A Final Blog: Looking Back—and Moving Forward

With a heart overflowing with gratitude for the joys Italy and Italian have brought me, I am ending original posts on my blog. Previous posts will be available at diannehales.com, categorized both by subject and date. I will continue to host the La Bella Lingua group on FACEBOOK and to post on Instagram and Twitter.

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Celebrating Italy’s Good Witch

Long after many Americans have taken down their Christmas trees and packed away the decorations, Italians continue to celebrate. The final feast is l’Epifania, on January 6, which commemorates the arrival of i re magi, the three kings who followed the bright Christmas star (stella cometa) to bring gifts for Baby Jesus (bambino Gesù).

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Celebrating A New Year in Italy

“Anno nuovo, vita nuova!”  This Italian saying literally means “new year, new life,” but it also translates as “Let’s have a fresh start!”—the perfect greeting for the dawn of 2022!

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Christmas in Italy: The Nativity Scene

Centuries ago, in 1223, San Francesco (Saint Francis), the charismatic friar of Umbria, wanted to bring to life the story of il natale di bambino Gesù  (the birth of Baby Jesus). In the little town of Greccio, he placed a manger in some straw and added a living Madonna, San Giuseppe (St. Joseph), shepherds (pastori) and actual cattle (bue), sheep (pecore) and donkeys (asinelli), the animals that, as the story goes, once warmed the infant with their breath.

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Christmas in Italy: The Original Saint Nick

In some parts of Italy the feast of San Nicola, patron saint of Bari, ushers in the Christmas season with the giving of gifts on the eve or morning of December 6, his onomastico (name day). Although many stories of San Nicola’ s life may be mythical, he did inspire the figure of a beloved old man—whether he’s known as Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) or Santa Claus—who gives out presents in December.

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Giving Thanks in Italian

There is an Italian name — la Festa del Ringraziamento — but no cultural equivalent for the day when the Pilgrim fathers (padri pellegrini) and the American native people came together to celebrate the harvest in the New World. Although turkey (tacchino) and pumpkin (zucca) are available, Italians don’t prepare them in the traditional ways that Americans do on Thanksgiving — nor do they restrict their giving of thanks to a single feast.

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A Life Lesson from an Italian Professor

Several years ago I came across this  clever and wise anecdote from il Gruppo Castelvetrano in Trapani, Sicily, and translated it into English. I’m sharing it again as we look toward Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  

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Rome’s Passionate Genius: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Rome, the dome-capped city of gushing fountains, monumental staircases and sunlit piazzas, owes much of its seductive beauty to Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680. Over his long career Bernini emerged as the Michelangelo of his time, a master sculptor, architect, painter, city planner, draftsman, engraver and scenographer.

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