Not even a global pandemic can stop people from doing what they love. Over the last few months, we’ve seen dancers dance; singers sing; actors perform—wherever and whenever they could.  The same is true of writers. While sheltering at home in California, I created a new book: “A” Is for Amore.  You can download the digital PDF for free at my website—a small gift that I hope will entertain and uplift you.

My inspiration, once again, is Italy, which has so much to teach if only because it experienced so much in its long history.  Over the course of almost 3,000 years, everything that could happen to a people or a country has happened in Italy. The seemingly invincible Roman Empire crumbled. Barbarians pillaged. Plagues ravaged. Wars claimed countless lives. Governments and economies collapsed. Yet after each calamity, Italy flickered back to life.

Italians survived, not despite these upheavals, but because of the resilience forged by them.  They learned fully and deeply what it means to be human—creatures of body, mind, and soul, rooted in the past but seizing and finding joy in the present. This is their legacy to us.

“A” Is for Amore, culled from decades of writing and wandering,  takes readers on a whimsical letter-by-letter journey through the ABCs of Italian culture and history. Although the 21 letters in the Italian alphabet look identical to their English counterparts (minus j, k, w, x, and y), they don’t sound the same.

The differences go beyond pronunciation. The phonetic English alphabet begins with “A as in alpha” and proceeds through “F as in foxtrot”  to “Z as in zulu.”  Italians identify letters by cities. Depending on the speaker’s region,  “A”  may be paired with Ancona or Agrigento; “B,” with Bari or Bologna, “C,” with Capri or Como.

To me, each letter of the alphabet brings to mind, not a place, but a word that represents a different aspect of Italian life—from cucina to opera to vino. In “A” Is for Amore, you’ll travel to Florence and Rome, savor Italians’ favorite dishes, explore the worlds of fashion and wine, meet Dante, Leonardo, and the irresistible Italian uomo (man), and gain a new appreciation of the Italian “H” (acca) and “Z” (zeta).

If you love Italy, you’ll learn more about the country and its people. If you’re an Italian student or teacher, you’ll find a light-hearted perspective that complements vocabulary and grammar lessons. If you are an armchair adventurer, you don’t need to know any Italian to enjoy the ride.

“A” Is for Amore is my love letter to Italy, its people, and my readers, with great appreciation for your support.

For longer escapes to Italy,  you can download  digital versions of my other books on Italy, Italian, and Italians: La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language;  La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World;  Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered; and La bella lingua: La mia storia d’amore con l’italiano (in Italian). For more information, visit diannehales.com.

Buon viaggio!