In much of the world, industrial food systems provide plentiful and relatively cheap food, a convenience that comes with steep environmental and social costs. HECUA’s exploration of culinary culture and food production in Italy offers an alternative, taking students behind the scenes at Castello Sonnino, a family-owned historic estate with a sustainable farm and vineyard. Students see how Italian and European agricultural policy, business practices, and financial structures affect workers and their communities.
Students live and study at Castello Sonnino, roughly 45 minutes outside of Florence, in Tuscany. They observe how Tuscans define sustainability and are working toward it. Students gain direct experience of food systems, rural Italian culture, and policy through an internship on the Castello Sonnino estate, at a nearby farm, in the adjacent town of Montespertoli, or in Florence. Students receive a food stipend and prepare their own meals in apartments on the Sonnino grounds, surrounded by more than 300 acres of olive groves, vineyards, and working farmland.
In addition to the immersive coursework and concurrent internship, students complete a guided individual study project. Italian language instruction each week can accommodate all levels of proficiency.