La Dolce Vita University book cover and background
LDVU Book cover

The Book

Italy Awaits, With or Without
a Plane Ticket!

La Dolce Vita University - second edition

Like a delightful passeggiata LDVU lets you explore, at your leisure and pleasure, fascinating aspects of Italy’s cuisine, history, art, traditions, style, legendary personalities, and so much more. Even the most sophisticated Italophile will discover stunning new facts and illuminating new insights in its pages. Charmingly illustrated, La Dolce Vita University brings Italy to life with wit, exuberance and joy—a celebration of why we love Italy.

New Expanded 2nd Edition

  • Over 60 new mini-essays
  • Over 40 additional illustrations
  • A special Afterward
  • For over 125 pages of new content

New topics include: Armani vs. Versace, A Day at the Colosseum, Fast Food in Pompeii, Hollywood on the Tiber, Kissing the Joy, The Lost Leonardo, Love, Lust and Lavazza, Miracle in Matera, Naples: Beauty or Beast?, Negroni Fever, Nuns and Concubines, Renaissance Pleasure Palace, Spaghetti Westerns, Turnstile to Heaven, Unicorns, Dragons and Snails, The Virgil Birth, Why the Tower Leans, You’ve Come a Long Way Santa and many more!


The title—La Dolce Vita University—captures the great virtues of this reader-friendly book perfectly: it’s delicious and educational at the same time, with each virtue reinforcing the other. Dulce blended with utile, as the great ancient Roman poet Horace recommended.

Robert N. Watson, PhD.
Distinguished Professor of English,

Associate Vice-Provost for Educational Innovation, UCLA

Diamond Mix
Imagine it as a dessert course filled with dark chocolates filled with exotic fruits and nuts, packed with knowledge and love of history and art, wisdom and wit, Italian, American, global.

“The chocolates are alphabetically listed, described and presented beautifully, and offered as something to dip into as you wish. You open it, choose the one you think you will like best, then another, and another. Suddenly it’s gone.

“Because Carla wears her scholarship lightly, you don’t feel over full, but what a feast!”

Denise Scott Brown RIBA, Int. FRIBA
Winner of the Jane Drew Prize for Women in Architecture

Diamond Mix
An enlightening, entertaining guide to the history behind so much of what we love about Italian cuisine and culture. From antiquity to today, reading this special anecdote filled history written with color and style is a pure joy for the food aficionado and any lover of Italy. You won’t want to miss reading any part of this book.”

Chef Bert Cutino, CEC, AAC, HOF, WCMC
Co-Founder/COO, The Sardine Factory Restaurant, Cannery Row, Monterey, CA

Diamond Mix
This book is hard to put down. It’s packed with so much interesting and surprising information reminding us of the many ways Italian culture touches our lives and gives us pleasure. Written with a deep understanding and passion for Italy, La Dolce Vita University is a book you’ll want to keep as a reference and give to your friends and loved ones.”

UFF. Cav. Dr. Joseph Scelsa
Founder & President of the Italian American Museum Professor Emeritus Queen’s College and City University of New York

Diamond Mix
Every Italophile must have a copy of La Dolce Vita University! Going far beyond a guide to Italian culture, Gambescia’s opus is a beautifully crafted, thoughtful and glorious collection of reasons why so many of us embrace all things Italian.

Allison Scola
Owner and Curator, Experience Sicily and The Cannoli Crawl

Diamond Mix
Carla is the consummate Italian. Mille grazie for sharing your extensive knowledge and fascinating backstories with such affection, charm, humor and style!”

Joan Tucci
Co-Author, The Tucci Cookbook

Diamond Mix
LA DOLCE VITA UNIVERSITY is an authentic full immersion in Italian culture, history, art, traditions, and more. Fun, funny, and informative. Brava!”

Cristiano Bonino
Founder, Food, Stories, Travel

Diamond Mix
Reading La Dolce Vita University transports your imagination and touches your soul. It is the one book to read before your next trip to La Bella Italia.”

Lauren Hefferon
Founder, Ciclismo Classico

Diamond Mix


Author’s Note The mini-essays of LDVU each explore a topic that I found surprising, intriguing, quirky, fun, or some combination of those qualities. Collectively they begin to express what I find so endlessly captivating about “the Boot.”

Their organization appears alphabetical. But nothing is quite that straightforward when it comes to Italy. Even if you choose to read the book sequentially you may feel as though you’re wandering the mysterious alleys of a medieval town or along the serpentine canals of La Serenissima. Unexpected connections emerge and fresh discoveries await around each corner. Or perhaps you’ll choose to dip in and out at random. Either way—you’re in Italia!—enjoy the passeggiata. It will lead you to marvelous revelations, as it has, on my own journey, for me.

Italy is a glorious and fascinating mosaic. Consider the passages of my opus as some of its glittering tesserae.


– Carla Gambescia –

Diamond Mix

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