Are you dreaming about Tuscany's idyllic beauty, the bustle of Rome, or the serenity of Italy’s southern islands? Even if I can’t send you to Italy this season, I can at least bring a piece of the Mediterranean to your own home. Whether you are taking a local getaway or staying put, follow my tips on how to get a touch of Italy to your staycation.
Tour one of Italy’s best galleries
A number of Italian galleries and museums have kept their doors open, virtually speaking. Art aficionados: you can experience Italian heritage and culture with a digital 360° tour. All you need is an internet connection, and the best thing is - there are no lines. This is just a handful of galleries you can explore online:
Indulge in Italian gastronomy
One of the most wonderful ways to experience a country's culture is through its cuisine, and Italian food never disappoints. While you can always order takeout, I urge you to try your hand at rustling up your own authentic family banquet.
Italian dinners typically include four courses:
● Aperitivo: a light appetizer such as olives, cheeses, or nuts
● Antipasto: a slightly heavier dish that serves as the starter - such as a charcuterie board or slithers of prosciutto wrapped around chopped cantaloupe
● Primi: hot food is introduced to the table such as velvety risotto, hearty soup, or tangy pasta
● Secondo: the largest course of the menu, which can include meat, seafood, or vegetarian equivalents. Serve this with contorni (sides of vegetables)
● Dolce: a delicious Italian dessert such as tiramisu or gelato served with coffee!
For the most daring - attempt to bake your own focaccia. Your entire house (or rental) will smell like a real Italian kitchen - delicious.
Sip on Italian wine
Don’t forget your Italian wine. Every single region of Italy produces its own variety, and, to our relief, many are exported around the world. Pair your feast with a silky Chianti made from the beloved Sangiovese grape and a crisp yet almost creamy Pinot Bianco.
Alternatively, if you live in California, you could even book a tasting at the Tuscan-inspired Castello di Amorosa. This Tuscan Castle set in Napa is a fun winery to explore for the day.
Curl up with Italian literature
A true powerhouse of all the arts, Italy has also published its fair share of page-turners. Dip into a collection of Italo Calvino’s whimsical fables or dive into some gialli - Italian crime noir - such as Carlo Lucarelli’s Almost Blue.
Watch a classic Italian movie
With its quilt of glamorous backdrops, there is no shortage of movies that were filmed in Italy. Once you’ve seen Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr. Ripley, I recommend watching the Italian-made Cinema Paradiso, a romantic portrait of post-war Sicily.
Find your Little Italy
Many large cities in North America (as well as London in the UK) have their own Italianate neighborhoods, typically known as ‘Little Italy.’ Providing that you aren’t under lockdown, we urge you to take a wander around your nearest. Tuck into a nonna-style pizza, browse authentic products imported from Italy, and sample all the gelato you can find. Some of the best Little Italy neighborhoods in the US can be found in Providence (Federal Hill), San Diego, Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Boston.
Of course, while you’re enjoying your Italian staycation, you can also use the time to brush up on the language. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your next (or first!) trip to the Bel Paese itself.
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