Dianne Hales

Cari amici,

"If you live long enough," a therapist friend of mine likes to say, "life brings you everything." Many feel the same way about 2017, a year that has brought floods in Houston and fires close to home in northern California, global upheavals and day-to-day dramas.

Some of the best times of my year were spent in Italy. On three trips devoted to research for my new book on la passione italiana, I traveled north to Turin and south to Sicily, from the westernmost tip of Tuscany to the islands of Venice's lagoon. I visited Rome for its history, Assisi for its saints, Piedmont for its wines, Milan for fashion, Emilia-Romagna for food and fast cars, the Amalfi coast and islands for their stunning beauty. Every destination led to a dozen detours, each one a revelation. I trekked through pagan temples, ancient ruins, medieval chapels, glass furnaces, silk mills, fashion showrooms, restaurants, workshops, studios, concert halls, street markets, wine cellars, olive groves, movie sets and museums of every ilk.

Along the way and in the places in between, I met many Italians passionate about their heritage, vocations and avocations. Each of their stories helped me to approfondire, the wonderful Italian word for deepening knowledge and appreciation. Although there are too many to mention here, my heartfelt thanks to all: guides, historians, archaeologists, classicists, designers, stylists, scholars, archivists, directors, chefs, vintners, weavers, potters, jewelers, agronomists, makers of cheese, balsamic vinegar, and the most delectable pastries and candies I have ever tasted. And a special thanks to our Neapolitan "family" in the photo below.

Dianne Hales

At this joyous time, I'd also like to extend some Italian greetings for the season to all:

Buone Feste—Happy Holidays

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo—Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I migliori auguri per il Santo Natale e per il 2018—Best wishes for Holy Christmas and for 2018.

I am grateful to all of you for your continuing support and friendship. And remember, you can give the gift of Italian to your friends and family this season, with the New York Times best-seller, La Bella Lingua, and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered.

Mona Lisa  Mona Lisa

Auguroni di Buon Natale! Great big wishes for a merry Christmas!