Grab a FRONT ROW SEAT in your Italian Staycation!
Istituto Mondo Italiano is happy to announce its series of Virtual Tours of Italy with LIVE Tour guides in Italy that will take you from Venice to Milan, from Rome to Naples, from Pompei to Florence to conclude this 10-series virtual Tours with a live "Graduation Dinner" in Orvieto with Chef Lorenzo, for a cook along experience while learning secrets of the Umbrian cuisine and his experience as a Guest at the White House for two different US Presidents.
PRIORITY ACCESS to the Graduation Dinner will be given first to people who have attended one of our Virtual Tours as we will have limited "virtual" seatings.
FIRST TOUR! Saturday Feb. 27th at 10:00am - Venice - Highlights from St Mark's Square to Rialto Bridge with Elisabetta. Meet Elisabetta and Mauro!
Venice - Highlights from St. Mark's Square to Rialto (Sat. Feb. 27th at 10am EST)
Meet at the Bridge of Sighs, see the Palace of the Prisons, the Doge’s Palace, admire the magnificent St Mark’s Square, then explore the Merchants’ Street and its alleyways. We view the Rialto Bridge and cross together to end up at the Vegetable and Fish Market area.
FUN FACT#1: Did you know that Venice welcomes on average 30 million guests every year which means there are around 80000 people in the city every day! Nowadays Venice has a population of 50000.
FUN FACT#2: Did you know that the first 'fork' arrives in Venice with the Byzatin princess Maria Argyropoulaina in the year 1003?
Venice - Grand Canal, Ships and the Merchants of Venice (Sunday Feb 28th at 10am)
Start at the Arsenale, the biggest shipyard of medieval times, then ride a boat along the Grand Canal and marvel at the Palazzi lining the watery main street of Venice. Learn everything about the maritime trade of the Serenissima and its banking history and finish at the Rialto Bridge, once the heart of trade and news.
FUN FACT#1: The word pants (and pantaloons) come from the character of Pantalone from the Venetian Comic Theatre genre. He wore…well, pants. Pantalone is Greek for all compassionate. So, your pants are very kind…
FUN FACT#2: Did you know that Venice made a big slice of her revenue selling salt?
Florence - Highlights of the Reinassance (March 6th @10:00am)
The tour includes the religious centre of Florence with the Duomo and the Baptistery, the main commercial area leading to the political centre with Piazza della Repubblica (once the ancient Roman Forum), Piazza della Signoria, the showcase of the best Florentine Renaissance statuary (including the first ever made replica of the David), the Palazzo Vecchio, house of the Uffizi Picture Gallery, view of the Ponte Vecchio on the River Arno, hub of the Gothic Line during WWII. Learn about the main ideas of the Renaissance and its buildings.
FUN FACT#1: Florence comes from the Latin word for flower, and the Duomo’s official name is Saint Mary of the Flower.
FUN FACT#2: Florentines love to eat the stomach of cows, boiled and dressed with herbs, salt and pepper. Not for the faint hearted!
Rome - Baroque Rome, Piazza, and Fountains (March 13th@10:00am)
The Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona are a few of the highlights of this tour. Along the way we see fountains and more spectacular piazzas and palazzi.
FUN FACT#1: Rome has approximately 2000 fountains between big and small. The drinking fountains are called “nasoni” which means big noses, and drinking from them is a Roman art in itself. We will show you how…
FUN FACT#2: Visitors throw in the fountain up to 3,000 euros ($600) per day! In fact, every year about one million euros is collected from the fountain and donated to several charities. But don’t try to walk into the water. The fine is around $500!
Rome - Jewish Ghetto Tiber Island, and the Heretics (March 20th@10am)
The tour highlights the Jewish influence on Roman history, culture and food. The Jewish Quarter is rich with Ancient and Medieval history. We view the river Tiber and reach the Tiber Island, once home to an important temple of the God of Medicine Aesculapius. We admire one of the oldest bridges of Rome and reach the Campo dei Fiori. Now also a flower market, this piazza was the seat of the burning of a “heretic”.
FUN FACT#1: The Jewish community is one of the oldest in Rome. Jews started to live in Rome more than 2000 years ago and their influence on the culture and food of Rome cannot be underestimated.
