• Betsey

Virtual Family Adventures to Italy: Recipes, Books and Intentional Learning Activities

Updated: Mar 27


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Start your virtual Italian adventure now by taking a Grand Tour of Italy where you can learn about the history of Italy, tour fireworks from the heart of Venice and explore beautiful artwork in the Uffizi Gallery.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.


Exploring Italy Through Books:


1. Living in Italy

I love that this book focuses on Italy as a whole country. It's colorful illustrations make it easy and fun to learn about facts and life in Italy.


2. This is Venice

We own This is Venice, first published in 1961. The illustrations of the gondolier navigating the winding canals to visit landmarks as the Palazzo Grassi, Piazza San Marco, Doges Palace, and the Accademia di Belle Arti are lovely.


3. This Is Rome

We collect this hardback book series as souvenirs from most of the countries we visit. This is a classic series with beautiful illustrations and gives a fun and informative tour of Rome.


4. The Authentic Story of Pinocchio of Tuscany

This book is an Italian classic created in Tuscany. The illustrations are reproductions of paintings by Roberto Ciabani, celebrated Florentine painter who was designated magnificent master of Florence, Italy for his artistic work.


5. You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator

This book tells how hard it was to be a gladiator. The kids love all the details of armor, training, and gladiator life.


6. Madeline and the Cats of Rome

You can do some sight-seeing in Rome with Madeline. Join Miss Clavel and twelve little girls as they take in the sights and scenes of Rome.


7. Strega Nona

This is a classic and silly children's book about a grandmother witch who entrusts her magical pasta pot to her helper, Big Anthony. While she is out, he turns on the magic pasta pot and then can’t turn it off. Pasta spills out of the pot, then out of the house and into the town.

8. Olivia Goes to Venice

This is a cute story about Olivia who takes a family vacation to Venice where she dodges pigeons in the Piazza San Marco, fills her belly with gelato, and barely stays afloat in a gondola.


9. More Spaghetti, I Say

This is a simple, rhyming book great for young children. It will put you in the mood to make some homemade pasta.


Audible:

You can listen to the following books through a free trial on Audible. We love listening to audible books on Alexa while we cook, craft and explore. These are some of of our favorites.


1. Who Stole Mona Lisa

In Who Stole Mona Lisa?, author Ruthie Knapp tells about the disappearance of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911-retold from the point of view of the painting.

2. Geromino Stilton: Who Stole The Mona Lisa

Our kids all love Geromino Stilton books. In this book, Geronimo travels back to Renissance Italy to Venice in 1517, to stop the Pirate Cats from stealing the Mona Lisa.

3. Magic Treehouse: Vacation Under the Volcano

This is one of the many Magic Tree House books we’ve read to help us learn about different countries and historical events. This story takes us to ancient Pompeii on the very day of the the catastrophic volcano eruption.


4. Greetings from Somewhere: The Mystery of the Mosaic

This is another awesome series about a world schooling family who visit different countries, solve mysteries, travel, and adventure.


5. Who is Leonardo Da Vinci

The Who Is series is one of our family's favorite biography series. This biography is about Leonardo da Vinci's life as a gifted painter, talented musician, and dedicated scientist and inventor, designing flying machines, submarines, and even helicopters. It's a portrait of a fascinating man who lived at a fascinating time—Italy during the Renaissance.


Mini Italy Fact Book:

We love these printable travel books and purchase them for each country we visit. They end up being some of our favorite souvenirs. They are super affordable and it's nice supporting the hard working teachers who created them.


For older kids I suggest these great printable Italy research projects!


Italian Receipes:


Make Easy Homemade Pasta


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 3 large eggs (4 if you have small eggs)

  • water

  • salt

Instructions:


  1. Measure out the flour and create a little crater in the center. Then add the eggs to the middle of this crater.


2. Use your fingers and slowly mix the eggs and flour together. Knead until you make the dough into a small ball. If it’s too moist add a pinch of flour. Add a bit of water if it's too dry. (Hint: it will be a little sticky at first, but the more you work it, the dough will become smooth. It’s important to knead well.)


3. Cut dough into four even pieces. This helps me to roll it out before I use my pasta machine. Rolling it out isn’t super important, but try to get dough into consistent pieces. You can cut your pasta with a knife, pizza cutter, or scissors but a pasta machine just makes it more fun.


4. Boil a big pot of salted water on the stove.


5. Drop your pasta in the salted water and boil for 2-3 minutes.


6. Serve with sauce of choice. 


To dry and store pasta I have this pasta drying rack on my wishlist.



