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Literary Italy

Anne Schuchman and James Berrettini

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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.
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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 Ros…
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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 o…
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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 Diocesa…
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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, e…
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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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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 …
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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 amaz…
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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 …
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Our guest today, Mike Aquilina, has been a friend of ours for years. A prolific writer and authority on Patristics (the writings of the Church Fathers). He’s also a lyricist with rock and roll icon Dion. Mike is the host of the Way of the Fathers podcast, and when we heard his episode on Marcus Minucius Felix and his dialogue Octavius, set in Ostia…
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In this episode, we talk about the importance of the Sicilian School, and read from the sonnets of Giacomo (Jacopo) da Lentini (alas, only in Tuscan and English -- the original Sicilian is lost to us). We also touch on the life of Frederick II of Sicily. Enjoy!By Anne Schuchman and James Berrettini
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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 World War I, and wr…
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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. Pl…
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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 t…
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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 oc…
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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." …
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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)By Anne Schuchman and James Berrettini
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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! Bu…
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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 th…
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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.By Anne Schuchman and James Berrettini
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Cari Ascoltatori! We’re taking a week of for a much needed vacation; we’ll be back with a story from the Bel Paese next week. Thank all of you for listening, and for sharing ideas for upcoming shows! Here’s how to reach us: Email: mail@literaryitaly.com Facebook: LiteraryItaly Twitter: @LiteraryItaly, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/literaryit…
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With a song in our hearts, the wind sweeping through the window, and our hands and faces inexplicably painted blue, this week Anne and Jim swing along with Domenico Modugno's international hit record, "Nel blu dipinto di blu" (also known as "Volare!"). Often covered (see this Spotify playlist or this Apple Music playlist), it was winner of the inau…
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This week, we take a hike...on the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route that runs from Canterbury, England to Rome, passing through some marvelous scenery along the way. Anne walked part of it in 2019, and Jim is planning a walk this autumn, so we chat about what a pilgrimage walk is, how to prepare, and what to see (and eat!) along the way!…
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This week we tackle the great Italian poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi and the region of Le Marche, his birthplace and source of both inspiration as well as despair. In one of his most famous poems, "L'Infinito" ("The Infinite"), Leopardi describes the view of the immense sky from his childhood home, partially blocked by a hedge and a hill. Pe…
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Mystic, Leader, Writer, Saint, just a general Badass, Catherine of Siena set her fourteenth-century world on fire. In this episode we head back to Tuscany to talk about Catherine, her life, her letters, and her hometown city of Siena. Plus, Chianti! In this episode we speak about this letter of Catherine of Siena to Pope Gregory XI: http://web.mit.…
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