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    Our Paesani

    "Our Paesani" is a column written by Francesca Di Meglio. Its purpose is to help bridge the gap between Italians in Italy and Italians throughout the world.

    Advice for the Italians
    The last few weeks have been a major bummer for Italy and its people. The economy is going bust, along with those of other friends in the Euro Zone, and the rain is pouring down. Last weekend, the Naples v. Juventus soccer match was canceled for fear that flooding from the torrential downpour would trap thousands of fans or at least make the traffic impossible. This bad weather has been attacking the entire country for some time now. Since many people are homebound avoiding the storms, I thought they could use some suggestions on how to pass the time.

    Back to School in Italy
    Learn how education in the homeland is different than it is in the United States.

    Blogs about Italy
    This is the time of year when folks get off their computers and go out into the world. Today, I decided to switch things up and get back on my computer - but I still went into the world. More specifically, I headed to Italy via blogs about the country on the Internet. These are the places I visited.

    Columbus: Quite a Character!
    A crisp fall breeze is upon us and the kids are back in school, which means I, an Italian American reporter, have Columbus Day on the brain. It's like Christmas or the Super Bowl for Italian America. There are star-studded parades, events, and an entire month devoted to Italian American heritage all because of the mythic explorer Christopher Columbus, better known to Italians as Cristofero Colombo.

    Comparing and Contrasting the United States and Italy
    As an American of Italian descent, who married a native Italian, I'm well aware of the profound differences between the United States and Italy. Sometimes, they are so different that I can hardly believe Americans and Italians come from the same planet. Yet, they are both my people. Here's what I know about the most dramatic differences between the United States and Italy.

    Cultural Exchange Among Americans and Italians
    Living on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples in Italy for the summer, has its benefits. Besides getting to spend lots of time on the beach, which is pretty much just outside our door, I get to share my American culture with my Italian friends and family. I've been doing that for years on the pages of this column, but it's a lot more fun to do it live and in person. Here's how I have brought a bit of Americana to Ischia - and the reaction the Italians have had to my culture.

    The Culture of Scratching Your Back
    My husband "has a guy" for everything you could possibly need whenever we're in Italy. Need a gelato? "I have a guy whose friend owns a gelateria," he tells me. Need a plumber? "I have a guy who could fix your toilet with his hands tied behind his back." Need a key in Ischia, our home base in Italy? "One of my best friends from childhood owns a key shop." And the list goes on. Hubby isn't the only one on the island, who "has a guy." Pretty much everyone does.

    A Day at an Italian Beach
    Readers of this column know that I'm spending my summer in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples in Italy, that is the home of my ancestors and husband. The beach is less than five minutes by foot from where I live in Ischia. Being this close to the beach - and the tourists and natives who soak in the sun - makes for interesting observations. A day at an Italian beach - actually the whole Italian beach culture - is unlike any other I've experienced.

    Discover the Real Italians
    In his new book, Corriere della Sera columnist Beppe Severgnini takes readers on an amusing journey through Italy to undo the romantic notions some Americans have about the country and its people.

    Dream Wedding Dresses From Italy -- Almost!
    Spring is in the air, which means wedding season is just around the corner. No one does up a wedding - and especially bridal fashion - quite like the Italians. Getting your wedding dress straight from Italy might be a little hard if you're a foreigner - because of the budget-breaking travel costs and the inconvenience of transporting it and finding a tailor back home to make the dream dress hug your body in all the right places.

    Elisabetta Canalis - George Clooney's New Girlfriend
    Elisabetta Canalis gets lots of attention in Italy. It's usually for her beautiful face and unbelievable physique. Sometimes, it's for her comedy. Lately, it's more about her love interest - George Clooney, who is old enough to be her father but handsome enough to be her arm candy.

    5 Italian Sayings You Should Add to Your Daily Conversations
    Everything sounds better in Italian, but the language provides more than that. It is not just the sounds of the words; it is what is actually being said. Italian is a colorful language, and the people have a way of putting things that can get your point across and make a statement in a manner you don't get in another language.

    5 Solutions to Ugly American Syndrome in Italy
    People will tell you, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." But let me be the first to tell you that the Romans – and the rest of their paesani in the Boot – do not exhibit the most predictable behavior. You might think you're playing the part, but then you'll screw it up. Trust me. A few of my Italian American relatives have visited me in Italy over the years, and despite growing up in homes with full-blooded Italian natives, something or other always trips them up. Don't feel badly. It used to happen to me all the time, too. Here's what you need to know before you vacation or – dare I say it – move to Italy.

