Italy Study Abroad Tour with Dr. Sims and Students
In early June, 2013, Dr. Charles Sims and a group of 20 students (18 from the University of Florida [ten FSHN students], and two from the University of Arkansas) went on a three-week study abroad tour in Italy. Focusing on the food, agriculture, and wine of Italy, the trip began in Sicily. There, the students stayed at two different agriturismos (agrotourism accommodations), where they enjoyed outstanding food and wine. While in Sicily, they saw pistachio processing, the production of pasta, olive oil, cheese, and Marsala wine, and visited a local honey factory. In the ancient coastal town of Trapani, students got to tour a very “alive” fish market and visit one of the few remaining producers of sea salt. In addition to exploring Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, they took a dip in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
After visiting Sicily, the group flew to northern Italy and had a day of sight-seeing in the historic city of Venice. While in the northern Italian town of Bolzano, the students observed both local apple production and a large packing house for apples; in addition, they visited one of the largest apple juice processors in Europe. They also got to enjoy several traditional northern Italian meals (think German beer, sausage and ribs). On the way to Bologna, the next stop, the group had the opportunity to tour the Mezzacorona Winery, one of the largest and most modern wineries in Italy. While in that area, they got to tour the University of Bologna and see the production of many of the classical foods in Italy, including parmesan cheese, Lambrusco wines, Parma ham, and balsamic vinegar. They were even able to attend a gelato “university” where they all received a diploma in gelato production. The students were also treated to their best meal of the trip at the Trattoria del Gallo – this was a memorable experience for all!
The trip continued to the beautiful wine country of Tuscany, where the group stayed in another wonderful agritourismo. The students toured two beautiful wineries in the Chianti area where they were treated to wine tastings and a wonderful lunch. Tuscany is famous for its classic old cities, and the students got to spend a day exploring both Florence and Siena. The last stop in Tuscany was a small winery in the Montalcino area, where students heard about the production of the famous Brunello wines of that area and, of course, sampled some of these classic wines along with local cheese, cured meats, and bread. After experiencing the best of Tuscany, the group took the train to Rome, the last stop of the trip. The students had a free day of sight-seeing, and then enjoyed their “last supper” together. Walking after dinner they witnessed many of the sights of Rome, such as the beautiful Trevi Fountain. Everyone was sad to leave Italy, but returned home knowing they had a lifetime of memories to treasure.