Explore local foods and the Italian communities, traditions, and cultures to which they are connected during a month-long summer abroad program for high school students. Spend several days in a gorgeous Tuscan town, where you take Italian language lessons and explore the art and landscape of the surrounding area. Focus on the Slow Food movement and the importance of seasonal, organic, and locally grown food of different regions. Spend eight days at a prestigious cooking school in Asti, preparing traditional Italian dishes under the guidance of a skilled chef. The program’s culinary excursions include visiting organic farms, the famous University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, and an agrigelateria to see how artisanal ice cream is made.
Continue to practice your Italian language skills, particularly as you share daily life with an Italian family during the program’s homestay. Use your new language skills to buy fresh food in outdoor markets and to engage in daily interactions with host family members and other Italians. Discover the stories behind the unique foods of different regions of Italy while having hands-on culinary experiences. Whether it’s sampling homemade chocolates, conducting olive oil tastings, or making pizza, the program is designed to deepen your understanding of the intimate links between food, sustainability, and culture, within the context of Italy and beyond.
Conclude the program with two days of exploration and reflection in Venice. Visits to Rome, with its beautiful fountains and monuments, the Città del Vaticano, Florence, Piedmont, and other areas of cultural and historic significance in Italy are incorporated into the program.
Language Certificate: At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a language certificate noting how many hours of language classes s/he completed.
Orientation: Rome, 3 days
Homestay: Ravenna, Desenzano, or Naples,* 12 days
Other Accommodations: Hotel
* Homestay locations can vary.
Orientation in Rome
During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Ascoli Piceno, San Sebastiano al Vesuvio
Thematic Focus in Asti
During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Venice
During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.
These are leader bios from summer 2014.
Eilis Kierans resided in Drogheda, Ireland, for the first eight years of her life before relocating to Massachusetts with her family. Later in life, her dear Uncle Sonny, a Christian Brother in Rome, inspired her to explore Italian culture. During her summers as an undergraduate student, Eilis ventured to Italy to teach English as a Second Language in various vibrant cities. In 2009, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor of arts in communication from the University of Massachusetts. Thereafter, she worked for over a year as an ESL teacher in Daegu, South Korea. In 2011, she returned to Italy to teach and study as part of the Study, Intercultural Training, and Experience program in the serene Camonica Valley, where she lived with an array of ebullient Italian families. Eilis is now a graduate student in the Italian Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches Italian to undergraduate students. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, Eilis had the distinct pleasure of leading an Experiment program in Italy, where — alongside her students — she finally learned how to cook scrumptious Italian dishes.
Rebecca was born and raised in Circleville, Ohio, the pumpkin capital of the world, before moving away to attend Ohio University where she studied telecommunications, business, and Italian. Rebecca’s love for Italy began during her college semester abroad, studying Italian language, cooking, and culture in a small central-Italian village. After graduation, Rebecca returned to Italy for an internship in Rome, where for two years she worked with Italian university students and refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. This gave her a unique opportunity to explore Italy extensively and tour a large part of Europe.
Rebecca recently completed her master’s degree in international education at SIT Graduate Institute. She is currently working with study abroad students in Rome through RomeSAE, helping to introduce American students to the city and country she loves so much. In 2013 and 2014, Rebecca led Experiment programs to Italy and had an amazing time with both her groups. When she isn't buried in a good book or cooking delicious treats, Rebecca can be found spending as much time as possible outside, playing tennis, hiking, running, and exploring new places.
After Rome and my homestay, I did not expect anything else; I thought I found out everything I needed to know about myself. However, I soon realized there was more, once I met with the famous Chef Sergio, alongside the Italian students and my other fellow experimenters. Things were hectic because we were trying to cook each of our individual parts for the meal. The individual was only part of the whole, the bigger picture. Each of us cooking a different part of the meal for the day and bringing it all together to enjoy in the end was beautiful because we were a Famiglia. There was nothing more special than that. While in the kitchen, or cucina in Italian, I thought about considering a career as a chef. The most important part was working over the stove, sweating, trying to create the meal that was unique, concise, and perfecto.
Tristan Alexander, High School for Health Professionals