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La Passione:

How Italy Seduced the World

From the New York Times bestselling author knighted by the President of Italy for her writing, a jubilant exploration of how Italy transformed the Western world’s most vibrant passions—from literature to art, music to movies.

No country has matched Italy’s impact on culture. Just think of painting without Leonardo, opera without Verdi, fashion without Armani, food without the signature tastes of pasta and pizza. The first universities, first banks, first public libraries? All Italian.

Dianne Hales attributes these landmark achievements to la passione italiana, a primal force that stems from an insatiable hunger to discover and create; to love and live with every fiber of one’s being. This fierce drive blazes to life in the Sistine Chapel, surges through a Puccini aria, and rumbles in a gleaming Ferrari engine.

Our ideal tour guide, Dianne sweeps readers along on her adventurous quest for the secrets of la passione. She swims in the playgrounds of mythic gods, shadows artisanal makers of chocolate and cheese, joins in Sicily’s Holy Week traditions, celebrates a neighborhood Carnevale in Venice, and explores pagan temples, vineyards, silk mills, movie sets and fashion salons. In sumptuous prose, she introduces us to unforgettable personalities brimming with the greatest of Italian passions—for life itself.

A lyrical portrait of a spirit as well as a nation, La Passione appeals to the Italian in all our souls, inspiring us to be as daring as Italy’s gladiators, as eloquent as its poets, as alluring as its beauties and as irresistible as its lovers.

Praise

“Hales brings the sights and sounds of Italy to life with beautifully told stories of the passion that has permeated the country from its earliest recorded history to the present… Hales successfully captures what it means to experience Italy and to be Italian, regardless of one’s background… Italophiles will relish the depth and breadth of this delightful book.”
Library Journal

“[Hales’] love affair with Italy shines through as she recounts the histories of colorful characters who made their names through war, art, food, wine, music, and more. She brings the reader with her to experience the country’s long-lasting traditions and the people whose dedication keeps that legacy alive today … Frothy as a cappuccino and rich as tiramisu, La Passione is a delightful excursion into the heart of Italian culture.”
Booklist

“In this inquisitive celebration of the Italian spirit, Hales traverses the country, exploring its history and culture… The chapters on food will delight readers… Sure to inspire many vacations, this volume shows Italy’s many contributions to the world and captures the essence of the very things that make it such a wondrous place.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this sweeping account of la passione italiana from ancient to modern times, Dianne Hales shows once again why she is one the world’s foremost guides to the riches of Italian culture. Every page resonates with the author’s love for Italy, and her joy in sharing its remarkable discoveries and exquisite pleasures with her readers.”
Joseph Luzzi, author of My Two Italies and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love

“Dianne Hales exquisitely reveals how it is the passion of Italians, ancient and modern, famous and anonymous, unwavering even in the most difficult of circumstances, that has given birth to an explosion of art and innovation unlike any other culture… Hales takes us on a journey through Italy that you simply won’t want to end, weaving tales about Caravaggio and Michelangelo, Armani and Ferrari. No wonder Hales was knighted by the President of Italy; she captures the spirit of Italy and her ardent creators and makes us more grateful than ever for la passione italiana!”
Kathy McCabe, host of “Dream of Italy” on PBS

“Hales takes us on an enriching and delightful journey, filled with fascinating characters, scintillating sensual details, and an authentic connection to the ever-inspiring Italian heart and soul.”
Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go