HSIT 349: The History and Culture of Food in Italy

Instructor: Ph.D., Simon Young
Credits: 3
Course/Lab Fee: 105€ (Course reader fee announced by the Print Shop)
Prerequisite: None
Cross-Listing: Anthropology & Sociology, Food Studies, History, Italian Studies-Interdisciplinary

Course Description

In the last twenty years historians have turned with ever more interest to food as a key for understanding the past. Italy is particularly interesting in this respect. Modern Italian identity is based, in large part, on food. And many Italian ‘staples’ from pasta to olive oil, from ice-cream to wine, from pizza to risotto, have interesting stories that give insights into Italian culture and Italian history. Through a series of class visits, tasting experiences and more conventional power-point based lectures we will look at Italian food in prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and more recent times.


Note: This course maybe taken individually. Student do not have to be enrolled in the Food Studies Program to take this course – No prerequisites.


Course Objectives

  • Have a solid understanding of the role of food in Italian culture
  • Have a good grasp of the emerging discipline of ‘food history’
  • Have an idea of the general sweep of Italian history
  • Have come into intimate contact with primary historical sources assessing them in both class discussions and their writing

Course Materials

Mandatory course reader


Field Trips

Students will take a day trip to Florence where they will sample traditional Florentine food and what is called “the best chocolate in the world.”