This special semester-long program will bring students both into in the heart of Florence and into the extraordinary countryside of the agriculturally and gastronomically rich Italian region of Tuscany.
The program is distinctive both for its interdisciplinary and comparative approach to food and its combination of in-class teaching and field experience. It aims to provide students with a unique opportunity to develop global citizenship through awareness and understanding of cultural diversity abroad. Food is of global importance and the study of Italian food culture can provide a rewarding case study in the coming together of its global and local dimensions.
Students will have the opportunity to experience a particularly rich food system with innovative approaches to issues of environmental and economic sustainability, quality oriented food production and nutrition, as well as food promotion and hospitality industry. Strong focus will be placed on the issues of organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and the defense of cultural and bio-diversity. Students will also learn about the characteristics of food production which are either uniquely characteristic of, or particularly prevalent in, Italy.
• For the first half of this semester-long program, students will follow an interdisciplinary set of courses on Italian food and sustainable agriculture in class.
• An extended period of field experiences makes up the second half of the semester. Here, students will have the opportunity to get first-hand experiences in the production, processing and marketing of cheeses and meats, as well as in the production of Tuscan wines and olive oils. For these field experiences students will be divided into small groups. A rotation system will allow them to visit all the participating farms. These outdoor activities are organized and supervised by tutors, who will also accompany the students on the apprenticeships.
This program will provide students with:
• a broader view of the world and an awareness of their own situation within the world.
• specific experiences and competences that will equip them to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and interconnected world as responsible, informed and engaged global citizens;
• a significant first-hand experience of another country's approach to food in a comparative perspective;
• a comprehensive knowledge of significant Italian food products from a scientific as well as from a cultural, social, and historical perspective;
• a multidisciplinary knowledge of industrial and organic agricultural practices and policies in Italy and in the USA;
• beginning language and cultural competence to facilitate communication in the field.
You will earn from 13 - 16 UConn graded credits on this semester-long program; the courses are shown below. Equivalency of courses are in the list of Italy-Florence Palazzo Rucellai Course Equivalents. Classes, taught by UConn and international on-site faculty, will make full use of the culture of the city with on-site classes. Although no prior study of the language is required, you will enroll in the appropriate level of the "Florence Experience" course (I,II,III,IV), in which you will learn Italian in the classroom and through direct contact with many aspects of Italian culture.
Lecture Courses at Palazzo Rucellai
• Animal Nutrition in Italy (Sheila Andrew, UConn) (3 cr)
• The History of Food and Agriculture in Italy: A Global History Approach (Peter Fischer, Rucellai) (3 cr)
• Intensive Farming and Sustainable Agriculture in Italy: A Comparison (Lisa Nardi, Unifi) (3cr)
• The Florence Experience: Introduction to Italian Language and Culture (Elena Bandinelli, Rucellai) (4 cr)
• Food Representation in Renaissance and Baroque Art (Francesca Marini, Rucellai) (3 cr) (elective; not required)
Special Workshops at Palazzo Rucellai
• Meat: N.N. (History and Culture);
Sheila Andrews, UConn (Technology and Tasting),
• Cheese: N.N. (History and Culture);
Sheila Andrews, UConn (Technology and Tasting)
• Olive Oil: Alan Grieco, Villa I Tatti (History and Culture);
Sandro Bosticco, Unisg (Technology and Tasting)
• Wine: Alan Grieco, Villa I Tatti (History and Culture);
Peter Fischer, Rucellai (Technology and Tasting)
Field Experiences at Tuscan Farms
• Meat (Cooperativa Agricola Il Forteto, Dicomano)
• Dairy Products (Cooperativa Agricola Poggio Antico, Montespertoli)
• Wine (Fattoria Corzano e Paterno, San Pancrazio)
• Olive Oil (Frantoio di Santa Tea, Reggello)
• In class lectures and discussions
• Field Experiences in Tuscany in order to better understand specialty food production and communication
• Development of a final project
You will be housed in double or triple rooms in furnished apartments shared with other program participants. The apartments have fully-equipped kitchens and access to a washing machine. Located in the center of town, the residences are just a 15-25 minute walk to Palazzo Rucellai. Along your way, you might stop at your favorite coffee bar for a cappuccino and a pastry, gaze into the shop windows at the artistically displayed goods, or marvel at major artistic, historical landmarks. The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the gelato, buying fresh vegetables in mom and pop shops, and the Italian approach to time, become a natural part of the day. Weekly cultural activities in Florence include a gelato walk, organized soccer games, the Ferragamo shoe museum, the artisans' workshops, and the secret rooms Palazzo Vecchio. Optional day trips and to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, offer new perspectives on other parts of Italy. A day trip to Chianti is the closing event of Orientation.