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Toronto Neighbourhood: Little Italy

November 17, 2017

Little ItalyLittle Italy

Also referred to as College Street West, Little Italy is known for it’s superb Italian-Canadian restaurants. During the weekends the streets are buzzing with visitors and locals dining on the outdoor patios. The Italian trattorias have a casual, family-friendly vibe and they are all about good, traditional recipes cooking with fresh ingredients.

Little Italy isn’t a 100% Italian neighbourhood – while there is a strong Italian community there is also a significant Portuguese population located around the Portugal Village shopping centre and the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Centre.

Must Visit Spots in Little ItalyLittle Italy

  • La Forchetta Ristorante is the classic Italian dining experience, with pasta and meat dishes originating in the Old Country. Plus – they have a superb wine list to pair with your entree.
  • If you are into live music there are a lot of great places to check out in Little Italy, including the Mod Club or the basement of Nightowl.
  • Check out Cafe Diplomatico. Known as “The Dip” by locals, this coffee shop and restaurant has become an institution for caffeine fiends in Toronto. It also serves up all of the Italian classics including paninis, pizzas and more. If it looks familiar to you, it’s because filmmakers often use it as a set.
  • Rita’s Italian Ice serves up delicious frozen treats in a ton of different flavours – the ultimate treat for a warm day.
  • Check out the Italian Walk of Fame – where stars line the sidewalk with the names of famous Italian Canadians.

History

Large numbers of Italian immigrants came to Toronto in the early 20th century, settling in the area around College Street in the affordable Edwardian homes there. Most found work on the railways or in road construction and many started businesses in the area.

It was during the 1920s that Little Italy really became recognized as the commercial and residential centre of the Italian community in Toronto. These days the area is home to the largest Italian Little Italycommunity that is located outside of Italy and it is a popular area of the city for visitors to explore.

How to Get There

It’s quite simple to get here via the TTC. You can arrive from Queens Park or start from College Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina Line. Then, from there you can catch the 506 Carlton streetcar towards High Park traveling west on College Street. You can disembark anywhere between Bathurst Street and Ossington Avenue.

You can also travel from Bathurst Station on the Bloor-Danforth Line. When you exit, catch the 511 Carlton Towards Exhibition streetcar traveling south on Bathurst Street. You can disembark at College Street West. Exploring this street on foot is a delight, give yourself plenty of time to dip into the little shops and cafes to sample what they have to offer.

What’s your favourite Little Italy spot? Let us know in the comments below.

Downtown Toronto, Toronto Entertainment, Toronto History, toronto toursim

Cool Toronto Art Galleries to Check Out

September 26, 2017

Toronto Art GalleriesThe first item on the list for any art lover visiting Toronto is to check out what’s on at the Art Gallery of Ontario – the city’s largest gallery. However, once you have perused the AGO’s collection don’t just stop there. Toronto is a city bursting at the seams with great art and there are so many other intriguing galleries that you can visit if your thirst for art has yet to be quenched. If you love nothing better than strolling through an art gallery and discussing the themes and questions raised by the art on display – check out the following Toronto Art Galleries:

Toronto Art Galleries – The Power Plant

The Power Plant is known for hosting the annual Power Pall, an indulgent party for the city’s art elite. It is located at the Harbourfront, which means that it is within reach of the other main tourist attractions and furnished rentals in Toronto. The exhibitions here are varied and they are often experimental and conceptual, with an emphasis on modern art by Canadian artists.

Wil Kucey GalleryToronto Art Galleries

Wil Kucey is the owner and director of this unique and interesting gallery, located in the Little Portugal neighbourhood of Toronto. It focuses on promoting the work of emerging artists who haven’t yet broken into the commercial market. This gallery has represented several fantastic artists over the years, including Benjamin Oakley, Tristram Lansdowne and Nicholas Di Genova. When you visit you will discover an array of thought-provoking work in many different mediums.

