Concerned by the growing crassness and impersonality of American society, a professor of cultural studies decides to move to Italy with his wife and adolescent daughters, to immerse them in the age-old Roman attitudes toward beauty, sex, and romance. As his twin daughters approached puberty, University of California professor and author Roger Friedland was confronted with the American treatment of sexuality: by its lack of passion and intimacy, and its overwhelmingly blase treatment in media. This, he realized, was how we are educating our children: with a portrait of sex as a matter of casual hookups and troubling power dynamics. The sexual images at the center of our media culture- combined with a widespread stigma against public affection-were forcing a generation of children to grow up unable to recognize the love and beauty that should be inherent in relationships. Roger and his wife, Debra, decide to weather this storm outside the States, allowing their girls to come of age in the drastically different atmosphere of Rome. They had spent long sojourns here before, but this time they would stay for two years, enrolling the girls in school and living in a small apartment in the heart of Trastevere. Roger's previous visits to Italy had disarmed him, impressing upon him the Italian <I>amore della vita</I>-the love of life. Now, with the opportunity to appreciate the differences between American and Italian sensibilities, the Friedlands revisited the simplicity of everyday Italian life: the ancient architecture of Rome and its evolving dialogue with nature; the blanket of Catholicism enveloping the city and influencing its morals and laws; the absolute respect paid to women as mothers and embodiments of beauty, echoed on the street in a refrain of <I>"ciao, bella,"</I> and directed toward both young and old. The result is one part enchanting travelogue, one part provocative exploration of how Italians see beauty and passion in the world-of a culture in which <I>ballezza</I>, or beauty, is the most important thing in life, a force that permeates every aspect of the culture. Along the way, it teases out not only lessons but surprising contradictions among our impressions of European culture . . . and suggests that the wisest lessons about adulthood may come not from any one culture, but from an open, honest conversation between parents and their children.