Listen free for 30 days

La Bella Lingua

My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

"Italians say that someone who acquires a new language 'possesses' it. In my case, Italian possesses me. With Italian racing like blood through my veins, I do indeed see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and drink in the world with all my senses...."

A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman's personal quest to speak fluent Italian.

For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with "the world's most loved and lovable language" together with explorations of Italy's history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle, and food in a true opera amorosa - a labor of her love of Italy.

Throughout her first excursion in Italy - with "non parlo Italiano" as her only Italian phrase - Dianne delighted in the beauty of what she saw but craved comprehension of what she heard. And so she chose to inhabit the language. Over more than 25 years she has studied Italian in every way possible: through Berlitz, books, CDs, podcasts, private tutorials and conversation groups, and, most importantly, large blocks of time in Italy. In the process she found that Italian became not just a passion and a pleasure but a passport into Italy's storia and its very soul.

She offers charming insights into what makes Italian the most emotionally expressive of languages, from how the "pronto" ("ready!") Italians say when they answer the telephone conveys a sense of something coming alive to how even ordinary things such as a towel (asciugamano) or handkerchief (fazzoletto) sound better in Italian. She invites readers to join her as she traces the evolution of Italian in the zesty graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, in Dante's incandescent cantos, and in Boccaccio's bawdy Decameron. She portrays how social graces remain woven into the fabric of Italian: Even the chipper "ciao", which does double duty as "hi" and "bye", reflects centuries of bella figura. And she exalts the glories of Italy's food and its rich and often uproarious gastronomic language: Italians deftly describe someone uptight as a baccala (dried cod), a busybody who noses into everything as a prezzemolo (parsley), a worthless or banal movie as a polpettone (large meatball).

Like Dianne, listeners of La Bella Lingua will find themselves innamorata, enchanted, by Italian, fascinated by its saga, tantalized by its adventures, addicted to its sound, and ever eager to spend more time in its company.

©2009 Dianne Hales (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

More from the same

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A Non-Fiction Eat Pray Love

What would have made La Bella Lingua better?

Got to know Italy away from the bourgeois hotels and expensive villas that the author seems to have based her heavily exocitised and offensively patronising view of it.

I didn't think someone could out Eat Pray Love, Eat Pray Love in its vision of Italians as quaint, erotic holiday-enablers - a nation of waiters and flirts - but, somehow Hales has done it.

It is hard to escape the unbearably smug, superior tone that the author adopts which is a shame since the research into the language is very interesting.

What could Dianne Hales have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Name dropped fewer times, generalised fewer times, humble bragged fewer times. Viewed people away from gender stereotypes.

Honestly, I hate to be a 'bad' reviewer but this really, really angered me. It has all the cultural authenticity of a Dolmio advert. I really hope that the American target audience put the book down and instead book a flight to Napoli or Roma!

Would you listen to another book narrated by Suzanne Toren?

Absolutely - she copes well with some very weak source material.

What character would you cut from La Bella Lingua?

The author!

Any additional comments?

Sorry to savage this - I think that there is a good book in there but I didn't get the impression the author wanted to get her fingernails dirty. Far too much reliance on professors and managers of five star hotels!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ciro Silva
  • Ciro Silva
  • 21-09-16

Highly Recomended!!!

What did you love best about La Bella Lingua?

Fantastic way to learn a new language: listening to someone narrating her/his experience with the idiom while living in the country where it's spoken. Best of both worlds; learning the language while hearing witty observations on local customs and history.

What was one of the most memorable moments of La Bella Lingua?

Impossible to pick a memorable moment, since the author trully loves La Bella Lingua and the Italian people.

Have you listened to any of Suzanne Toren’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Suzanne Toren's narration adds a lot to the book, with her perfect Italian pronunciation.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

As we are commenting about the wonderful Italians, it's impossible not to have an emotional reaction to the engaging narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Midwicket
  • Midwicket
  • 30-12-18

Wow! This is one of the Top 10 books I've read!

"Read"?! Yes, "read"! (wait for it). I used a credit to purchase this book once I found out that I was going to spend a few weeks in Italy with my family. I've always wanted to learn how to speak Italian and the chance to spend time there, and not necessarily follow the much traveled path of the hordes of other tourists, although we did do the 'touristy-things", we kept it to a local, off the beaten track, sort of trip. I listened to the book over a weekend and decided to get the book and listen to it again while reading along listening to the Audible audiobook. And what a huge difference that made to me to start understanding the culture and ever-so-expressive language! It was so entertaining to follow Professor Hales on her travels. Prof. Hales writes incredible well and one can definitely sense her passion for the language, culture and everything yo do with Italy, actually. Ms. Toren did an amazing job with her reading. her pronounciations were perfect, I was told by native speakers and her voice provided the perfect dramatization that Prof. Hales intended (from what I heard and expected, anyway).

If one is interested in anything Italian, for a trip or something more long term, or of you are simply a romantic, this is for you! you won't be disappointed! I wasn't!

So...get started!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Gharda-ward MD
  • S. Gharda-ward MD
  • 06-06-18

Not only language

This book is full of history and culture as well as a complete investigation of the language in history, film and dialects.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for khaledalyami001
  • khaledalyami001
  • 16-08-16

I loved it!!

I enjoyed this books that I finished in less than 4 days. It is very informative and full of interesting and funny stories!!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • 24-04-19

Extremely enaging

An excellent book for any lover of the Italian language, interwoven with history and anecdotes to give great context and to make the language and all of its beauty and eccentricties come alive. Excellent and well measured performance as well.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gizelle
  • Gizelle
  • 10-01-19

My new best friend

I ADORED every minute of this book! I feel like I have a new best friend - who is witty, well spoken and well travelled, likes the same things I do, holds secrets well, is polite but can tell a hilariously naughty story as needed. I learned about the origins of the language, some history, literary figures, things I slept through in school... this is a fun, informative, book about Italy, Italians, and ITALIAN. GET IT on Audible, and get to know your new best friend - you will love her!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Benoch
  • Benoch
  • 28-10-18

Terribly annoying, waste of time.

This is all cliche, no substance. Beyond the terrible story, which is basically a rich woman bragging about her many vacations in Italy, it is read in a pretentious manner. The narrator tries to switch to an Italian accent whenever she reads a name (like Dante, for example) and it's incredibly annoying. I couldn't recommend it for anyone. On one hand, it's too much information if you know nothing about Italy and, on the other hand, it's not particularly full of new information if you are familiar with Italy.