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ROME (Reuters Life!) - Italian newspapers greeted Julia Roberts' latest film "Eat Pray Love" with scorn after its local opening this week, scoffing at its romantic vision of an American woman's voyage of self-discovery in Rome.
"The only thing missing in Julia's Rome is the mandolin," the daily La Repubblica wrote on Saturday.
"Eat Pray Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir of a globe-trotting quest for meaning after divorce, follows Roberts' character Liz to Italy, India and Indonesia as she searches for life's lessons under foreign skies.
The section in Italy, where Liz savors gelato, pizza and the warm Latin way of life, left local critics fuming, however.
"It rains spaghetti, the Italians are always gesticulating and following foreign girls shouting vulgarities but then getting engaged to a nice housewife to please their domineering mothers, all this under the sign of 'dolce far niente'," La Repubblica's critic Curzio Maltese wrote.
The Turin daily La Stampa damned the film, directed by Ryan Murphy and co-starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem, as "kitsch" regretting that the Italian actors in the cast were left drawing on retro images of Italy from the 1950s.
"That's the way they like us in the United States, dark, boisterous, uninihibited; we've always known that, but this time the effect is beyond the limits."
Il Messagero said it was not particularly bothered by the cliched portrayal of invasive mothers, nosy landladies and pleasure-loving Italians but it was offended by Roberts' Spanish co-star Javier Bardem.
"Watching the glorious Bardem playing the Latin lover in a film like this really hurts," it said.
Writing by James Mackenzie; editing by Ralph Boulton