This past week two of the the courses of the Food Studies Programset out to actually see (and eat!) the food that they
had been learning about. On Friday the “Business of Food in Italy and Beyond” visited two olive oil production faciltiies: the first was Costa d’Oro, a huge export-oriented olive oil company near Spoleto. One of Costa d’Oro’s export area managers, Fabiano Benedetti Valentini, gave the students a presentation on Costa d’Oro’s wide range of products and described how each had a specific market and marketing strategy, as well as taking the students on a tour of the plant later. After a tour around Spoleto’s center led by Umbra professor Cynthia Clough, he group went on to Il Frantoio in Trevi, the heart of Umbria’s olive oil area. Irene Guidobaldi showed the students around the much-smaller plant and described the difficulty of exporting to the US by small producers.
On Sunday the “Sustainable Food Production in Italy” course went on an all-day trip through Tuscany and Umbria. The first stop was the butcher shop-and-restaurant of Dario Cecchini, whom the L.A. Times calls “the most famous butcher in the world.” Cecchini told the students about his philosophy on sustainable meat before feeding them a seven-course lunch (though not before they had had a traipse through the Chianti countryside). The next stop was the Monevibiano winery, famous as the first agricultural firm to be certified zero emissions. Head engineer Stefano Cantelmo showed students the high-tech and low-tech ways that wine and olive oil could be produced with a net emissions of zero (indeed, less than zero). Students also had a tour of the vineyards on solar-powered golf carts, as well as a winetasting.
To study abroad in Italy is fantastic; to study food in Italy is even better!