I was going to come up with my own snappy title for this post, but Dianne Hales already has the best title! This is her new book, a joyful read you can dip into whenever you need an infusion of Italy in your life–which I need a lot of right now!
In fact, that’s how I often enjoyed this book: standing in the kitchen reading a couple chapters to my partner RJ while he chopped the vegetables or stirred the pasta. Each chapter focuses on a letter of the Italian alphabet and shares history, tells personal stories, explains the Italian language, or just celebrates the glorious aspects of Italian culture.
If you know anything about Dianne, you know that she is in love with the Italian language. Sprinkled liberally throughout the book are Italian idiomatic expressions to enliven her storytelling. For example, even though Italian, like English, refers to a broken heart in a similar way, the Italians have a specific verb just for this phenomenon: spezzare.
The book can be infuriating, too–but that’s not its fault. When I read “E Is for Espresso” I then desperately wanted an Italian cappuccino from Caffe Brasilia, my go-to cafe on Strada Nova in Venice. It might be a very long time until I can make that dream come true, but at least Dianne’s book allows me to dream. I was actually supposed to be arriving in Italy this Friday–until the pandemic turned our world upside down.
But Dianne’s book lifted me up with its love of fun. The chapter for the letter H is titled “Hooray for the Italian ‘H!'” She even retells a children’s tale about the letter H, Acca, who, taunted by the other letters, runs away until the others realize how important and necessary he is.
My only disappointment in the book was the letter V: Vino won over Venice. But what would Italy be without vino? And Venice has a long history of going it alone, so I guess that fits.
And besides loving fun, Dianne is generous. You can actually download “A” Is for Amore in pdf form for free! Then add a comment to this post to tell me which chapter was your favorite, or what part of Italian culture you’re jones in’ for right now.