St. Martin’s Summer in Italy

Long ago on a cold and rainy November 11, a former Roman soldier named Martino came across a man stumbling and shivering on the road. Although he wanted to help, Martino had no money or blanket to offer. And so he took out his sword, slashed his cloak and gave half to...

Italy’s “Day of the Dead”

  Italy’s cimiteri (cemeteries) are coming alive this week as families prepare for November 2 (All Souls’ Day), which the Catholic Church dedicates alla commemorazione dei defunti (to the commemoration of the deceased). To celebrate Il giorno dei morti (the Day...

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...

Happy Birthday to the Real Mona Lisa!

Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo (June 15, 1479 — July 15, 1542) My quest for the real Mona Lisa began years ago in Florence when I was doing research for LA BELLA LINGUA. An art historian who befriended me casually mentioned during a dinner at her home that the mother...