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La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language


La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language Cover

ISBN13: 9780767927703
ISBN10: 0767927702
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Italians say that someone who acquires a new language ‘possesses it. In my case, Italian possesses me. With Italian racing like blood through my veins, I do indeed see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and drink in the world with all my senses…”

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 womans 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 Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the worlds most loved and lovable language” together with explorations of Italys 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 Italys storia and its very soul. She offers charming insights into what 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 Dantes incandescent cantos, and in Boccaccios 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 Italys 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.

Book News Annotation:

Anyone who loves Italy and has a smattering of Italian will delight in this volume by Hales (a freelance journalist). Clearly in love with all things Italian, Hales writes easily and with verve about its unique spoken expressions, body language, poetry and literature, customs and cultures, peppering her text with stories and examples taken from the many years she's spent in Italy. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


"Quotations from the Web edition of Dante's Divine Comedy from"--T.p. verso.

About the Author

Dianne Hales is a widely published journalist and health writer. She lives with her family in Marin County, California. You can find out more about Dianne at her Web site ( or and on Facebook.

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peter in port, October 12, 2010 (view all comments by peter in port)
Not another book by an American woman living in Italy! I thought when I saw this one on the shelves. What possibly could there be to say that would be the least bit interesting? But this is not a book about some yuppie buying an old villa in Tuscany, or Verona, or where have you. Instead this is about the Italian language, and setting up "home" in Italy by learning what it is that defines Italy, its language. Italian, we learn, is a relatively young invention, and its creators are delightfully described in this book. As someone who has listened to the learn Italian tapes in preparation for a vacation, I identify with Dianne Hales' longing to become fully versed in Italian, a language that is musical. It is also a language that provides an identity and a nation to a group of very different provinces. I loved this book, and cherished reading it, going back and rereading some of the chapters. A gem for Italophiles and lovers of languages.
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Product Details

Hales, Dianne
Broadway Books
Europe - Italy
Essays & Travelogues
Travel, Italy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.15 x 0.7 in 0.53 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
Travel » Europe » General
Travel » Europe » Italy
Travel » Travel Writing » General
Travel » Travel Writing » Italy

La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language Used Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Broadway Books - English 9780767927703 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Quotations from the Web edition of Dante's Divine Comedy from"--T.p. verso.
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