At this time of year, many Americans start thinking of trips to Europe. More specifically, most of us here at CiaoDC.com begin dreaming of the sights and sounds of Italy. However, that is still not a possibility for many of us due to tight economic constraints. This Spring you are in luck. The DC metro region is in for a real surprise as Destination DC, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Embassy of Italy uncover the secrets of Italian culture here in the nation's capital!
From March 1 - July 31, 2011, Washington, DC will pay homage to the myriad of contributions from Italians, ranging from classic to contemporary culture. The showcase of architecture, art, dance, design, fashion, music, theatre, film, and cuisine is aptly named, La Dolce DC. This magnificent jubilation does more than mark the 50th anniversary of the Fellini film,La Dolce DC, its real significance is the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
Elliott Ferguson, president & CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for the nation’s capital explained “Travelers come to DC looking for unique and exclusive cultural experiences, and we are serving these up with an Italian accent this spring and summer. . . This promotion is also an opportunity for us to highlight the Italian influences you can always find in DC, from the city’s neoclassical architecture to its hot new Italian restaurants.”
La Dolce DC festivities will include exclusive DC engagements of Italian art at The Phillips Collection and the National Gallery of Art, the latter of which will exhibit the promotion's headliner Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals.
Highlights of the five-month festival include:
Philip Guston, Roma: The Phillips Collection is the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition of nearly 40 paintings by the former artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome (Feb. 12-May 15).
Washington National Opera’s “Madama Butterfly” (Feb. 26-March 19) and “Don Pasquale” (May 13-27), two of the final productions to be mounted by the company under General Director Plácido Domingo.
Italian Fashion, Trade & Design Shows: The Embassy of Italy will host a trade and design show at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center highlighting collections from emerging Italian designers (April 2-4) as well as a special fashion show featuring the latest designs by Fendi (April 10).
La Dolce DC Gospel: African-American gospel choirs will sing Italian music in Roman Catholic tradition (April 17).
Murano Glass Shows: Stunning sculptural and commercial works by Lunardon, a prominent glass sculptor, will be on display at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
The Etruscans: An Ancient Culture Revealed: The National Geographic Museum explores the fascinating culture that dominated the Italianpeninsula centuries before the rise of the Roman Republic (June 10-Sept. 25).
“The Merchant of Venice”: The Shakespeare Theatre Company stages the classic tale of intrigue, power and revenge, set against the backdrop of Venice (June 24-July 11).
The promotion also invites visitors to explore DC landmarks and locations with Italian and Italian-American influences, including:
The U.S. Capitol, with its breathtaking frescoes painted by Constantino Brumidi;
“Little Rome,” the Northeast DC neighborhood named for its collection of more than 60 Roman Catholic sites such as the Franciscan Monastery and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception;
The Watergate complex, designed by architect Luigi Moretti;
Works of art found in the permanent collections of DC museums and galleries, such as “Ginevra di Benci,” the only Leonardo da Vinci portrait in the Americas, on display at the National Gallery of Art, and works by pioneering women artists Elisabetta Sirani and Lavinia Fontana at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The Lincoln Memorial and the National Archives, with sculptural elements by Italian-American stone carvers, the Picirilli Brothers.
The Dolce DC would not be complete without a display of Italy's rich culinary history, including:
Garden Café Italia at the National Gallery of Art, an on-site eatery that has been transformed to serve a menu of classic and contemporary Italian fare developed by notable chef Fabio Trabocchi, who will open his own downtown DC restaurant, Fiola, in the Spring.
Bibiana, dubbed one of the “Best New Restaurants of 2010” by John Mariani in Esquire
Graffiato, the latest venture for “Top Chef All-Stars” contestant Mike Isabella, opening in Spring, will complement the cultural happenings with Italian flavors on the table.
Some of DC's best hotels are joining the promotion to offer Italy-themed packages.
At the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Hotel, visitors can book the “Roman Holiday” package, which includes overnight accommodations, a three-course Italian dinner for two, two tickets to The Phillips Collection and a DVD of the Audrey Hepburn classic. The package starts at $309 and is available March 1 through May 30.
For the latest information about all things Italian in DC, Destination DC has launched a dedicated website, ladolcedc.org. Check back often with CiaoDC.com and www.ciaodc.blogspot for more details and reviews of all La Dolce DC's exquisite offerings.