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UW study abroad course explores sustainable food systems in Italy

This 24-day program is offered in early fall start 2024 and explores sustainable food systems in five regions of Italy.

Interested? Attend an Information Session

  • December 1, 2023 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.
  • December 5, 2023 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.
  • December 12, 2023 from 5:00-6:00 p.m.

All sessions will be held in Raitt 229

About the Program

La Dolce Vita: Exploring Italy in Search of Food, History, and the Future of Sustainable Food Systems is an early fall start program exploring food in Italy. Using systems thinking, readings, dialogues, tours, and experiential learning, we will work to understand how factors, such as history, culture, policy, diet, lifestyle, trade, and market structure/economics, interact to drive sustainability across environmental, economic, health, and social outcomes.

The program begins in Bologna, considered Italy’s “City of Gastronomy,” where we will explore how its food system developed from agriculturally-rich geography and historical power structures (e.g., rulers, nobility, papacy). During our time in Bologna, we will tour food processing facilities that make economically important and renowned regional products to understand how labeling can influence production and local economies.

Next, we will stay on an organic working farm on the Tuscan coast. Here we will learn about sustainable agriculture and related EU policy. We will also tour a large-scale food processor who exports widely and learn about how trade and globalization affect production and processing practices. We will engage with and eat a variety of dishes of cultural importance, including cooking and sharing a meal with local restaurant chefs who work with our farmstay owners to develop specific grains for their use.

Then, we will travel to Genoa in the Ligurian region, considered the “Italian Riviera,” to explore their port and learn about the history of food trading. We will visit the 100+ year old Mercato Orientale and shop for ingredients to cook and taste Ligurian cuisine, including their famous pesto. Because of its agriculturally challenging geography, historical class structures (e.g., seafaring, mercantile), and long history of food trade via its port, the Ligurian coastline makes for a unique geo-political and economic contrast to Bologna.

After Genoa, we will visit Bra, the home of the Slow Food Movement, to better understand how a present-day food movement is shaping food systems sustainability. Faculty and students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenza (UNISG) will lead us in a slow food tour, a sensory dinner, and an exploration of future food sustainability careers.

Finally, the program will travel to four major provinces on the Italian island of Sicily to learn about the unique form and function of island food systems. Sicily was well-known as the granary of Rome and its cuisine is the most-multi-faceted of any cuisine in Italy due to the island’s many invaders throughout history. We will visit a 1000-year-old food market, partake in chocolate making, and tour one of the most unique fish markets in the world.

Earn credits while traveling to five regions of Italy, including Sicily

November 29, 2023