Star-Crossed Love: Florence’s Own Romeo and Juliet (February/March 2022)

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2022 issue of Dream of Italy. Before Romeo and Juliet, there was Francesco and Bianca. She, a runaway Venetian of noble blood; he, the Medici heir apparent to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.  As with Shakespeare’s fictitious characters, the real-life Bianca and Francesco faced intense opposition to their union. Angry family members, spiteful …

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The Small But Essential Pleasures of Italy (October/November 2021)

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2021 issue of Dream of Italy.  For me, dreaming of Italy—which is all I have done since my last visit there in October 2019—might not be what you would expect. Yes, there is the sublime cuisine and superb wine, but I write Italian cookbooks and can make dishes at home that remind me of la …

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10 Tips to Enjoy Italy’s Art to the Fullest (June/July 2021)

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. Italy reminds us that we are all on the same journey of life, uninterrupted for centuries, in search of meaning, beauty and delight. I often think of a medal made for Michelangelo’s 85th birthday, his last-known portrait. The artist chose to be represented as a blind pilgrim, in ragged …

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Kathy’s Irresistible Invitation to Italy

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. Editor’s Note: To have someone write kind words about you and the work you have devoted your life to is a gift. To have those words penned by the poetic and iconic Frances Mayes, well that’s an altogether otherworldly experience. Not only does Frances join me on …

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Dreaming of Italy Through Atmospheric Paintings

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. The new TV special Dream of Italy: Travel, Transform and Thrive will also be airing on PBS stations as a pledge special to raise funds for public television. Actor Joe Mantegna joins me to co-host these breaks but because of the pandemic, we had to film virtually in private …

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Specchio/Mirror (Poem by Salvatore Quasimodo)

This poem originally appeared in the February/March 2021 issue of Dream of Italy. Salvatore Quasimodo was a Sicilian civil engineer, born in Modica, who began writing poetry in his twenties. This poem was published in his first collection “Acque e Terre”, which translates to Waters and Lands, in 1930. Specchio Ed ecco sul tronco si rompono gemme: un verde più nuovo …

The Women of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Portraits (August/September 2020)

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. Growing up in late 15th-century Florence, Leonardo da Vinci was surrounded by smart, beautiful women. While the young artist was learning from Andrea del Verrocchio, painters were busy depicting upstanding women in profile. In these portraits, the point was not to reveal anything about the woman’s personality, but rather …

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Pompeii House Reopens After Stunning Makeover (March 2020)

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Dream of Italy. After a six-year-long restoriation, the Casa del Frutteto (House of the Orchard) in Pompeii has reopened, featuring vivid botanical frescoes, after a six-year-long restoration by a talented team comprising archaeologists, engineers, architects and anthropologists. The House of the Orchard is considered one of the most picturesque houses …

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Italy’s Intangible Heritage: Festival of Celestinian Forgiveness (October 2019)

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Dream of Italy. Find the main article here.  For most of Italy, late summer means Ferragosto vacations and lazy beach days. For L’Aquila, it’s more associated with forgiveness of sins: The Festa della Perdonanza Celestiniana, or Festival of Celestinian Forgiveness, has taken place every year on August 28 and 29 for 726 …

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Italy’s Intangible Heritage: Alpinism on Monte Bianco (October 2019)

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Dream of Italy. Find the main article here.  Sportsmanship traditions haven’t made much of a showing in Italy’s Intangible Cultural Heritage lists, but that may change if alpinism is accepted. As with the transhumance candidacy, alpinism’s UNESCO bid was not submitted by Italy alone; Switzerland and France joined in making the nomination. …

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