Italy’s Other Languages

For centuries the Italian peninsula was a patchwork of hundreds of dialects, often as different from one another as French from Spanish or English from Italian. Sailors from Genoa couldn’t understand—or be understood by—merchants from Venice or farmers from Friuli. ...

A Harvest of Italian Words

\ In Italy every season— la primavera (spring), l’estate (summer), l’autunno (autumn), l’inverno (winter) — has a different feel and focus. L’autunno is when farmers reap what they have sown. The harvest (il raccolto or la messe) has already passed for many fruits,...

September in Italian

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 of sunlight diminish and those of darkness increase. As an Italian proverb puts it, in settembre, la notte...

Summer in Italian: The Moon

One summer night on the island of Capri some friends told us to meet them at a popular restaurant at precisely 9:35 p.m. When we arrived at the bustling eatery, they escorted us away from the crowded main dining room to a quiet alcove and insisted that Bob and I take...

Celebrating Fathers in Italy and around the World

On Father’s Day I cherish a special memory: the last time I danced with my Dad, at an Italian-American banquet in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   My mother had died a few months before, and I decided to bring my broken-hearted Dad along with me on a book tour that would...

Welcoming May in Italy

  One of my favorite months anywhere, May is especially beautiful in Italy. “Aprile con il fiore, maggio con il colore,” Italians say. April with its flower, May with its color. But May enchants the heart as well as the eye. As an old proverb goes,...