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10 Reasons to Celebrate Italy’s Cultural Heritage

Every October the United States celebrates Italian heritage month. The 26 million Americans of Italian descent make up the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States. However, we all have many reasons to celebrate the best of Italian culture, including the...

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La Bella Lingua in Italian

They said it couldn’t be done:  There was no way to translate LA BELLA LINGUA into Italian. Too many idioms and colloquial expressions. Too much slang.  Untranslatable words in both languages. However, the distinguished Italian publisher Treccani  has done the seemingly impossible and produced an Italian translation:  LA BELLA LINGUA: La mia storia d’amore con l’italiano. Copies are available at amazon.it, IBS internet bookshop, and some independent bookstores in the United States, including my favorite Italian local and online bookstore,  

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Honorng the Passion of Italy’s Patron Saint

October 4 marks the feast of St. Francis, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1182, the son of a prosperous textile merchant in Assisi.  The ringleader of a band of hard-drinking, carousing young men who delighted "in practical jokes, in pranks, in tomfoolery, in...

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Venice’s Passion for Lace

In the early fifteenth century, a Venetian sailor wanted to bring his fiancée a souvenir of his exotic voyages. Too poor to afford a proper gift, he plucked a ruffled sea plant called Halimeda opuntia from the waters off Greece and carried it home to the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon.

His beloved, enchanted by the algae’s scalloped edges and raised furls, fretted that the memento would soon disintegrate. Determined to create something that would last as long as their love, she picked up a needle used to mend fishing nets. Plying white thread into intricate patterns, she replicated the delicate whorls. The stunning result was “mermaid’s lace,” an ingenious design that helped launch Burano’s lace-making industry.

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Italy’s Passion for Food

A passion for food merits a precise word in Italian: golosità (from gola, for throat), which goes beyond appetite, craving, gluttony, or hunger. Friends proudly declare themselves “golosi,” often for a dish made only in their hometowns, only with local ingredients, only with a recipe handed down from a great-grandmother to a grandmother to a mother.

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Are We Like the Ancient Romans?

“Sniff!” our guide commands as she thrusts a leaf snipped from a bush in the Roman Forum under my nose. “What do you smell?”

I inhale deeply. The aroma is tantalizingly familiar—fresh, spicy, woodsy, a scent I immediately link to a certain type of alpha male—but I can’t identify its name.

“Glory!” she exclaims.

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