Monthly Archives: November 2011
The project was the fruit of over a month of planning. As part of the course, class participants had to come up with a restaurant concept, decide on recipes to use, examine food costing and determine a break-even point, develop a marketing plan, and then actually execute the actual dinner. The students were judged not only on the quality of the food (each of the diners filled out a survey, rating both taste and overall experience) but also their organization and profitability in a real-world restaurant setting.
The “Trattoria Americana” proved to be an ever bigger success than imagined. A savvy marketing plan (selling American classics like hamburgers, mac&cheese, and brownies) drew both Americans homesick for food, as well as curious Italians. The latter were especially tough
customers, but the execution was excellent, and the students won kudos from the Italians, their fellow students, and even Umbra faculty and staff for the over 80 meals served. The course is part of the Umbra Institute’s innovative Food Studies Program.
“Where can you find a turkey in Perugia?” This has been, at least twice, a question asked to the Umbra staff member on the emergency phone, but last night the answer was not “Macelleria Croce in Piazza Matteotti” but rather “Contrappunto.” The local restaurant Contrappunto made heroic efforts to locate three turkeys (think www.google.it, tacchino umbria, “turkey Umbria”): they woke up in the nearby town of Deruta but ended up on a platter, along with Brussel sprouts, carrots in butter, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Not bad for a staff more used to making penne alla norcina or strangozzi al sugo! A large group of Umbra students had their Turkey Day dinner (and a healthy dose of tryptophan!), keeping the tradition alive even abroad!
The Little Blue What-To-Do, a local free press guide to Perugia just went live online. Two Umbra students, Frances Walsh and Sophie Schechter, were responsible for the editing of the pages that were transferred from paper to the digital version, and are still working on the editing of a new section of the guide. If you are curious here is a link to the sitemap of the guide. In Perugia the Little Blue is known as “the Perugian green card” by all foreign students that come to have an experience abroad in Italy.
University for Foreigners Direct Enrollment student Haley Sciola sat down to chat with a few of the Italian Università di Perugia (UP) students involved with Umbra this semester. Umbra’s partnership with UP allows Italian students to ‘study abroad’ at Umbra and immerse themselves in the American style of university (only, they don’t have to leave Perugia to do it!). These UP students get to take a course or two, volunteer their time as Italian language and culture tutors, and participate in intercultural events hosted by Umbra.
Haley wanted to know what these students were up to exactly, how they were feeling about their experiences so far and what they hope to get out of it.
Francesco is taking a food studies course as well as a course on Leonardo Da Vinci. He attends weekly UNICEF workshops, tutors Umbra students, and frequents Tandem, the regularly scheduled language exchange and general ‘get out and hangout’ opportunity for Italian and American students. Francesco has enjoyed his Leonardo Da Vinci course most of all. He hopes to reach out to more Umbra students and be of “cultural assistance” for them in Perugia.
Tania took a conversation course at Umbra last spring and is tutoring this time around. She enjoyed the conversation course she took most, and she hopes to improve on her English language skills by December. She also encourages all Umbra students to take advantage of the Italian tutors. Tania really would love to help, or even just be a native speaker to practice on and hangout with!
Federica is tutoring and attending Tandem this semester. She has truly appreciated the opportunity to assist Umbra students in figuring out her native language. Federica wants to keep helping out students in any way she can. She hopes this experience will help her to continue developing her own language abilities in English, and also to improve her teaching skills in Italian.
They agreed that learning at an American institution amongst American students has been an exciting experience because of the:
- classroom interaction and collaboration among students as well as professors;
- small group work among peers in class;
- encouragement and even expectation to share one’s opinion;
- practical learning from varied mediums; and
- regular homework and reading to keep up with.
This unique ‘AmericUmbra’ experience of exchanging cultures, languages, and the classroom is one that the University of Perugia and the American study abroad students in Italy are likely never to forget.
It’s incredible! It’s the first semester that we have done karaoke during Tandem. If you’re studying abroad and you want to integrate and learn the language, you need practice. So what a better solution then to do karaoke in Italy!
We had five teams last night singing only Italian songs. Well, one group paid off the dj and sang in English and, while they were entertaining, they didn’t get any credit.
So here are the winners:
WINNERS: singing “Meraviglioso”by Negroamaro
2nd Place: singing “Bomba”
3rd place: singing “Ombellico del mondo” by Jovanotti
This past weekend, twenty Umbra students and one of their Italian classmates took a whirlwind tour of Florence and Milan with Professor Adrian Hoch’s Leonardo da Vinci course. The first stop in Florence was, fittingly, the historical Bar San Firenze café, where a young Masaccio once had his workshop. Fortified with coffee, everyone was toured open-mouthed through the famous Uffizi and then the Palazzo Vecchio. By late afternoon, everyone got onto the bus next to the Arno and was sped up to the hotel in Milan.
The day begin with a blue-skied stop at the Castello Sforzesco, known as much for its Michelangelo sculpture as for the enormous, complex Da Vinci frescos that can be found on the ceilings of the castle’s many rooms. A jump across the city brought them first to Santa Maria della Grazia before the main event: Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which is held in a humidity-controlled room and for which reservations must be made as many as five months in advance.
After a break for lunch, students strolled through the stunning duomo of Milan and then into a Da Vinci exhibit at a local museum at which they saw an enormous, full-sized “cartoon” (sketch) of Raphael’s of a fresco that can be found in the Sistine Chapel. After attempting to read Da Vinci’s backwards handwriting in his Atlantic Code, they all walked out into the crisp Milanese day and off to the waiting bus.
A long weekend, but well worth it.
After three months away from the Stars & Stripes, Umbra Institute students who study abroad in Italy are ready for a change away from pizza, pasta, and canoli. Which is why the “Trattoria Americana” tickets have been an easy sell. A part of the community engagement part of the the “Business of Food: Italy and Beyond” course (one of the three Food Studies Program courses), students have to decide on a concept for a restaurant, come up with a marketing plan after pricing the dishes, and then actually run the restaurant for an evening.
This semester’s students decided that by offering American fare, they could attract not only food-sick (as opposed to home-sick) Americans but also curious Italians. Despite their opinion about their own food’s culinary superiority, Italians are often eager to sample American food. This has proved to be a winning marketing strategy, judging by the response so far. The dinner, which will be November 29th, will be Caesar salad, mac&cheese, a hamburger, onion rings, and brownies. Tickets are €12, €11 each for an eight-person table.
This Sunday was as unseasonably warm day for November in Umbria, a day with not a cloud in the sky and perfect sun. The twenty students participating in the Food Studies Program, as well as a contingent from Connecticut College, met up in front of the fifteenth-century palace that is one of the Umbra Institute’s two buildings. A short bus ride later they were climbing up the steep hills of the village of Celle, near the border of Umbria and Tuscany. This part of the Apennines is renowned for its production of truffles, and students were able to have a short demonstration from Giuseppe, a master tartufaio (truffle hunter) and his somewhat skittish truffle dog-in-training, Lola. Despite Lola’s reluctance to perform in front of a large group, the pair found three small black truffles, enough to use as a garnish for lunch.
Lunch was a feast…but first, the students had to earn their keep. Guided by their host, Aldo, whose family has for over a hundred and twenty years harvested the olive trees the students surrounded, the Umbra students set up the nets around the trees and picked. The result wasn’t overwhelming–Aldo said that if they were sharecroppers, they’d have a hard time–but enough to move to the next round, lunch. Aldo’s sister Patrizia had made a variety of classic dishes, including bruschette with freshly-pressed olive oil, grilled onions and bell peppers, and meat cooked on the grill outside. After a dessert treat (made with chestnut flower) and caffè, everyone piled on the bus and headed down to a nearby olive mill, where the owner showed the students the machines that wash and crush the olives of local farmers, then separate the oil from the pulp. Happy and with full bellies, students got on the bus and headed back to Perugia.
Belonging to a choir composed of people from all over the world is a unique opportunity to take advantage of while in Perugia during your semester of study abroad. Italy is famous for operas and if you are interested in singing or playing an instrument while in Perugia, Umbra has a partnership with the University for Foreigners which offers free weekly encounters where international students gather to practice and then perform free concerts every Tuesday. Concerts are open to the general public, all are welcome!
Umbra also has a partnership with University for Foreigners: you can go through Umbra to take intensive Italian in Italy and get credit for your university.
Umbra students took on the Onaosi Male Institute team for a game of basketball. Students dribbled, ran, and shot baskets up and down the indoor basketball court wearing green jerseys and fierce faces. Umbra’s team had an honorary Italian player who helped them come to a near victory. Fans cheered on both teams from the stands, spelling out ‘UMBRA’ for everyone to see. The game came to a climactic end when an Italian student made a successful three-point shot just as the final buzzer went off. A big thanks to the Onaosi Male Institute for hosting the game.