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A Passion for Italy



A Passion for Italy

Best seller authors Dianne Hales and Frances Mayes present their latest books La Passione and See You in the Piazza in a lively conversation moderated by Kip Cranna, Dramaturg at San Francisco Opera.

Free Admission | RSVP Required


Dianne Hales | La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World
No country has matched Italy’s impact on culture. Just think of painting without Leonardo, opera without Verdi, fashion without Armani, food without the signature tastes of pasta and pizza. The first universities, first banks, first public libraries? All Italian. Dianne Hales attributes these landmark achievements to la passione italiana, a primal force that stems from an insatiable hunger to discover and create; to love and live with every fiber of one’s being. This fierce drive blazes to life in the Sistine Chapel, surges through a Puccini aria, and rumbles in a gleaming Ferrari engine. Our ideal tour guide, Dianne sweeps readers along on her adventurous quest for the secrets of la passione. She swims in the playgrounds of mythic gods, shadows artisanal makers of chocolate and cheese, joins in Sicily’s Holy Week traditions, celebrates a neighborhood Carnevale in Venice, and explores pagan temples, vineyards, silk mills, movie sets and fashion salons. In sumptuous prose, she introduces us to unforgettable personalities brimming with the greatest of Italian passions—for life itself. A lyrical portrait of a spirit as well as a nation, La Passione appeals to the Italian in all our souls, inspiring us to be as daring as Italy’s gladiators, as eloquent as its poets, as alluring as its beauties and as irresistible as its lovers.

Frances Mayes | See you in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy
Bestselling and beloved author Frances Mayes discovers the hidden pleasures of Italy in a sumptuous travel narrative that crisscrosses the country, with inventive new recipes celebrating Italian cuisine. The Roman Forum, the Leaning Tower, the Piazza San Marco: these are the sights synonymous with Italy. But such landmarks only scratch the surface of this magical country’s offerings. In See You in the Piazza, Frances Mayes introduces us to the Italy only the locals know, as she and her husband, Ed, eat and drink their way through thirteen regions–from Friuli to Sicily. Along the way, she seeks out the cultural and historic gems not found in traditional guidebooks. Frances conjures the enchantment of the backstreets, the hubbub of the markets, the dreamlike wonder of that space between lunch and dinner when a city cracks open to those who would wander or when a mind is drawn into the pages of a delicious book–and discloses to us the secrets that only someone who is on intimate terms with a place could find.


Dianne Hales is the author of La Bella Lingua, a New York Times best-seller, and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, among others. The President of the Republic of Italy Giorgio Napolitano has conferred her l'Onorificenza di Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (the honor of Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) in recognition of her book La Bella Lingua as an “invaluable tool for promoting the Italian language.” 

Frances Mayes is the author of four books about Tuscany. The now-classic Under the Tuscan Sun, a New York Times bestseller for more than two and a half years, became a Touchstone movie starring Diane Lane. It was followed by Bella Tuscany and two illustrated books, In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home. She is also the author of the novel Swan, six books of poetry, and The Discovery of Poetry. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.


Clifford (Kip) Cranna, Dramaturg at San Francisco Opera, has served on the staff since 1979 and was Director of Music Administration for over thirty years. In 2008 he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, and in 2012 he received the Bernard Osher Cultural Award for distinguished efforts to bring excellence to a cultural institution. In 2014 he received the Star of Excellence Award for outstanding service to the programs of the San Francisco Opera Guild. He holds a B.A. in music from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University. For thirty years he was Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival. He lectures and writes frequently on music, teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Fromm Institute at USF, and moderates the SF Opera Guild Insight panel discussions. He was Dramaturg for the 2016 production of Wagner’s Ring at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.


Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Time: From 6:30 pm To 8:30 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Entrance : Free


Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 601 Van Ness Ave, #F