Italian spring comes to Chicago

Primavera is in full bloom inside the Italian Culture Institute of Chicago.

The Institute's spring calendar of events includes an exhibit by a Roman print studio, an Italian mystery writer and an opportunity for the city's fashion savvy to tour Milan.

Patrizia Gambarotta, the consular agent for cultural affairs at the institute, says the goal is to promote Italian culture to both Americans and Italians living in Chicago.

The Institute, one of five throughout the country, is the cultural office of Italy's Consulate General, and offers a wide range of Italian offerings, including programs and courses in language, archaelogy, music, gastronomy, science, history, theater, dance, cinema and visual arts.

Among the spring offerings are:

Art's Double Dream (Doppio Sogno Dell'Arte), an exhibit running through May 20 at the Institute's main offices at 500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1450.  The exhibit is centered on the history of graphic design, as well as the work of the Roman print studio, 2RC,  which specializes in graphic arts.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Institute will host Italian novelist Claudio Angelini, whose novel "Il mistero di Simonetta" has just been released in English.  The novel is the story of Simonetta Vespucci, a 15th century Florentine woman who became the face of the Italian Renaissance as the model for the Botticelli paintings "Allegory of Spring" and "Birth of Venus."

At 6:30 p.m. May 27, the Institute will present a conference at the Newberry Library, at 60 W. Walton St., exploring the inspiration behind George Frideric Handel's "forgotten masterpiece" - the opera "Orlando."   The conference is a collaboration of Northwestern University's French and Italian departments and the Chicago Opera Theater, which will close its 2008 season with "Orlando."

Aspiring fashion designers may want to check out the Institute's plans for a fashionista tour of Milan from June 30 to July 4.

The program, run in conjunction with the Domus Academy, is designed as an intensive study of the Italian fashion business, centered on Milan's role as the heart of Italian design.

Students will visit museums, fashion shops and showrooms,  design studios, fashion and design companies, galleries and exhibitions.

As part of its year-round offerings, the Institute also hosts "Italidea", an Italian language and culture school offering courses in literature, art, music, cinema, writing, tourism, business and conversation.

The Institute also offers visitors access to a 4,000-book lending library, which also includes movies, CDs and Italian newspapers.