La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
By: Beppe Severgnini
Join the bestselling author of Ciao, America! on a lively tour of modern Italy that takes you behind the seductive face it puts on for visitors—la bella figura—and highlights its maddening, paradoxical true self You won’t need luggage for this hypothetical and hilarious trip into the hearts and minds of Beppe Severgnini’s fellow Italians. In fact, Beppe would prefer if you left behind the baggage his crafty and elegant countrymen have smuggled into your subconscious. To get to his Italia, you’ll need to forget about your idealized notions of Italy. Although La Bella Figura will take you to legendary cities and scenic regions, your real destinations are the places where Italians are at their best, worst, and most authentic: The highway: in America, a red light has only one possible interpretation—Stop! An Italian red light doesn’t warn or order you as much as provide an invitation for reflection. The airport: where Italians prove that one of their virtues (an appreciation for beauty) is really a vice. Who cares if the beautiful girls hawking cell phones in airport kiosks stick you with an outdated model? That’s the price of gazing upon perfection.The small town: which demonstrates the Italian genius for pleasant living: “a congenial barber . . . a well-stocked newsstand . . . professionally made coffee and a proper pizza; bell towers we can recognize in the distance, and people with a kind word and a smile for everyone.”The chaos of the roads, the anarchy of the office, the theatrical spirit of the hypermarkets, and garrulous train journeys; the sensory reassurance of a church and the importance of the beach; the solitude of the soccer stadium and the crowded Italian bedroom; the vertical fixations of the apartment building and the horizontal democracy of the eat-in kitchen. As you venture to these and many other locations rooted in the Italian psyche, you realize that Beppe has become your Dante and shown you a country that “has too much style to be hell” but is “too disorderly to be heaven.” Ten days, thirty places. From north to south. From food to politics. From saintliness to sexuality. This ironic, methodical, and sentimental examination will help you understand why Italy—as Beppe says—“can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters or ten minutes.”
D. H. Lawrence and Italy: Sketches from Etruscan Places, Sea and Sardinia, Twilight in Italy (Penguin Classics)
By: D. H. Lawrence
In these impressions of the Italian countryside, Lawrence transforms ordinary incidents into passages of intense beauty. "Twilight in Italy" is a vibrant account of Lawrence's stay among the people of Lake Garda, whose decaying lemon gardens bear witness to the twilight of a way of life centuries old. In "Sea and Sardina", Lawrence brings to life the vigorous spontaneity of a society as yet untouched by the deadening effect of industrialization. And "Etruscan Places" is a beautiful and delicate work of literary art, the record of "a dying man drinking from the founts of a civilization dedicated to life."
Before award-winning chef Jeff Michaud ever opened the doors of his acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants, he spent three years in northern Italy as a culinary apprentice to master butchers and chefs, immersing himself in the culture and cuisine of the old country. It is safe to say that he never anticipated the romance that would ensue. Eating Italy is a delicious, funny, and mesmerizing spin through the boot, teaching true heirloom techniques and telling Jeff 's culinary and personal love story (he met his wife when she came into the restaurant one night for dinner, and to this day, he hasn't forgotten what she ordered).Part inventive cookbook, part travel narrative, each chapter of Eating Italy explores a village or town in northern Italy, unveiling the unique culinary and cultural experience it has to offer. The reader experiences his journey from Paladina: The Butcher's Apprentice” to Trescore Balneario: Our Big Italian Wedding” in dishes like Apricot and Chanterelle Salad, Swordfish Pancetta with Fennel Zeppole, Pheasant Lasagne, and Blood Orange Crostata with Bitter Chocolate. Each authentic recipe serves to mark his professional growth, learning from some of the most skilled chefs in Italy. Vivid photography of Italian culture, people, and landscapes are dispersed throughout, allowing the reader a glimpse of northern Italia from a kitchen far away.
Intended for the student of Italian history and culture as well as the general reader, this new edition presents a clear and concise account of the principal developments in Italian history from the Ice Age to the present day. Dr. Jonathan Morris has updated the late Professor Hearder's long-established and highly successful work with an authoritative account of development in Italy over the past decade.
Spanning an age that witnessed great achievements in the arts and sciences, this definitive overview of the Italian Renaissance will both captivate ordinary readers and challenge specialists. Dr. Plumbâ€™s impressive and provocative narrative is accompanied by contributions from leading historians, including Morris Bishop, J. Bronowski, Maria Bellonci, and many more, who have further illuminated the lives of some of the eraâ€™s most unforgettable personalities, from Petrarch to Pope Pius II, Michelangelo to Isabella d'Este, Machiavelli to Leonardo. A highly readable and engaging volume, THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE is a perfect introduction to the movement that shaped the Western world.
