No Passport Required

Take a trip to Italy, er, the Philadelphia Flower Show.

With the economy in flux, it’s likely you won’t be jetting off to Europe any time soon. And if you are, I don’t want to know about it, because I’m not. As depressing at it sounds, I’m not even sure I can break free for an afternoon to drive to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show March 1-8—which is very disappointing because there are some pretty neat happenings slated for the event. And, of course, getting lost in all those gorgeous and intoxicating flowers is heaven.

Yes, it really is that time again. The flower show kicks in this weekend and, with a theme like “Bella Italia,” you can expect lots of beautiful floral and landscape displays celebrating Italy’s unique climate and style. This year’s show also aims to impress visitors with an abundance of first-rate nibbles, and a wine-tasting room and onsite store operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. You might want to bring a tote bag for a few bottles from these Italian wineries: Bolla, Frescobaldi, Nossole, Ruffino, Villa Antinori and Folonari. I can’t say whether or not you’ll walk away with a deal, but there’s sure to be some unique, hard-to-find wines for sale.

Visitors can also load up on Italian-made products like pastas and imported canned tomatoes, or take in a little people-watching in a mock open-air piazza. But, if you really want to dive into Italian culture, I’d say get in line for the live chef demos, on tap each day from noon to 3 p.m. Each day, something new is on the menu, from spicy Italian to heart healthy. Some names you might recognize are Ricardo Rodriquez from Bistro Romano, La Scala’s Joseph Nocella, La Castagna’s Brian Wilson, Le Virtu’s Luciana Spurio, and Maggiano’s Jim Birkbuck.

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And since it’s looking grim for me to go, I’d love to hear all about it. E-mail me at

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