Dreaming of Italy: Virtual Travel Seminars to Feed Your Wanderlust

Last updated on June 25th, 2021

Ciao, Italy!

By Brenda McCrank, Journeywoman Advisory Council

JourneyWoman’s exclusive new partnership with Context Travel offers those of us at home an opportunity to learn from experts in academia, history and the arts.

I’ve already signed up for three Italian seminars and am now considering a fourth. I also have a list of others I’ll probably sign up for as well … and don’t get me started on the French ones (I missed the cheese seminar and was so disappointed but was able to get put on a waitlist to be informed when it will run again) … 

Check the Context Conversations Website for upcoming dates and use your special JourneyWoman discount code TRAVELJWCC for a 15% discount on your first purchase! 

Disclaimer: We’re so happy that you’re checking out this page! We are committed to being transparent about all content that we publish. Should you decide to purchase a seminar or course from Context Travel using a link from our site, JourneyWoman may earn a very small commission, which helps us maintain this website and continue to produce our free monthly magazine and other free services.  We only recommend things that are suggested by our community or through our own experience that we believe will be practical and helpful for you. We welcome your questions and feedback about any articles published on our site. 


Italian Riveria

The Cinque Terre and the Italian Riveria: Behind the Postcard With Karen Nilson  

The Italian Riviera sounds very intriguing especially since little is known of the people of Cinque Terre and because their rich history will be explored by someone with inside knowledge.

Walking Tours

Walking to Heaven: Italy’s Via Matildica with Kate Bolton-Porciatti

I’ve signed up for this one because it is a serene walk through a forgotten land – far from the maddening crowds’. Lately, I’ve been contemplating taking a solo camping trip across Canada to get to Vancouver and I have been watching solo women van travelling videos on YouTube. These slow, Camino walking adventures appeal to me.

Walking through Chianti: From Florence to Siena with Kate Bolton-Porciatti

This is another one I am sorely tempted to sign up for now as well … since it is a walk through villages surrounding where I lived in a villa (in Ferrone) for the better part of a year 1981/82 AND people can’t seem to say enough good things about Kate Bolton-Porciatti.


Art History

Volume 1: Artemisia Gentileschi, “The Spirit of Caesar in the Soul of a Woman” with Hilary Bockham

 Volume 2: Artemisia Gentileschi and How Her Paintings Speak with Hilary Bockham

I chose these two because the absolute highlight of my entire sabbatical year was the Artemisia Gentileschi exposition in Paris at the small Gallery Maillol that opened the day before I was booked to leave. I looked forward to it the entire time I lived there and it did not disappoint. I’d seen her work in the Vasari corridors of the Uffizi gallery 1982 when it remained squirrelled away from public view after our teacher pulled a few strings and got us a quick whip around underground at carnival ride speed.

I’d heard of Artemisia through Carmen Ceraceda, another OCA teacher who had mentored me in painting during my time there. She’d recommended I read The Obstacle Race by Germaine Greer and I’d become aware of so many women artists whose work was never shown and if it was, it was mistaken as masterpieces of some of the top male artists and once discovered were taken down rather than kept in place with corrected signage.

The Uffizi Galleries

If these aren’t to your taste, try the two Uffizzi seminars (that I will sign up for at another time since I spent so much time here during my year of art studies in Italy).

Volume 1: Treasures of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence with Alessandra Becucci

Volume 2: Treasures of the Uffizi Gallery In-Depth with Alessandra Becucci

Cooking and Wine Classes

Cooking Class: Cantucci, Traditional Biscotti from Tuscany with Gina Tringali

Any and all seminars on food appeal to me. This biscotti one has an ingredient list and is taught by Gina who does the Cacio e Pepe pasta seminar (see below).

An Introduction to Italian Wine: Regions, Quality Levels and Winetasting With Rachel Erdman

I don’t see that they’ve recommended wines to bring to the class though they’ve said to join them in the tasting … and I don’t see any comments by those who have taken it to let you know what they brought to the table for the class either. On the other hand, the woman presenting has good credentials + knows her cheeses, too – but it doesn’t say if she’ll be speaking to wine and cheese pairings.

I’d take it out of curiosity but these would be things I’d be hoping for (a few wine recommendations prior to the class and some cheese pairings after seeing they are touting her credentials in both wine and cheese) … I visited her website and Prosecco wine tasting is mentioned in all the reviews … maybe ask at a wine store for recommendations from Northern Italy or show up with an Amarone or Valpolicella and partake in the experience.

If I were to choose this one, I would also choose the class at 11 am on the same day learning how to make Cacio e Pepe …

Cooking Class: Cacio e Pepe, a Roman Classic with Gina Tringali

I see that they have an ingredient list (but don’t list the exact amounts) – it’s a Roman culinary specialty though so choosing a wine from this region to pair with it would be more in keeping … maybe a Chianti to go with … it would sure make for a fun Sunday!

And finally…

The Sicilian Mafia: A Darker Side of Italian History with Anita Bestler

 This one on the mafia looks kind of exciting. I remember being told when we lived there that the Catholic Churches were where the communists held all their meetings and that the mafia were around every corner.

To Book Your Seminar

JourneyWoman Readers

JourneyWoman readers receive a 15% discount for your first purchase when using the link provided below. Please include code TRAVELJWCC when signing up for your first experience. Click here to start learning and planning! 

Brenda lives in Toronto and is a member of our JourneyWoman Advisory Council. 

She is a graduate of Sheridan College, Ontario College of Art (Off-Campus Program in Florence, Italy) and Ottawa University where she studied Fine Arts. She recently retired from the job of her dreams, teaching foundation art to Art Fundamentals students, and loves cooking/ preserving/ baking  and puttering in her downtown Toronto condo on projects, like her roof deck, where she’s putting in a greenhouse.” 

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