    5 Style Dos and Don'ts from Italy
    The crisp air flowing through my bedroom right now is a sign that fall is arriving. That means it's time to pull out the warmer gear - from sweaters to scarves. I've always had a hard time being stylish while piling on the layers for the colder season. But turning to my fashion-forward friends and relatives (especially my boyfriend) in Italy helps keep my cool even in the cold. I thought I'd let you in on some of my style secrets.

    5 Ways Italy is Like High School
    While the rest of the world is starting their summer vacation, I'm heading to Italy. When you live in a place, you are no longer on vacation. So, you start to notice things and get to know the people too well. That's when I realized by agreeing to join my native husband in Italy every summer, I've permanently committed myself to going to high school forever. Ugh!

    4 Ways Disney and Italy Intersect
    Trying to find information on Walt Disney's relationship with Italy isn't easy. Do a Google search of "Walt Disney and Italy," and you'll see. Mostly what turns up is a list of vacations in Italy that the Walt Disney Company offers tourists. But anyone who has carefully watched Disney films over the years or visited either Italy or Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park in Florida knows there's more to the relationship than that. Here are some ways Italy and Disney have connected.

    4 Ways to Make a Good Impression with Italians
    Anyone who has ever read this column knows that Italians are a bit obsessed with appearances. The concept of the bella figura is an important one in the culture. People are expected to look fabulous, follow social conventions, and put on a good show. The very concept of the piazza life - where everybody watches everyone else - depends on it. If you've been invited into an Italian's home, which is his or her personal piazza, then you could use a bit of advice on how to fit in. Here, four ways to make good with the paesani at the next dinner party.

    4 Web Sites That Connect You to Italy
    Anyone who reads this column regularly knows that my goal in writing "Our Paesani" is to help Italians, who live outside of Italy, keep up with the homeland. The Internet has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with, not only your friends and family abroad, but also the news coming out of Italy. Some sites help you more than others. Here are a few sites that will bring Italy to you with a click of the mouse.

    Fresh Ideas for Wedding Flowers
    June is wedding season - even in Italy. As you might imagine, most Italian weddings are full of romance. The extraordinary use of flowers only enhances this ambiance. Whether you are getting wed in Italy or not, you can get inspired by the bridal bouquets, centerpieces and church flowers that have a starring role in most Italian ceremonies and receptions. Here are some ideas.

    Giving Thanks for the Hit TV Show La Squadra
    Every Monday night on RAI International, viewers can tune into La Squadra, a popular police drama that takes place in Napoli but tackles global issues -- from international prostitution rings to corruption in professional sports. As foreigners hooked on an Italian TV series, we are doubly blessed with entertainment and a window on Italian popular culture. What does the success of La Squadra tell us about contemporary Italy?

    Gomorrah Season 2 Returns to America
    While Italians have already seen all of season 1 and season 2, Americans are only two episodes into the second season. (You can read recaps of the episodes at the Italian Mamma website.) Even though this is one of the most difficult shows to watch because of the graphic, heinous violence, I recommend it as must-see TV for anyone who has an interest in Italy. Discover why you should tune in.

    Grande Fratello Symbolic of Italy's Problem
    Big Brother, known in Italy as Grande Fratello, is what is wrong with the world. And I'm not talking about "the man" spying on your phone conversations and controlling your thoughts. I'm talking about the reality television show.

    How Italians Use Facebook
    Even though Italians came to the social media party a little later than most Americans, they are now all in. Facebook and Instagram tend to be the platforms of choice. Most of the Italians I know are aware of Twitter, but leave that arena to professionals in media, those trying to publicize stuff (especially to Americans), and celebrities. At least, for now, that has been the consensus among my friends and family in Italy.

    How Italy's Young People Celebrate Summer
    As an American, the last time I had a carefree summer vacation with nothing more to do than watch TV, read books (probably more likely magazines back then), go shopping, or sit on the beach was when I was 15. It was the last time I had no summer job or internship. Often, I am nostalgic for those days, which were filled with ice pops, dips in the pool, and movie nights with friends that often ended with us waxing philosophical under the stars on someone's terrace. And it makes me jealous of my Italian friends and family, who indulged in the lazy days of summer for far longer than I ever did.

    How To Be As Beautiful As an Italian
    From the moment one steps onto Italian turf, she is surrounded by beautiful people -- or average people who were told by their mammas that they were beautiful all their lives and now believe it. That's why, despite living in a country the size of Texas, Italians send 100 girls to compete in the final round of Miss Italia every September.

