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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.

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. 25: Pellegrino Artusi / Art of Eating Well

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!!!


Ep. 24: Pavese / Piedmont

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!


Ep. 23: Morante / Procida

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.


Ep. 22: Camilleri's "Inspector Montalbano" series / Sicily

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.


Ep. 21: Collodi's Adventures of Pinocchio / Tuscany

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.


Ep. 20: Machiavelli / Tuscany

Machiavelli: It's complicated. Today's readings: The PrinceThe Mandrake


Ep. 19: Grazia Deledda / Sardinia

You say, "Sardinia," but I say, "Sardegna" . . . Today, we read Grazia Deledda's Il Paese del Vento (Land of the Wind). Sadly, we haven't located an English translation, but Anne is working on that now! We also eye the island of Sardinia covetously and ask, "When can we get there?"


Ep. 18: Intervallo

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: Facebook: LiteraryItaly Twitter: @LiteraryItaly, Instagram: Let us know how things are going: should we do more old classics, more contemporary works, more poetry, more fiction, more...


Ep. 17: Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu / Puglia (Polignano a Mare)

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 inaugural Grammy for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Listen as we tell this song's strange story, relate our memories of Modugno's...


Ep. 16: Via Francigena / Tuscany and Lazio

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!


Ep. 15: Giacomo Leopardi/Le Marche

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. Perhaps precisely because of this limitation, the view is all the more dear to him because of what it leaves to the imagination. Leopardi did...


Ep. 14: St. Catherine of Siena

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:


Ep. 13: Thomas Mann / Venice

Today we laugh far too much about Death in Venice, a not-at-all-funny novella by our first non-Italian author, Thomas Mann. But seriously, is there something about illness and decadence that drives creativity?


Ep. 12: Traveling With (or Without?) Kids in Italy

Anne and Jim take another break from hitting the books, this week talking about traveling with kids in the Bel Paese.


Ep. 11: Natalia Ginzburg / Abruzzo

We're a little out of our comfort zone, reading Natalia Ginzburg's essay "Winter in the Abruzzi," in which she recalls, bittersweetly, her family's exile in the Abruzzo during the Fascist regime. Abruzzo is a region we've never seen (but high on our list of places to visit); it has served as a literary setting in other works (think Hemingway among American authors). You can read a translation of the essay here.


Ep. 10: Carlo Levi / Basilicata

This week we head south to Lucania, the region of Italy now known as Basilicata, as we discuss Carlo Levi's memoir, Christ Stopped at Eboli, shedding light on the poverty and isolation of the area. We talk about one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Matera, which has gone from being the "Disgrace of Italy" to Italy's "2019 Capital of Culture." Crowded cave dwellings are now fancy hotels and restaurants, and cultural and art museums abound. But after over 9,000 years,...


Ep. 9: Moravia / Rome

What is competition? This week’s short comic story by Alberto Moravia asks just that question as a pushcart vendor first falls for his competition, then is destroyed by her--or does he really destroy himself? We also talk about the neighborhood in which the story is set, the picturesque quarter of Trastevere, and the walking bridges that connect it to the historic center on the eastern side of the Tiber and the lovely Via Giulia. For more on Moravia, check out the museum dedicated to him in...


Ep. 8: I Vecchi Sposi (The Oldlywed Game)

Welcome to a little parlor game we call either "The Oldlywed Game," or "I Vecchi Sposi." Anne and Jim try to predict each other's responses to questions about Italy. We promised not to hit each other with large placards with our answers written on them, and by and large we succeeded. Apologies to Bob Eubanks.


Ep.7: Montale / Liguria and the Cinque Terre

Lemons and sunshine! What's not to love? Today we're talking about poet and Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale and his "happy place," the gorgeous coastline of Liguria, tucked up in the northwest corner of Italy, bordering the French Riviera. In one of his early poems, I Limoni (The Lemon Trees), Montale describes the lemon trees in Monterosso al Mare, a small town on the Ligurian Coast where he spent his childhood summers. These lemons offer a glimpse of what is real and what is true,...