Washington Post bestsellerLos Angeles Times bestsellerA vivid and surprising portrait of the Italian people from an admired foreign correspondent How did a nation that spawned the Renaissance also produce the Mafia? And why does Italian have twelve words for coat hanger but none for hangover? John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Fifteen years as a foreign correspondent based in Rome have sharpened Hooper’s observations, and he looks at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, shedding new light on everything from the Italians’ bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Hooper persuasively demonstrates the impact of geography, history, and tradition on many aspects of Italian life, including football and Freemasonry, sex, food, and opera. Brimming with the kind of fascinating—and often hilarious—insights unavailable in guidebooks, The Italians will surprise even the most die-hard Italophile.From the Hardcover edition.
Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image
By: Toby Lester
In Da Vinci's Ghost, critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world’s most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history’s most fascinating figures.Deftly weaving together art, architecture, history, theology, and much else, Da Vinci's Ghost is a first-rate intellectual enchantment.”—Charles Mann, author of 1493 Da Vinci didn’t summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was inspired by the idea originally formulated by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who suggested that the human body could be made to fit inside a circle, long associated with the divine, and a square, related to the earthly and secular. To place a man inside those shapes was to imply that the human body could indeed be a blueprint for the workings of the universe. Da Vinci elevated Vitruvius’ idea to exhilarating heights when he set out to do something unprecedented, if the human body truly reflected the cosmos, he reasoned, then studying its anatomy more thoroughly than had ever been attempted before—peering deep into body and soul—might grant him an almost godlike perspective on the makeup of the world. Written with the same narrative flair and intellectual sweep as Lester’s award-winning first book, the “almost unbearably thrilling” (Simon Winchester) Fourth Part of the World, and beautifully illustrated with Da Vinci's drawings, Da Vinci’s Ghost follows Da Vinci on his journey to understanding the secrets of the Vitruvian man. It captures a pivotal time in Western history when the Middle Ages were giving way to the Renaissance, when art, science, and philosophy were rapidly converging, and when it seemed possible that a single human being might embody—and even understand—the nature of the universe.
This is the life of one of the most revolutionary artists in history, told through the story of six of his greatest masterpieces: “The one indispensable guide for encountering Michelangelo on his home turf” (The Dallas Morning News).Michelangelo stands alone as a master of painting, sculpture, and architecture, a man who reinvented the practice of art itself. Throughout his long career he clashed with patrons by insisting that he had no master but his own demanding muse. Michelangelo was ambitious, egotistical, and difficult, but through the towering force of genius and through sheer pugnaciousness, he transformed the way we think about art. Miles Unger narrates the life of this tormented genius through six of his greatest masterpieces. Each work expanded the expressive range of the medium, from the Pietà carved by a brash young man of twenty-four, to the apocalyptic Last Judgment, the work of an old man weighed down by the unimaginable suffering he had witnessed. In the gargantuan David he depicts Man in the glory of his youth, while in the tombs he carved for his Medici overlords he offers perhaps history’s most sustained meditation on death and the afterlife of the soul. In the vast expanse of the Sistine Chapel ceiling he tells the epic story of Creation. During the final decades of his life, his hands too unsteady to wield the brush and chisel, he exercised his mind by raising the soaring vaults and dome of St. Peter’s in a final tribute to his God. “A deeply human tribute to one of the most accomplished and fascinating figures inthe history of Western culture” (The Boston Globe), Michelangelo brings to life the irascible, egotistical, and undeniably brilliant man whose artistry continues to amaze and inspire us after five hundred years.
The Renaissance began in Italy, but it grew out of European civilization, with roots in Antiquity, in Christian dogma, and in Byzantium. The artistic ferment which had taken hold of Florence by 1420 was also reflected in the regional schools of Siena, Umbria, Mantua and Rome; and the new ideas spread from Italy through France, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Portugal. The book includes artists as diverse as Piero della Francesca, Van Eyck, Durer, Mantegna and Bellini, as well as the High Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. With superb illustrations of the artists' work and crucial historical information about the "rebirth" of arts and letters, the authors illuminate one of the most important periods of art history. 251 illus., 51 in color.
