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Literary Italy

Arts & Culture Podcasts

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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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.




Ep. 62: Purgatorio, Canto I



Ep. 61: Dante's Vita Nuova / Florence

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 ProjectFrisardi's translation of Vita Nuova (online)Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation on Librivox (online audiobook)Mark Musa's translation in paperbackCervigni and Vasta's translation in paperback


Ep. 60: Italo Calvino's "Italian Folktales"

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.


Ep. 59: Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan Sun” / Cortona

Liam Neeson or Leslie Nielsen? You decide. Things to know about Cortona: Under the Tuscan SunWhat to see in Cortona


Ep. 58: Veronica Gàmbara / Brescia

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


Ep. 57: Cesare Beccaria / Milan

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!


Ep. 56: Leonardo notebooks - Milan and Florence

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.


Ep. 55: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Palermo, Sicily

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


Ep. 54: Vincent Schiavelli's "Many Beautiful Things" / Polizzi Generosa, Sicily

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.


Ep. 53: Dino Buzzati / The Dolomites

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!


Ep.52: Anthony Doerr - Four Seasons in Rome



Ep. 51: Elena Ferrante - The Lost Daughter

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!


Ep. 50: Tozzi and Siena, Tuscany

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


Ep. 49: Abandon all hope, ye who listen to this podcast

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


Ep. 48: Daphne Phelps' "A House In Sicily"

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.


Ep. 47: Michelangelo

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


Ep. 46: Interview with Wendy Holloway of Flavor of Italy

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!


Ep. 45: E. M. Forster's A Room with a View

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.


Ep.44: Goldoni's Servant of Two Masters

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!


Ep. 43: Dacia Maraini / Bagheria, Sicily

We're back with an episode on Dacia Maraini, one of the most fascinating and prolific Italian writers today. We talk about her memoir, Bagheria, named for the town of the same name just outside Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily.