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A Walking Tour of Epcot's Italy Pavilion

Are you ready to join me as we tour Italy? I hope so because I think you're really going to enjoy this little walk.

I don't know about you, but for the longest time I didn't find the Italy pavilion to be that interesting and must admit that it was near the bottom of my list of favorite places to stop and visit. Maybe it was the seemingly cold and uninviting look and feel of the pavilion or the fact that the center of the pavilion was an area for smokers. In any event, I almost would never walked towards the back of the pavilion unless I had dinner reservations.

However, as I began to look more closely at the architecture, layout and history of each of the World Showcase pavilions my appreciation of Italy grew. Now, although it's still not my favorite, it has grown immensely on me and like all the other pavilions I marvel at the level of detail that Disney has put into it. It's truly amazing and very beautiful!

The pavilion is modeled after St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy. As you look at the pavilion the large building on the left is a miniature version of the gothic Palazzo Ducale or Doges' Palace. (Doge is Italian for Duke.) The large tower that you see is the Campanile di San Marco (Bell tower of St Mark). Also, the two large columns have on top of them the two symbols of Venice: St Mark's Lion and the statue of St Theodore, the patron saint of Venice, The center of the pavilion is the Piazzetta or little square. Interestingly, St. Marks Square and the Doges' Palace in Venice look out onto the Venetian Lagoon. Here at Walt Disney World they look out onto the World Showcase Lagoon. Find a picture of St. Mark's Square online and compare that picture with this pavilion. You'll be amazed at how closely they resemble each other.

So, let's begin our walk as we walk into the pavilion from Germany.

On to Italy

To the right of the pavilion is a large area, with two bridges, that cross into an open area. (Often this area is used for private events, however, when it's not it's a great location to watch Illuminations.) Although seemingly detached, this area very much adds to the look and feel of the pavilion. There are a number of brightly colored gondolas there; just as you would expect to see in Venice. Go ahead and spend a little time exploring this area before we head into the pavilion.

Gondolas

Gondola

Open area

Gondolas

Foot bridge

Gondola

Looking into the pavilion from the gondolas.

Looking into the pavilion

Here we see the Palazzo Ducale or Doges' Palace.

Doges' Palace

Side view of Doges' Palace

The building on the right hand side of the plaza is the Enoteca, Castello Banfi.

Loosely translated Enoteca means "wine shop". A place in Italy to taste and purchase wine. Castello means "castle" in Italian. You'll also see the coat of arms for the Banfi family on the building. Actually, Castello Banfi is one of the largest wineries in Tuscany.

Enoteca, Castello Banfi
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Wine shop sign
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Banfi family crest

In the front of the building, on the far right hand side, is what appears to be a fountain with the words "Alla Salute" on it. This means "cheers" and is a typical Italian toast when drinking wine.

Fountian

Alla Salute

Here's a picture of one of three other crests or coat of arms that are painted on the building. I couldn't find any information as to what they represented. So, if you know, please let me know.

Unknown crest

I believe that this means "Welcome Street".

Welcome street sign

Here we are in the back of the pavilion looking out.

Looking out

Another view from the back.

Another view

Here's a nice picture of the bell tower.

Bell tower

To be honest I'm not sure what this represents. It's a stage or platform of some sort, but to me it's wasted space. I'd like to see tables and chairs there instead of it just being empty.

Stage or platform

A nice picture of the two giant columns.

Two columns

There's a beautiful garden statue located along the side wall.

Garden statue

This area is usually occupied by smokers. In my opinion, this area needs to be moved outside of the pavilion. I do respect peoples right to smoke, but this just isn't the right place for that to happen.

Smoking area

Here we're looking towards the Neptune fountain. I found that various fountains with Neptune sculptures are in many large Italian cities, like Rome and Florence.

Neptune fountain

A closer look at the fountain.

Neptune fountain

The "Fontana Di Nettuno" sign that's on the fountain.

Sign

In side Doges' Palace are two shops. My wife really likes these two shops. According to her, the perfumes and jewelery are really outstanding. Me, I can only take so much of that strong perfume smell and I'm not a jewelery person so you'll usually find me outside sitting and waiting. That's where I'll be while you spend some time browsing and shopping.

Doges' Palace

One shop is called "Le Gemma Elegante" ; which means "The Elegant Gems".

Le Gemma Ececate

The other is called "Il Bel Cristallo"; which means "The Beautiful Crystal".

Il Bel Cristallo

Inside the shops

Inside the shops

Inside the shops

Inside the shops

Inside the shops

While you're in the shopping mood, let's walk across the plaza to the wine shop.

The wine shop sign

Here's the entrance to the wine shop. As you can see, you can come outside and sip on your wine while you watch the people go by. Also, notice on the top corners of the building. Those are to other two coats of arms that I mentioned earlier.

Outside the wine shop

Inside the wine shop

Inside the wine shop

Besides wine you can also purchase olive oils, candy and other Italian made merchandise there.

Inside the shop

The "Carnevale di Venezia (Carnival of Venice)" masks are really beautiful.

Carnevale masks

The KidCot location is just in back of the wine shop

KidCot location

KidCot sign

The Tutto Italia Ristorante is located in the back of the pavilion. I know a number of readers miss L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante which closed in 2007. Personally, I like Tutto Italia much, much better. I have eaten there a number of times and the food has always been excellent and the service very attentive. I can't say that about Alfredo's.

Tutto Italia Ristoranti

The sign outside of the restaurant.

Ristoranti sign

The menu is posted outside of the restaurant.

Outside menu

This is the waiting area just inside the main entrance.

Waiting area

The check-in desk.

Check in desk

Here's a couple pictures of inside the restaurant.

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

There is also some very nice outdoor seating. On a beautiful (and not too hot) day this is a great place to sit and eat.

Outdoor seating

In front of the pavilion is the Tutto Italia kiosk where you can purchase wine, beer, deserts and Italian ice. You can't miss the donkey and colorful cart that's near by.

Donkey and cart

Tutto Italia kiosk

Depending on what day of the week it is you can find Sergio and the World Showcase Players performing at the pavilion.

Entertainment sign

Sergio, the Italian mime, is a real hoot. Once you hear the music start you know he's coming. The children really enjoy Sergio; as do the adults. He's really fun to watch!

Sergio performs

The World Showcase Players always draw a big crowd. I love watching them as they pull folks from the crowd to act out parts of their little skit. It's always a little different (because of the people they pull from the audience) which makes it so much fun to watch.

World Showcase Players perform

World Showcase Players perform

OK, I saved the best for last. I mentioned before we began this walk that the level of detail that's in this pavilion is exceptional. Well, here's pictures of what I was talking about. I think you'll agree that it's pretty spectacular.

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Sculpture

Well, I hope that you both learned something new today as well as coming away with a great appreciation of this beautiful pavilion.

Finally, I am really looking forward to the opening of Napoli Pizzeria.. I think it will be a fantastic addition to this pavilion. The pizzeria is presently under construction in the back of the pavilion and scheduled to open September of this year.

Thanks for coming along with me! I hope to see you all when I we tour the American Adventure.

Finally, be one of the first people to hear when my newest blogs go live on AllEars.net by joining "DisneyMike's World" Facebook group.

Well, that’s all for now. As my good friend says “see ya real soon”….DizneyMike

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The previous post in this blog was Walking through the Outpost on our way to Italy.

The next post in this blog is 2010 Flower and Garden Festival - Sneak Peek .

Comments (17)

Lynne:

You mention the empty circular platform in center of the pavilion. I remember years ago, there used to be an Italian singing group that entertained there. I can remember it distinctly because my husbands jaw would drop to the ground over the Italian girl who sang the lead!

I also wonder if the circle might be a small nod to the Spanish Steps in Rome? A bit of a stretch of the imagination, but a possibility.

I'm enjoying your walking tour-thanks!

DizneyMike replies: Lynne, your guess is as good as mine since I really don't know what it represents. Thanks for taking the time to comment....Mike

Reagan:

Mike, I think I recall that there was a human statue (live) in the Italy pavilion at one time. I don't think I saw it on my last visit. Am I correct? If so, is it (he/she) still there? Thanks for your great blog and pictures!

DizneyMike replies: yes, there use to be living statues in the Italy pavilion. Must to the dismay of many people they didn't have their contracts with Disney renewed and haven't been there for a couple years now....Mike

Mike,
Wonderful blog! I have not spent much time in Italy, but have been to Venice and it does look just like the square there. Thanks for pointing out the details. What are those statues made from? Are they real stone or something made to look real? Any idea how long it took to build this pavillion? Thanks much!
Tracy

DizneyMike replies: Tracy, thanks for the nice comment. I'm not really sure what the statues are made of. You know Disney, they are very imaginative, so who knows what material they used to make them. Unfortunately I don't know how long it took to build this pavilion as it was part of the original Epcot construction. They broke ground on Epcot Oct 1st 1979 and opened the park on Oct 1st 1982. So, it took three years to build all of Epcot....Mike

Laura:

Hi Mike,
Thanks so much for another enjoyable walking tour. We have just made our plans for a trip to WDW in August and I'm looking forward to getting the chance to really experiencing more of World Showcase this year. You have definitely wet my appetite. Looking forward to the next tour. Keep 'em coming!

DizneyMike replies: Laura, I bet you must be excited about you're upcoming trip? I remember that when I lived up North and was only able to vacation in WDW that planning the trip was almost as much fun as the trip itself. Thanks for the comment....Mike

cathy mullen:

Hi Mike,
Thank you for another interesting tour. I love your clear and crisp photographs!

DizneyMike replies: Cathy, I appreciate the comment...Mike

Regina:

Hello Mike, Bob and I have been through the Italy Pavilion more times than I can remember. You pointed out so many things that we have never noticed before. I can't wait to check them out on our next visit. Believe it or not, I never paid attention to the gondolas. Thanks for sharing all the info with us.

DizneyMike replies: Regina, thanks for the very nice comment. Maybe one of these days you and Bob can join Julie and I on an outing from Solivita to Disney; that would be fun....Mike

Johnny:

Hi Mike!

I really, really enjoyed this stop on the tour. Italy is one of my favorite pavillions (and if it had an attraction it would probably be #1 on my list) and you did an outstanding job!
When it comes to getting all the pics., you've got everything covered. You get pics. of things that I almost always overlook...and I have been in the pavillion countless times.
I LOVE watching Sergio perform (I think he recognizes me by sight now.)

I seem to recall reading something recently about the steps being built for Regis & Cathy Lee some years ago. Does anyone else remember anything?

Well, anyway...thanks for the tour!

DizneyMike replies: Johnny, I do agree with you about the lack of an attraction in the pavilion. It does need more than what's there now. However, with that said, it's still a great place to visit. Thanks for the comment....Mike

Connie L:

My past trip I did not even enter the pavilion. Now I regret it. However, being of Rome/Naples/Siciilan decent, I wish these parts of Italy were represented. I guess they thought it would be disrespectful to try to recreate the vatical or impossible to recreate the collessium. A movie would be a great attraction or a gondola ride; like in the Venetian in Las Vegas.

DizneyMike replies: Connie, either of those attractions would be great additions. I really would like to see Disney spend some money upgrading the WS countries. Thanks for the comment....Mike

Deanna:

Super fun blog, Mike. Like you, the Italy pavilion, while beautiful, was never a must-stop for me until recently. The details here are outstanding. I've never noticed the gondolas on the lagoon before -- thanks for pointing that out!