Mercer Union

The Mercer” as it is called, moved north to Bloor and Landsdowne a few years ago and it is now located in a gorgeous historic building designed by the same architect as the Casa Loma. The artist-run gallery has some of the most ambitious and exciting programming in the city, including lots of great video installations.

Cooper Cole Gallery

Toronto Art Galleries

Simon Cole opened this gallery as a way of showcasing a wide range of works, from conceptual paintings to abstract works to sculptures. He doesn’t restrict the gallery to a specific style – he refuses to be pigeon-holed. His goal is to include a wide range of different types of styles so that he can represent a cross section of the Toronto art scene.

If you are an art lover visiting Toronto, these are just a few of the intriguing galleries you can explore after you have seen the Art Gallery of Ontario. Tap into Toronto’s art scene and you will discover so many conversation-worthy pieces by talented and creative artists from Canada and all over the world.

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Great Toronto Museums to Visit

September 18, 2017

Toronto MuseumsOnce you have enjoyed all the great exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum, there are several other great Toronto museums that you should check out. Here are some of the must-visit stops in Toronto for a museum enthusiast.

The Textile Museum of Canada

You can learn about the history of fabrics and textiles at this museum that’s only a 8 minute walk from the Qwest furnished suites and features a collection of 13,000 pieces dating back to 100 AD. The museum covers nearly 200 world regions and the oldest item in the collection is from the Nazca culture of Southern Peru. From ceremonial cloths to quilts to carpets, it’s a fascinating way to learn about cultures of the past via the clothes they wore and textiles they used.

Aga Khan Museum – Toronto Museums

Learn about the history of Muslim civilizations, in both a historical and contemporary perspective, at this midtown Toronto museum. The stunning architecture of the museum is also fascinating, with dramatic modern lines and a dazzling white façade. The lovely space also features a peaceful public park and a great restaurant called Diwan serving fusion cuisine.

The Bata Shoe Museum

Have you ever wondered what the Ancient Greeks used to wear on their feet? Or been curious about the height of the world’s highest platform shoe? The Bata Toronto MuseumsShoe Museum celebrates the wild, weird and highly fashionable in the world of shoes throughout the ages – from clunky old clodhoppers to the shiny sports shoes of the 80’s and every era in between.

The Gardiner Museum

This museum is dedicated to the art of ceramics. It has a display of both permanent and special travelling exhibitions and the works on display are truly exquisite. This cultural hot-spot also has drop in ceramics and sculpting classes for both children and adults.

The CBC Museum

The Canadian Broadcasting Commission is a Canadian institution – it has brought programming to our home and native land for over 70 years. At this museum you can learn about the founding of the CBC and take a look back through the years at some classic Canadian television and radio programming. You can even see a CBC microphone from 1910 and Mr. Dressup’s famous Tickle Trunk.  It is in the CBC building on Front Street West right next door to our 300 Front furnished condo rentals!

The HockToronto Museumsey Hall of Fame

Hockey is Canada’s iconic national sport and this Toronto museum celebrates the history of hockey in Canada. You can see the coveted Stanley Cup, watch videos of unforgettable moments in hockey history and see what hockey gear used to look like back in the day. The Hockey Hall of Fame is a must visit for any sports fan and it’s right on Yonge and Front Street in the heart of the action in Toronto.

These are just a few of the best Toronto museums beyond the Royal Ontario Museum that you can check out during your next visit to Toronto.

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Toronto Strange Activities to Do

August 30, 2017

Toronto Strange ActivitiesOnce you have been to Toronto a few times and you have covered the most popular tourist attractions – The ROM, the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Casa Loma – you might be curious about what else there is to explore. When you go beyond the main sights you can discover a strange and quirky side to Toronto, with plenty of unusual and intriguing spots to visit and things to do. Here are a few Toronto strange activities hiding beneath the surface when you explore a little deeper.

Toronto Strange Activities – The Rage Room

If you are feeling stressed out, the Rage Room in North York offers you the opportunity to take out all of your aggression on inanimate objects with your choice of weapon. You’ll be suited up in protective gear including a face shield and gloves, given a crowbar or baseball bat and you can go to town on plates, glasses and beer bottles – without having to worry about the cleanup.

