Since La Bella Lingua was published almost a decade ago, people have often asked me what drew me to Italy. Over the years, I've realized that what intrigued and enthralled me most wasn't its language, food or art—as marvelous as each is—but la passione italiana.
I've dedicated the last three years to the pursuit of its secrets and sources. This summer my editors at the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, and I put the finishing touches on the manuscript for La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World. The official publication date is April 16, 2019, but the book is now available for pre-orders at Amazon in the United States, Italy and England, Barnes & Noble and many independent book stores.
Here is the official online profile for my new book:
"From the New York Times bestselling author knighted by the President of Italy for her writing, a jubilant exploration of how Italy transformed the Western world's most vibrant passions—from literature to art, music to movies.
No country has matched Italy's impact on culture. Just think of painting without Leonardo, opera without Verdi, fashion without Armani, food without the signature tastes of pasta, gelato, and pizza. The first universities, first banks, first public libraries? All Italian.
Dianne Hales attributes these landmark achievements to la passione italiana, a primal force that stems from an insatiable hunger to discover and create; to love and live with every fiber of one's being. This fierce drive, millennia in the making, blazes to life in the Sistine Chapel, surges through a Puccini aria, deepens a vintage Brunello and rumbles in a gleaming Ferrari engine.
Our ideal tour guide, Hales sweeps readers along on her adventurous quest for the secrets of la passione. She swims in the playgrounds of mythic gods, shadows artisanal makers of chocolate and cheese, joins in Sicily's Holy Week traditions, celebrates a neighborhood Carnevale in Venice, and explores pagan temples, vineyards, silk mills, movie sets, crafts studios, and fashion salons. She introduces us, through sumptuous prose, to unforgettable Italians, historical and contemporary, all brimming with the greatest of Italian passions—for life itself.
A lyrical portrait of a spirit as well as a nation, La Passione appeals to the Italian in all our souls, inspiring us to be as daring as Italy's gladiators, as eloquent as its poets, as alluring as its beauties and as irresistible as its lovers."
Like any parent, I care deeply about all of my literary "children," but I am especially excited to share the wonderful stories of the Italian passions that shaped all our lives.
I write about a particular passion—for Venice, the most seductive of Italian cities—in a newly published collection of first-person accounts: First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts, edited by a sister appassionata, Kathleen Gonzalez. I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing Venice through the eyes of artists, artisans, writers, gondoliers, musicians, teachers, tour guides, photographers, poets, historians, and more. You can order the book here to share in their adventures.
Another of my books, Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, popped up recently on NBC Nightly News—part of the backdrop for an interview with the delightful sisters Natalia and Irina Strozzi, the last living descendants of Leonardo's iconic model. Click here to see for yourself if they've inherited her alluring smile.