Summer in Italian: The Beach (La Spiaggia)

The beaches on the northern California coast where I live are beautiful, dramatic — and usually windy, foggy and cold in the summer months.  As much as I love walking and jogging on them, none can compare with una spiaggia italiana. If I could, I’d spend...

Celebrating Fathers in Italy and around the World

On Father’s Day I cherish a special memory: the last time I danced with my Dad, at an Italian-American banquet in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   My mother had died a few months before, and I decided to bring my broken-hearted Dad along with me on a book tour that would...

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...