What makes Italian passion so undeniably unique? Dianne Hales unspools the answer to this question with gusto in La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World, her ambitious follow-up to La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language. Whether they built aqueducts, chiseled arches, conducted choirs, directed movies, raced cars, or designed fashion and furniture, Italians have done so with a full-hearted zest that transforms everything they touched. What didn’t exist, they invented: the first universities, public libraries, and law and medical schools; the first modern histories, satires, and sonnets; the battery, barometer, radio, and thermometer—even the gift of music. Dante and Petrarch, titans of the Italian language, translated their fervid love for idealized muses into literary landmarks. Michelangelo carved a Bacchus so sinuously delectable that a Florentine sniped, “Buonarotti could not have sinned more with a chisel.” Puccini swept listeners, in a biographer’s words, “into that place where erotic passion, sensuality, tenderness, pathos, and despair meet and fuse.” La Passione traces this earthly, earthy drive back to its roots, follows its course through the centuries, and chronicles its impact on the realms of literature, art, music, cuisine, and style, as its people came to embrace, fully and deeply, a passion for life itself.
Combining her adroit journalist’s eye with extensive research, Hales delves into passions of the heart, senses, and soul across the ages in this perfect read for the casual Italophile, inquisitive tourist, or history buff in your life.