Unlike other great writers such as Shakespeare or Cervantes, Dante is not just a literary giant, but Italy’s foremost national hero. No one can claim a greater hold on the Italian soul. Just as Americans celebrate George Washington as the father of our country, Italians cherish Dante for giving them both the foundation of their culture and the dream of a united nation.
In this time of uncertainty, there has certainly been time to clean out closets. At the bottom of mine was a pile of letters my Nana had written to my mother, from a trip she took to Italy in 1957. When I first skimmed them, they reminded me of a story Nana told me over and over when I was a kid. It began with her apologizing to me for not being around when I was born, telling me she’d been on a trip to Italy with my grandfather. Again and again I heard how a telegram arrived at their Venice hotel, and the story always ended with the words: “I ran out to the Grand Canal and told all the gondoliers Baby Susanna was born!”
Even though we may not be able to spend September in Italy, we can enjoy its sayings and stories. Settembre In the ancient Roman calendar, the year began in March. September, the seventh month, took its name from the Latin septem. During this pivotal month, the hours...
In 1975 Solace Wales and her husband, both artists, began living part of every year in Sommocolonia in the coastal mountains of Tuscany. There she learned about her neighbors’ harrowting experiences in World War II and about the African-American troops who had been garrisoned there. Solace’s recently published book, Braided in Fire, weaves together their stories and the horrific battle that altered—and ended—many lives.
Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth carries the promise of the rainbow, its hope for rebirth and its desire to create something better. A grassroots groundswell is going to remake Venice, and the stories and poems and conversations and letters and images in this book will help us all to fulfill that covenant.
Ferragosto has traditionally marked the height of summer revelry. This year is different. Italian friends say they aren’t traveling as far or gathering in as great numbers on beaches or in the mountains. But even in these uncertain and trying times, they are celebrating the fullness of summer. Our hearts and thoughts are with them as we look forward to the days when we might again bask in the sun and dance under the stars together.