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Italy’s Passion for Romance

“What could be more romantic than Valentine’s Day in Verona?” I asked my dubious husband as I persuaded him to visit the hometown of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for La Festa degli Innamorati (the Feast of the Lovers). “Did Valentine live there?”  he asked.  Well, no.

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Florence’s Crowning Glory

Six hundred years ago, in 1420,  construction began on one of the world’s architectural marvels: the long-unfinished dome of Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Winning the commission for this task proved almost as challenging as the work itself for Filippo Brunelleschi, a goldsmith, engineer and architect.

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Raphael’s Passion for Beauty

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of a Renaissance painter haiedl for achieving graziosissima grazia, the most graceful grace:  Raphael of Urbino, Born in 1483, the doe-eyed painter was talented, affable, kind, and drop-dead gorgeous.

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The Secrets of Italy’s Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

I first tasted  aceto balsamico tradizionale when a friend from Modena arrived for dinner with a tiny bottle a quarter filled with a dark liquid. After cutting a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano  for each of us, he tilted the bottle above my plate. I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, a few dark pearls emerged, hung on the bottle’s lip, and dripped ever so slowly onto the cheese.

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Federico Fellini’s Passion for Cinema

January 20 marks the 100th birthday of the legendary director  Federico Fellini. In a business built on dreams, he  may have been the biggest dreamer of all. As a boy, Fellini  kept a sketch pad and colored pencils by his bed so he could record his vivid fantasies when he woke. His lifelong passion was transforming these nocturnal visions into stories to share with the world.

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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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