An Italian lawyer-turned-chef-turned-restaurateur once told me:
“We don’t choose our passions. They choose us.”

Years ago Italy chose me. Smitten by Italy’s language and culture, I launched this website and published my first Italy-themed book in 2009.  La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language became an international best seller and won for me the great honor of an Italian knighthood.  Other books followed: Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon best book of the year;  La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World; and A” Is for Amore, an e-book available for download.

The COVID pandemic changed everything. Sheltering in place on the rugged coast north of San Francisco, I explored the natural wonderland outside my door.  Eager to learn more, I enrolled in an intensive University of California course to become a certified naturalist.  The most enduring lesson condensed scientific observation into two straight-forward statements: “I notice…” and “I wonder…” Noticing and wondering along the Pacific rim, I’ve discovered life in more forms and greater complexity than I ever imagined.

I now serve as a docent and research volunteer at the University of California, Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and Reserve; a tide pool guide for the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods; and a monitor for the Seabird Protection Network.  Whenever possible, I wander with animal trackers, hawk watchers, forest rangers, botanists, photographers, fishermen, and nature lovers of every sort.

This updated website brings together my two professional passions. You will find information on the books inspired by my Italian odyssey as well as a new blog, “Wondering on a Blue Frontier,” which features dispatches from the latest chapter in my life. Click the button below to subscribe and receive posts by e-mail. You also can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I invite you to wander and wonder with me on this new adventure. As always, I welcome your feedback, and I wish you well on all your journeys.

Subscribe to “Wondering on a Blue Frontier”

Praise for Dianne’s Writing

“A charming love letter to the language and culture of Italy”
—Publishers Weekly
“A joyous, funny and warmly affectionate celebration of Italy, its history, literature, food, music, movies and its people.”
—What’s New in Italy

“The best book on Italy since Barzini’s classic The Italians.”
—Matt Tyrnauer, director of Valentino: The Last Emperor

“A lovely and humorous account of one person’s love with a particular language.”
—Chicago Tribune

“A delightful, informative tour of both the history of the Italian language and her own account of innamoramento (crazy head-over-heels love) with la bella lingua.”
—Everett Potter Travel Report

“Hales’ readers can come to experience Italy with as much passion and intensity as she recounts in her excellent book.”
—The Florence Newspaper
“A wonderful journey of all things Italian rolled up in an enjoyable history lesson. Don’t be a brutta figura! Go now and buy it!”
—ComUNICO, the national UNICO newsletter

Books on Italy