Inspired by Italy

Gulliver finally sent me the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and I decided to do a full tribute to Italy on the rocky north shore of my beach:

Buona giornata!

Book Review: “It Happened in Italy”

Elizabeth Bettina’s book about Italian Holocaust survivors was completely eye-opening and fascinating.

I will be honest–my knowledge of Italy’s role in World War II is sketchy, at best.  I know plenty about Germany, and that country’s treatment of Jews, but I had never even considered that there were Jews in Italy, much less how they would have fared in concentration camps.  What I learned is that they were treated completely differently than their Jewish counterparts elsewhere in Europe, and this was largely due to the people of Italy’s determination and compassion.

I loved the photos–as they say, “a picture paints a thousand words,” and the photos in this story were no exception. Even though they were small, and in black and white, they helped me picture people and places, and get a feeling for the culture in which the book is placed.

The letters and historical documents in the appendices were also beneficial, and helped to serve as a reminder that while the book is far from dry, and reads much like a story, it is true, and tells the story of real people and real experiences.

My one criticism of the book is that the transitions between the chapters are somewhat rough in some places.  Aside from that, I found this to be a very informative and revealing book.

Buon Natale!

Merry Christmas from Italy!  (Or at least the Italian sector of our house…)  We had a great time learning about Italian Christmas traditions today.  We started with basic geography–where Italy is on the map, what it’s shaped like (Turkey and Bunny were very amused to realize it looks like a boot!), and what that type of land is called (a peninsula).  Turkey also pointed out, with no prompting, that Florida is also a peninsula–proud Mommy moment for that one!

We read two stories from the Lion Storyteller Christmas Book–the first was about Saint Francis and the first Christmas pageant.  This led to a discussion about the use of nativity scenes in homes in both Italy and America. We then made a foam nativity scene from a kit I picked up at Michael’s.  It will be a cold day when I get another one of those things, but the end result was pretty cute, and Turkey and Bunny enjoyed helping me put it together (they didn’t get to help as much as I had hoped, because I had to get out the hot glue gun, so they had to back off, lest they burn themselves like I did, several times no less!).

We had two different Italy coloring sheets, too.  One, from our Christmas Around the World coloring book, was of a living nativity, much like the one Saint Francis put together in our story.  The other picture (of La Befana) was actually from a coloring book we picked up at our Christmas field trip over the weekend.  Our second story was about the legend of La Befana, so the two fit together nicely.  Using that story as a bit of a springboard, we also talked a little about the wise men, and listened to the hymn, “What Child is This?”

Our big “taste” of Italy, though, was our dinner tonight.  I decided to be adventurous and try out a recipe for  Zuppa Toscana I found online.  It was quite a bit of work to put together, but it was really delicious, and Turkey and Bunny both enjoyed sampling food from Italy.

We will continue our trip around the world on Monday…until then, Buon Natale!