This exciting new book offers Italian language exercises in the form of fun cultural experiences, including photography, painting, film, music, cuisine and journalism. With beginner verb drills and vocabulary activities based on meaningful culture, the book enables us to pull up a virtual chair at our table for a number of wonderful, fascinating people who have inhabited the diverse worlds found in Italy through the ages. These amazing people provide powerful incentives for beginners to learn and to remember sustainably their new Italian words. Here is information about some of the people of my book, whose profits are all assigned to the medical organization, EMERGENCY USA, to fund care for refugees in Sicily. If you are interested in learning or teaching Italian words to discuss the work of the people described here, pick up a copy of my book, Stellare: Learning Italian with Cultural Stars (2015), available on Amazon.com, among other sites, e.g., https://www.createspace.com/5535897.
Here is a podcast of a web radio interview, in which I speak of Italian women in my book, as well as EMERGENCY’s work to save lives in Sicily: https://emergencyusa.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/a-podcast-with-volunteer-diana-c-silverman-ph-d/
About the author: I hold a doctorate in Italian from Columbia University, with a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and I teach college Italian at the Fashion Institute of Technology of The State University of New York.
Marina Sagredo Pisani (1723-1774)
Marina Sagredo was a celebrated patron of the arts in eighteenth-century Venice and the dedicatee of the play by the brilliant Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793), entitled La dama prudente. Pictured here is the portrait of Marina (center) with her family, by the witty painter Pietro Longhi (1701-1785), one of Goldoni’s favorites. This portrait appears courtesy of the Fondazione Querini-Stampalia, a lovely museum oasis in Venice. Next time you are there, also visit Marina’s palazzo on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ Sagredo, now splendidly restored as a five-star hotel.
Gianni Berengo Gardin (born 1930)
Gianni Berengo Gardin is Italy’s greatest living photographer, with innumerable exhibits, books and awards. His continually evocative work spans over sixty years of Italian experiences. Many of his images have become canonical, including this meditative moment in Normandy, published by permission of La Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia.
Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520)
Would you like to learn to describe the contemplative, bucolic Madonna d’Alba in Italian? Pick up a copy of Stellare: Learning Italian with Cultural Stars, which is available on Amazon.com, among other sites. Raffaello’s beautiful painting is published here courtesy of the brilliant open access image policy on the part of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., which altruistically brings its collection to enrich the lives of ever wider audiences.
Lidia Bastianich (born 1947)
Lidia was born in Pula, Istria, a part of Italy that had been given to the newly formed communist Yugoslavia after World War II. Because of Tito’s Communist regime, her parents decided that they needed to leave and spent two years in a political refugee camp in Trieste before emigrating to the United States. She opened her first restaurant in 1971 and has since flourished in New York and other cities throughout the United States. Today her wonderful restaurants, cooking shows and cookbooks have brought the passion of Italian cuisine to wider audiences. Included in Stellare is an Italian language lesson based on one of Lidia’s recipes.
Fred Kuwornu (born 1971)
Fred Kuwornu is an award-winning Italian documentary filmmaker. After working on Spike Lee’s blockbuster, Miracle at St. Anna (2008), Kuwornu went in search of the real-life Buffalo Soldiers, American military men of color, who fought valiantly behind enemy lines in Italy at the end of the Second World War, despite facing institutionalized racism at home. Kuwornu’s documentary, Inside Buffalo (2010), is a moving tribute to men who risked their lives for a country that made them sit at the back of the bus. Kuwornu’s many amazing projects include Blaxploitalian, on people of color in Italian cinema. He lives between Brooklyn and Bologna.
Here is Fred’s Facebook review of Stellare:
“Proud to be into a program in the US of learning Italian alongside Lidia Bastianich and other famous italians. This work of Diana C. Silverman, its awesome...”
Letizia Battaglia (born 1935)
In 2005 the journalist, Elena Ciccarello, interviewed the legendary anti-mafia photographer, Letizia Battaglia, for the online journal, Narcomafie. Letizia Battaglia has photographed the majority of mafia killings in Palermo since 1974. Excerpts of Elena Ciccarello’s interview of Letizia Battaglia form the basis of an exercise on verbs in the “imperfetto” in my book. In a reminiscence on Facebook, Elena Ciccarello writes that she was so inspired by meeting the great Letizia Battaglia in person that she forgot to turn on the tape recorder for the interview and had to repeat it a few days later:
“La fotografa Letizia Battaglia, una delle mie prime interviste per Narcomafie. Replicata in pochi giorni perché alla prima, per l’emozione, ho dimenticato di accendere il registratore. Da oggi è pubblicata nel libro ‘Stellare: Learning Italian with Cultural Stars,’ un volumetto per stranieri che vogliono imparare l’italiano assaporando alcuni tra i frutti migliori della nostra cultura. Realizzato con cura da Diana Silverman, che devolverà tutti i proventi ad Emergency. Se volete, fateci un pensierino...”
