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.

Episodes

January 25, 2022 36 min

We get META all over the place. Luigi Pirandello's play Six Characters in Search of an Author is one of the most famous and most influential dramatic works of the 20th century. We talk about Pirandello, his hometown of Agrigento in Sicily, and, of course, those Six Characters...

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In this episode we discuss poet Giuseppe Ungaretti's early collection, Allegria, recently translated into English by Geoffrey Brock. A poet of few words, but so much feeling. We also talk about Lucca in Tuscany, where Ungaretti's family was from, and Sagrado in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in northeast Italy, where Ungaretti fought in WW1, and wrote many of these amazing poems.

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January 10, 2022 39 min
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January 3, 2022 31 min

Buona Befana! We celebrate New Year's and Epiphany with the a poem by Giovanni Pascoli.

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December 24, 2021 27 min

Christmas markets in Italy! We talk about the Piazza Navona market in Rome, and the poet Giuseppe Gioacchino ("GG" to his friends) Belli, author of over 2,000 sonnets about priests, prostitutes, paupers, princes...and Piazza Navona!

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This week we interview Elizabeth Namack and discuss her unique approach to Italian travel planning. Liz shares her perspective on trends in Italian travel as she tells the story of her personal journal from the United States to her life in Florence.  Visit My Italian Treasures to learn more about her services and her attitudes toward travel!

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Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and we are getting dizzy from the evocation of the street scenes of Naples, with butcher shops dangling carcasses, the perfumed scents of flowers, herbs, vegetables, cod and eels! We read Mathilde Serao's "To the Tenth Muse." And Jim has a vivid hallucination of a mechanical monkey banging a cymbal. Please get us some help.

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November 29, 2021 35 min

Anne and Jim travel south geographically and backwards in time to the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, witnessed by Pliny the Younger.

Cynthia Damon's translation of Pliny's letters on Pompeii
Map of Vesuvius, Misenum, Herculaneum, and Pompeii
Pliny's letters from Volcanoes of Europe by Scarth and Tanguy

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In this episode we return to Dante and to Florence with Canto 2 of the Inferno! Dante is sort of like the middle of the Bingo card of Italian literature--plus this year marks the 700th anniversary of his death (Jim asks Anne during the podcast what the precise date is, and she fluffs and fumbles, but the answer is September 1321). In addition, we talk about some of our favorite slightly-off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Floren...

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November 15, 2021 34 min

Join us for Anna Maria Ortese's "A Pair of Eyeglasses" in Neapolitan Chronicles (Italian: Il mare non bagna Napoli ). Published in English for the first time in decades in 2018, Ortese gives us a gritty glimpse of postwar Naples in a slice-of-life tale about . . . optometry. Ortese retired to Rapallo in Liguria and died there in 1998.

  • Un paio di occhiali  short film adaptation on YouTube.
  • Neapolitan Chronicles on Amazon.c...
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    November 8, 2021 18 min

    Anne and Jim note their disappointing lack of Scooby Doo-like adventures in Umbria. Then they talk about 6 (5 1/2?) scary places in Italy!

  • Poveglia
  • Lucca and the legend of Lucida Mansi
  • Benevento, the City of the Witches
  • Capannori and the Oak of the Witches
  • Triora, the Salem of Italy
  • Werewolves of Puglia

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    October 31, 2021 31 min

    Erin O'Rourke's translation as read by her
    In this episode we talk about Halloween traditions in Italy (especially Sicily and Sardinia) and the ghost/vampire story by Sicilian writer Luigi Capuana.

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    October 24, 2021 49 min

    Jim's back from his walk on the Via Francigena from Siena to ROME! And a mere hours after his plane touches down on American soil, Anne interviews our jetlagged traveler to find out more about the experience, the towns he visited, the people he met, and (of course) the food he ate. And maybe it's true that, "No matter where you go, there you are." How would you like spend a two-week sabbatical walking two hundred mi...

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    A little bit of everything as we chat some more about Elena Ferrante, the Amalfi Coast, the island of Ischia, even Pisa! And Jim (nervously) talks about his plans to spend two weeks walking from Siena to Rome! That's three regions in one episode--a record! (Campania, Tuscany, and Lazio)

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    With his cookbook "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well," Pellegrino Artusi revolutionized the idea of Italian home cooking, and 130 years later the book is *still* a bestseller in Italy. But in addition to offering delicious recipes, the book is just a fun read, as Artusi offers anecdotes about cooking, eating, and life in general! Buon appetito!!!

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    October 3, 2021 34 min

    In this episode we’re talking about Cesare Pavese and the Piedmont region. Poetry and prose, city and country, wine and chocolate, love and loss: it’s all here!

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    September 26, 2021 28 min

    I guess we can't get enough of islands! This time it's the island of Procida, just off the coast of Naples. Tucked between the more famous islands of Capri and Ischia, Procida quietly offers small fishing villages, stunning beaches and amazing seafood. Procida also plays a starring role in Elsa Morante's novel, Arturo's Island, and is set to hit the big time as Italy's Capital of Culture for 2022. 

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    Today we're off to the beautiful isle of Sicily, for sea, sun . . . and murder. Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series of novels, and the entertaining RAI/BBC series that was made from them.

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    This week we're hoping to become a real boy! That's right, it's The Adventure of Pinocchio. The fourth most translated book in the world, it's a work for children and adults the world over. Anne and Jim go back to Tuscany with this episode, the birth place of Pinocchio's author Carlo Collodi.

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    August 30, 2021 48 min

    Machiavelli: It's complicated. Today's readings: 

  • The Prince
  • The Mandrake

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