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In Watching Vesuvius, Cocco paints a rich and detailed portrait of Vesuvius and those living in its shadow. He returns the historic volcano to its place in a broader European culture of science, travel, and appreciation of the natural world.
“Searching into every corner of Italian life and scrutinizing every cliché concerning it, from the charm of the people (an illusion, he maintains) to the consolations of la dolce vita (another one), Mr. Barzini has written an invaluable and astringent guidebook to his country.”—New Yorker. Although nearly fifty years old, this book is still the best introduction to the people of Italy.
Renowned for her sharp literary style, essayist and fiction writer Mary McCarthy offers a unique history of Florence, from its inception to the dominant role it came to play in the world of art, architecture, and Italian culture, that captures the brilliant Florentine spirit and revisits the legendary figures—Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and others—who exemplify it so iconically. Her most cherished sights and experiences color this timeless, graceful portrait of a city that's as famous as it is alluring. (From the Publisher).
In his monumental Divine Comedy, Dante defined Italian literature, and seven centuries later, it remains intriguing on multiple levels—as poetry, as theology, as a spell-binding story. There are many excellent translations. This recent, highly regarded translation is readily available in print and for the Kindle.
Another classic from a fourteenth-century author, but more easily accessible and engaging than Dante. The book consists of one hundred tales told by ten young men and women over one hundred nights during the plague in Italy. Occasionally bawdy, and always entertaining. Again, there are many translations. This fine Penguin edition is easily obtainable and frequently the translation of choice for Italian literature classes at Penn.
Set in a poor section of occupied Rome during World War II, the film tells the story of a partisan priest and a Communist who aid the resistance. It greatly influenced the film noir movement in American cinema in the late 1940s.
Watch the trailer below.
Film: Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday(1953) – directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck
Hepburn won the Academy Award for best actress in this classic film, which was selected in 1999 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Watch the trailer below.
Film: La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita(1961) – directed by Federico Fellini and starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and Anouk Aimée
A film that defined an era. The story of a journalist’s week in Rome and his search for love and happiness. Winner of the 1960 Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festial.