Little Italy comes to Bayview

  • Tue Mar 25th, 2008 10:59pm
  • Sports

Northwest Language Academy Italian teacher Monica Lenoci lends her cooking skills to last year’s Italian festival in Port Townsend. More Italian-style chefs will be on hand at this year’s festival at Bayview Corner to serve up antipasti

All’ Italia! To Italy!

Improve your Italian, learn useful phrases and cultural tips, take a tour of Italy’s art treasures, enjoy regional Italian wines and antipasti and steep yourself in the romantic music of Italy at “Attraversiamo!” It’s a weekend of all things Italian from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 29, and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at Bayview Corner.

“Attraversiamo,” literally means “let’s cross over” in Italian. Sponsors Northwest Language Academy and Goosefoot invite everyone to cross over into the romance of the Italian culture with two full days of events.

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Italian Travelers Language Cafés will be open to visitors who would like to learn useful phrases, pronunciation guidelines, cultural and travel tips.

Italian conversation tables are designed for both newcomers to get started learning helpful phrases for travel to Italy or for those already geared up for advanced conversation. The seminars will give travelers the necessary tools to get the most out of their journeys and perhaps spark a love affair with this beautiful language.

Organizer and language academy founder Josette Hendrix said the weekend attempts to infuse a true Italian style into the festivities, with music and art adding a light-hearted feel as people eat, drink and speak Italian.

“The language seminars at the cafes are truly the unifying part of the event,” Hendrix said. “The conversation tables are designed so that beginners or advanced speakers can practice, improve and stretch themselves in the language.”

The entire weekend is devoted to bringing the community together to enjoy all the different cultural aspects of the event. Conversation, food, wine and tours will offer a bit of fun for everyone, Hendrix said.

“The idea is to practice real life while enjoying art, eating antipasti and tasting wine,” she said.

At 4:30 p.m. there will be a virtual tour of Italy’s art treasures with author and tour guide Gene Openshaw.

Italy — more than any other European country — is packed with cultural sights: Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Venus, the Sistine Chapel and Venice’s glorious St. Mark’s Square.

Openshaw will give a slide show that offers a quick, fun sweep through Italy’s most iconic sights but one that also explores other art treasures off the beaten track. The show will give potential travelers a historical background that can bring the art alive and make the exploration of Italy and its abundance of art more meaningful.

Openshaw is an author, composer, tour guide and lecturer on art and history.

His “infamous” travels through Europe with Rick Steves are documented in Steves’ memoir “Postcards from Europe.”

Openshaw went on to co-author several books with Steves, including “Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler,” as well as a number of city guidebooks on London, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Florence and Rome.

His passion for Europe and his ability to bring art and history alive in a light and humorous way are well-known by those who have used his books or attended his lectures.

Saturday evening will be the chance for visitors to use their brushed-up Italian at “Serata Italiana,” or Italian evening.

Guests can enjoy some antipasti and music from roving accordion players while perhaps also listening to the strains of an aria. Visitors may also want to relax and enjoy a sampling of regional Italian wines with the Italian fare.

The evening will be hosted by classical guitarist and wine shop owner Joe Euro.

Euro has been leading wine tours of Italy and France since 2002 while stocking his Port Townsend Wine Seller wine shop.

Serata Italiana will be the perfect time for students of Italian to practice what they picked up earlier in the day at the language cafes.

It will also be peppered with some surprises to enhance the Italianate atmosphere of the festivities.

Regina Thomas, a noteworthy soprano from Northwest Pacific Opera, will lend her voice to the musical portion of the evening, perhaps rendering an Italian aria, a particular speciality of the soprano.

Also lending a colorful addition to the atmosphere is painter Anna Mastronardi, a local artist of Italian descent who will be showcasing some of her Italian landscape paintings.

Proceeds from any of Mastronardi’s sales will benefit the scholarship fund for children’s language programs at the Northwest Language Academy.

On Sunday, the fun continues at

11 a.m. for a “Primavera Toscana” cooking lesson and five-course lunch with Maggie Korvin of Ovations, a catering company in Seattle.

This demonstration class will teach participants some new twists on seasonal Italian cooking, while enjoying a traditional Italian luncheon. There is an additional fee of $45 for this class. Early registration is recommended as seating is limited.

The language academy is dedicated to providing quality, conversation-based language instruction to adults and children, as well as unique travel opportunities and cultural events.

“Because language shapes our perceptions of life and culture, we are passionate about the importance of spreading a better understanding and knowledge of the world through the use of languages other than our own,” Hendrix said.

NWLA offers programs in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Bulgarian and Chinese as well as scholarships for children’s summer camps.

Admission is $70 for all day Saturday; or separately: $50 for a language seminar; $10 for the art lecture; $25 for antipasti and wine tasting; and $45 for the cooking class.

Pre-registration is required. Contact the Northwest Language Academy at 360-914-0391 or info@nwlanguageacademy.com for reservations and info.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbeyrecord.com.