You can even bring a box of your own stuff to smash. They even have Bluetooth speakers so that you can express your rage to the angry playlist of your choice. Talk about a unique technique for stress relief!Toronto Strange Activities

The Biblio-Mat

The Monkey’s Paw is a cool and quirky bookstore and it is home to the Biblio-Mat, the first device of it’s kind. It is a vending machine that dispenses a random vintage book for $2. A creative alternative to the discount sidewalk bin, the book dispensing machine is a fun novelty. It whirrs and vibrates dramatically before delivering the book and you never know what subject matter or size of book you will receive

The Knit Cafe

If you love to craft sweaters and scarfs, drop in for a knit session at the Knit Cafe, Toronto’s coffee shop for those who love knitting. The cafe offers classes and get-togethers and also serves sweet treats and espresso throughout the day. They also offer a great selection of yarn, so you can stock up for your next project.

Indoor SkydivingToronto Strange Activities

If you don’t have the nerve to actually jump from an airplane but you do want to experience the sensation of freefall, check out iFLY Toronto indoor skydiving. They have a 45 foot tube that has a powerful torrent of air running up through it, strong enough to keep your body aloft. It feels like you are falling through the sky, but it’s a lot less terrifying than jumping out of a plane. It is even possible to organize an indoor skydiving party – so why not think about it as a venue for your next birthday?

What are some Toronto strange activities you’ve discovered? Share your travel tips and discoveries with us in the comments! In addition, be sure to check out these family fun outdoor activities as we wrap up summer in Toronto!

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A Bookworm’s Choice of Bookshops Toronto

August 25, 2017

Bookshops TorontoToronto has plenty for literature lovers to discover. After all, some of the most well known Canadian novels are set within this city – including works by Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley, Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood. If you are a bibliophile, you’ll find many fascination bookshops Toronto spots.

Bookshops Toronto
The Monkey’s Paw

This quirky and arcane used bookshops Toronto is a treasure trove of the weird and wonderful. You’ll find lots of beautiful, strange and fascinating books there and you’ll want to get lost for hours perusing the shelves. If you can’t decide on a book, you can put a toonie in the famous Biblio-Mat machine, which is a custom-designed vending machine that dispenses a random book.

Balzac’s CoffeeBookshops Toronto

Named after the French novelist and playwright, Balzac’s is the ultimate place to get your coffee and reading fix. It is located within the Toronto Reference Library – a huge storehouse of knowledge within stacks and stacks of tomes. The largest library in the city, it is known for it’s modern architecture and intriguing free event schedule. It is also home to one of the largest collections in the world dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life and work.

Type Books

This gorgeous bookshop is located on Queen Street, across from Trinity Bellwoods Park. You’ll gasp with delight as you enter and are greeted by the shelved packed with fiction, art books, design books and more. Check out the front of the store, where you will be greeted by the staff’s latest selection for books on exciting hot topics. Type Books went viral with this amazing video, which shows what happens in a bookstore at night when the lights go out.

The Library Bar

Bookshops TorontoIf you have had a full day of exploring Toronto’s literary side and you are in the mood for a drink to cap off the evening – why not head to this swanky bar in the Royal York Hotel? The cocktails are named after famous writers, so you could have a Margaret Atwood Margarita or an Alice Munro Rosemary Martini.

Hemingway’s

Another choice for a drink spot is Hemingway’s, named after the famous novelist who one lived in Toronto as a young man. Unfortunately, Ernest really didn’t like 1920s Toronto – which is why he moved to Paris, which he found to be much more of a “moveable feast.” Hemingways is known as one of the best bars in Yorkville. Owner Martin McSkimming is from New Zealand and serves a menu of world-renowned New Zealand lamb and several excellent Kiwi wines.

These are just a few of the many places that book lovers will adore in Toronto. You could also check out A Novel Spot, Another Story, Acadia and many more!