streets to the tourists-a time when the pope, from his cool aerie at Castel Gandolfo, offers prayers for those condemned to endure the city's heat. Having lived in the city off and on since 1938, when he fled his native Austria, Hofmann can recall life in Rome under the somewhat lesser evil of Mussolini, and he relates homely details of the city's trials then as well as tragic events. Throughout this entertaining and informative account, the author offers a uniquely personal appreciation of the colors, tastes and textures of everyday life in the city, and of the charm of living in an atmosphere where nothing seems so urgent that it cannot be surmounted by procrastination. (Jan.)
Living more than 30 years in Rome should give anyone a colorful perspective on life. Viennese-born Hofmann, long-time resident and chronicler of Italy and its people, uses his acquired point of view to create a delightful description of the Eternal City. Written much like Peter Mayle's popular A Year in Provence (LJ 4/1/90), the book records unusual characters and interesting situations in monthly diary entries from September 1994 through August 1995. This journal is about the urbane and gritty, giving the reader a sense of place not found in most guidebooks. The author of several books, including Roma (LJ 1/94) and That Fine Italian Hand (Holt, 1991), Hofmann offers much insight into this city and "the art of being Roman," which is its citizens' knack for dealing with a uniquely chaotic, anarchistic, and beautiful place.-David Nudo, "Library Journal"