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A Tuscan Outing: Active Learning in The Culture of Food &Wine in Italy


One of the great opportunities about studying abroad is being able to take classes that allow you to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. Many of the classes offered through CEA include excursions that give students the chance to “learn by doing,” and to apply knowledge gained from real life experiences.

I was lucky enough to be part of The Culture of Food & Wine in Italy class offered at CEA. We took a day trip to a privately-owned and operated winery and a family run pasta factory. We left from Florence by charted bus to the Pastificio Martelli factory in the town of Lari, where we were greeted by a friendly member of the Martelli family. Here we walked through the entire factory and learned about the different steps and ingredients involved in making pasta from scratch. In the Martelli shop, workers talked to us about how Martelli pasta is packaged, labeled, and shipped throughout the world. It was a great experience, one we’d never have had if it weren’t for our class field trip.

  Next we drove from Lari to Montespertoli to the family-owned winery, Villa La Gigliola. As we walked onto the property, everybody was in awe at how beautiful the place was, with its vineyards and views of green rolling hills. Luckily, we were able to visit during harvest season so we got to watch the grapes be de-stemmed, crushed, and extracted. We toured the cellars where the wines were being aged in wooden barrels and we learned about different types of grapes and wines produced at La Gigliola.

Afterwards we had lunch outside on the estate next to an open fire place. We sampled three of La Gigliola’s wines, Gigliolino, Montorsoli, and Chianti Sant’Enrico, each paired with delicious Italian food prepared especially for us. Gathered around a large table, we enjoyed great food, wine, and conversation among friends.

Laura Tuohy is a Florence Fall 2010 student from California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo. 

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