Virtual Pasta Making:

A few years ago we were able to take a pasta making class in Tuscany, Italy from the amazing staff at Al Gelso Bianco. It was the best pasta I have ever had. Stay tuned as they will soon be offering virtual cooking classes for you and your families too!


Homemade Pizza Dough:

Make an easy, yummy pizza dough recipe from:

https://houseofnasheats.com/pizza-dough-recipe/


Make Your Own Gelato:

Recipe by: www.toyoupiter.com/

Make some true, authentic, Italian gelato for your friends or family.


My main advice, take your time with this recipe and don’t rush. Also, you will have to stir a lot unless you purchase this great gelato maker


Ingredients:


Preparation:

  1. Warm the milk, add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and two teaspoons of sugar and the milk powder. Make sure to stir it well. Then lower the heat and leave it to infuse.

  2. Add to bowl egg yolks, sugar and the rest of vanilla extract. Stir the mixture for about 10 min until the texture becomes fluffy and increased in volume.

  3. Gently reheat the milk, but not too much, it has to be warm and not boiling. Slowly pour the milk over the beaten eggs. Just don’t rush it.

  4. Put the mixture again on the low heat and continuously stir it. Cook slowly until the mixture has thickened enough that it could cover the back of a metal spoon.

  5. Pour the mixture into the chilled down the bowl and stir it, when it gets cold enough then put it in the freezer.

  6. After about 30 min take it out and beat the mixture with a hand whisk, fork or hand mixer to break it to a smooth consistency. Do it a several times, freeze for 30 min and then break the mixture again. When consistency is suitable for you then put your gelato to a plastic box with lid. Take gelato from the fridge 10 minutes before serving.


If you are planning to make Italian gelato for lots of people or want to make gelato often, consider investing in a gelato maker.


Leaning Tower of Pisa Replica:

First we watched a quick video on Why Does the Leaning Tower of Pisa Lean and then took a virtual tour of the Leaning Tower.


Afterwards, I handed the kids scotch tape, play doh, markers and let them dig through the recycle bin to create their own versions of the Leaning Tower.


Be Michelangelo and Paint the Sistine Chapel

We took a Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel then I taped blank papers under the dining room table and had the kids lay flat on their backs to create their own murals. Tip: I suggest laying down a drop cloth or an old table cloth on the ground and use washable paint if you have young kids doing this.


Italian Crafts:

Crafts are a wonderful way to introduce other cultures to children. Inexpensive and easy, crafts can give both children and adults a deeper sense of appreciation for all things Italian.


Colored Pasta:

Create colored pasta. Prepare the colored pasta by mixing several drops of food coloring with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/2 pound of pasta (any shape) in a sealable plastic bag. Shake the pasta in the bag to spread the color evenly. Let the pasta lay out and dry completely on wax paper. Dye penne pasta red, green and white, and glue them on paper to form the Italian flag.


Things You'll Need:


Step 1: Place up to 12 dry noodles in a plastic sandwich bag with a zipper seal.

Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the sandwich bag.

Step 3: Add five drops of food coloring to the bag

Step 4: Close the baggie and shake it vigorously for 45 seconds or until the noodles are dyed to the shade you want.

Step 5: Unzip the sandwich bag and fold the opening over so that the noodles are exposed to air.

Step 6: Allow the noodles to dry completely, which can take up to one hour depending on the climate. Empty them onto a plate before working with them, as the dye can still stain surfaces. Other Italy Activities:

-Build the Coliseum out of blocks

-Watch Pinocchio

-Free printable cutout pizza with toppings

-Mount Vesuvius Volcano STEM challenge

-Make armor and pretend to be a Roman Solider for the day

- Feed pigeons



Italian Trivia:

Italians take their meals in the following courses:

  • Antipasto- appetizer

  • Primo- the first course, usually soup

  • Secondo- the second course, usually meat with a side dish

  • Dulce- dessert

  • Caffe'- coffee which is served after every meal

  • The average Italian will consume 55 pounds of pasta each year.

  • The female guest of honor is always served first followed by the male guest of honor.

  • Pizza is thought to have come from Naples and was a dish served to the peasants as it used up all the "extras" of the kitchen.

  • Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, is credited for establishing the first LASTING European expedition of the Americas.

  • Italian, renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

Learn Italian:

Watch Rock and Learn to learn Italian words for colors, toys, clothes, furniture, and counting to 10.






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We are a family of 5 who love to travel, see new places, and explore the world. We love taking family adventure vacations together. It's possible to travel on a budget and have a great time! By travel hacking, we can help you do the same! 

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