There is Michelangelo, but also the mafia. Pavarotti, but also Berlusconi. The debonair Milanese, but also the infamous captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. This is Italy, admired and reviled, a country that has guarded her secrets and confounded outsiders for centuries. At a time when this Italian paradox is more evident than ever, cultural authority Corrado Augias poses the puzzling questions: how did it get this way? How can this peninsula be simultaneously the home of geniuses and criminals, the cradle of beauty and the butt of jokes? An instant #1 bestseller in Italy, Augias' latest sets out to rediscover the story - different from the history - of his country. Beginning with how Italy is seen from the outside and from the inside, he weaves a geo-historical narrative, passing through principal cities, re-reading classics and biographies of the people that have, for better or worse, made Italians who they are. From the gloomy atmosphere of Cagliostro's Palermo to the elegant court of Maria Luigia in Parma, from the birth of the ghetto of Venice to the heroic blaze of the Neapolitan uprising against the Nazis, Augias sheds light on the true Italian character under the surface, explaining her not only to outsiders, but to Italians themselves. The result is a sort of novel of a nation, whose protagonists are both the figures we know from the history and literature, and characters long-hidden between the cracks of historical narrative and memory.