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  • 4 Web Sites That Connect You to Italy
    Discover how special places on the Internet can keep you up to date on the latest happenings in Italian business, the sites you wish to see, or with your cousin Maria back in Sicily
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    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:

    1. Italian Notebook I believe I've mentioned Italian Notebook to you before. You can sign up – for free – to receive an e-mail from people spending significant amounts of time in Italy who write you about their experiences, share photos, and get you invested in the country's culture. It's a simple way to connect with Italy and learn about the places you have either seen before or wish to see in the future – from Roma's Trevi Fountain to a simple shop in a small village with lots of Easter chocolate. The e-mails are written entirely in English and provide firsthand knowledge of the sites, sounds, and recipes that make up Italy. Yes, some of the entries include recipes from authentic Italians. Great stuff! You'll have to sign up with your e-mail address to receive the daily entries.

    2. BusinessWeek's Business Exchange: Italian Business Many regular readers know that I work as a part-time freelance reporter and community manager for BusinessWeek's Business Schools section. Recently, BusinessWeek launched the BusinessExchange, which is an online service that is part social networking and part breaking news. People who participate create subjects, post news stories related to those subjects from publications around the world, and discuss the headlines. I started the topic, Italian Business, and from it, you can find out the latest on what's happening in Italian industries and banks. It's particularly useful nowadays because the economic crisis is affecting everyone and things are changing at lightening speed.

    3. Facebook Facebook is quickly gaining popularity in Italy. I know many of my Italian friends and family have joined the Facebook community in the last three or four months. Besides being a great way to keep in touch with your friends and family in Italy, Facebook is also a great way to stay tuned to what's happening in Italy. Here, you get the news from the people. There are numerous group pages on Facebook that are relevant, including fan sites of your favorite Italian musicians and soccer teams.

    4. The CIA Factbook If you want straight facts – from population information to national history – you can head to the CIA Factbook's Italy page. The section on the Economy is interesting and has been updated since the economic crisis. It's concise but gives people a clear idea of how Italy runs its economy – and why it has had some difficulty growing economically over the years.

    Di Meglio is the guide to Newlyweds for About.com.

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