The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
By: R.W.B. Lewis
A New York Times Notable BookIn this deeply personal and learned labor of love, R.W.B. Lewis provides a new look at the glories of Florence, the smallish Tuscan city which has been a prime source for modern Western culture and which has also been his second home for fifty years. With a scholar's eye and a lover's passion, he invites us to share his vision of a city and the way of life it has engendered and inspired.
Comprised of short stories, novel excerpts, essays, poetry journals and letters, this work will delight anyone who loves Italy or great travel writing. Pieces include Barbara Grizzuti Harrison marveling at baroque Sicilian confections, Mary McCarthy celebrating Venice's threadbare dignity, and Henry James's Isabel Archer succumbing to the treacherous antiquities of Florence.
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 Who cares if the beautiful girls hawking cell phones in airport kiosks stick you with an outdated model?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.”
For the savvy, cosmopolitan traveler who wants to delve into Venice's history and cultureSmithsonian Journeys Cultural Guide: Venice is a travel guide like none other: it gives a vital overview of the history, geography, foodways, and culture of this remarkable destination. This e-book original from Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution's worldwide educational travel program, provides all the cultural and historical information travelers need to inform their visit to Venice.Readers study the city’s influential architects to appreciate every building from the humble villa up to the towering basilica. They are immersed in the rich artistic tradition of Titian, Mantegna, Tintoretto, and other Venetian Renaissance masters to enrich their museum and cathedral visits. They learn the history of Venice’s trading and banking empire to find out how it shapes the food, spices, and silks offered at the Rialto markets. And they discover the origins of Venice’s iconic gondolas and Carnevale masks.Smithsonian Journeys Cultural Guide: Venice lives up to the reputation of the Smithsonian by providing travelers with the knowledge they need to make the most of the journey of a lifetime.
“The rise and fall of Venice’s empire is an irresistible story and [Roger] Crowley, with his rousing descriptive gifts and scholarly attention to detail, is its perfect chronicler.”—The Financial Times The New York Times bestselling author of Empires of the Sea charts Venice’s astounding five-hundred-year voyage to the pinnacle of power in an epic story that stands unrivaled for drama, intrigue, and sheer opulent majesty. City of Fortune traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga, from the ill-fated Fourth Crusade, which culminates in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503, which sees the Ottoman Turks supplant the Venetians as the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. In between are three centuries of Venetian maritime dominance, during which a tiny city of “lagoon dwellers” grow into the richest place on earth. Drawing on firsthand accounts of pitched sea battles, skillful negotiations, and diplomatic maneuvers, Crowley paints a vivid picture of this avaricious, enterprising people and the bountiful lands that came under their dominion. From the opening of the spice routes to the clash between Christianity and Islam, Venice played a leading role in the defining conflicts of its time—the reverberations of which are still being felt today. “[Crowley] writes with a racy briskness that lifts sea battles and sieges off the page.”—The New York Times “Crowley chronicles the peak of Venice’s past glory with Wordsworthian sympathy, supplemented by impressive learning and infectious enthusiasm.”—The Wall Street Journal
The Piazza San Marco, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable townscapes in the West, if not the world, has been described as a stage set, as Europe’s drawing room, as a painter’s canvas. This book traces the changing shape and function of the piazza, from its beginnings in the ninth century to its present day ubiquity in the Venetian, European, as well as global imagination.Through its long history, the Piazza San Marco has functioned as civic space that was used for such varied activities as public meetings; animal-baiting; executions; state processions; meat and produce markets; a performance venue for rock concerts; as well as, more recently, a cafe to enjoy a leisurely Campari. Constantly alert to the question of function, this book recreates not only rituals of the past but also activities of the present, from the coronation of the doge to the legendary Pink Floyd concert of 1989, with much fanfare in between. Iain Fenlon recreates the dynamic, colorful, and noisy history of the piazza―a history that is also the history of Venice and, indeed, of Europe.
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.
