Mamma Mia!

A McDonald’s opened last week just outside Vatican City, within eyeshot of St. Peter’s Square and amidst protestations from Catholic officials. On the upside the Vatican will get about 30,000 euros, or about $31,375.50, per month in rent, La Repubblica reported.

st-petersrome

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Mrs. George Clooney

Wanted to pass this on (from CNN) as we await People magazine’s cover story on the Clooney nuptials in Venice this weekend:

“The bride wore a custom Oscar de la Renta gown that featured French lace, hand-embroidered pearls and diamanté accents, an off-the-shoulder neckline and a full circular train. The groom was dressed in a Giorgio Armani tuxedo with a white shirt, black bow tie and customized cuff links from his bride, with his name inscribed in Arabic.”

Inspector Brunetti author’s superb new book

Donna Leon’sMy Venice and Other Essays” is sublime–so enthralling I crept out of bed at 3 AM to savor more. A resident of Venice for almost forty years, Leon’s got the Italians nailed and pulls no punches about politics, immigration, racism, the lack of civic consciousness, the difficulties in getting the simplest project done, la bella figura, and many other magnificent quirks of the city she adores.

One Goodreads contributor who expressed “shock” at Leon’s “mean-spiritedness,” obviously didn’t get or appreciate her honesty, biting wit and general all ‘round splendidness. But, as someone who lived briefly in Italy I loved Ms. Leon’s viewpoints and am buying “My Venice and Other Essays” today–it’ll be a splendid addition to my Italy collection.

Venezia

End of summer reading…

Tried Ephron’s Wallflower at the Orgy,” a collection of interviews of mostly dead celebrities (they were alive when she interviewed them–hee hee) and couldn’t get into it, probably because I’m not an insanely well-connected, fabulously wealthy Jewish New Yorker who hobnobs with the elite­ and dines and shops at all the finest places.

However, I am enjoying Robert Edsel’s brilliantly researched and compelling “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” and am looking forward to the Clooney-Damon film “Monuments Men,” based on Edsel’s previous book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” due for theatrical release Dec. 18.

Raphael's La Madonna del Cardellino-Uffizi  Gallery, Florence
Raphael’s La Madonna del Cardellino-Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian, NYT bestselling author *****

This riveting novel, set in and around Florence, Italy, during World War II and ten years later centers on love, betrayal and the unimaginable losses suffered by a noble Tuscan family at the hands of the Nazis.

From the book jacket: “A breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty and the mysterious ways of the heart.”

From the Washington Post: “brilliantly crafted…utterly compelling.”

Mary Doria Russell’s A Thread of Grace, another unforgettable novel about WWII and Italy, and one of my favorites, inspired author Chris Bohjalian. 

Italian comfort food

Was casting about on the Internet when I discovered this wonderful site–CookingItalianComfortFood, hosted by an Italian named Peter Bocchieri who celebrates authentic Italian food that everyone can make. No pretentiousness or expensive hard-to-find ingredients. Just good eats! His recipes look “dee lish,” in the words of Rachel Ray, and I love the colorful close-ups of the finished dishes. Grazie, Peter!

Sicily