Bongiorno e benvenuto in Italia! Hello, and welcome to Italy! Tonight we are going to explore this amazing country here from home, through eating, learning, and doing.

Italy is one of the most visited countries in Europe. Highlighted by extraordinary cities like Rome and Venice, iconic structures like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and amazing natural beauty like Lake Como and Capri, Italy makes an incredible destination for anyone interested in history, culture, or, of course, food. Now, let’s travel!

Parents: please keep in mind this is just an outline. You can add to the ambience of the evening through music, decor, additional activities, language, or anything else that makes sense for you and your children.

Let’s Explore Italy!

Italy looks like a boot kicking a ball, sticking from Europe down into the Mediterranean Sea. But what is there to see in Italy? Here are some highlights! Which would you most want to visit?

Parents: below is a map of Italy with five locations added. There are photos and descriptions of those below the map for you to read and show your kids. If you want to include more things, feel free! Some suggestions: Milan, Lake Como, Cinque Terra, or Siena.

1: Rome

Known as the “Eternal City,” Rome was the capitol of the Roman Empire, and is the capitol of Italy today. Visitors here will be delighted by ruins dating back thousands of years, like the famous Colosseum (below), where gladiators battled to the death to amuse crowds. Rome is also the home of Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, ruled by the Pope, and the beautifully-painted Sistine Chapel (below).

2. Capri

If you are looking for an idyllic island getaway, Capri might be your ideal destination. Blue waters, beautiful cliffs, and the unique Blue Grotto (below) are all here, just a short ferry ride away from Naples!

3. Venice

Venice is unlike any other city in the world. It has canals instead of streets! Built on stilts in the middle of a lagoon, Venice was once one of the most powerful cities in the world! Now it is one of the most popular tourist destinations, but it is slowly sinking. For an amazing experience, take a ride in a gondola (below), where the gondolier will sing to you as he guides you through the canals.

4. Florence

Florence is known as the art capitol of Italy, and it is, but it’s also so much more than that. Florence is a history lesson in itself, from a time where cities – not countries – ruled much of Europe. But yes, come for the art, like Michelangelo’s iconic David statue (below).

5. Pompeii

If you want to live like a Roman for a day, visit Pompeii, just south of Naples. In the year 79, Mt. Vesuvius (below) erupted and buried the entire city in ash, preserving it. Now, you can walk along the streets of a nearly complete Roman city!

Let’s Eat Homemade Pizza!

The Italian flag is red, white, and green, which inspired the traditional Neapolitan pizza: tomato, mozzarella, and basil. What would your flag be? Design your personal pizza around those colors, but make sure to make it taste good! Buon appetito!

Parents: use any homemade or store-bought crust you want. A tip: have your kids design their flags first, rather than just choose toppings and have to design a flag around those.

Dinner is better with some learning, so here are some fun facts about Italy! Which is most interesting to you?

-Rome is more than 2,700 years old! The oldest city in the United States is St. Augustine, Florida, which is less than 500 years old.

-The Trevi Fountain in Rome has more than $1,000,000 worth of coins tossed in each year!

-There are more than 2,500 types of cheese in Italy!

-Italians drink more than 14 billion espressos each year! That’s almost 250 for every adult AND child in Italy. Each Italian, on average, also drinks 45 bottles of wine every year.

-Abruzzo, east of Rome, has a fountain that serves FREE wine from a local vineyard.

-Venice has 177 canals and 417 bridges.

-Two other countries, Vatican City and San Marino, lie entirely inside of Italy!

-It is estimated that more than 130,000 pigeons live in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square.

-Europe has only three active volcanoes, and they are all in Italy!

-The US has 2 major political parties. Italy has 6 major parties, with more than 30 having representation total!

Let’s Build Our Own Leaning Tower of Pisa

Before restoration in 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa leaned at 5.5 degrees. It’s now at just under 4 degrees of tilt. Using anything you find at home, build your own tower. How far can you tilt it before it falls? Try to construct it with a tilt in place, rather than just tipping it over.

Italy is such an amazing country. I hope you enjoyed spending an evening there!

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