Monthly Archives: January 2012
Last Thursday, Umbra students attended a wine tasting at a local Perugia enoteca. The professional sommelier, Silvia Bartolini, demonstrated how to use our sense of smell, taste, and sight to examine a wine’s quality and age. Students sampled three types of wine to judge for themselves whether they found hints of green apple and almond here or honey and blackberry there. Flaviano, the owner of the enoteca, also showed how to properly open a bottle of wine and asked for a volunteer to help. The student received a round of applause for her ability to open the bottle without turning the label away from her ‘customer’.
The true test came when students were asked to pair the wines with the different types of finger foods based on their complimentary nature. The night ended with a guessing game of which type of glass is for which type of wine. Now, the next time students share in the bottled traditions of Italy at a dinner party, they can show friends and family how to be knowledgeable wine connoisseurs.
Rita held up her hands to the Umbra Institute students and said, “This is my trademark, my guarantee.” To say they were calloused is an understatement—no pesticides means more pulling weeds—but it makes any sort of organic label redundant. As she showed students in Umbra’s “Sustainable Food Production in Italy” course her famous mixed salad greens and award-winning squash, she talked about how zero-kilometer veggies helps not only the environment, but also the local economy.
The visit was a teaser designed to get students thinking about local, organic, and fair and what these labels mean: all are themes of the course, which is part of the Umbra Institute’s innovative Food Studies Program.
What’s the connection between monkeys, monks, and the cappuccino? Why is a caffè hip but a caffè in vetro (in a little class cup) even hipper? What does the Yemeni port Al-Moka have to do with coffee history? Did an Ethiopian goat discover our favorite hot beverage?
Students in the Umbra Institute’s Food Studies Program found out last night during the near-infamous Coffee Workshop. The workshop, part of a series of Food Practica designed to give a students a better understanding of Italian food culture in its historical context, was lead by Umbra history professor Zachary Nowak, with able assistance from staff member Mauro Renna. Students drank their way through macchiatos, shakeratoes, and even a caffè in vetro.
The next workshop is next week: The Italian Aperitivo.
Umbra is excited to offer a special opportunity to study abroad students interested in volunteering with Monimbò, a local Fairtrade cooperative. Monimbò organizes a variety of cultural events, rallies, school awareness campaigns, and has a beautiful bottega in Perugia (near Piazza Italia in Via Bonazzi). Check out their website: http://www.monimbo.it/
Student volunteers will learn about Fair Trade philosophy and products, interact with customers, help other volunteers with bottega operations, and/or assist with Fair Trade promotion and major seasonal events.
Last semester there was the Marcia della Pace (peace and human rights march between Perugia and Assisi), Altrocioccolato (a national Fairtrade chocolate festival), EquoperTutti (an international public awareness rally).
This qualifies Arcadia students for the CLC Certificate and the Community Engagement Certificate for other students.
Check out Umbra volunteering opportunities in Italy where you can also watch a video.
Rick Steves, one of America’s preeminent travelers and the creator of the eponymous “Rick Steves’ Guide to…”, recently wrote an article for USA Today about the necessity of studying abroad in an increasingly globalized world:
Is now the time to be devoting precious public funds to sending college kids overseas? Absolutely. Our world is one big, rapidly evolving marketplace. Employers crave graduates who are flexible, multilingual and comfortable in multicultural settings. Study abroad sharpens these skills and helps keep American workers competitive.
College students now find questions about their experience studying abroad on many graduate school applications. Those students who have been fortunate enough to have an internship while overseas can also include that on their resumes, demonstrating advanced intercultural competency — which may be just the thing needed to get an excellent post-graduation job in this tough economy.
Photo credit: Marlene Tebbe. Creative Commons license.
It’s that time of year – after settling down in Perugia or wherever you happen to be studying abroad, it’s time to start moving around Italy and exploring the new (well, not new – they’re actually very old) cities that pepper the Italian landscape. For this blog, we consulted Art History professor, Renaissance art specialist, and longtime Florence resident Adrian Hoch, as well as several Umbra staff members whom have lived in Florence for varying lengths of time.
We’ve tried to put together several recommendations for museums, restaurants, and sights, avoiding the tradition tourist fare (of both the visual and culinary variety) in favor of some lesser-known, more out-of-the way spots.
Monday evening, Umbra students packed the school’s biggest classroom to participate in an hour-long Travel Workshop. The workshop was open to all and led by Umbra staff members Ian Lyons and Rachel Bethany as well as by Frankie Walsh from Stonehill College, who has returned for the spring semester after studying abroad in Perugia during the fall. The workshop covered the entire process of traveling independently, from researching your destinations on-line, comparing ticket prices and travel times between airline, trains, and bus lines, to how to handle unexpected difficult situations while away. Frankie recommends momondo.com as the best website for researching low-cost flights, and everyone agreed that RyanAir is notoriously bad about charging hidden fees, despite their low ticket prices and convenient direct flights from Perugia. EasyJet and Vuelling were suggested as two other Low-Cost airlines with better customer service.
And here’s a question for recent Umbra Alums! Where were your favorite travel destinations from Perugia? Any advice for the new Umbra students as they plan to travel this spring?
Yesterday afternoon a group that was supposed to be twenty students but grew to almost thirty met up for the “Perugia Nooks & Crannies Tour.” Billed as “Wholly death-defying! Partially fun! Mildly fascinating!” the tour was short on facts but long on entertaining stories about Perugia and its past. “The truth should never get in the way of a good story,” is the motto for the tour, lead by Umbra professor Zachary Nowak, who loves the fact that he can leave precision and historical accuracy behind in the classroom.
The itinerary included the main piazza, Corso Vannucci, the dungeon of the papal palace, the look-out point whence Sant’Ercolano launched his calves onto the Goths (black clothes, piercings, loud music), the former orphanage, the market, and the Fascist water-tower. Thrills, chills, and luckily no spills (despite walks down awkward steps). An encore presentation of the tour will be held this Sunday at noon (meet at the Fountain in the main piazza).
Check out the new guide to Perugia, Italy
Taking a break from the Intensive Italian week to get to each other, Spring 2012 students met a the Birraio for the damous Umbra Welcome Aperitivo. This time Birraio added an American touch, and brought out hamburgers!
Suffice it to say that instead of the hour-long event that everyone had had in mind, most of the group hung around eating and making new friends until almost ten at night. The event is one of students’ favorites each semester. The next one is the first meeting of the Tandem language exchange program, Wednesday the 18th.