A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman’s personal quest to speak fluent Italian.
For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Linguaa, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language” together with explorations of Italy’s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle and food in a true opera amorosa—a labor of her love of Italy.
Throughout her first excursion in Italy—with “non parlo Italiano” as her only Italian phrase—Dianne delighted in the beauty of what she saw but craved comprehension of what she heard. And so she chose to inhabit the language. Over more than twenty-five years she has studied Italian in every way possible through Berlitz, books, CDs, podcasts, private tutorials and conversation groups, and, most importantly, large blocks of time in Italy. In the process she found that Italian became not just a passion and a pleasure, but a passport into Italy’s storia and its very soul. She offers charming insights into what it is that makes Italian the most emotionally expressive of languages, from how the “pronto” (“Ready!”) Italians say when they answer the telephone conveys a sense of something coming alive, to how even ordinary things such as a towel (asciugamano) or handkerchief (fazzoletto) sound better in Italian.
She invites readers to join her as she traces the evolution of Italian in the zesty graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, in Dante’s incandescent cantos and in Boccaccio’s bawdy Decameron. She portrays how social graces remain woven into the fabric of Italian: even the chipper “ciao,” which does double duty as “hi” and “bye,” reflects centuries of bella figura. And she exalts the glories of Italy’s food and its rich and often uproarious gastronomic language: Italians deftly describe someone uptight as a baccala (dried cod), a busybody who noses into everything as a prezzemolo (parsley), a worthless or banal movie as a polpettone (large meatball).
Like Dianne, readers of La Bella Lingua will find themselves innamorata, enchanted, by Italian, fascinated by its saga, tantalized by its adventures, addicted to its sound, and ever eager to spend more time in its company.Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Dianne Hales
Dianne Hales: As a journalist, I know a great story when I see one—and the story of how Italian became the world’s most enchanting language has everything: adventure, drama, passion, beautiful women, gallant heroes, unscrupulous scoundrels—not to mention glorious music and fabulous food.
Question: Whom did you write this book for?
Dianne Hales: People who enjoy Italian food, music, art, film, travel and traditions. If you love Italy, you’ll love learning about its language. If you come from an Italian family, you’ll discover more about your heritage. If you’re studying Italian, you’ll find a new perspective that takes you beyond vocabulary and grammar. If you’re traveling to Italy, you’ll appreciate more about the people you meet and the places you visit. And if you’re an armchair adventurer—well, buckle your seat belt!
Question: Why and when did you start studying Italian?
Dianne Hales: I decided to study Italian more than twenty years ago so I could communicate with the friendly people we met on our travels in Italy. My goal was just to understand and be understood. However, the more Italian I learned, the more I wanted to know about Italian—where it came from, how it evolved, why it’s so musical and vibrant. I had so much fun in Italian classes and conversation groups that I didn’t want to stop my Italian education—and I never have.
Question: How did you do go about researching La Bella Lingua?
Dianne Hales: I used all the skills I honed in decades as a journalist and textbook author. I took classes in Italian language, history and culture both in the U.S. and in Italy. I worked very closely with a wonderful Italian tutor in San Francisco. In Italy I went to the great citadels of Italian, such as L’Accademia della Crusca and the Società Dante Alighieri, to interview leading linguists and scholars. But my greatest resources turned out to be the Italian people, who have deep pride in their mother tongue and infinite patience with those who try to master it.(Photo © Robert Hales) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to travel to Bella Italia.
Fascinating and delightful exploration of aspects of the Italian language by an author who clearly loves her subject and writes beautifully.
Reading Dianne Hales will convince you that your efforts in learning Italian, even if only a few words and phrases, will be well-rewarded.
I read this in a few days while I was actually on vacation in Italy. I learned so much about the Italian culture and I'm Italian. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Angela Roberts of Spinach Tiger
What a great read; a wonderful insight into the Italian language! Totally enjoyable, a joy to read and it took me back to my recent experiences with my love of Italy, its people... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Peter Piazza
So good I needed to have my own copy so I could read it again!Published 15 days ago by Joan Kadison
Bookmarked more things in this book than anything I've read recently.Published 15 days ago by Karen Scott
I started with high hopes but after a while found it to be tedious and somewhat too peppered with the author's name dropping of various worthies she has spoken to, interviewed,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brio Boy
A pretty overview of what this particular American woman finds appealing about Italian culture. Some fun and useful parts.Published 1 month ago by Don S
Great fun! As a student of Italian and as someone who lived in Italy for several years, I still learned new things. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Autumn Kohl