    Inside an Italian Teen's Closet
    Since teenagers make it their job to tell their parents (not to mention us aunts and uncles) when they're wearing something outdated and embarrassing (at least to them), they tend to be the ones setting the trends in their neighborhoods. Despite the fact that Italians are among the world's greatest fashion designers, many of the young Italians I know, who live in southern Italy and specifically on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples, are heavily influenced by all things American.

    Interesting Italy Blogs That I Follow
    Spring is the season when Italy comes out of hibernation and people from all over the world start dreaming of the Tuscan sun, Neapolitan pizza, Amalfi coast, or fill-in-region and its beauty. It's when my family's Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, starts welcoming tourists again. And it's the time of year when I usually head off to Italy myself. This year, I'm waiting until the summer, but the place is still on my mind. While I'm back in the States, I keep up with Italy through some interesting blogs that are written in English. Here's where you might find me online when I'm lost in thoughts of Italy.

    Italian Inspiration for Your Home
    I can't help but dream of a house all my own, where I can try to make the impossible possible. I want a canvas that I can turn into a home, where I'm the boss. I'll entertain my way - with the menu I choose -- and keep the espresso cups and silverware where I think they belong. Art - from children's drawings to family photos - will cover my walls in a chic and sensible way. When something is deemed ready for the trash, it will go there for I will not pick up my parents' pack-rat ways.

    Italian Laundry and How It Divides Us
    Doing laundry is an art for southern Italian women. Seriously, some of them stay home on Saturday nights to iron. And they have the whole process down to a science. It all begins with the hamper. These are usually fine vessels made of wood – and often even colorful. Mine is a lovely royal blue with a fabric lining sporting flowers. There are no plastic hampers in these here parts – only the best for your dirty clothes. Of course!

    An Italian Lesson for Kids
    One of my goals in life is to help teach people about Italian culture and life. As an Italian American, I do that through my friendships, my family life, and my work (such as this column). Usually, I find myself explaining all things Italian to adults. But it is children, with their fresh, open minds, who benefit most from learning about different cultures and languages. They soak it all in - and without the skepticism of an adult.

    Italian Songs for Kids
    To know yourself is to know your family's history. There's no denying Italy played a huge role in our past. One of the easiest ways to help him connect with Italy and his Italian relatives at this age is through song. It is also one of the best ways to introduce the Italian language to children. (The other, by the way, is to constantly speak to them in Italian, or at least that's what my doctor and others have told me.)

    Italian Tunes on You Tube Provide Inspiration
    Music is a writer's best friend. Sometimes in silence, you can't get a word on the page. Sometimes, it's the noise that inspires you. But it has to be the right kind of noise. Lately, my favorite medicine for writer's block is to turn to You Tube and listen and watch my favorite videos. That often means seeking some of my favorite Italian tunes. Here are a few that top my list and might top yours.

    Italian Weddings on YouTube
    As many of you know, I'm preparing to marry my love Antonio, an Italian, in Ischia, an island off the coast of Napoli, in the fall. I just booked my ticket to visit Italy for a month in June, so I can actually plan the event and get married in a civil service (a requirement to marry legally in church in Italy). Even though I have been a bridesmaid or flower girl in about 13 Italian American weddings, I have never been to a wedding in Italy. For kicks today, I headed to YouTube to see what some weddings in Italy look like. Here's what I discovered.

    Italian Women You'll Love
    More than 29,500,500 women live in Italy, and they account for more than 51 percent of the country's population. Women account for 36 percent of the adult economic activity rate in Italy. Italian fertility rate is among the world's lowest. Now that you know about the average Italian woman, you should also know that most Italian women are anything but average. In honor of International Women's Day (celebrated on March 8), here are great examples of the bodacious babes Italy keeps producing

    Italians Get a Second Life
    You don't have to go to Italy to go to Italy anymore. Thanks to the virtual world known as Second Life, anyone with an Internet connection can visit the motherland, practice the language, or meet other Italians and Italophiles. Nearly 500,000 Second Life residents logged in during a given week in November 2007. Although most are American, those in other countries are starting to catch on, too. Italy is beginning to pay attention to this three-dimensional virtual world that has its own economy, stock market, and leaders.

    Italians: Pioneers, Yesterday and Today
    Many Italians - from Galileo to Columbus - were pioneers, unafraid of the unknown, with open minds. We directly benefited from their courage and creativity. We had the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, gravity and the Americas, Armani and the Ferrari. Although today's Italian pioneers are not challenged by pope's driven by power or plagues that take out entire peoples, there are nay sayers and doubters - and still they march on.

