It's dark at 4.30 p.m., I have an insatiable craving for candy canes, and visions of sugarplums are dancing in my head. All of this can mean just one thing--the holidays are quickly approaching.
How are you doing on that list? Are you a bit behind? Stuck on what to get your favorite Italian? I just may be able to help you out. If a Vespa is in your budget, by all means, go for it. But for my loyal readers (one week today!), I've set up my own Amazon.com store with Italian gift suggestions. Books, movies, and music for now, and more items will be added periodically. Buying directly from my site earns me a small referral fee (as does buying a gift certificate from the above link), so please have a look.
Today's feature pick is a book that a dear Italian amica gave me before I left for Italy three years ago: "Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World" by Peter D'Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. The word "sprezzatura" is defined by the authors as "the art of effortless mastery," and as something that no one has demonstrated quite like the Italians.
The volume is comprised of fifty fact-filled and entertaining essays that celebrate Italian contributions to the world. Subjects include well-known Italians such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli, Columbus, and Palladio, and also some lesser-known Italian feats including the establishment of the world's first university in Bologna, the first medical school in Salerno, and the inventions of both the piano and violin. Catherine de'Medici, the godmother of French cuisine, and Cesare Beccaria, the founder of modern penology, are also featured.
Other essay topics include Ovid, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, Petrarch, Monteverdi, Bernini, Garabaldi, Marconi, and, of course, the Ferrari and Italian fashion.
There's a little bit of something for all interests within these 50 essays, and it's especially convenient because you can read one at a time and let the information resonate or skip around to where your interests lead you. "Sprezzatura" is also an excellent resource book--it can decide many "who was the first to" arguments in your house for years to come. The gift that keeps on giving, if you will.
Please take a tour around my store and let me know what you think. Suggestions are welcome, especially if you have a favorite Italian-themed item you'd like to see there. I've written some reviews, and more will be added as time permits; in the meantime, if you have specific questions about something I've listed, please feel free to email me at the address in my Blogger profile.