Roman Holiday: Travel to Italy!

Please have your passport ready for some first class fiction and nonfiction to transport you to Rome, Venice, and Tuscany.

The Last Confession

By Morris West

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West’s last novel (he died at his desk, at its completion) is a strong story of the philosopher and heretic Giordano Bruno, who was burnt by the Inquisition for his heresy.
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Stolen Figs, and Other Adventures in Calabria

By Mark Rotella

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"Calabria is the toe of the boot that is Italy--a rugged peninsula where grapevines and fig and olive trees cling to the mountainsides during the scorching summers while the sea crashes against the cliffs on both coasts. Calabria is also a seedbed of Italian American culture; in North America, more people of Italian heritage trace their roots to Calabria than to almost any other region in Italy. Mark Rotella's Stolen Figs is a marvelous evocation of Calabria and Calabrians, whose way of life is largely untouched by the commerce that has made Tuscany and Umbria into international tourist redoubts."
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Seasons in Basilicata: A Year in a Southern Italian Hill Village

By David Yeadon

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A year in the life of a remote southern Italian hill town, rich with local characters and strange, pagan-laced customs -- a place very different from the more gentrified northern Italy of Tuscany and Umbria. Award-winning travel writer and illustrator David Yeadon embarks with his wife, Anne, on an exploration of the wild, mountainous "lost world" of Basilicata, in the arch of Italy's boot. What is intended as a brief sojourn turns into a much longer and far more intriguing residency across the seasons.
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Pasta Imperfect

By Maddy Hunter

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The discount travel package to Italy seemed like a great deal: Emily Andrew could lead her globe-trotting Iowans on the trip of a lifetime and bring her family to boot. Maybe she should have read the fine print....Sharing their itinerary with a group of hyper-competitive aspiring romance writers is just a prelude to more Machiavellian drama than an Italian opera.

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Miss Garnet's Angel

By Salley Vickers

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"Stories magically unfold within this novel's irresistible tale of Miss Julia Garnet, a schoolteacher who decides, after the death of her longtime friend Harriet, to take an apartment for six months in Venice. Soon overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the city and its magnificent art, Miss Garnet's English reserve begins to melt away. For the first time in her life she falls in love--with an art dealer named Carlo--and her once ordinary world is further transformed by a beautiful Italian boy, Nicco, and an enigmatic pair of twins engaged in restoring the fourteenth-century Chapel-of-the-Plague.

"Most affecting to Julia, though, is her discovery in a local church of panels depicting the ancient tale of Tobias and the Angel. As Julia unravels the story of Tobias's redemption, she too strives to recover losses--not just her own but also the priceless painting of an angel that goes mysteriously missing from the Chapel along with one of the twins restoring it. His name is Toby. And Miss Garnet herself may prove to be an angel, but nowhere in this haunting, beautifully textured and multilayered novel is anything quite what it appears to be."

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Lucifer's Shadow

By David Hewson

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"In an ancient burial ground on an island off Venice, a young woman’s casket is pried open, an object is wrenched from her hands, and an extraordinary adventure begins.

"From the moment he arrives in Venice, Daniel Forster is seduced by the city’s mystery and eroticism. An earnest young academic, Daniel has come for a summer job cataloguing a private collector’s library. But when Daniel’s employer sends him to buy a stolen violin from a petty thief, a chain reaction of violence and deception ignites. Suddenly Daniel is drawn into a police investigation--and a tempest swirling around a beautiful woman, a mysterious palazzo, and a lost musical masterpiece dating back centuries.

"With each step he takes, Daniel unwittingly retraces a journey that began in 1733, when another young man came to Venice. And when, in this realm of intrigue and beauty, two lovers came face-to-face with a killer—and a mystery was born. Separated by centuries, two tales of passion, betrayal, and danger collide in David Hewson’s dazzling novel."

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Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind

By Charles Nicholl

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"For five centuries, Leonardo da Vinci has stood alone as the quintessential Renaissance man-—the incomparable artist, writer, thinker, and inventor who most powerfully transformed his world. In this dazzling new intimate biography, award-winning author Charles Nicholl creates a portrait of the artist for our time-—a biography that brings Leonardo to life as a complex man living in a fascinating, dangerous, quickly changing world.Drawing freely on his own original translations of Leonardo’s notebooks as well as newly discovered contemporary accounts,

"Nicholl captures the very texture of Leonardo’s mind and the pungent visceral impressions he transmuted into art. Detail by brilliant detail, Nicholl reconstructs the life and times of the artist, from his troubled childhood as the illegitimate son of an established Tuscan family to his years of apprenticeship in the burgeoning art world of Medici Florence to his unrivaled achievements in a breathtaking array of disciplines and media."

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Ghosts of Vesuvius: A New Look at the Last Days of Pompeii, How Towers Fall, and Other Strange Connections

By Charles R. Pellegrino

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"The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and the subsequent destruction of the thriving Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are historic disasters of monumental proportions, resonating across millennia and remembered to this very day. Now Dr. Charles Pellegrino -- the acclaimed author who unearthed Atlantis, returned readers to Sodom and Gomorrah, and revealed startling new secrets about the most fabled sea tragedy of all in his superb New York Times bestseller Her Name, Titanic -- takes us back to the final days of an extraordinary civilization to experience an earth-shattering catastrophe with remarkable and unsettling ties to the unthinkable disaster of September 11, 2001.

"Through the modern wonders of forensic archaeology, astonishing facts about the everyday lives of the doomed citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum have been brought to light, revealing a society that enjoyed "modern" amenities such as central heating, sliding glass doors, penicillin, hot and cold running water -- and a standard of living and life expectancy that would not be achieved again until the 1950s. But these thriving twin cities would be buried along with every hapless citizen in less than twenty-four hours when Vesuvius came frighteningly alive, sending a fearsome column of smoke and fire twenty miles into the sky.

"Employing volcano physics, Pellegrino shows that the Vesuvius eruption was one thousand times more powerful than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, bringing to vivid life the frightful majesty of that volcanic apocalypse. Yet Pellegrino digs deeper, exploring fascinating comparisons and connections to other catastrophic events throughout history, in particular the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. As one of the world's only experts on downblast and surge physics, Pellegrino was invited to Ground Zero to examine the site and compare it with devastation wreaked by Vesuvius, in the hope of saving lives during future volcanic eruptions. In doing so, he offers us a poignant and unforgettable glimpse into the final moments of our own 'American Vesuvius.'"

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Conclave: A Novel of Passion and the Papacy

By Greg Tobin

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Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, Timothy John Mulrennan is a typical American of the post-WWII generation. Since childhood he has known a deep and abiding faith in God that leads him to a career as a priestand propels him onto the stage of world events that includes the election of the first Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic church in the third millennium. Along the way he encounters some remarkable characters: Henry Martin Vennholme, leader of the conservative lay movement called Evangelium Christi; Rachel Seredi, a beautiful artist from Hungary who falls in love with Bishop Mulrennan and gives him the greatest gift a woman ever could; Cardinal Leandro Biagi, a wily and urbane politician who would have been at home in the time of the Medicis and Borgias; and Jaime de Guzman, the Archbishop of Manila, the one man who speaks in the Americans' defense and who pays the ultimate price for his honesty and faith in God.

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A Thread of Grace

By Mary Doria Russell

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It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

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