A Harvest of Italian Passions

Sep 22, 2020

This year, for the first time in decades, I didn’t go to Italy. But Italy came to me–in the form of wonderful books and programs inspired by a passion for Italy. I was happy to feature them in my summer blogs. The harvest season seems a perfect time to share a round-up with you:

Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth

In lyrical essays, a symphony of citizens—artisans, rowers, teachers, performers, shop owners—present a first-hand view of their city as they had never seen it: deserted, silent, isolated, anxious, yet never more beautiful or enchanting. These eyewitnesses take us inside a magical place that comforts, energizes and inspires them with dreams of a new future for Venice. Click here to buy online. All proceeds will be donated to organizations that support Venetian culture and arts.


Braided in Fire: Black GIs and Tuscan Villagers on the Gothic Line

In 1975 Solace Wales and her husband, both artists, began living part of every year in Sommocolonia in the coastal mountains of Tuscany. She learned about her neighbors’ harrowing experiences in World War II and about the African American troops garrisoned there. Braided in Fire recounts an almost-forgotten page of history and pays tribute to great sacrifice and bravery. Click here for ordering information.


Solo in Salento : A Memoir

Haunted by a wretched past, a loss of faith, and toxic relationships, Donna Keel Armer, an author and blogger in South Carolina, left her home and husband to experience daily life in a small town in Italy. This book charts her transformative journey as she immerses herself in music, mosaics, sacred places, culinary delights and unexpected adventures. Click here to order online.



La Marchesa Colombi: Vita, romanzi e passioni della prima giornalista del Corriere della Sera

Maria Antonietta Torriani, born poor in 1840, became the first female columnist for the leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera and the author of 45 books. Maria Teresa Cometto, an award-winning Italian journalist based in New York City, tells the story of a woman ahead of her time who remains a source of inspiration today. Currently available only in Italian.



Masters’ Gallery Rome

Top Roman tour guides with a passionate love for their native (or adopted) city are offering online courses, with videos featuring great footage, important facts and humorous surprises to recreate the sparkle of learning about Rome. Explore the Eternal City’s masterpieces with masters in the field without having to leave the comfort of your home.



LoveItaly’s Cornucopia Series

Loveitaly, a nonprofit Rome-based organization dedicated to preserving Italian culture, is sponsoring a series of weekly conversations about treasured places in the Bel Paese. Take a virtual journey every Wednesday to discover the riches of the country’s art, architecture and landscapes. Click here to learn about my “hidden treasure”: Monte Argentario in western Tuscany.



My own Italy passion project is a free digital book, “A” Is for Amore, a whimsical journey through the Italian alphabet, which you can download for free at my website.


I hope that these fruits of Italian passions will brighten your days as we all look forward to visiting Italy in the (I hope) not-too-distant future.



Dianne Hales is the author of  LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World; LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language; and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered.

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