"Italian Days" is one of the richest and most absorbing travel books written--a journey that traverses the Italian peninsula and immerses readers in a culture which provides the reader with a definition of the good life.
La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
By: Dianne Hales
“Italians say that someone who acquires a new language ‘possesses’ it. In my case, Italian possesses me. With Italian racing like blood through my veins, I do indeed see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and drink in the world with all my senses…”A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman’s personal quest to speak fluent Italian.For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language” together with explorations of Italy’s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle, and food in a true opera amorosa—a labor of her love of Italy.Throughout her first excursion in Italy—with “non parlo Italiano” as her only Italian phrase—Dianne delighted in the beauty of what she saw but craved comprehension of what she heard. And so she chose to inhabit the language. Over more than twenty-five years she has studied Italian in every way possible: through Berlitz, books, CDs, podcasts, private tutorials and conversation groups, and, most importantly, large blocks of time in Italy. In the process she found that Italian became not just a passion and a pleasure, but a passport into Italy’s storia and its very soul. She offers charming insights into what makes Italian the most emotionally expressive of languages, from how the “pronto” (“Ready!”) Italians say when they answer the telephone conveys a sense of something coming alive, to how even ordinary things such as a towel (asciugamano) or handkerchief (fazzoletto) sound better in Italian. She invites readers to join her as she traces the evolution of Italian in the zesty graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, in Dante’s incandescent cantos, and in Boccaccio’s bawdy Decameron. She portrays how social graces remain woven into the fabric of Italian: even the chipper “ciao,” which does double duty as “hi” and “bye,” reflects centuries of bella figura. And she exalts the glories of Italy’s food and its rich and often uproarious gastronomic language: Italians deftly describe someone uptight as a baccala (dried cod), a busybody who noses into everything as a prezzemolo (parsley), a worthless or banal movie as a polpettone (large meatball). Like Dianne, readers of La Bella Lingua will find themselves innamorata, enchanted, by Italian, fascinated by its saga, tantalized by its adventures, addicted to its sound, and ever eager to spend more time in its company.
Michelangelo is universally recognized to be one of the greatest artists of all time. In this vividly written biography, William E. Wallace offers a substantially new view of the artist. Not only a supremely gifted sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo was also an aristocrat who firmly believed in the ancient and noble origins of his family. The belief in his patrician status fueled his lifelong ambition to improve his family's financial situation and to raise the social standing of artists. Michelangelo's ambitions are evident in his writing, dress, and comportment, as well as in his ability to befriend, influence, and occasionally say "no" to popes, kings, and princes. Written from the words of Michelangelo and his contemporaries, this biography not only tells his own stories but also brings to life the culture and society of Renaissance Florence and Rome. Not since Irving Stone's novel The Agony and the Ecstasy has there been such a compelling and human portrayal of this remarkable yet credible human individual. Subscribe to William Wallace's podcast on individual works of the master! Click here! Episodes every week, right from this bookmark or your feed reader.
Bored with their work, three Milanese editors cook up "the Plan," a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. This produces a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled―a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum. But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real, and when occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their quest to gain control of the earth. Orchestrating these and other diverse characters into his multilayered semiotic adventure, Eco has created a superb cerebral entertainment.
Italy: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)
By: Lawrence Venuti
Italy’s rising literary stars join some of its best-known writers including Nobel-laureate Luigi Pirandello, Natalia Ginzburg, Alberto Moravia, and Antonio Tabucchi to take the reader on a panoramic tour of both city and countryside, across the social spectrum, surveying the country’s rich cultural history. Explore Italy’s popular tourist destinations and out-of-the-way spots under the fresh and even startling light cast by these twenty-three diverse and exciting stories, most of which are available here in English for the first time. For those who wish to reach beyond the stereotypes and get an insider’s view to discover an Italy that’s off the beaten path, as well as new insights along familiar, well-traveled roads, these stories arranged geographically for the traveler, armchair or otherwise are an excellent place to start. Contributors include Barbara Alberti, Corrado Alvaro, Romano Bilenchi, Massimo Bontempelli, Dino Buzzati, Andrea Camilleri, Natalia Ginzburg, Claudio Magris, Marilia Mazzeo, Luigi Malerba, Dacia Maraini, Maria Messina, Alberto Moravia, Aldo Palazzeschi, Goffredo Parise, Luigi Pirandello, Domenico Rea, Mario Rigoni Stern, Lalla Romano, Alberto Savinio, Tiziano Scarpa, Antonio Tabucchi, and Federigo Tozzi.