Students Research Food Culture in Italy and Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Students visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa and climbed the 294 marble steps to the top!

From June 9-29, eight Eastern Connecticut State University students studied “Cross-Cultural Psychology of Food” in Florence, Italy, with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jenna Scisco. Students learned about eating behaviors and the differences between Italian and American food culture by visiting an olive oil farm, a goat farm, a community garden, a butcher shop, restaurants and food markets.

Students visited the Orti Dipinti educational garden where they learned about sustainable food practices.

Students also took in lectures on Italian cuisine and the slow food movement and participated in food tastings and cooking classes. Through these engaging activities, the students learned that Italian food is fresh, seasonal and regional. Italians value being able to prepare their own food, love to eat and are passionate about their food. Food is meant to be shared in Italy; an important flavor in Italian cooking is family and friends!

At Orti Dipinti educational garden, students made fresh pesto from their handpicked herbs, such as pineapple and apricot sage.

The students’ primary research project was a comparison of meals they observed in the United States and Italy. These hands-on field observations immersed them in the local culture and allowed them to explore differences in types of foods consumed and eating behaviors across the two cultures. Students also completed a report on the use of food in artworks displayed in the Uffizi, Accademia and Bargello galleries. They also wrote a report on the unique characteristics of Italian food labels found on products in grocery stores.

Dr. Scisco led a lecture on food culture atop Piazzale Michelangelo with sunset views of Florence.

While exploring Florence, Eastern students climbed to the top of the Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), enjoyed beautiful views of the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio, took in the sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo and visited beautiful churches such as the Santa Croce Basilica. Students also had the opportunity to explore other cities in Italy with a climb up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and an overnight trip to Venice.

by Dwight Bachman