From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

I have a confession. Despite having lived in Italy for nearly three years and having studied Italian off and on for a number of years, I have a long way to go before I can consider myself fully fluent in the language.

There has been one time, however, when I felt really confident about my Italian skills. That was the time I took an Italian immersion course.

Continue reading From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

Paris Through the Eyes of a Roman [Video]

I love Paris. But, Rome will forever be the Caput Mundi. La Città Eterna. La Città Più Bella del Mondo.

This video, from the guys from the Ritals web series, does a humorous job of breaking down what makes Rome great even in the face of Paris’s beauty and comparative orderliness. Continue reading Paris Through the Eyes of a Roman [Video]

Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

Last weekend the Domus Aurea, also known as Nero’s Golden Palace, became the latest attraction to offer visitors the chance to wear virtual reality headsets while touring the site. Continue reading Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

More Than A Mocha: Torino’s Sweet, Rich Bicerin

You can visit Torino without tasting a Bicerin, but then you’d be going against the advice of noted gastronome Alexandre Dumas.

The writer who was best known for his novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was also publisher of L’Indipendente, a Neapolitan newspaper that supported Italian Unification, as well as the compiler of Le Grand Dictionnaire De Cuisine, an exhaustive compendium of recipes, ingredient definitions, and food anecdotes published posthumously in 1873.

Dumas, who visited Torino during the Risorgimento (early 1860s), said:

“I will never forget Bicerin, an excellent drink consisting of coffee, milk and chocolate that is served in all the coffee shops.”

Continue reading More Than A Mocha: Torino’s Sweet, Rich Bicerin

Rome’s Museums On A Metro Map

Rome is often called an outdoor museum. But the capital also has dozens of museums to explore, not only in the Centro Storico but beyond the walls.

Helping us locate all of these museums and galleries is a new map showing Rome’s museums as they relate to metro stops. Continue reading Rome’s Museums On A Metro Map

The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Your New Favorite Coffee Table Book

The Atlas of Ancient Rome, a gorgeous, new two-volume set edited by Andrea Carandini, promises to be an “authoritative archeological survey of Rome from prehistory to the early medieval period.” The slip-cased set is available now. Continue reading The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Your New Favorite Coffee Table Book

Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

The Pantheon, one of the last major landmarks in Rome with free entry, will soon begin to charge admission.

Continue reading Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

Italy’s First Wine Fountain Opens in Abruzzo — and the Wine is Free

The Local.it reports that the town of Caldari di Ortona in Abruzzo has opened the first free wine fountain. Continue reading Italy’s First Wine Fountain Opens in Abruzzo — and the Wine is Free

Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

Hello Kitty wine is a real thing. I know some of you will hate this and others will want to snatch some up just for the novelty of it all.

Apparently, Torti Winery, located in the Oltrepò Pavese hills of Italy’s Lombardy region has been working on a Hello Kitty wine since 2007, putting aside special Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes to create several different variety of wines (including a perfectly pink one). Continue reading Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

If you tell a Roman that you are going Paestum for the weekend, invariably he or she will tell you: “Make sure you pick up some mozzarella di bufala.”

Paestum is a sight to see without the culinary pit stop. A city known as “Poseidonia” when it was part of Magna Grecia, Paestum is home to three extraordinarily preserved Greek (Doric) temples that date from 600 to 450BC. The two temples to Hera and the temple to Athena sit on a wide, grassy plot of land that is much easier to navigate than the not-too-distant Pompeii, the more famous ruins an hour north of here. Continue reading A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

A Special Harvest: Anatomical Theaters in Italy

Since ancient times, man has been interested in anatomy — how muscles and bones function and fit together and how the body works. But it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the study of anatomy really took off, thanks in large part to the printing press, which helped anatomists, illustrators, scientists, and physicians get on the same page (pun intended). Continue reading A Special Harvest: Anatomical Theaters in Italy

CAMERA: Torino’s New Photography Museum

On October 1, the city of Torino (Turin) inaugurated Italy’s newest museum. CAMERA, the Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, will showcase Italian and international photography in a 2,000 square meter space just down the road from the Museo Nazionale del Cinema and other sights in Torino’s historic center. Continue reading CAMERA: Torino’s New Photography Museum

The Milano Duomo, Inside and Out

Over the weekend, I finally got the chance to check out Milan’s famed Duomo, that jagged, Gothic behemoth that defines the city’s traditional skyline. Also known as Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary of the Nativity), the Duomo is the second largest church in Italy (second only to Saint Peter’s in size) and it took more than 500 years to complete, with more than 78 architects and engineers heading the project from its groundbreaking in 1386 to its completion in 1965. Continue reading The Milano Duomo, Inside and Out

Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

In 1499, Tuscan artist Luca Signorelli signed a contract to paint two remaining sections of the Cappella Nuova (new chapel) of the Duomo in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. By 1502 (or 1504, depending on which documentation you read), he had completed his “End of the World” fresco cycle in what is now known as the San Brizio Chapel. Continue reading Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

Cool Italian Street Art from The Drawing Bike

Rachele del Nevo parks her bike every day on the corner of Piazza Della Rotonda within view of the Pantheon. It is here, right outside of Tazza D’Oro (one of the city’s best known coffee shops) that she sells her one-of-a-kind souvenir drawings of some of the city’s gorgeous landmarks. Continue reading Cool Italian Street Art from The Drawing Bike

On This Day: ‘La Dolce Vita’ Wins the Cannes Film Festival

Fifty-five years ago today—May 20, 1960—Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Watch “Three Reasons” why this film remains a classic.

For more details on where “La Dolce Vita” was filmed, explore this list of Fellini’s film locations from Rome and Rimini.

Photo of the Day: Mithras in the Vatican

Before Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, many people worshipped Mithras, the pagan God depicted here. Continue reading Photo of the Day: Mithras in the Vatican

No Bull: Italy Has A New Museum Devoted to Sh*t

A newly opened museum in Italy wants to explore man’s relationship to manure. The Museo Della Merda (i.e., The Museum of Sh*t) is located at a dairy farm, on the ground floor of a medieval castle, in the village of Castelbosco (Piacenza) in Emilia Romagna. Continue reading No Bull: Italy Has A New Museum Devoted to Sh*t

Classical Sculptures in Miniature Form at New Venice Exhibit

If you’re in Venice for the Biennale, consider stopping by Fondazione Prada’s “Portable Classic” exhibit, which features mini models of famous Italian sculptures, including the Farnese Hercules and the Laocoön.

Source: Prada Exhibit Showcases Miniature Reproductions of Classical Sculptures : Architectural Digest

Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday

This post is about the birth of Rome, not about the birth of Christ. Both occasions use the word “Natale” in Italian. For posts about Christmas in Rome and Italy, click here.

Most city foundation stories are pretty straightforward. But the origin story of the city of Rome is more akin to something you would read in a comic book about superheroes.

According to city legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 B.C. by Romulus and named after him. The Natale di Roma, the birthday of Rome, is quite a complicated story.

Continue reading Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday