Roaming the Regions of Italy: An Up-Close Look at ‘Il Bel Paese’

Curious Minds Speaker Series


Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Fri, May 17 10:00 AM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Fri, May 24 10:00 AM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Fri, May 31 10:00 AM


Fridays, May 17 - June 21, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This spring at Curious Minds, join professor Teresa Lobalsamo (Cucina Italiana: A Mouthwatering History of Italian Food) for a spirited journey across Italy and its multifaceted regions.

As we roam across the diverse landscapes of il bel paese (‘the beautiful country’), we’ll bring a fresh perspective to old, familiar spaces while pulling back the curtain on hidden secrets and gems.

Pick up an expression or two, see the concept of la bella figura come to life in Italian fashion and art, and gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s distinctive regional cultures—each with its own colourful history, traditions and identity.

This course is led by Professor Teresa Lobalsamo, PhD, an Associate Professor Teaching Stream of Italian Food Studies, Cinema, and Language at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) where she has also had the honour of receiving awards for teaching excellence. Her current research centres on the curation of a digital archive titled "Italian-Canadian Foodways," and the publication of an e-Textbook on Italian Culture for which she gets to shoot various virtual tours in Italy.

Promotional Partner: Istituto Italiano di Cultura

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May 17 | The Starter-Pack: Italy - Il bel paese

We begin our journey with the essentials for our virtual tour. After a quick overview of Italian history, exploring some of the country’s most enduring cultural traditions (and superstitions!), we’ll zoom in on the country’s inaugural capital region, Piemonte or ‘Piedmont.’ We’ll discuss its role in shaping the country’s Unification movement and explore its stunning, UNESCO-recognized landscapes.

May 24 | Next Stop: Lombardia/Lombardy - Mountains, Made in Italy

In our second lecture, Teresa guides us across the country’s northern region of Lombardy, exploring its fascinating blend of natural beauty and cosmopolitan flair. After taking in its serene lakes and majestic Alps, we’ll head to the bustling city of Milan to discuss everything from monuments to media to the 'Made in Italy' phenomenon.

May 31 | Along the Way: Food, Art and Literature, From Coast to Coast

We embark on a tantalizing journey through the culinary landscapes of Italy as depicted in art and literature. We explore the regions of Sardinia, Tuscany, Veneto and other gastronomic hot spots to see how food transcends mere sustenance to become a vibrant expression of culture, identity and creativity.

June 7 | So Glad You Could Make It: We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1529

This week, we savour the flavours, traditions and stories of Italy’s diverse regions, as told through a history of banqueting practices, from the Romans to the Renaissance. The habits we pick up will serve us well when we attend the Este family dynasty’s grand celebration of 1529, to be held at their home—the Estense Castle in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna.

June 14 | Next Stop: Campania - From Coast to Core to Cuore (Heart)

From the jaw-dropping seascapes of the Amalfi Coast to the glittering cities that line the Gulf of Naples to the cuore (‘heart’ and ‘zeal’) of its passionate people, we discover the many charms of the Campania region.

June 21 | Final Stop: To Lazio with Love

If all roads lead to Rome, then no trip to Italy would be complete without a voyage into its surrounding region, Lazio. We’ll take a walk by the tranquil shores of Lake Bracciano and sojourn with the Pope in Castel Gandolfo, before making our way towards the country’s capital, Rome. There, we will roam Rome through the lens of cinema, discovering how its topography has shaped some of the most iconic films in cinematic history and left an indelible mark on the collective imagination of people around the world.