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Exploring Geography: Italy

Today’s Exploring Geography is all about Italy, the ancestral home of Jacquie Fisher! Jacquie believes that learning is a fun and lifelong experience – and should always involve exploring new places. She’s raising two very curious kids in Kansas City, along with one faithful dog and an unimpressive garden. When she’s not planning a new experience, Jacquie blogs at Edventures with Kids where she encourages families to try new activities, get outdoors and read with their kids. Check out her Apple Books and Activities, DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar, and 8 Ways to Give Kids a BIG Canvas posts!

Exploring Geography at Mama Smiles

Ciao! That’s Italian for “hi” (pronounced: chow) I’d like to share a little about the country of Italy with you!

Italy – Fun Facts

Italy is one of the most recognizable countries on the map – most people will tell you its shaped “like a boot”. If you locate the country on a map (look in Southern Europe), you can see the shape is similar to a ladies’ high-heeled boot:

map-of-Italy

Italy is a peninsula (mostly surrounded by water) and juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.

Quite a few famous people came from Italy:

  • If you visit a museum, you might see a great work of art by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo
  • Your child may attend a preschool that was based on the teachings of Maria Montessori or Reggio Emilia
  • Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus were famous Italian explorers who went on to discover different parts of the world

Italian Food

Some very ‘kid-friendly’ foods are associated with Italy – pizza and pasta! Most kids love both of these. In Italy, pizza was invented in Naples around 1860. Pasta, including spaghetti and lasagna, are both very famous Italian dishes that are served around the world. When I was young, my Grandmother (whose family is from Sicily) taught me how to make pasta sauce. I never knew pasta sauce was sold in a jar until I grew up because all of my family made their sauce at home in a big pot!

Even though I’m a huge fan of pasta, my favorite Italian food is the pizzelle. This is a special waffle-type cookie that’s traditionally made for Italian holidays and special occasions, such as weddings. I still make pizzelles at our home every year (especially during the holidays).

In order to make a pizzelle, you need place the cookie batter between two special irons and press them together. Here’s an example of what a pizzelle iron looks like before the baking the cookie.

pizzelle-iron

When the cookie is done, it has beautiful designs on both sides.

pizzelle-cookies

Children’s Books (Book is libro, pronounced: lee-broh, in Italian)

Family is very important in Italian culture. Many of the children’s books about Italy tell stories of how families and neighbors support and help one another.

One of my favorite children’s authors, Tomie dePaola, wrote many books about a character he named ‘Strega Nona’ who lives in Italy. Nona is the slang term for ‘grandma’ – in Italian, Grandmother is ‘Nonna’. In her books, Strega Nona is famous for helping those in her village to solve their problems.

Tomie dePaola wrote many other books that you would also enjoy! If you would like to read some of his books, join us for our Virtual Book Club this year – Tomie dePaola is one of the featured authors.

depaola-books

I hope to someday visit Italy as I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country – and I would love to see where my ancestors lived.

Arrivederci! or good-bye! (pronounced: ah-ree-vuh-dehr-chee)

Thank you, Jacquie, for this wonderful introduction to Italy! I’m looking forward to reading a bunch of Tomie dePaola books as part of the Virtual Book Club, and I think I need to try some pizzelle cookies!

Interested in writing for this series? Email mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com.

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

17 thoughts on “Exploring Geography: Italy”

  1. We had lasagna tonight! :) I think Italy is my favourite European country to visit, and one of my best friends here in Australia is Italian. I’ll have to find out if she has a pizzelle iron… looks delicious!

  2. Heather@Creative Family Moments

    Awesome. I truly hope to visit Italy someday! But alas, the food will hold me over for now. (;

  3. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    Yep, I love pizza and pasta (and I enjoyed my share of gelato in Florence) but while in Italy what truly memorized me was the artwork. I am still awestruck at the wonder that is Michelangelo’s David. Just amazing. “The Agony and The Ecstasy” by Irving Stone is a fascinating historical novel that takes you into the life of Michelangelo and the history of Italy. I LOVE that book!

    I had the joy of meeting Tomie dePaola many years ago. He was very kind and the most engaging children’s author I have met!

  4. I love Tomie dePaola!!! I was introduced to him through the Strega Nona books and have read all his books to my kids. He is a gem for sure.

  5. I LOVE pizzelle! I remember doing meals on wheels with my grandparents when I was little and this old Italian couple would always give me a pizzelle or two dusted in powdered sugar!

  6. I’ve been to Italy…once! I would love to go back…the food (as you can tell) is just amazing! Love this series that you do.

  7. I spent some time in Milan for work many years ago and it really made a lasting impression on me! I think it would be amazing to bring the kids!

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