    Italy Gets Dance Fever
    Dance fever is sweeping the world - and Italy was among the first to catch the bug. Last year, RAI television introduced "Ballando con le Stelle", the Italian version of "Dancing with the Stars" that is the highlight of every Saturday night, which is now in its second season. Just what makes watching our favorite celebrities doing the cha-cha so exciting?

    Italy 101 with Professor Tony Soprano
    I have a confession to make, and it's a big one. You might want to sit down. My name is Francesca Di Meglio. I'm an Italian American reporter from northern New Jersey, and I'm a big, huge, super fan of HBO's The Sopranos. That's not all. I also happen to think that, in his own way, Sopranos creator David Chase has a similar mission to my own: to bring Americans - especially those with an Italian heritage - in touch with Italy, not just my beautifully gritty and wonderfully zany New Jersey.

    Italy-Inspired Tattoos
    Wearing your heart on your sleeve is a very Italian thing to do. Our people are known for being passionate about everything from their lovers to their country. They also happen to be known for being loud, sometimes about their passions, sometimes about other things. Seldom are they subtle. Some people are literally putting their heart on their bare arms with Italy-inspired tattoos and body art that convey their love of country and all things Italian. How's that for subtlety?

    Italy Tries to Redefine Beauty
    Government officials and fashion industry insiders address obesity and anorexia by changing their ways and rules.

    Love Lessons from a Popular Italian Soap Opera
    Un Posto al Sole has been a hit since it bowed in 1996. Like many of its American counterparts, the show is a microcosm of an exaggerated world where everyone you live near is your friend, enemy, lover or more than one of those things. But keen observers of the show can - and do - learn about love, sex and relationships. Here's what I have noticed since becoming addicted to Un Posto al Sole.

    Male Bonding Italian Style
    Men in southern Italy spend a lot of time together. People, in general, make more time for friends and family, thanks to the siesta and more vacation time than Americans can imagine. But Italian women in the south, even those who work full-time outside the home, take on the burden of child rearing, cooking, and cleaning. Honestly, even their vacations seem like work to me. Without so many chores, the men – even the married ones – have plenty of time for their boys.

    Masha e Orso Wins the Heart of Italy's Children
    The Russian television series Masha e Orso (Masha and the Bear) has reached Italy and taken off in the last year. Kids are obsessed with this show and can't seem to get enough of Masha, a precocious, happy, kind, and mischievous little girl and the bear, which is a grandfatherly retired circus performer that tries to keep Masha out of trouble.

    Never Been Home
    People fall in love with Italy without ever even visiting. Just ask Janine Therese Mancuso, an Italian American who is yet to visit the Motherland but who writes about its people and its history with deep admiration and even longing in the self-published novel Con Amore (2006). Living in North Carolina and raised in Long Island, she has never traveled to Italy herself, but her father came to the United States when he was 8 from Trapani in Sicily and her mother's father came from the Naples area. Mancuso's novel, though set in Long Island, features characters that are Italian chefs (from Italy) and their recipes. Readers, as a result, get the chance to see the perception a hyphenated Italian has of Italy's culture, history, food, and most of all people.

    Nonno Libero Paves the Way for Italian Role Models
    For me, it was love at first sight. During the new year holiday '98-'99, I went to Italy with my family - and first began watching the Italian dramedy Un Medico in Famiglia. The TV show about Nonno Libero (played by the beloved Lino Banfi) and his doctor son's family was a genuine hit driven by the love story between the doctor and his live-in nanny. When Italians in other parts of the world gripe about the media's portrayal of Italians in film and television, they never seem to have an answer about what kind of show should be aired instead. Now, they do.

    A Novel Approach to Two Sicilies
    Anthony Di Renzo, who teaches writing and Italian American history at Ithaca College, has taken on a new project that intends to illustrate the destruction of the two Sicilies during Italy's Revolution. While this topic has been covered by others before, this novel, Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily, has great ambition. Its author Di Renzo intends to use it to get readers to think about whether unification in Italy improved matters or made them worse for southern Italy. This is a question as old as time and one that Italians in Italy constantly debate.