FUN FACT#2: A significant contribution of Jewish gastronomy to Roman cuisine is the recipe for deep fried artichoke, a must when you visit the Jewish Quarter.
Rome - Ancient Rome from the Colosseum to Capitol Hill (March 27th@10:00am)
Start at the Colosseum where we learn about its architecture and uses, then walk along the Roman Fora and follow ancient Roman history through its politics and religious ideas. Climb up the Capitol Hill for a magnificent view of the Forum and Michelangelo’s Renaissance Piazza.
FUN FACT: The original 1918 plan for the US National Highway System proposed 50000 miles of road across the US. The ancient Roman Empire had…just guess…50000 miles of road, all of which of course led to…
FUN FACT#2: During its long history, the Colosseum has been used as a church, a fortified castle, a glue factory and until 1871 there were around 400 types of flowers and plants growing in it, practically making it a botanical garden.
Naples - Highlights of the historical center (April 10th at 10am)
The tour starts in Piazza Bellini with the origin of Greek Naples and part of its ancient walls. The admire a unique church façade at the Gesu’, the church of Santa Chiara, medieval San Domenico, the famous spaccanapoli (Naples Breaker) street of Roman times, then the area of San Gregorio Armeno with its presepi (nativity scenes) shops. The tour then ends by the church of San Paolo Maggiore and next to the underground area of Naples.
FUN FACT#1: The pizza is probably Naples’ most famous contribution to the world food. Did you know that the Pizza Margherita was named after a Queen?
FUN FACT#2: The gelato wafer cone was invented in Naples. It served both as a practical and delicious purpose.
Pompeii - They thought it was only a mountain! (April 11th at 10:00am)
Buried under a thick layer of ashes during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, Pompeii was rediscovered by chance more than 250 years ago, giving as a precious insight into the everyday lives of ancient Romans. We will see the Forum, streets, houses, shops and a bakery with the oven still intact.
FUN FACT#1: Carbonized bread was found inside an oven in a bakery perfectly preserved, as well as grape seeds. Wine using the same variety of grapes was made a few years ago.
FUN FACT#2: The Pompeians thought that the Vesuvius was just a mountain as it had not erupted for centuries and was covered with vegetation up to the top as shown in a fresco found in Pompeian house.
Milan - Capital of Fashion, Opera and Gothic (April 17th at 10am)
Capital of opera, fashion, and home to one of the best examples of Gothic cathedrals in the world. During our walk, we will explore a lesser known neighborhood of the city which houses the best picture gallery in Milan, then we move to the Scala Opera Theatre where we admire the outside and learn why Milan became famous for opera. We then walk through the famous Galleria, lined with expensive cafes and shops, and end up on the Duomo square, where thousands of statutes will be looking at us from the majestic Duomo.
FUN FACT#1: The symbol of Milan is the Biscione (Big Snake) in the act of devouring a child. Legend has it that during the middle ages a dragon would eat children in Milan. Umberto Visconti managed to kill the dragon and chose it as the symbol for his family.
FUN FACT#2: In Italy, 1 in 4 inventions are patented in the Milan area. The first metal helicopter -steam engine operated – was flown in Milan in 1877, making it effectively the first helicopter in the world.
Dinner in Orvieto with Chef Lorenzo (LIMITED SPOTS!) April 24th@3pm
A short introductory video will illustrate the main sights of Orvieto, including the magnificent Duomo, its piazzas, alleyways and medieval and Renaissance feel. Then Chef Lorenzo, a true local with international experience, will show us how to prepare two dishes using recipes from the local tradition and chat about the ingredients, culture, folklore and much more as you prepare the dishes alongside him in your kitchen.
FUN FACT#1: Orvieto is like a Swiss cheese. Full of holes, tunnels and wells in its underground. They were excavated since Etruscan times, around seven centuries BCE. Archaeologists have counted 1200. So far…
FUN FACT#2: Spelt (Farro) is one of the oldest grains in the world, cultivated since 5000 BCE. In Orvieto and Umbria, it is the base for many hearty soups and was one of the main food staples even in Etruscan and Roman times.