Over the centuries Italy’s pre-Lenten merry-making has inspired some pithy axioms: “A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale,” revelers often say. “Anything goes at Carnival time.” But don’t get carried away with the romance of the moment. “L’amore di Carnevale muore in Quaresima,” wise souls caution, “A love that starts during Carnival dies in Lent.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.