“Imagine a world without Italy: Painting without Leonardo. Sculpture without Michelangelo. Literature without Dante. No Verdi choruses or Puccini arias. No Fellini films or Ferrari roar. Heavens uncharted, vines unplanted, tables bereft of pasta, pizza, and a Sicilian cake so divine that its bakers swore it could make the dead breathe again.”

This is how LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World  begins.  

Western culture is indeed unimaginable without Italy. Its borders contain more  of UNESCO’s designated cultural treasures than any other nation. Its inhabitants created the first universities, banks, public libraries, and law and medical schools; mapped the moon (in 1651); split the atom; produced the first modern histories, satires, sonnets, and travelogues; invented the first working compass, battery, barometer, microscope, radio, and thermometer; garnered twenty Nobel Prizes; and bestowed upon the world the eternal gift of music.

But why Italy? How did a scrawny peninsula smaller than California leave such an outsize imprint on Western culture?

After  decades of searching for answers, I credit la passione italiana. My new book, available now for pre-order and on sale wherever books are sold on April 16, explores this primal force and its impact on food, wine,  romance, literature, art, music, religion, film, fashion–and very fast cars.

I’m excited about sharing the story of how la passione italiana seduced the world—in print and in person. Here is the initial list of places where I’ll be speaking this spring.  You can find details on the Events page of my website, which will be updated as we firm up additional dates for the summer and fall.

San Francisco:

Italian Cultural Institute,   6:30 p.m., April 17 (with Frances Mayes)

Libreria Pino, 6:30 p.m., April 24 (with Lisa Engelken)

Il Cenacolo (members and guest), noon, May 16

Marin County

Book Passage, Corte Madera, 4:00 p.m., April 28

East Bay

Stanford Women’s Book Club (private), morning, May 2

Orinda Books, 2:00 p.m., May 2

Houston

Italian Cultural & Community Center, 7:00 p.m.,  May 7, (with Rita Richardson of Friends of San Filippino)

New Orleans

American Italian Cultural Center,  6:00 p.m., May 8 (with Rita Richardson)

Atlanta

Ciancia Conversation Club, 7:00 p.m., May 9 (with Rita Richardson)

If you’re in Italy this June, I’ll be presenting my book at an event sponsored by the Friends of San Filippino on Sunday, June 9, in the lovely Tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino  and in a lecture at the British Institute in Florence on Wednesday, June 12.

I look forward to meeting many of you in my travels. Come and discover la passione italiana!

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