Buongiorno, e benvenuti in Italia! (And for you English speakers, “Hello, and welcome to Italy!”)
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m so happy to announce that the World Showcase Tour Series is back in action. And we’re starting back with a bang, in one of my favorite Epcot Pavilions. Italy is known worldwide for its delicious food, incredible wine, beautiful language, and unrivaled art, and the Pavilion doesn’t disappoint. It more than delivers all of these, with a healthy dose of Disney magic and family fun mixed in. While there are dozens of things to see, do, and taste, here are 5 highlights that are not to be missed:
5. Gelato Sandwiches
Yes, you read that correctly. Gelato. Sandwiches. Exactly like ice cream sandwiches, but better. Stop by Italy’s Gelati snack stand, and order your choice of any gelato flavor, and watch as it is generously scooped between two cookies to create a made-to-order, hand-made dessert dream come true. This is especially great for a hot day- grab a Gelato sandwich (or a sundae, cup or cone, if you prefer,) and post up in the shade as you enjoy your treat, and the beautiful view. If you’re not a gelato fan, not to worry, they also sell popular Italian desserts Tiramisu, and Cannoli.
4. Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
While we’re on the topic of food, let me mention that the Italy Pavilion has an abundance of amazing food options, including two (yes, two) great table service restaurants, (Via Napoli, and Tutto Italia.) However, I’d like to highlight, Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, which is one of the newer additions to the pavilion. This comfortable, intimate, adult (and family) friendly wine bar is so relaxing, and downright cool, that you’ll forget you’re in the middle of a busy theme park. The menu here includes a nice cross-section of shareable plates, pasta dishes, and Panini, but let’s be serious; we’re here for the wine. And the wine selection will not disappoint. While the kids are enjoying the aforementioned gelato sandwiches, Mom and Dad can peruse the over 200 wines, and order by the bottle or the glass. The service is great, and the drinks are even better!
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3. Amazing Family Photo Ops
Okay, the kids have gotten their gelato, the adults have gotten their wine, and everyone’s happy- time for a family photo! In my opinion, Italy is hands down one of the best spots in the World Showcase to take pictures. Whether you pose next to the impressive Neptune Fountain, in front of the replica of St. Mark’s Campanile (the tall tower in the front of the Pavilion), or by the Venetian “barbershop” poles by the Lagoon, you’re sure to get a great picture. The pinkish tint of the buildings look amazing against the blue sky on a sunny day, and serves as a beautiful background. If you point the camera the right way, you can even capture the iconic Spaceship Earth building in the background, across the Lagoon.
2. Sbandieratori di Sansepolcro
Try saying that five times fast! While the title is a bit of a mouthful, it roughly translates to mean “really cool flag throwing show,” and it’s sure to be fun for the whole family. Okay, it actually means “flag throwers of Sansepolcro,” which is a Tuscan village, and it highlights the traditional Italian art of flag throwing. Arriving to Disney in late 2014, this is one of the newest acts in Epcot, and I’ve got to say, it’s a lot of fun. At the top of the show, a team of brightly dressed, court jester looking performers enter with lots of fanfare and excitement. Through the course of the approximately 15 minute show, there’s live music accompanying an impressively choreographed show featuring fun and entertaining twirling and tossing of beautifully designed flags. As a bonus, every seat in the house is a great one, because the group performs on a raised platform right in the middle of the pavilion.
1. La Bottega Italiana
As I mentioned above, Italy really does have it all, and the selection of goods available at La Bottega Italiana proves that. This small store packs a lot of amazing items into the somewhat limited space, but between the available wine, pasta, specialty candies, glassware, Venetian flags, and more, there truly is something here for everyone. For an even bigger selection, head across the way to Il Bel Cristallo, where you can peruse or purchase fine crystal, porcelain, and Murano glass jewelry, and gifts, among other treasures.
The Italy Pavilion, like the nation itself, is rich in culture, art, food, and tradition. It makes for a relaxing and fun place to get a delicious meal, have a great drink, see a fun show, or shop for any number of unique trinkets and goods. Although we must say “Arrivederci!” to Italy, fear not, because next week, we’ll be saying “Hallo!” to Germany, and all it has to offer. Don’t forget to click on the links below to miss any countries you have missed so far on our tour. See you in Deutschland!
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Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper