Under a Sardinian Sky

by Sara Alexander

Set against the beautiful backdrop of post-World War II Sardinia, Sara Alexander’s evocative novel is a sweeping story of star-crossed romance between an American lieutenant and a local girl.

Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets. For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession. Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.

In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh. Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.

As Mina follows the threads of Carmela’s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.

Four Hundred and Forty Steps to the Sea

by Sara Alexander

Nestled into the cliffs in southern Italy’s Amalfi coast, Positano is an artist’s vision, with rows of brightly hued houses perched above the sea and picturesque staircases meandering up and down the hillside. Santina, still a striking woman despite old age and the illness that saps her last strength, is spending her final days at her home, Villa San Vito. The magnificent eighteenth-century palazzo is very different from the tiny house in which she grew up. And as she decides its fate, she must confront the choices that led her here so long ago . . .

In 1949, Positano is as yet undiscovered by tourists, a beautiful, secluded village shaking off the dust of war. Hoping to escape poverty, young Santina takes domestic work in London, ultimately becoming a housekeeper to a distinguished British major and his creative, impulsive wife, Adeline. When they move to Positano, Santina returns with them, raising their daughter as Adeline’s mental health declines. With each passing year, Santina becomes more deeply enmeshed within the family, trying to navigate her complicated feelings for a man who is much more than an employer—while hiding secrets that could shatter the only home she knows.

Where Did They Film That? Italy: Famous Film Scenes and Their Italian Locations

by Romina Arena

“Three Coins in a Fountain.” “Roman Holiday.” “The Bicycle Thief.” In many of the greatest movies ever made, the biggest star was Italy itself. Where Did They Film That?: Italy is a unique travel guide that invites the reader to explore the beauty and cultural riches of Italy through the universal language of cinema, showing readers how to find the exact locations where many of the most famous movies set in Italy were filmed — plus nearby attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and must-experience slices of Italian life. The beautiful and historic sites immortalized in great films are the reader’s keys to experiencing the best in Italian travel, art, dining, and living. In addition, this book gives readers in-depth knowledge of the behind-the-scenes details of great films by placing their locations within the full context of their history and meaning to Italian culture. An irresistible combination of film history, travel guide, and the zest and seductiveness of la dolce vita, Where Did They Film That?: Italy is a new kind of travel guide that will turn Americans’ love of movies into a love of travel and new experiences.

San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice

by Henry Maguire and Robert S. Nelson

The church of San Marco of Venice has long played a central role in Venetian political, ceremonial, and religious life. Its renowned assemblage of mosaics, sculpture, metalwork, and reliquaries are, in origin, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, or Venetian imitation of Byzantine designs. In San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, the authors assess the significance of the embellishment of the church and its immediate surroundings, especially during the 13th and 14th centuries, when most of the Byzantine material was acquired, largely from Constantinople. The church and its decoration are studied in relation to Venice’s interests abroad and on mainland Italy. The authors address the diverse styles, sources, meanings, and significance of this art, both individually and as an ensemble. Building upon developments in scholarship since Otto Demus’s masterly studies of the church, the book offers new insights into the inspiration, purposes, and mutability of San Marco and the myths that inspired and motivated Venetians.

The Ides of March: A Novel

by Thornton Wilder

In this inventive narrative, the Caesar of history becomes Caesar the human being. The Ides of March, first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Julius Caesar’s Rome. Thornton Wilder called it “a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic.” Wilder also resurrects the controversial figures surrounding Caesar — Cleopatra, Catullus, Cicero, and others. All Rome comes crowding through these pages — the Rome of villas and slums, beautiful women and brawling youths, spies and assassins. Through vividly imagined letters and documents, Wilder brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of history’s most magnetic, elusive personalities.

Pontifex Maximus

by Christopher Lascelles

This book, aimed at the general reader who is short on time and seeks an accessible overview, tells the history of the popes — one occasionally so bizarre as to stretch credulity. Popes have led papal armies, fled in disguise, fathered children (including future popes), and authorized torture. They have been captured, assaulted and murdered. While many have been admired, some have been hated to such a degree that their funeral processions have been disrupted and statues of them torn down after their deaths. Many have been the enemies of freedom and progress – divisive rather than unifying figures. In a fascinating read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Christopher Lascelles examines the history of the popes through the ages, laying bare the extent to which many of them fell so very short of the Christian ideals they supposedly represented. He explains how it was that, professing to follow a man who said ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ and ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,’ they nevertheless became heads of a rich state that owned more land in Europe than any king, relying on foreign military aid to keep power; and how pride, greed and corruption became commonplace in an institution founded on love, faith and forgiveness.