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...

Italy’s Immortal Poet: Dante’s Words Live On!

Although 756 years have passed since Dante Alighieri’s birth in Florence in May of 1265, his words live, not just in literature, but also on the tongues of contemporary Italians. On a swerving, heart-stopping ride through Rome, a taxi driver assured me that the...

Celebrating Mothers in Italy and around the World

Italy has been celebrating mothers for more than 2000 years. As the dark, cold winter gave way to the bright rebirth of Spring, the ancient Romans paid tribute to their gods of fertility. One holiday, Matronalia, was dedicated to Juno, the queen of the gods, and...