During this lovely season of giving and gifting, I am excited to share something dear to my heart: a brand-new website, completely redesigned by the brilliant web designer Madeira James of xuni.com. She created my very first site ten years ago but after a decade online and more than 1.7 million visitors from countries around the globe, we felt ready for a new look.
The new site includes excerpts and information on my previous books on Italy: LA BELLA LINGUA and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. It also showcases my upcoming book, LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World. You can preorder a copy now and check the website for updates as we count down to its official publication date of April 16, 2019.
This is also the season for heart-warming stories. One of my favorites, which I came across while researching LA PASSIONE, is set in the postcard-pretty Tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino. The Friends of San Filippino, a nonprofit created by Rita Morgan Richardson, an Italian-American from Nashville, is raising funds to restore an abandoned Baroque chapel that has fallen into ruin. Click here to watch a video summary of the group's progress, with uplifting music and messages sure to fill your heart with joy.
December and January bring an abundance of joyful celebrations in Italy, including:
*December 6: La festa di San Nicola, the feast of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of shepherds and the inspiration for America's Santa Claus
*December 8: La festa dell'Immacolata, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day honoring Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus
*December 12: La festa di Santa Lucia, the festival of lights
*December 24, La vigilia di Natale, the Christmas vigil
*December 25: Natale, the birthday of the baby Jesus
*December 26: La festa di Santo Stefano, Saint Steven's
*December 31: La festa di San Silvestro, Saint Sylvester's day, or New Year's Eve (la vigilia di Capodanno)
*January 1: Il Capodanno, literally the top of the year
*January 6: L'Epifania, Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the Re Magi, the three wise men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus from afar
As we celebrate feasts and families, I thank all of you for your continuing support and friendship and extend warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language, MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and the upcoming LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World.