Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Virtual Sistine Chapel Tour

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Italy—in addition to the daily, ahem, twice-daily gelato runs—was actually not part of Italy at all. It was the sovereign state of Vatican City (or the Holy See). I have been interested in the world’s smallest independent nation since helping to create the World Edition CultureGrams report on it (we have a Kids report too!).

It did not disappoint. Located in the heart of bustling Rome, The Vatican feels like a different country once you’re inside its walls. It’s still very busy, of course, as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but the presence of Swiss Guards (a small security force comprised of Catholic Swiss men), the magnitude of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the concentration of masterpieces in such a small area make the Vatican a truly unique place.

A Swiss Guard stands at his post. Photo by Aaron Thompson.

The culmination of any tourist’s visit to the Vatican is, of course, the Sistine Chapel. And though you’re allowed to take all the photos you want in the huge complex of museums you must (get to) pass through on the way to Michelangelo’s crowning work, once you enter the chapel you are greeted with several Italian guards booming out the words “No foto! No foto!”  I have to admit I didn’t fully comply with the rule, though no one yelled at me for looking down in a sea of people looking up.

The floor of the Sistine Chapel. Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

As cool as it was to see in person, you can actually get a much better view of it on an official virtual tour. In addition to being able to see the chapel completely empty (in person it’s shoulder-to-shoulder), you can zoom in on different pieces of the artwork or just contemplate it in silence, without anyone yelling at you.

And in case you thought I was kidding about the gelato . . .

Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

CultureGrams: 174 New Videos!

We’ve recently added 174 new videos to the CultureGrams video collection! These unique videos, produced by CultureGrams editors from footage submitted from contributors around the world, highlight many aspects of daily life and culture for 16 countries.

Watch young dancers perform in Côte d’Ivoire . . .


vendors sell their goods at a floating market in Thailand . . .


men weave cloth in Guinea-Bissau . . .


and people celebrate New Year’s in Cambodia . . .

You can also visit the traditional Malian drummer Boubou in his mud  house, learn how to make Colombia’s national dish of sancocho, shop at a fish market in Sri Lanka, root for South African veterinarians as they try to guide a sedated rhino into a trailer, and much more.

Special thanks to our prolific contributor Salym Fayad for providing beautiful, culturally important footage for so many of these videos.

All 612 videos in the CultureGrams collection are available for streaming and download in QT/MP4 and WMV formats. Feel free to incorporate these videos into presentations or use them for other educational purposes. Or watch them just for the fun of it. After all, it doesn’t get much better than a Thai hotel clerk singing karaoke at his desk while being bathed in a light show of his own creation.

Lucie Iuzzolino: A CultureGrams Contributor

One of the main things that makes CultureGrams such an accurate and unique source is our worldwide network of contacts. These natives and in-country experts give us additional cultural content, review the accuracy of our reports, and—my favorite—supply us with photos and videos that bring global cultures to life.

As you might imagine, CultureGrams contributors are a unique set of people, with a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and global experiences. Today I’d like to introduce one of them: Lucie Iuzzolino.


Lucie and her cousins hike to “U Uattënnierë” waterfalls in San Fele, Italy.

When she was nine-years old, Lucie left her native USA for the first time to travel to the Italian village where her grandparents had grown up. The trip sparked in her a love of travel that prompted her to participate in exchange trips to Spain and France in high school and then travel to Pune, India, as part of the World Conference of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides at age 17. This traveling only whetted Lucie’s appetite to see more of the world, and she went on to study for a year at an Argentine university and spend about 18 months in Peru and elsewhere in South America.

It was then that she filmed the footage for several videos that have recently been released in CultureGrams, including one featuring a traditional Argentine asado (barbecue) and another the man-made islands on Lake Titicaca and the people who live on them. Other videos invite us into a rural Peruvian kitchen, show us alpaca and llama wool is dyed in the Andes, and showcase traditional Andean dancing.

CultureGrams also benefitted from Lucie’s subsequent time in Italy, where she filmed a traditional dish being cooked. During the six months she was there, she studied at l’Università per Stranieri di Perugia, taught English in Italian schools, and visited with her extended family in Rome and the southern province of Potenza.

Lucie is similar to many of our contributors in her passion for all things global, even when she’s not travelling. As New York-based teacher, her interest in immigration and family history has led her to organize field trips to the city’s Tenement Museum and Ellis Island, one of two locations where she currently volunteers (the other is at the National Archives). As a legal assistant, Lucie witnessed the sacrifices that immigrants continue to make as they come to the US today.  In her current position as a Visitor Services Host at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, she loves interacting with thousands of visitors from around the country and the world each day.

Thanks to people like Lucie, CultureGrams’ collection of multimedia continues to grow. Keep an eye out for more Contributor profiles, and if you have material you would like to submit to CultureGrams, email us at cgeditors@proquest.com.