With many of us physically unable to travel to Europe this year as a result of COVID-19 related restrictions, we have had to reroute our vacation plans from overseas to the comforts of our own homes. Context Travel has been a leader in offering private, custom, and small group walking tours in 60 cities across six continents for 20-years, and they immediately pivoted their business model away from live travel and toward digital learning in response to the pandemic.

The company took notice and focused on armchair travel education by launching “Context Conversations.” This online program offers live interactive seminars and courses on a variety of cultural and historical topics with the company’s vast network of well-versed scholars who specialize in fields such as art history, archaeology, cuisine, architecture, history, and theology, among other topics.

For the intellectually curious…

Perfect for discerning travelers of all different commitment levels and interests, “Context Conversations” consists of two facets: “Seminars” — one-time, 90-min scholar discussions, including a 30-minute Q&A; and then “Courses” — one-per-week, 90-minute scholar led-lectures for a duration of three to six weeks. The community of curious (now armchair) travelers and learners can participate in discussions from Freud to Frida, the Louvre to the Uffizi, and learn about WWII in Paris, Berlin, or the aftermath in Salazar’s Portugal, while new programming is being built out every week.

The most recent addition to Context Conversations is the company’s brand-new Destination Italy program. Destination Italy is an ongoing series that will consist of over 30 live seminars where a team of talented Italian experts will take travelers on a virtual exploration of Italy, from the foodie center of Bologna to the ruins of Herculaneum to the Ancient Greek Temple of Agrigento. This array of seminars will awaken the Italian dream and get travelers excited to travel again once they are able to safely do so, providing travelers with the opportunity to gain knowledge of these destinations now, which will enrich their future travel for a truly immersive experience.

Here are three of the Context Conversations that we can’t wait to try…

For Culinary Enthusiasts | The Cooking Class

Secrets of Sicilian Arancini Balls with Gina Tringali, will teach participants how to prepare one of Sicily’s most revered street foods, the arancini. Led by food historian, sommelier, and home cook Gina Tringali, this interactive lesson will have participants making arancini like an expert. Designed to deliver a taste of Sicily, participants will come away with an understanding of how to make this beloved fried snack and learn about its different names, forms, and flavors.

For History Buffs | The Last Supper

Art history takes the stage on travelers’ Destination Italy virtual trip with The Last Supper: Da Vinci in Depth with Laura Benitti, a seminar led by Laura Benitti, an expert on art history. This interactive seminar will introduce participants to the life of Leonardo da Vinci, his connection with beloved Milan, and a focus on his celebrated work: the Last Supper. This is a fitting conversation for anyone with a keen interest in this talented Italian figure who would like to delve deeper into his masterpieces.

For Families | Harry Potter

The Charm of the Children’s Classic: This Six-Part Course with Jenny Litster kicks off November 1, and aims to increase understanding (and appreciation) for the Harry Potter series through a close reading the books within the wider context of this “children’s” classic. The course explores recurring themes such as the quest for belonging; and popular genres like the school story and universal archetypes like the orphan. Against a backdrop of changing perceptions and depictions of childhood, leisure and the imagination, this course provides an opportunity to rediscover old book friends and meet some new ones along the way.

Start Traveling, Virtually: https://contexttravel.com

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