Italy lovers and everyone longing for a virtual tour of Italy will find incredible resources available at their fingertips. At the time I’m writing this article, Italy is under exceptional political measures reducing the freedom to travel. In some Italian regions, including Lazio, which is the region where Rome is, citizens can’t move out of the municipality they reside in. Most of the tips I’m sharing with you so that you can take a virtual trip to Italy, I’ve applied myself to keep my motivation high during this global crisis. I will expand on the following ways of visiting Italy from the comfort of your couch or bed: reading Italian novels, watching Italian movies, planning your trip to Italy in detail, studying the Italian language, taking online tours of the Italian museums and monuments in Italy, learning an Italian art, discovering Italian handicraft, and reading Italian travel blogs.
Read Italian novels
Passionate travelers from all over the world have something in common. Before they were able to travel, they all read about distant places and people in books or magazines and desired to see them in person. Let’s compare travel magazines and novels from a specific country: the purpose of writing is very different. Travel magazines inspire you to travel somewhere; they sell you a destination or an adventure. They know you love traveling and you’re about to plan your next trip. Novels are something else. If you read an Italian novel set in a particular historical period you access the mind and the heart of the author. A novel sounds more fantastic compared to a journal, but in a deeper look, this isn’t the case. When you read a novel, you walk in the writer’s shoes, you take a journey so special you wouldn’t be able to take it in real life! I’ve written an article about some popular Italian novels you can get in English immediately.
Watch Italian movies
The second most efficient way to enjoy a virtual tour of Italy is to watch Italian movies. Italian cinema became popular in the 1960s and ’70s. Those were the golden years for beautiful Italian actresses like Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti, and Sofia Loren.
If you’re in for some good Italian movies that allow you to understand Italy and the Italians better, look beyond the obvious Netflix. Oldies are good! Check out 1974’s “Swept Away” starring the tremendous actors Giannini and Melato, male and female icons we still look up to today. Discover some of the lesser-known movies with Roberto Benigni, like “The Little Devil” or “Nothing Left To Do But Cry.” Look into the work of director Nanni Moretti: his “Dear Diary” develops around a Vespa ride through an empty Rome in summer. “Il Caimano” dives into the rise of the much discussed Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi. “Bread and Tulips” is a touching sentimental movie set in contemporary Venice: the story of a bitter Italian mother who dares to take the leap and change her life for the better. If you would love a crime drama starring Kim Rossi Stuart, one of the hottest contemporary Italian male actors, look for “Angel of Evil”.
Italian series and documentaries to take a virtual tour of Italy now
There’s an Italian TV series based on the short novels by Italian author Andrea Camilleri that gained international fame. “Inspector Montalbano” is set in the fictional Sicilian village “Vigata,” where the chief of police protects his citizens from the mafia. Episode by episode, you become familiar with Salvo Montalbano, who, besides being a brave man, is a lover of simple things in life, like the Sicilian dishes from a local trattoria and the slow, digestive walks he takes along the beach every day.
For an alternative perspective on life and travels in Italy, research the internet about documentaries set in Italy. You will discover off-track destinations and issues of Italian contemporary society. I’m just about to check out these three short movies, but there are countless more:
- Stromboli, the Italian island of perpetual fire | Free to watch on the BBC website
- Natural Resistance | The natural wines revolution
- La Via Alpina | Adventure documentary about crossing the Italian Alps on foot
Plan your dream trip to Italy
For a relaxed way of traveling around Italy from your armchair, get a hardcopy guidebook like Lonely Planet, a notebook, and a pencil, and start writing your Italian bucket list. Maybe you can’t travel right now, but one day you will, and you need to be prepared. The more you know Italy, its regions and its geography, the better you can tailor your journey. Where would you go if you had 10 days, two weeks, or three weeks in Italy? Would you prioritize art cities or majestic landscapes?
The Italians prefer to spend the holidays sunbathing somewhere on the 7.500 km-long Italian coast or hiking in one of the national or regional parks of Italy. There are more natural wonders in Italy beyond the Dolomites and the Alps. Each of the 20 Italian regions boasts spectacular landscapes.
Don’t be afraid to study the Italian map. You might choose to explore one region at a time, or focus on northern, southern, or central Italy.
Once you have identified the areas you’d like to explore further, don’t forget to include the small towns along with major cities. The city and the province offer totally different experiences, and you want to try them both.
Don’t rush your virtual tour of Italy. There is so much to explore beyond Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast. Most touristy destinations might not give you the experiences you are looking for.
Study the Italian language with an Italian
From wherever you are now, one of the most efficient ways to immerse yourself in the Italian culture is to learn Italian with an Italian and befriend an Italian.
There are several online platforms offering Italian language courses. The only one I can recommend 100% is Verbling. I teach Italian on Verbling; have a look at my teacher profile. The reason I teach there is because they select language teachers carefully, letting in only the ones who are actually qualified for teaching, like myself. The lesson interface is handy and the rates so convenient!
If you can invest some money into your passion, choose to study with a native Italian speaker. You will reap the benefits immediately since an expert teacher knows how to optimize your language learning process. When you’re in Italy, you will be glad you studied some Italian.
Most of the Italians’ English is terrible…
Explore the Italian museums virtually
Italian artistic heritage is huge. Big and small Italian towns have one or more museums with ancient sculptures or paintings. The most popular Italian museums have long queues and you need to reserve your ticket in advance. If you visit the Italian museums with a virtual tour, you can better decide whether or not you would like to visit them in person. Here are a few museums with online collections you can explore right now:
- Naples National Archaeological Museum
- Cagliari Archeological Museum
- Uffizi Gallery
- Pinacoteca di Brera
- Venice Museums and Palaces
- Medieval Frescoes of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua
Discover the world of Italian handicraft
Something I love doing during my travels is discovering local handicrafts. If you could visit any of the hundreds of Italian countryside towns, you would spend hours exploring small shops and workshops that spread across the thousand-year-old historical centers. Some of the most popular places where you’d enjoy this activity are Tuscany and the Tuscia Region.
The best time to shop for Italian handicrafts in Italy is summer when all the local festivals occur. If you want to start discovering traditional and contemporary Italian handicraft immediately, the best platform available for overseas buyers is Etsy.
Learn the most popular Italian art
Italians are deeply connected to traditional Italian cooking. Eating for Italians isn’t only a natural need, but, first and foremost, it is a true passion and a way to connect with others. Italians spend hours of their free time having lunch with family or friends. A meal is never really over… There is dessert, coffee, and a tonic liquor. Knowing how to cook the most popular traditional dishes well is considered a terrific talent in both men and women. Cooking Italian dishes can be a way to experience Italy from another part of the world. Have you ever wanted to learn how to make handmade Italian bread, pizza, or lasagna? Or maybe some more simple and quick recipes like the Italian risotto?
Cooking can be a way to relax your mind and keep the whole family busy with a purpose. Homemade food is also healthier. You might also want to grow some Italian herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary in your garden. Check out my alternative recipe for pasta al pesto for some inspiration. I also recommend looking for Italian cooking channels on YouTube. My personal favorite is Cucina Geek…
Read my travel blog
When you’re looking for information on traveling in Italy, pay more attention to local bloggers. Italian bloggers are insiders: they know the most unusual and secret places, they know all the off-track sites. If you scroll through the articles on my pages Italy and Rome, you will find something to add to your Italy bucket list! Let me be your guide on your virtual tour of Italy and you’ll have access to the best experiences my country has to offer.
Let me know in the comments if this article about how to make a virtual tour of Italy was useful!