Italy: Culinary Training & Culture

Cultural Discovery and the Arts

Receive formal culinary training as you fall in love with the  flavors of Italy. Wander along the enchanting canals of Venice, learn to cook in Turin, and take in the historic sites of Rome  and Florence.





Physical Activity


Program Description

Prepare for bold flavors and aromas as you embark on an Italian culinary adventure and learn about the communities, traditions, and cultures that produce the country’s legendary cuisine. This culinary Experiment explores the importance of seasonal, organic, and locally grown foods in different regions. Explore the food cultures of the different regions of Italy as you make your way from Rome, to Florence, to Asti. Whether you’re making pasta, tasting olive oil, or sampling homemade desserts, you will deepen your understanding of the intimate connections between food, culture, and sustainability within the context of Italy and beyond.

Begin with an orientation in Rome where you will receive basic language training and visit ancient sites such as the Colosseum. Next, travel to gorgeous Tuscany, where you will take an introductory Italian class, explore medieval towns. In Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, you can see the many famous works of art and historic landmarks throughout the city. Continue practicing your Italian as you share daily life with a local family during your homestay and buy fresh food in outdoor markets.

Travel to Asti and spend eight days at Agenzia di Formazione Professionale delle Colline Astigiane, the prestigious cooking school, where you will learn to prepare traditional Italian dishes including risotto, focaccia, and tiramisu, as well as regional Piedmont specialties like taglierini, agnolotti del plin, and baci di dama cookies, under the guidance of a professional chef. The program’s culinary excursions include a visit to the famous University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, agritourism visits to local farms, and an agrigelateria to see how real artisanal gelato is made.


Program Availability:

Not Yet Enrolling



Sample Itinerary

    Days 1-3

    Orientation in Rome

    • Learn about the history and culture of Italy by visiting important sites in the capital including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain.
    • Explore Vatican City where you will have a guided tour of the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.
    • Begin to practice your Italian language skills at local shops and ordering at gelaterias and coffee bars.
    • Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the metro, and sample local Italian cuisine
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Days 4-8

    Thematic Focus in Cortona

    • Take interactive, small group Italian language classes at a language and cultural center.
    • Take a day trip to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, to visit sites of significance and see famous works of art, such as the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and the art at the Galleria dell’Academia, including Michelangelo’s David.
    • Visit the Etruscan Musuem, and take part in an Etruscan writing workshop.

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel

    Days 9-18


    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of an Italian family and community and practice your Italian by sharing meals and joining their typical activities and outings.
    • Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group, such as visiting local museum and visiting a nearby beach with your group and Italian host siblings.

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Cosenza, Ascoli Piceno, San Sebastiano al Vesuvio

    Days 19-26

    Thematic Focus in Asti

    • Attend small-group interactive Italian cooking classes at a renowned local cooking school that is Slow Food Presidi, focused on using locally sourced and quality ingredients.
    • Work extensively in the kitchen with local chefs and experts learning local cooking traditions and using only the best slow food ingredients.
    • Learn about Slow Foods at the vocational training center in Agliano Termi and explore the principles and philosophy on biodiversity and other projects related.
    • Go on excursions to the famous University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, take a guided tour of the town of Pollenzo, participate in seminars with university professors, and visit the on-site vegetable gardens.
    • Attend a workshop on the sensory analysis of local products, followed by a visit to the wine bank.
    • Visit “Agrigelateria San Pe” in Poirino and taste artisanal gelato produced with organic milk and fruits.
    • Visit the town of Torino, explore the town center, and visit and have lunch at Eataly, a market dedicated to fine foods and traditional agricultural practices.
    • Attend a grand lunch and graduation ceremony with your group to celebrate the completion of your cooking course.

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Day 27-29

    Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Venice

    • Explore the unique and charming city and its hundreds of canals on foot and by Vaporetto.
    • Visit sites of interest, including St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridger, and the Bridge of Sighs.
    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program and prepare for your return home.
    • Celebrate with a farewell dinner with your group.

    During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Day 29


    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change from year to year. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, engagement with specific organizations, and availability of local professionals, your experience — including sites visited, activities, and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Eilis Kierans

    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 McMunn

    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.

Student Voices

  • The culture is so vibrant and nearly everything in Italy is gorgeous. However, Italy wasn’t about its aesthetic, but rather what it allowed me to learn. For the first time in my life, I was taught, that even with a language barrier, people are all interconnected.

  • I was able to learn so much about Italian culture and their language, especially during my homestay. One of my greatest memories from this trip was actually the first night of my homestay. My homestay sister and her cousin brought me to a festival in the center of a town called Cetraro. It was such a beautiful night. The streets were decorated with purple, blue, and white lights from above and crowded with vendors selling snacks and trinkets. In the center of the festival, people were swaying to the music a band was playing and children gaped at amateur acrobats performing tricks from a dangling hoop.

  • 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, High School for Health Professionals