Italy’s “Day of the Dead”

  Italy’s cimiteri (cemeteries) are coming alive this week as families prepare for November 2 (All Souls’ Day), which the Catholic Church dedicates alla commemorazione dei defunti (to the commemoration of the deceased). To celebrate Il giorno dei morti (the Day...

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...

Summer in Italian: Vacation Time

  Italy goes on vacation in August.  Even in not-yet-normal times, shops are shuttered, restaurants closed, streets quiet. Cities empty as residents join the esodo estivo (summer exodus), the  mass departure of Italians heading off for their ferie estive (summer...