About Literary Italy
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!
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. Catherine Project Frisardi's translation of Vita Nuova (online) Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation on Librivox (online audiobook) Mark Musa's translation in paperback Cervigni and Vasta's translation in paperback
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.
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 Angelico was at the Dominican friary of Cortona, where he painted frescoes, now mostly destroyed, in the Dominican Church and may have been assistant to Gherardo Starnina or a follower of his) and The Deposition by Luca Signorelli (c. 1441/1445 – 16 October 1523) Archeological area - Etruscan tombs in Sodo and Camucia dating to 6th c BCE, uncovered in 20th c. Girifalco castle —Medici fortress, 1556 - today hosts exhibitions and occasionally concerts Via Romea Germanica passes through Cortona Eremo Le Celle — first hermitage to be founded by San Francesco- 4 km from Cortona. The Monastery is perched on Monte Sant'Egidio and in the gorge dividing the two buildings runs a mountain stream - ‘Celle', which does not refer to the little buildings friars used to live in, but rather to some constructions built from the rock by shepherds and peasants. San Francesco arrived in Cortona around the year 1211 and met Guido Vagnotelli, a young man from a good-to-do family who often welcomed Francesco in his home to pray. Guido decided to follow a religious vocation and offered the land where the Hermit would have been built later Basilica of Santa Margherita in Cortona-14th-century church adorned in Baroque style - Margaret of Cortona (1247 – 22 February 1297) was an Italian penitent of the Third Order of Saint Francis. She was born in Laviano, near Perugia, and died in Cortona. She was canonized in 1728. Patron saint of the falsely accused, hoboes, homeless, insane, orphaned, mentally ill, midwives, penitents, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, stepchildren, and tramps. At the age of 17 she met a young (noble)man, and ran away with him, lived in the castle as his mistress, near Montepulciano and bore him a son. When her lover failed to return home from a journey/hunt one day, Margaret became concerned. The unaccompanied return of his favorite hound alarmed Margaret, and the hound led her into the forest to his murdered body. Returned all the gifts he had given her to his family and left. Her family refused her so she went to the Franciscan friars at Cortona, where her son eventually became a friar. She fbecame a penitent known for extreme fasting, joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and chose to live in poverty. Established a hospital in Cortona for the sick, homeless and impoverished. To secure nurses for the hospital, she instituted a congregation of Tertiary Sisters, known as "le poverelle" (Italian for "the little poor ones”). She also established an order devoted to Our Lady of Mercy and the members bound themselves to support the hospital and to help the needy. On several occasions, Margaret participated in public affairs. Twice, claiming divine command, she challenged the Bishop of Arezzo, Guglielmo Ubertini Pazzi, in whose diocese Cortona lay, because he lived and warred like a prince. She moved to the ruined church of Basil of Caesarea, now Santa Margherita, and spent her remaining years there; she died on 22 February 1297. Frequently depicted as a “new” Magdalene.
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!
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 exciting modern city, as well as Leonardo's birthplace in Tuscany.
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.
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!
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!
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 perfect person to talk about this play, as well as commedia dell’arte more broadly. He’s graciously agreed to an interview. Hope you enjoy it!