Dianne Hales

Ferrari museums Cari amici,

In English the most eagerly awaited of seasons "springs" to life with blunt urgency. In Italian primavera blossoms into four elegant syllables. An Italian etymological dictionary traces the word back to Indo-European roots meaning "before" and "summer." And so la Primavera is simply the season "before summer." But what a season it is!

An Italian word-lovers' website waxes poetic on its glories, hailing la primavera as "l'inizio di splendore, per tutto, per tutti" (the beginning of splendor, for everything, for everyone). I cieli freddi spazzati dal vento (the cold, windblown skies) make room for un caldo sole (a hot sun). La terra (the land) awakens from its letargo (hibernation) and prepares to sollevare un manto smeraldino (push up a green mantle). People eagerly shed their heavy clothes to feel the sun on their skin—an epidermico piacere (epidermal pleasure).

Spring is also the season for planting seeds—a process I began with intense research trips to Venice, Verona, Milan, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna for my book on Italian passions. My thanks to the wonderful guides who introduced me to artists, artisans, designers, curators and makers of velvet, glass, wine, cheese, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and delicious local dishes: Cristina Gregnin of Slow Venice; Morena Ghilardi of A Guide 4 You in Milan, Paolo Ferrero of Buon Gusto Tours in Piedmont and Marcello and Raffaella Tori of Bluone in Bologna.

Among the many highlights: glass-blowing in Murano; fashion at Armani Silos; cheese-making in Parma; a traditional bagna càuda with wine-makers in Piedmont—and my husband's favorite, the Ferrari museums in Modena and Maranello (above).

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Soon I will return to Italy to explore more regions—and passions. I look forward to meeting some of you along the way.

Buona primavera!