    Opera Finds New Digs as Italian Interest Wavers
    Just before Christmas this year, the famed opera singer Renata Tebaldi, once said to have the "voice of an angel" by maestro Arturo Toscanini, passed away after a period of illness at age 82. "Farewell, Renata, your memory and your voice will be etched on my heart forever," tenor Luciano Pavarotti reportedly said when he heard the news. But that's not all Pavarotti and Italy are bidding adieu to. The loss of Tebaldi is another sign that opera is withering in its homeland despite its popularity soaring to new heights in countries like the United States.

    Passion for Naples' Music
    The music of Naples, Italy is the music of my childhood. Although my Italian father embraced MTV and the likes of Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi, he also revered the art he first knew in the homeland. And my mother, an Italian American, kept Italy close to her, as well. In fact, the first gift my father gave my mother when they were dating was an album by Massimo Ranieri, on which he sang the songs "Rose Rosse" and "O Surdato 'Nnamurato," a classic Neapolitan song about a man who worships his first love so much that she becomes his last and only love. These songs of Naples rise above the hardship and difficulty of its people. These songs of Naples uplift a nation, even when it's ailing. These songs of Naples most recently called to actor John Turturro, who honored them in an exciting documentary, Passione.

    Posers Versus Real Italians
    Nowadays, there's lots of talk about Italians, especially in the United States, where every reality show seems to put the spotlight on our paesani. Unfortunately, these TV shows (think Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Real Housewives of New Jersey) have little reality to them. Some of the real people portrayed as Italians are not Italian at all or are so many generations removed from the home country that they don't even know what being Italian means. Oh, and obviously from the show titles, you might have already realized that the creators are confusing New Jersey for Italy. To clear things up for folks who might be unsure of their true identity, I've created the checklist below. Use it to determine if you're a real Italian or just a poser.

    RAI International Makes a Big Boo-Boo
    RAI International provides a great service for Italians living abroad by keeping them connected to their language and culture through television broadcasting that is accessible in many parts of the world. But the channel, which already had its share of problems, has recently riled up fans by changing the time slot of the beloved soap opera Un Posto al Sole - without warning or explanation.

    Reality Television Conquers - and Fascinates - Italy
    Practically all of Italy tuned in last spring to see Grande Fratello, the Italian version of Big Brother. The cast of virtual nobodies rocketed to stardom and now make guest appearances, do photo shoots and put out albums. Right now Italians are hooked on Isola dei Famosi 2, which is Survivor for famous people such as soccer legend Toto' Schillaci and rapper D.J. Francesco. The cat fights between some of the women celebrities, which have been re-played on La Vita in Diretta on RAI International, are reason enough to watch. I am certain of one thing only. This reality does not bite - and it's creeping into Italian society.

    Sanremo Festival: Music to Your Ears
    The 55th annual Sanremo Music Festival ended yesterday by breaking ratings records with a 55.8 percent share or 13,606,000 viewers. The day after the festival is always bittersweet - on the one hand, Italians are experiencing the afterglow of discovering new music and, on the other, they are preparing for the inevitable playing out of these songs on radio and TV.

    Shopping with the Italians
    Get a strategy - and a few laughs - for introducing your Italian guests to America's consumer culture.

    The Southern Italian Schedule
    As most of you know, I spend significant amounts of time in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, Italy. One thing about the culture, which is typical of southern Italy, that still shocks me is the schedule that everyone keeps. It's a much more laid-back lifestyle than that of Americans - and most other industrialized nations.

    Spend "A Day In Tuscany" Without Moving an Inch
    Summer is just around the corner, which means I'm starting to work on my latest reading list. The first book I decided to finish off was A Day In Tuscany by Dario Castagno, who wrote Too Much Tuscan Sun about the mostly American, always wacky tourists he showed around Tuscany over the years. In his second book, A Day In Tuscany, Castagno returns to Tuscany after his three-month book tour in the United States to share the stories and memories of the Tuscans themselves. He goes about his first day back at home and allows his friends to drift off into stories of the past and sometimes he drifts himself.

    Spring Cleaning Italian Style
    I'm not kidding when I say southern Italian women – and some men nowadays – could win Olympic medals in cleaning if there was such a thing. I'm fairly certain I could eat off the floors of the homes of my relatives in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples in Italy, without any worry. In fact, their floors are probably cleaner than my American table most of the time. As a result, they serve as pretty great role models when it comes time for spring cleaning. Their usual cleaning routine is the equivalent of an American spring cleaning job. So, just what do most southern Italians regularly do to pamper their home?

