Literary Italy

Literary Italy

Anne and Jim welcome you to Literary Italy, a joyous romp through the books and the landscape of the bel paese. Join us as we share our love of the literature, the people, the land, and the experience that is Italy.


November 13, 2023 45 mins

Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier raises questions such as "What are the qualities the perfect gentleman?", "What are the qualities of language that are suitable for writing?", and "What is the proper balance between artifice and sincerity?". 

Wake up, Yana!

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June 19, 2023 38 mins

Can't get enough of your love, babe. Or of Dante. This episode we read Dante's New Life , a prelude to The Divine Comedy. Written in prosimetrum, a form that combines poetry and prose, we get to see a little more of Beatrice, and a lot more of young Dante in Florence.

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Italo Calvino was one of the best known Italian writers throughout the world in the late 20th century. In the 1950's he set about working with Italian folklorists to collect, shape, and assemble Italian fables or fairy tales. The result was Fiabe Italiane  (Italian Folktales), a compendium of stories from different parts of Italy. This week we dip our toe into the life and work of this fascinating man.

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Liam Neeson or Leslie Nielsen? You decide.

Things to know about Cortona:

  • Ancient city - Etruscans - walls go back to 5th c. BC
  • Romans
  • Also long history as a tourist destination, even before Under the Tuscan Sun

What to see in Cortona

  • Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built in 1456
  • MAEC - Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona
  • Diocesan Museum — The Annunciation by Beato Angelico (From 1408 to 1418, Fra ...
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February 27, 2023 42 mins

Another episode in Lombardy, this time featuring poet, politico, and salon host Veronica Gàmbara.

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February 20, 2023 47 mins

Cesare Beccaria, author of On Crimes and Punishments (Dei delitti e delle pene) political philosopher, forgotten philosophe, 18th century influencer extraordinaire, arguably had more citations by the first American presidents than John Locke had. We talk about his life and his native city of Milan. (Also -- James Madison's height: 5ft 4in. ) Enjoy!

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Coming from their recent travels in Lombardy, Anne and Jim chat about Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. Why do we keep a notebook -- for ourselves? Our contemporaries? Posterity? Leonardo (who was often commissioned by the Sforza's, the ruling family of Milan) is arguably the most famous polymath of all time, painting, writing, designing inventions, even working as an arms contractor! We also talk about Milan, a lively and e...

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We read The Leopard, a novel of the Risorgimento, a tragic-comic story of romance, war, and a stuffed dog.

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Vincent Schiavelli, character actor, chef, and author is the our subject! We look at his book Many Beautiful Things, his wonderfully idiosyncratic memoir/cookbook/fable anthology. Anne and Jim are still scheming to get to Sicily. Maybe we're closer to pulling the trigger. Who knows? In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this feast.

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September 12, 2022 36 mins

You got horror in my magical realism. You got magical realism in my horror. -- It's delicious! This week, we talk Dino Buzzati (whom Jim distressingly insists on referring to as "Dee Butts") and his short story "The Bewitched Jacket." Then, we longingly look to the northeast and contemplate the beautiful Dolomite sub-range of the Alps. Plus random musings. Enjoy!

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This week, we read Elena Ferrante’s novella The Lost Daughter, set on the Ionian coast. We also watch Maggie Gyllenhaal’s film adaptation. Join us!

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July 25, 2022 27 mins

The Dynamic Duo are back, this time with a feature on novelist Federigo Tozzi. We read his short story "A Bender"

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This week: Canto III of Dante's Divine Comedy!

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This week we talk about A House in Sicily, a 1999 memoir by Daphne Phelps. Phelps was the owner of Casa Cuseni, a hotel for artists and writers that opened in 1947. It takes guests to this day while also serving as a museum in Taormina.

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May 23, 2022 37 mins

We all know Michelangelo as a giant of sculpture and painting, but, a true "Renaissance Man," he also wrote hundreds of poems. Anne and Jim dip into the life of this fascinating figure.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show on Michelangelo's poetry

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Our guest this week is Wendy Holloway, host of  Flavor of Italy, a weekly podcast focused  Italian food, culture, and travel. Wendy shares with us springtime foods and traditions of Rome and beyond. What could be better than a picnic of fava beans and pecorino cheese? Be sure to check out Wendy's website for stories, travel tips, and some pretty amazing recipes!

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Anne and Jim are back in Tuscany for E. M. Forster's A Room with a View, which helped them love Italy and Florence before they had ever set eyes on it.

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March 28, 2022 45 mins

Our guest today is Jay Malarcher. Jay is Associate Professor and Program Director of Theater History and Criticism at West Virginia University. Also, he first introduced Anne and me to each other, many years ago at St. John’s College. He’s a dramaturge, director, actor, and a great friend of the show. Anne and I reflected on a performance we saw a few years ago of Carlo Goldini’s Servant of Two Masters, and we knew Jay would be the...

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