The Year of Dante: Learning to Love Italy’s Greatest Poet

It was dislike at first sight.  Everything about Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) put me off. As artists traditionally portrayed him, the medieval poet seemed a ferocious grump with a big beak, jutted chin, petulant sneer, and hooded eyes. Although writers like William...

Italy’s New Year Celebrations

In ancient times, the new year began in the Spring. In 153 B.C., the Romans moved the start of a new year to January 1 and dedicated the first month to Janus, the two-faced god who looks back toward the old year and ahead toward the new one. For six days, Romans...

Italy’s Days of Wine and Olives

The warm days of early November –- known as Indian summer in the United States –- are called l’estate di San Martino (the summer of St. Martin) in Italy. Wine producers celebrate the saint’s feast on November 11 by uncorking the vino novello (new wine) from the...