DizneyMike replies: Deanna, it's funny how something as obvious as the gondolas can go overlooked. For years I overlooks many, many of the beautiful things that the WS countries had to offer. Thanks for the comment....Mike

Patti McDonnell:

I love your walking tours. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and your tours take me right back. I see hardly any people in your pictures. What time of year were these taken? Looks like a great time to visit. Keep 'em coming. Thanks, Patti

DizneyMike replies: Patti, it's not so much the time of the year but the time of the day. I get there right when the WS opens. Usually there aren't too many people there at that time. For instance I was there today taking pictures of the American Adventure. When I started I had the place to myself. But by noon there were lots of people there. Thanks for the comment...Mike

Adam August:

An instrumental group called Rondo Veneziano, mostly women, used to perform on that central stage. They were clothed in elaborate Venetian period costumes and played classical music with contemporary beats. There was also a juggler who preceded or followed their act.

Having lived in Italy for some years, the Italian pavilion is one of our favorites. I usually try out my fractured Italian speech skills with the cast members and can occasionally complete a conversation, or meet someone from the region where we lived. But the first woman I spoke Italian with turned out to be as American as I was! She was employed in the pavilion for many years.

DizneyMike replies: Adam, thanks for the information about the Venetian performers and for sharing the story about your experiences conversing with the CM's....Mike

Ashley:

Very interesting blog as always. I'm really enjoying your walking tours. Sadly, I've never gone into the Italian pavillion even though we've been to WDW 5 times since Epcot opened. I'm not much of a shopper & we usually just walk right past. Now I'm going to have to investigate more the next time we make it down there.

DizneyMike replies: Ashley, I hope "the next time we make it down there" comes soon. WDW trips are always fantastic. Thanks for the comment...Mike

Elizabeth:

I too have often walked past Italy without so much as a glance. We'll be there in a week and now I can't wait to take some more time to enjoy what it has to offer. Like someone mentioned though, I have some wonderful pictures of the Venetian performers from many years ago. They were one of the World Showcase performances that I just loved.

Thanks again for another wonderful blog. By the way, I think you should start your own tour guide business to take us through these pavillions! :-)

DizneyMike replies: Elizabeth, so you think I'd do good holding up one of those flags? I can see it now! -:) Thanks for taking the time to comment...Mike

Jillian:

I have really loved your series of "walking tours"--better than a guidebook! I can't wait to look for some of these things on our next trip.

Italy is probably the pavilion I have spent the most time in. When I was younger, I guess my parents thought Alfredo's was the safest world showcase restaurant for their kids (my sister was, and is still, an impossibly picky eater), so we went to it many times. We spent time waiting outside by the fountain, or were lucky enough to get seats by the windows and watch the entertainment outside. I can still remember how that restaurant smelled and the taste of their fettucine alfredo--yum!-- but while I'm sorry it's gone, it seemed to decline in quality over the years, and we had skipped it on our last few trips. Still, Italy will always have a fond place in my heart.

DizneyMike replies: Jillian, on your next trip give Tutto Italia a try; I think you'll like it. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us....Mike

js:

Hi Mike! I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the walking tour series. I have enjoyed the posts immensely. They really help pass the time between our trips to the World. P.S. My mom is a big fan of the purfume shop, which I too find overpowering. So, save a spot for me on the bench out front! :)

Thanks Again!

DizneyMike replies: JS, yup I'll save that seat for you! Thanks for the comment....Mike

Audress Johnson:

Mike,

This was an eye-opener for me, as I have spent very little time in the Italy pavilion. The photos of Tutto Italia were especially impressive, they look almost museum-quality. I will have to go there on my next trip (sadly, I don't know when that will be).

I am very surprised they've never built some kind of gondola ride for Italy. Seems like it would be a perfect fit, and probably not that hard to build. Maybe someday...

A.D. Johnson
-Littleton, CO

DizneyMike replies: Audress, hopefully you'll be able to plan a trip in the near future. As I mentioned I really like Tutto Italia and I think you would as well. Thanks for the comment...Mike

ken Petersen:

the statue in the garden is the same one that is on top of the campanile. it gives you a nice close look at it. it is a replication of the one on the campanile and is said to represent the angel gabriel.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 14, 2010 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Walking through the Outpost on our way to Italy.

The next post in this blog is 2010 Flower and Garden Festival - Sneak Peek .

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.