Guest Blog - Some Activities For An Italian Themed Day

In the 'Activity Club' we used to have a whole day devoted to a particular theme. On the Italian themed day we had a whole range of options.

Here is the outline of the day.

Theme: Italy (March 19th is 'St Joseph’s Day' in Italy)

Orientation Session.

Current Affairs & Sports discussion.

Stories of Italy / Reminiscence of Italian travels.

What is St Joseph’s Day?

Armchair Travels to Italy and exercise.

Building the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa'.

'The Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower Challenge' & 'Throwing Coins in the Trevi Fountain'.

Italian Art

Italian Opera and Classical Music Appreciation.

The Venice Masquerade Carnival.

Making Masquerade Masks

Singing and Dancing

Making Mosaics

Learning Some Italian Words Game

Italian Crossword Quiz

Roman Dining Etiquette Quiz

Watching some 'Il Divo' or Italian opera DVD


Mask Making

I downloaded from the internet some templates, or people drew their own masks by free-hand. They coloured them in and embellished them with feathers, stickers etc. We threaded them with their choice of ribbon and people enjoyed wearing them for a photo.

Our Masquerade Ball (I am the gondolier on the right)


I cut up pieces of card and people glued them onto card to make their own picture. I also had a mosaic template in case anyone wanted to colour one in.

Two paper mosaics that people made, and a proper mosaic that had been a previous long term project in our 'Activity Club' that we made with broken ceramic tiles are shown below.

Throwing a Coin in the Trevi Fountain Game

People threw ‘coins’ from a Connect 4 game into cups of (a little) water to see who could score the highest.

The Tower of Pisa Challenge (Leaning or otherwise)

Teams of 2 worked together to see who could build the best/tallest tower using only spaghetti and marshmallows.

I hope these photos give you a few ideas.


I also used to prepare sessions on my laptop computer and connect my laptop to the television with a cable and show 'Youtube' clips or do picture quizzes etc.

Here are my resources for the Italian Activity Plan:

A coin thrown in Trevi Fountain is said to ensure the comeback to Rome; two coins thrown ensure romance with a Roman (either male or female), and three coins thrown ensure the marriage with him or her. The legend says you should stand with your back towards the fountain and coins should be thrown over your left shoulder.

'Three Coins In A Fountain' (Frank Sinatra - with Lyrics) - YouTube

Italian Art Shown to the Group

We discussed the quality and meaning of these great art works, most of which were known to the group.

Leonardo Da Vinci - The Mona Lisa

The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci

The Birth of Venus - Sandro Botticelli

The Creation of Adam - Michelangelo

The Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo

The Statue Of David - Michelangelo

Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan - Giovanni Bellini

Vitruvian Man - Leonardo Da Vinci

Walls Cornetto Ad - YouTube

The UK TV ad for Walls Cornetto (which are still available today) takes the piss out of 'O Sole Mio', which is a well known Neapolitan song, composed in 1898 by Eduardo Di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi (lyrics by Giovanni Cappuro). 'O Sole Mio' translates as 'My Sunshine'.

Italian Opera

'Nessun Dorma' (meaning 'None Shall Sleep') from Puccini's 'Turandot' and sung by 'The Three Tenors' (comprising Spaniards Plácido Domingo and José Carreras, and Italian Luciano Pavarotti)

Italian opera is both the art of opera in Italy and opera in the Italian language. Opera was born in Italy around the year 1600 and Italian opera has continued to play a dominant role in the history of the form until the present day. Many famous operas in Italian were written by foreign composers, including Handel, Gluck and Mozart. Works by native Italian composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, are amongst the most famous operas ever written and today are performed in opera houses across the world.

Venice Carnival Masquerade

A clip of the 'Venice Masquerade Ball 2018'. The event takes place each Spring.

'The Masquerade Ball begins' From 'The Phantom of the Opera'. 2004 film starring Gerard Butler & Emmy Possum.

The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia, Venetian: Carnevàl de Venexia) is an annual festival held in Venice, Veneto, Italy. The Carnival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso or Mardi Gras), which is the day before Ash Wednesday. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.”

Some Italian Folk Songs

Italian Folk Song - 'Tarantella Napoletana' (As a dance and folk music staple of southern Italy, the Tarantella served as an inspiration for numerous composers in the Western classical tradition.)

Folk Dance - Sicilian Tarantella (Italy)

The dance originates with the bite of the Tarantula, Arania or Apulcian Spider. The dance itself was used to cure the poison from the bite of the spider. Town folks would play music and the afflicted person would dance non-stop to avoid succumbing to the poison. Women working in the fields would use frenetic dancing when they were bitten by spiders in order to sweat the venom out through their pores.

St Joseph’s Day