    Starbucks Is Heading to Italy
    Coffee – specifically espresso – is more than a pick-me-up for Italians. It's a way of life. It's right up there in significance with wine, pasta, mamma, and the Pope. Oh yeah, it's that important. I don't want to be a party pooper, but Starbucks has an uphill battle ahead of it. Italians are all about authenticity and creativity in food, especially the stuff it's known for, such as espresso.

    A Tale of Two Languages
    Journalists like me are supposed to remain objective. Sometimes, this is difficult to do because journalists are usually also humans with opinions, experiences, and perceptions that shape - and sometimes cloud - their assessment of subjects and stories they cover. Last week, I met an author, Christina Di Noia (Di Sanzo), whose book and CD I was scheduled to review for this column today. I was so impressed with her that it would be unfair for me to actually review her work. That's why I have decided to unabashedly fawn over her book, The Moon Is the Muse, and the accompanying CD that puts her reading of the book to music. But you can't say that I didn't warn you that my objectivity went out the window when I met the kind and fascinating writer, whose book is written in English and Italian.

    10 Surprising Facts about Italian TV
    My husband and I are finally in Italy, and this time we brought along our six-month-old son. Between baby boy's inability to sleep through the night and his jet lag, I have had many a sleepless night here. What's a mamma to do while breastfeeding or rocking baby boy back to sleep? Well, watch Italian TV, of course. In doing so, I've gotten quite an education. Here, I share what I've learned. These are 10 facts about Italian TV you probably didn't know.

    Test Your Knowledge of Sanremo Music Festival Trivia
    Despite this new wave of musicians and revolutionary approach to Sanremo, the most memorable part of the festival this year was the return of "i vecchi leoni" - from singers Bobby Solo to Toto Cotugno. These old-timers performed their hits with the inexperienced competitors as though they were passing the torch. For me, the moving renditions of classics like Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu were reminders that Sanremo might evolve but the past is always present. Just how much do you know about the rich history of Italy's famous music festival? Test your knowledge here.

    3 Singers Who Help Us Find Our Roots
    As an Italian American, I was born longing for something, that piece of me that is buried in Italy with all the other remnants of my family's existence there.

    Three Favorite Italian Tunes for the Soundtrack of Summer 2004
    The soundtrack of summer stays in our heads long after the beaches are closed and the chill returns. My friend Antonio, a true music aficionado, has been introducing me to the hot Italian music scene, which most foreigners have overlooked - until now. I thought Antonio could be your teacher, too. Here are his top three choices for best Italian summer song of 2004.

    Three Cheers for Italian Linens
    Luxurious Italian sheets, towels, and tablecloths have lured the rich and famous - and maybe you, too. Get tips on how to buy Made in Italy linens for your home.

    The Ugly American Arrives on Italian Television
    For ages in the United States, activists have been protesting the portrayal of Italian Americans as either pretty-boy airheads like Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter or mafia bosses like Tony in The Sopranos. The argument is that these fictional characters endorse stereotypes and take for granted the contributions Italian Americans have made in society.

    Unrequited Love and Pure Evil: What Can a TV Drama Teach Us about Italian Culture?
    You can tell a lot about a culture from the television that turns on its people. Every Wednesday during the summer, RAI International is repeating the Italian drama Vento di Ponente, a soap opera that revolves around the Ghiglione and De Caro families as they vie for power in Genoa's rich and competitive shipyard business. Seen in Italy during the spring, this third season offers just the right amount of suspense and high drama. But the show is more than a delicious guilty pleasure; it also says something about Italian beliefs.

    Wake Up Italians and Italian Americans
    The most important part of my job as a columnist attempting to bridge the gap between Italians in Italy and Italians in the rest of the world is noticing the differences and similarities we share. Sadly, I recently noticed a similarity among some young Italians and some young Italian Americans that I wish I didn't see. A week ago as people were waiting for the Super Bowl, they could tune into MTV's controversial reality show, Jersey Shore about young Italian Americans sharing a house during the summer down the shore in New Jersey. The hedonistic, superficial, and stereotypical behavior of the cast of Jersey Shore unfortunately is similar to some of the behavior of a new generation of Italians in Italy, who are pursuing la dolce vita, living with mamma well into adulthood, and shunning responsibilities at all costs. Jersey Shore stars seem to have more in common with some Italians in Italy than most Italians and Italian Americans would like to admit.

    What It's Like to Wait in Line in Southern Italy
    To wait in line for anything in southern Italy is to be at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve trying to pick up the "it" toy of the season. It is Nonna's house when there is only one meatball left in the pot. Indeed, it is one of Dante's circles of hell.

    Where to Find Italian Culture on the Web
    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.


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