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. ...

Celebrating Italian American Heritage

Every October the United States celebrates Italy’s heritage—with good reason.  More than a mere country, Italy embodies a culture that has  transformed art and architecture, language and music, food and fashion. Western civilization would surely have sprouted...

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: Buon Ferragosto!

Years ago I celebrated my first Italian Ferragosto in Capri, a most fitting (though crowded) place to be on August 15. The Roman emperor Augustus, whose name graces summer’s last month, was so enamored with the beguiling island of Capri that he appropriated it from...