How Your Next Trip Can Help Save Some of Italy’s Most Important Cultural Heritage Sites

Tickets are on sale for our American Institute for Roman Culture Winter Benefit and you’re invited! Get yours today to enjoy an evening of exquisite Italian food and drink that supports archaeological initiatives in Rome. 

“Sustainable travel” is a term that sounds great on paper, but what does it really mean? More importantly, how do we make it a reality? With tourism becoming one of the globe’s largest industries and its footprint continuing to grow in Italy, these questions are more pressing than ever before.

At Walks of Italy we think about these things a lot because it’s no exaggeration to say that we love the cultural heritage sites of Italy. They aren’t just the foundation of our business, they are the cultural foundations of our lives and we want to ensure that they are valued and taken care of for many generations to come. Byron may have misquoted the famous epigram, but we agree when he wrote: “While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall Fall; And when Rome falls – the World.” Without such monuments to human achievement as the Colosseum, the city of Pompeii, Michelangelo’s David, and so many more, the world is a lesser place, the human condition meaner and drearier. We need them as surely as we need food, shelter, and air to breathe. But for all their outward permanence, these sites are under threat from the ravages of time, and without concerted efforts to protect and refurbish them, they will eventually crumble to dust.

The aqueducts were some of the engineering marvels of ancient Rome and some of them are still in use today!

The aqueducts were some of the engineering marvels of ancient Rome and some of them are still in use today!

So here at  Walks of Italy, ” sustainable travel” means reinvesting money and expertise into the very sites that form the backbone of our industry; whether that’s maintaining existing monuments, or working to unearth new discoveries we use a portion of our earnings to support those people who are dedicated to the cause of preserving Italian history and culture.

Our ethos is relatively new but it’s growing quickly. This year the Italian fashion house Fendi refurbished the Trevi Fountain and the fashion giant Renzo Rosso has footed the bill for the refurbishment of the Rialto bridge in Venice. At Walks we have begun investing in restoration and development projects of our own.

This September we launched the “Positive Steps” program in conjunction with the American Institute for Roman Culture (AIRC). The idea is simple: for every one of our guests who takes an archaeology-related tour in Rome, we’re donating €1 to the AIRC, which uses the money to fund archaeological conservation, restoration and education projects around Rome. Guests purchasing these tours will also have the option at checkout to give an additional donation, which we will match 100%.

The AIRC is a non-profit organization with a twofold mission. The first part is excavating and restoring lost archeological treasures like a shopping center in the Roman Forum and patrician villas on the Via Appia Antica, among others. The second is education, namely, bringing American university and high school students to Italy in order to assist on excavations and learn about Ancient Roman culture. In this way, they’re inspiring a new generation of archaeologists to carry on their love of ancient Rome.

Darius Ayria is the co-founder and operations manager of the American Institute for Roman Culture (AIRC).

Darius Ayria is the co-founder and operations manager of the American Institute for Roman Culture (AIRC).

This year the AIRC’s mission has taken them to the ancient Roman port of Ostia Antica where they’re delving deep into the secrets one of the best-preserved cities of antiquity. They have also launched an online outreach program, Ancient Rome Live, that uses social media, YouTube, and blogs to raise public awareness around the ancient treasures of Rome with the end goal of “making cultural heritage a central pillar of our daily lives.”

We’re immensely proud of our friends over at the AIRC but we want to do even more to support their continued efforts to protect the priceless cultural heritage of Italy. That’s why, on Dec 7th, we’re holding the American Institute for Roman Culture Winter Benefit at one of our favorite restaurants in New York, Mark Barrett’s critically-acclaimed Pagani. Formerly a chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo, Barrett will take the opportunity to serve up his signature blend of dishes drawing from the rich culinary heritage of many different parts of Italy.

Bresola and Speck by 2foodtrippers:

Bresola and Speck from Pagani, Photo courtesy of Daryl and Mindi Hirsch at

Over fine food and Italian wine guests will be treated to presentations from Walks Co-Founders Stephen Oddo and Jason Spiehler about where their donations are going and the new and exciting ways they will be invested  into projects that conserve some of Rome’s most important archaeological sites. Guests will also get to take a virtual journey to Italy with the help of Oculus Virtual Reality as Walks debuts its new 360° VR tours.

Rome was not built in a day and it won’t be saved in a night, but through sustained work, like that of the AIRC, we can turn sustainable travel from a buzzword into a reality where your money goes directly into the care and maintenance of the places you visit. If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, we would love to have you at the Benefit on Dec 7th. For more information about attending or donating, click here.  If you can’t make it, please consider donating to the cause. Love Italy, give back, and don’t forget to take walks.

AIRC Winter Benefit Invite

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