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Event Details

Thu, September 28, 2017

19:00 – 20:00

Villa Sassetti
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italy

How did a nation that spawned the Renaissance also produce the Mafia? What exactly is bella figura? And why do Romans eat their gnocchi on Thursdays? Having spent more than 15 years reporting on Italy, John Hooper set out to write a book that answers these and many of the other puzzles that confront outsiders in a society that can be as baffling as it is alluring. The result is The Italians, published by Viking, which has featured in the bestseller lists of both The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. In his talk, he will discuss the challenges and rewards of trying to explain a society where paradox is the norm and much is hidden, or coded or left unsaid.

A dialogue with author John Hooper, introduced by Davide Lombardo, NYU Florence.

LPD – In Dialogue with Writers

Featured Biographies

John Hooper


John Hooper has been a foreign correspondent for over 30 years and has reported from more than 50 countries for, among others, the BBC, the Guardian and The Economist. He is currently The Economist’s Italy and Vatican correspondent and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal. While still an undergraduate at Cambridge, Hooper travelled to the rebel state of Biafra to help make a television documentary on the Nigerian Civil War. He his since covered several other conflicts. He was in Afghanistan in 2001 during the Battle of Tora Bora and the search for Osama bin Laden. His book, The Spaniards: A portrait of the new Spain, won the 1987 Allen Lane award for a best first work of history or literature. He later published two expanded and revised versions under the title of The New Spaniards. His latest book, The Italians, was published in 2015.

Davide Lombardo


Davide Lombardo teaches history at NYU Florence since 2001. He holds a doctorate in History and Civilization from the European University Institute (Fiesole, Italy). His research focuses on European Urban Culture from the 19th to the 20th century. Lombardo holds an Italian degree in modern Italian history and a French degree in modern French history and has studied extensively at Edinburgh, York (UK), Grenoble (France), and Pisa and Florence (Italy). In 2009 he was Visiting Research Fellow at the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for British Art, and Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Huntington Library. In 2011 he was part of the organizing committee for NYU Florence’s events around the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification. He regularly gives lectures on contemporary Italy and Europe. He currently teaches three courses at NYU Florence which focus on modern European and Italian history: Culture of the City, Modern Italy and Social Foundations III.