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  • Where to Find Italian Culture on the Web
    Understanding Italy and Italians is just a click away
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    The main reason I started writing this column almost five years ago was because I wanted to help people better understand all things Italian - from the language to the culture. Others seem to have joined the mission. Although traveling to Italy is an extraordinary experience that everyone should get to have, you can still feel connected to the country from far, far away. Thanks to the Internet - and the creativity of Italians and Italophiles - we can all learn and appreciate about Italy and its culture from a distance. Here are some sites that I use to keep in touch with the motherland:

    Italian Notebook

    One of my favorite sites about Italy is really just a fancy homepage. At Italian Notebook, you can sign up to receive daily e-mails with photos and a brief story about something happening in Italy. I've been receiving the e-mails for the last few weeks, and they've become a favorite part of my day. Subjects have included La Befana or the Italian Christmas witch, the after-holiday sales in Italy, and the benefits and varieties of radicchio. It's like reading someone else's travel journal everyday. Those who know little about Italy will learn a lot in short snip-its, and those who already know about the culture will wax nostalgic on memories of past experiences.

    Dream of Italy

    Italy is the land of dreamers. That's part of its charm and a major factor in the country's popularity with tourists from all over the world. If you dream of Italy, you can head to the Dream of Italy site for scoop on travel discounts, where to eat and sleep in Italy, and what to see while you're there. You can sign up for the free e-newsletter, of which I'm a subscriber and wholeheartedly recommend, or you can get a paid subscription for more in-depth information delivered via snail mail. Even if you never make it to Italy, you can always imagine the trip in your mind -- and with Dream of Italy, you'll know just what you could be thinking about.

    Un Posto al Sole

    Among Italy's favorite soap operas, Un Posto al Sole is still going strong after more than 2,500 episodes and 10 years since its debut on RAI, Italian television. Fans of the show, which is based in Napoli, are obsessive and they have many outlets online for discussing, viewing, and enjoying their favorite program. The show itself has a fabulous Web site, where fans can read summaries of past and future episodes, bios of their favorite actors and the fictional characters they play on the show, and get news on what's going on behind the scenes. I'm constantly on this site spoiling the surprises for myself and reading ahead about the plot.

    After one of my favorite characters, Filippo, was recently killed off, I started wandering the Web for additional information and found 217 different links on YouTube for the key phrase Un Posto al Sole. Thanks to YouTube, you can relive your favorite moments from the show, even the very first episode, long after your favorite character departs. You can also find fun additional clips that never made it to the show, including a recording session where all of the actors get together to sing the “sigla” or theme song.

    RAI TV

    RAI is the government-run television station in Italy (there is RAI 1, RAI 2, RAI 3), and it creates its own shows, including Un Posto al Sole. Thanks to my interest in keeping up with Un Posto al Sole and my soon-to-be-husband Antonio, I discovered that RAI puts entire episodes of its TV shows on the Internet. If I miss an episode of Un Posto al Sole, I can just watch it on my own time online. In fact, just yesterday I watched a whole week's worth of shows. You can see numerous TV shows - from the drama Capri to the humorous and heart-warming Un Medico in Famiglia. To keep up with Italian headlines, you can do the same with RAI news.

    For more information on all things Italian, visit www.francescadimeglio.com. Di Meglio is also the About.com guide to Newlyweds, which has her writing a blog on the early days of marriage three times per week..

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