Category: Italy Roundtable

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Everything is Authentic

Trying to decide if a travel experience is authentic or not is like trying to separate “travelers” from “tourists.” That debate separates those who travel along class and age lines, with travelers proclaiming their experiences better, richer, more true than those of the tourists. There’s even a famous quote by G.K. Chesterton that delineates these …

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Lost in Translation: Ancient Stories in Art

The first time I realized that my obscure knowledge of Rome had really sunk in was in the early to mid-aughts. Friends of mine had returned from a family wedding in the Italian capital. Specifically, the ceremony had been held at San Silvestro in Capite. “That’s where they keep the reliquary of the head of …

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Rome Revisited: What Has and Hasn’t Changed

Rome in one photo

Rome is changing. Rome has changed. You hear those phrases around Rome all the time these days. Crime, corruption, unemployment, immigration, unreliable public transit, trash collection, the euro – Italy is in crisis and the prevailing mood among its citizens is one of resignation and exhaustion. This was most recently expressed cinematically with La Grande …

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August in Italy: The Things You’ll Need

Don’t go to Italy in August! The prevailing travel wisdom about Italy has always been to avoid going to the country in August as it’s hot, many shops and restaurants are closed, and the cities are emptied out of residents and replaced by other tourists. All of this is quite true. But if August is …

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Writer’s Block, Italian Style

Arch of Titus in Rome

This is what happens when you have writer's block and you are supposed to write about Italy.

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The Roman Spring of Tennessee Williams

In the late winter/early spring of 1948, American playwright Tennessee Williams arrived in Rome in need of a change of scenery. Williams, of course, is known for his writing set in the American South, including “A Streetcar Named Desire” (written in 1947) and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” (1955), both of which earned him Pulitzer …

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The Seven Hills of Rome: What Are They and What Can You See?

The Seven Hills of Rome mark the traditional boundaries of the city. It was on these seven hills – Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal – that the first settlements of Rome began and these seven hills were the ones protected within the Servian Walls. The foundations, gates, and ruins of these 4th …

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Anniversaries in Italian History: Dates Every Curious Traveler to Italy Should Know

Via XX Settembre in Genova

  Walking down a street in Rome or Genova or Trieste, you may notice that the street sign is named after the date XX Settembre (the 20th of September). Likewise, the date IV Novembre, November 4th, pops up as the name of piazze in Ancona (Le Marche), Todi (Umbria), and numerous other cities and villages …

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