Gianmaria Testa (1958-2016)
You have to hear the music of Gianmaria Testa to understand its uniquely delicious blend of love, humor and humanity. I am grateful that his wit and wisdom have continued life in his words and music. I think often of the beautiful letter he published during his final illness. Among many things, he said, “L’anima delle cose è dove già sei.”
A moving song by Gianmaria Testa forms a lesson in my book, Stellare: Learning Italian with Cultural Stars. My photo here is of lower Manhattan, as glimpsed from the Staten Island Ferry, because the song that I include evokes Italian immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, many of whom would have had a similar vantage point in traveling to and from Ellis Island.
The great maestro, Gianmaria Testa, generously posted this review of my book:
“Vi segnalo questo libricino che introduce con grazia e bellezza alla lingua italiana ed è rivolto ad americani amanti del nostro idioma, del suo suono, del suo sapore. Dentro ci sono anche due pagine dedicate a me e in particolare alla canzone Ritals, per introdurre il tema della grande emigrazione italiana del secolo scorso. Ma al di là di tutto ciò, l’importante è che l’intero ricavato della vendita di questo libretto, a cura di Diana Silverman, va a Emergency USA per curare e soccorrere i rifugiati in Sicilia.”
Gino Strada (born 1948), EMERGENCY
Gino Strada is the visionary founder of the organization, EMERGENCY, which, since its start in 1994, has offered free medical care to over 6,000,000 people subjected to war and poverty throughout the world. All the profits of my book are assigned to EMERGENCY USA, the American non-profit organization formed to support this life-saving work. In Sicily, EMERGENCY sends mobile health units to the landing sites of one of the most catastrophic refugee crises in modern history. In 2014, over 170,000 refugees were recorded in Italy, and the numbers are up in 2015. Over 1,800 people lost their lives in attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2015 alone. Many of those who survive have endured torture or abuse at the hands of human traffickers.
Here are the of the words of an EMERGENCY program coordinator in Sicily in April 2015:
“Their journey began in Turkey. Five days at sea, and transferred from one boat to another (which obviously terrorized them all). To understand what they’d gone through, there was no need for an interpreter: just looking into their eyes was enough... We sent a Mobile Clinic to the port of Augusta, in Sicily, to provide health assistance during the migrant landings. We examined about 20 people, many of them women and children. The journey had debilitated them and we found problems relating to the cold, gynecological issues and cases of chronic decompensation. The team was fantastic: they didn’t stop for even just a moment. At midnight I had to send them home to rest, knowing that it would all start again this morning.”
Here are the words of a Senegalese refugee treated by EMERGENCY’s mobile clinic in Augusta, Sicily, in September 2015:
“I saw dozens of dead bodies in the desert. I don’t know how many, I couldn’t give you a number… but I have seen many. On that route you can die at any moment. You can be attacked, or die of starvation or dehydration. Everything leads to death. Libya is hell. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. There is a constant abduction of people; they’re sold, resold, injured, killed for nothing. We are flesh for trafficking. Many people are injured, traumatised, or go crazy. I would not want anyone to have the same experience that I did.”
Here is an update from the EMERGENCY USA Blog as of March 31, 2016:
“I was shocked,” said Khalid, one of [EMERGENCY’s] mediators in Sicily. “At just 2 years of age, Aida had already spent a month in a prison in Libya, and had crossed the Strait of Sicily in a rubber boat.” In the last two days, over 1,500 people have come ashore in Pozzallo and Augusta, Sicily. Among them was a young Gambian couple who, after spending the past 6 months in Libya, boarded a rubber boat with their daughter, Aida. They headed for Italy, following the central Mediterranean route. Khalid and [his] colleagues are there, providing social-medical assistance during the landings from EMERGENCY’s two Mobile Clinics.
Here is a report from an EMERGENCY physician on the vessel, called Responder, dispatched to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean, June 2016:
“At first I only saw two hands emerging from the dinghy. As soon as we got closer and started signaling that we were there to help, I saw dozens of hands raised in the air. They were trying to get our attention, to reach for help. It was a very emotional moment. In front of me, in the middle of the sea between Italy and Libya, were hundreds of youngsters. We rescued them one by one and pulled them aboard the Responder.” –Luca, EMERGENCY’s doctor on the Responder Vessel
Here is an EMERGENCY report posted in August 2016:
“I had tried to dissuade him in every way possible, but he was always stubborn. I had said that the voyage was too dangerous, but he nevertheless decided to leave home, eight months ago. From Eritrea he went to Ethiopia, then to Sudan, and then to Egypt, where he took a boat, which arrived here, in Pozzallo. It was difficult for me to recognize him – I had not seen him in nine years – but I will never forget the moment I saw him come off the ship. He arrived safe and sound: Tedros, my brother.” -Yohannes, a cultural mediator for EMERGENCY at the refugee landings in Sicily.
To support EMERGENCY, pick up a copy of Stellare: Learning Italian with Cultural Stars, available on Amazon.com and other sites (https://www.createspace.com/5535897).