Category: Featured Articles

From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

Torre di Babele (Italian Immersion Language School for Foreigners) in Rome

I have a confession. Despite having lived in Italy for nearly three years and having studied Italian off and on for a number of years, I have a long way to go before I can consider myself fully fluent in the language. There has been one time, however, when I felt really confident about my Italian …

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Finally Ferrara: Postcard From a City That Called Me Back

Castello Estense in Ferrara

Have you ever pulled into a train station on your way to somewhere else and then promised yourself that some day you would make your way back? That was my experience with Ferrara.

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Five Favorite Flavors From Ferrara and Modena

Flavors of Ferrara and Modena: Fresh tortellini and tortelloni for sale in Mercato Albinelli

To ring in the New Year, my family and I rented a farmhouse for a few days on the outskirts of Ferrara. Thinking back to the trip, the timing wasn’t ideal. Ferrara was freezing and on New Year’s Eve, the fog was so thick on our drive into town to watch the fireworks over Castello …

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The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Saint Valentine of Terni

Basilica di San Valentino (facade)

Not many tourists make it to Terni. But many of those who do come to Umbria’s second largest town come specifically to see the church of Saint Valentine.

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More Than A Mocha: Torino’s Sweet, Rich Bicerin

You can visit Torino without tasting a Bicerin, but then you’d be going against the advice of noted gastronome Alexandre Dumas. The writer who was best known for his novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was also publisher of L’Indipendente, a Neapolitan newspaper that supported Italian Unification, as well as the …

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Italy’s Alpini Corps: The Traditions Beyond the Feathered Cap

Cappello Alpino

The grey felt cap adorned with a black raven feather worn by old northern Italian men and some modern-day camouflaged troops is known as the Cappello Alpino. This recognizable cap signifies that the wearer is or was a member of the Alpini, an elite corps of the Italian army that is most closely associated with …

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Best Places to Kiss in Rome

Before I tell you about the best places to kiss in Rome, you’ve got to really want to kiss and be kissed.

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Five Lessons Learned While Living and Traveling in Italy

Roman Forum - Thinking Girl

Reflection is part of the prescription for moving from one year into the next. So while I wanted to write a year-end round-up a month ago, I realized that such an article would not fully capture the joys, sorrows, and idiosyncrasies of being an expat resident and traveler in Italy. Five is an arbitrary number, …

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Before Considering a Move to Italy, Check Out This Quality of Life Index

Aosta - Best Place to Live

Friends and family often ask me two questions about Italy: How do I move to Italy? If I move to Italy, where should I live?

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A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

Paestum Temple

If you tell a Roman that you are going Paestum for the weekend, invariably he or she will tell you: “Make sure you pick up some mozzarella di bufala.” Paestum is a sight to see without the culinary pit stop. A city known as “Poseidonia” when it was part of Magna Grecia, Paestum is home to …

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Things I Love (and Hate) About Rome in August

August - Leo and Gemini share a plaque in Piazza San Pietro

The calendar shows that Ferragosto takes place on August 15. The mid-August break coincides with the Assumption of Mary, in the way that Christmas conveniently takes place around the Winter Solstice. The further south from Rome that you go, the more you’ll find towns that celebrate the Assumption. Romans typically use the old pagan name as …

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The Fortress of San Leo and Its Torture Chamber

Fortress of San Leo

As you approach the town of San Leo in Emilia-Romagna, its role as an impenetrable, menacing fortress town comes into view. San Leo’s massive stone fortress, which also served as a palace and prison, was designed by Sienese architect and military engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini, whose early Renaissance fortifications dot the landscape of this area of …

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Church of Purgatorio in Terracina

Church of Purgatorio, Terracina

Italy’s bigger cities, especially Rome, have plenty of churches to please those with morbid fascinations for skulls, skeletons, and saintly relics. Taken together, these churches and their contents provide a sort-of museum feel — creepy but not altogether isolating.

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A Special Harvest: Anatomical Theaters in Italy

Illustration from De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius

Since ancient times, man has been interested in anatomy — how muscles and bones function and fit together and how the body works. But it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the study of anatomy really took off, thanks in large part to the printing press, which helped anatomists, illustrators, scientists, and physicians get on the …

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The Milano Duomo, Inside and Out

Taking a break near the Milano Duomo

Over the weekend, I finally got the chance to check out Milan’s famed Duomo, that jagged, Gothic behemoth that defines the city’s traditional skyline. Also known as Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary of the Nativity), the Duomo is the second largest church in Italy (second only to Saint Peter’s in size) and it took more than …

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Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

Orvieto Cathedral

In 1499, Tuscan artist Luca Signorelli signed a contract to paint two remaining sections of the Cappella Nuova (new chapel) of the Duomo in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. By 1502 (or 1504, depending on which documentation you read), he had completed his “End of the World” fresco cycle in what is now known as the …

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One Year in Italy: 12 Months of Memories

Amalfi

Living in a new place, especially for an extended period of time, fills me with a sense of duty that I have to write everything down, commit every moment to memory, take a photo every day if not every hour. But eventually, that initial motivation turns to dread and an overwhelming feeling that I should be more …

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In Rome, Communing Over Coffee

In the mornings after I’ve sent the kids off to school and tidied up the house I go down and have my morning cappuccino.

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How to Avoid Tourists in Venice

Venice - View of San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore

It’s the conundrum that many travelers face: how to be a tourist but avoid other tourists. In a place like Venice, that’s pretty hard to do. The canal city on the Adriatic has less than 300,000 permanent residents* but welcomes approximately 30 million tourists each year. Numbers like that make it nearly impossible not to trip …

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Visions of Veronese Green in Venice

When you are the parent of young kids, you often find unusual things in your pockets. After a while, you get used to sticking your hand in your coat and finding a toy car or an action figure. For the past several months, I’ve been carrying around an unopened tube of Veronese Green* paint. Back …

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