How to Experience Italy Without Leaving Dallas

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Mom and kids hug while on a trip to Venice, Italy.As a travel advisor, one of the most popular destinations I plan is Italy. It has everything: history, fashion, fast cars, art, wines and liqueurs and, of course, the best food in the world.

It’s also, alas, very expensive and crowded.

For those that pine for Italy but don’t currently have a trip in the works, this article is for you. As Dallasites, we have a lot of great ways to get a taste for the culture without taking a plane across the Atlantic. You can’t throw a stone these days without hitting an Italian pizzeria in East Dallas, where I live.

But there’s so much more to Italy than pizza. And so much more to enjoy here at home without dusting off your passport. Here’s how to spend a day with your kids living la dolce vita.

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Enjoy the Morning

In the morning, head for the Dallas Farmers Market food hall to Palmieri Cafe to get an espresso for yourself and a cream-filled cannoncino for each of you to savor.

Kids view art in museum.Head to the Arts District

Visit the Dallas Museum of Art to see some Italian art. There are over a dozen pieces by Italian artists or on Italian topics — see if you can find them all!

For more Italian art, go to the opera. Plan ahead and get tickets to a family performance like Pépito at the Dallas Opera. Who says you have to go to La Scala in Milan?

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Eat Your Heart Out and Then Work It Off

For lunch, head to the Dallas-famous Jimmy’s Food Store which imports Italian food and wine (closed Sundays). Jimmy’s has been around since the 1960s, and is still operated by the sons of the original founder. Its sandwich line gets long at lunchtime, but it moves fast. The food is off the charts. Bonus: While you wait in line, you can nab some groceries for the rest of the week, such as the amazing frozen lasagna. It solves both dinner and meal train dilemmas!

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Jimmy’s is just a couple miles away from Botolino, our favorite gelato shop in town. With seasonal favorites like lime-mint, mascarpone and fig, giaduia, or the tried-and-true peanut and jelly sandwich, it will please even the most fickle of kid tastes.

In the afternoon, head to Klyde Warren Park to play bocce ball with your kids. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and provides a great opportunity to slow down the pace of life and enjoy time with your kids.

Kids ride a gondola in Italy.

Finish the Evening in Style

In the evening, take a cooking class at Eataly in NorthPark mall with your kids. Learn to make Italian classics such as pasta, pizza, or tiramisu. Or, enjoy dinner al fresco on its rooftop patio Terra (reservations recommended).

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If you are up for driving, put Las Colinas in your GPS. You can feel like you are really in Venice by taking a Gondola ride on the canal.

Is the island of Murano, home of the famous Venetian glass, more your taste? Try Dallas Glass Art where classes start from $70 for ages six and up.

Dallas offers an array of experiences to satisfy Italian cravings. Whether nibbling on pastries, taking in art, savoring authentic cuisine, or engaging in leisurely pastimes, the spirit of Italy awaits around every corner. Buon viaggio!

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