As the year whirls by, I have been immersed in research for my new book on la passione italiana. My most recent trip took me to Sicily for its spectacular Holy Week celebrations, including the marathon 24-hour procession of "mysteries" commemorating the passion of Christ in Trapani. I took time to explore the fascinating Greek ruins in Agrigento's Valley of the Temples and Selinunte. My thanks to my invaluable guides Lorenzo Capraro of Agrigento Experience and Claudio and Pina at La Mattina Travel.
Umbria offered passions of a different sort. In Perugia's Studio Moretti Caselli, a museum as well as a workshop, Maddalena Forenza follows the tradition of five generations of master glass painters. Across town in a restored church, Marta Cucchia of Giuditta Brozzetti weaves cloths of timeless beauty on a centuries-old loom. Maurizio Tittarelli Rubboli displays his family's acclaimed designs and forges modern ceramics in the Museo Opificio Rubboli in the postcard-pretty village of Gualdo Tadino. In her home "laboratorio" outside Perugia, Luisa Spagnoli, whose great-grandmother founded Perugina chocolate, creates sublime confections that elevate candy-making to a delectable art.
I extend appreciation and admiration to the other talented artisans I met, including ceramist Maria Antonietta Taticchi of Perugia's Materia Ceramica; cioccolataio Giordano Mangano of Augusta Perusia; the cloth-makers of TelaUmbra in Città del Castello; and jeweler Francesca Trubbianelli of Raku Ceramic Workshop. Many thanks to my wonderful guide Daniela Paci of AltraUmbria and to Fabio Spigarelli of Autonoleggio Spigarelli.
At Rome's La Sapienza university, archaeologist Clementina Panella showed me long-buried treasures—statues, vases, urns, even an imperial head—uncovered in thirty years of excavations on the Palatine Hill. "We have been digging in a very important area that had never been explored before," she says, "so we've come upon one discovery after another." Click here for my post on her research. You can support her quest to explore Rome's earliest days by contributing to LoveItaly's crowd-funding campaign.
Ancient Rome comes alive in a different way on the backlot of Cinecittà which I toured with the endlessly resourceful Barbara Lessona of Contessa Concierge, who specializes in making Rome feel like home for every client. Grazie di cuore to Andrea, Crescenzo and Simone D'Ambrosio of Pallenberg Bros. Travel, who always take the best possible care of our family.
One of the pleasures of my blog has been meeting, if only virtually, many people filled with passion for Italy and spotlighting their work. Click here to learn more about Rita Morgan Richardson, a Nashville teacher who is spearheading a campaign to restore the beautiful chapel of St. Philip Neri in Castiglion Fiorentino.
If you are Italian-American, Anthony Fasano of the Italian American Experience podcast offers step-by-step advice on connecting with relatives in Italy in a new book, Forty Days in Italy. Here is his guest post on my blog.
Whatever adventures await, I hope yours are happy and fulfilling—in Italy or wherever you may journey.