An extraordinary chronicle of Venice, its people, and its grandeurThomas Madden’s majestic, sprawling history of Venice is the first full portrait of the city in English in almost thirty years. Using long-buried archival material and a wealth of newly translated documents, Madden weaves a spellbinding story of a place and its people, tracing an arc from the city’s humble origins as a lagoon refuge to its apex as a vast maritime empire and Renaissance epicenter to its rebirth as a modern tourist hub.Madden explores all aspects of Venice’s breathtaking achievements: the construction of its unparalleled navy, its role as an economic powerhouse and birthplace of capitalism, its popularization of opera, the stunning architecture of its watery environs, and more. He sets these in the context of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire, the endless waves of Crusades to the Holy Land, and the awesome power of Turkish sultans. And perhaps most critically, Madden corrects the stereotype of Shakespeare’s money-lending Shylock that has distorted the Venetian character, uncovering instead a much more complex and fascinating story, peopled by men and women whose ingenuity and deep faith profoundly altered the course of civilization.
In this thoroughly comprehensive, utterly captivating culinary guidebook, acclaimed food writer Waverley Root traverses Italy from Lombardy to Sicily, and across 3,000 years of invasions. An exhaustive catalog of the country’s gastronomic legacy, The Food of Italy explains the regional delicacies, the traditions, and the history that define the way Italians eat. From the legally enforced frugality of the Renaissance table to the enduring Saracen luxury of Sicilian desserts, from the lasagna of Bologna to the saltimbocca of Rome, Root explores the secrets and customs of a cuisine so nuanced that even the basic ragu Bolognese has some two hundred variations. A culinary adventurer who made his mark decades before Anthony Bourdain appeared on the scene, Root shares the stories of an elephant forced to spend the winter of 1551 in the South Tyrol and the dishes named after him, the proper way to bottle Chianti, and the mysteries surrounding the origin of tortellini. Essential reading for travelers—of the armchair and ticketed variety, alike—The Food of Italy, which features decorative maps (that may not be legible for all readers) and illustrations, brings the subtleties of the Italian palate into any home.
The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance
By: Paul Strathern
A vivid, dramatic, and authoritative account of perhaps the most influential family in Italian history: the Medici.A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition. Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence, as well as the Italian Renaissance which they did so much to sponsor and encourage.Strathern also follows the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello; as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola; and the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Médicis, who became Queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.
Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern. As Tylus leads us through the city, she shares her passion for Siena in novelistic prose, while never losing sight of the historical complexities that have made Siena one of the most fascinating and beautiful towns in Europe. Today, Siena can appear on the surface standoffish and old-fashioned, especially when compared to its larger, flashier cousins Rome and Florence. But first impressions wear away as we learn from Tylus that Siena was an innovator among the cities of Italy: the first to legislate the building and maintenance of its streets, the first to publicly fund its university, the first to institute a municipal bank, and even the first to ban automobile traffic from its city center. We learn about Siena’s great artistic and architectural past, hidden behind centuries of painting and rebuilding, and about the distinctive characters of its different neighborhoods, exemplified in the Palio, the highly competitive horserace that takes place twice a year in the city’s main piazza and that serves as both a dividing and a uniting force for the Sienese. Throughout we are guided by the assured voice of a seasoned scholar with a gift for spinning a good story and an eye for the telling detail, whether we are traveling Siena’s modern highways, exploring its underground tunnels, tracking the city’s financial history, or celebrating giants of painting like Simone Martini or giants of the arena, Siena’s former Serie A soccer team. A practical and engaging guide for tourists and armchair travelers alike, Siena is a testament to the powers of community and resilience in a place that is not quite as timeless and serene as it may at first appear.
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.
The Genius of Venice: Piazza San Marco and the Making of the Republic
By: Dial Parrott
An ideal volume for lovers of Venice and architecture aficionados, combining in-depth history of this singular city with more than 100 color photographs and maps. Of Venice’s many majestic spaces, none is as evocative and significant as the Piazza San Marco. An authoritative account of the development of the entire piazza complex, through which unfolds the history of the Republic in general, The Genius of Venice celebrates the city’s oldest and most important architectural site. Dial Parrott’s view of Venice is a heroic one. From their lagoon, the bold and calculating Venetians forged a city that stands today not merely as an attraction for millions, but as a testament to architectural genius: the epitome of what we now call New Urbanism and a shining example of Western communal art. Enhanced by more than 100 illustrations, The Genius of Venice presents the magnificent edifices of the piazza as, in the words of John Ruskin, the "living books of history" of this iconic urban environment.
Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide
By: Robert Rodi Dario Castagno
Over the past several years, "the American in Tuscany" has become a literary subgenre. Launched by the phenomenal success of Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, bookstores now burgeon with nimble, witty accounts of this clash in cultures-Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping against a brick wall of tradition.Before this subgenre exhausts itself, it's only fair that we hear the other side of the story-that of a native Tuscan and of dozens of Americans who have stormed through his life and homeland, determined to find in it whatever they are looking for, whether quaintness or wisdom, submission or direction.There is no one better to provide this view than Dario Castagno. A Tuscan guide whose client base is predominantly American, Dario has spent more than a decade taking individuals and small groups on customized tours through the Chianti region of Tuscany. Reared in Britain through early childhood, he speaks English fluently and is therefore capable of fully engaging his American clients and getting to know them. Too Much Tuscan Sun is Dario's account of some of his more remarkable customers, from the obsessive and the oblivious to the downright lunatic.It is also a primer on Tuscany--its charms and its culture. Structured around a typical Tuscan year, Dario takes us through the sights, smells, and sounds of Chianti during each of the twelve months, including the festivities and pageantry that accord with the season, most notable the Palio-the bareback horse race that consumes the social energies of the people of Siena for all of July and August.Dario also intersperses an account of his own life and times-that of a transplanted British "little lord" who learns to love the wilds of Chianti; of his discovery and adoption of abandoned peasant farmhouses; of his apprenticeship in the wine industry; and of his arduous transformation from bohemian layabout to thriving Tuscan guide.But the bulk of the book is devoted, with humor and affection, to the Americans he has met-the vain, the silly, the ignorant, the ambitious, the horny, the condescending, the charming, and the outright pathological. Some of them have made his life hell and live in his nightmares; others became lifelong friends.
"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.
Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month Is Enchanted
By: Annie Hawes
In 1983, a pale Annie Hawes and her equally pale sister leave England for the sun-drenched olive groves of a small Italian town in Liguria. With fantasies of handsome tanned men and swimming in the sea urging them on, they are hired to work for ten weeks to graft roses -- of which they have little knowledge -- along the Italian Riviera, board and lodging included.But none of the men seem to be under forty, and Ligurians have particular ideas about life, including swimming ("To go swimming in seawater outside the month of July or August is even worse for your health than drinking cappuccino after twelve noon!"). But Annie and her sister are captivated by San Pietro's quirkiness and beauty, and suddenly their brief stay stretches into years, as they are bemused, charmed, and ultimately accepted by the eccentric inhabitants of their adopted home.Resonating with captivating verve and humor, Extra Virgin dishes up a sumptuous sampling of Italian life from an irresistible new voice.
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 Sardinia', 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.'For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND A TIMELESS CLASSIC FROM THE AUTHOR OF UNDER MAGNOLIA Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opnes the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.
By the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, and written with Frances Mayes’s trademark warmth, heart, and delicious descriptions of place, food, and friendship, Women in Sunlight is the story of four American strangers who bond in Italy and change their lives over the course of an exceptional year.She watches from her terrazza as the three American women carry their luggage into the stone villa down the hill. Who are they, and what brings them to this Tuscan village so far from home? An expat herself and with her own unfinished story, she can’t help but question: will they find what they came for? Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany, is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women—Julia, Camille, and Susan—all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives. Susan, the most adventurous of the three, has enticed them to subvert expectations of staid retirement by taking a lease on a big, beautiful house in Tuscany. Though novices in a foreign culture, their renewed sense of adventure imbues each of them with a bright sense of bravery, a gusto for life, and a fierce determination to thrive. But how? With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten—and with drastic and unforeseeable results.
A fascinating exploration of the history, sights, seasons, arts, food, and people of an incomparable city. “A highly intelligent portrait of an eccentric city, written in powerful prose and enlivened by many curious mosaics of information...a beautiful book to read and to possess” (The Observer). New Foreword by the Author. Index.
Death at La Fenice: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
By: Donna Leon
There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice. But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape—a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one. . . .