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Italy: Eately: A Truly Unique Trip to Italy, by Sydney Majowicz, Food Science major

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Posted: June 1, 2017

What a country!
So much cheese!

So much cheese!

I think my parent’s knew I was destined to travel the world; after all, they named me after places that they had visited before I was born. When I learned about an embedded course offered by my major, food science, I knew immediately that I wanted to take it. A rigorous course schedule makes it very difficult for food science majors to study abroad without falling behind in coursework, so I knew an embedded course was a great fit for me. I applied for the Food Production in Italy course, and was ecstatic when I was selected as one of the fifteen students to join the class. A few pre trip meetings and the first half of my spring semester flew by; before I knew it, I was on a plane to Europe.

I could probably go on for pages about my trip, but for time’s sake, I’ll talk about one of my class’ many production tours. During my spring semester, I took wine science, a course that I knew would pair perfectly with my trip. I was ecstatic when a winery tour was included on our list of production tours. This was probably my most anticipated tour. I was anxious the whole trip to visit the winery, but with so many other tours such as Ferrero Rocher, Parmigiano Reggiono, and Villani Salumi, I had plenty of excitement to keep me occupied.

The day of our winery visit, we visited Ferrero Rocher in the morning. This tour was long, but none of us wanted it to end. Seeing the production of Kinder Chocolate and Nutella is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Needless to say, most of us were asleep on the bus ride to the winery, Cantine Marchesi Di Barolo. We woke up to a bright sunny day in the Italian countryside. On one side of us were grape vines as far as the eye could see, and on the other, a quaint little Italian town.

I was amazed when we entered the winery. I have visited a few Pennsylvania and New York wineries, but this was different. There was an outdoor foyer with lots of seating. The inside included a shop for the wine and other products, as well as a dining and tasting area. The walls were covered in artwork and writing from people who had visited the winery over the years. We met our tour guide and were led to the wine cellars. The barrels in the cellar were enormous. I knew this wasn’t an exceedingly large production, and it was amazing to imagine wine that is mass-produced for more ubiquitously known companies. The tour guide was extremely kind and knowledgeable. As with most of the trip, there was a bit of a language barrier to be overcome. Learning to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English as his or her first language was definitely a skill we acquired throughout the trip. You cannot imagine how hard it is to communicate when you begin to involve scientific and more complicated terms. Luckily, one of our professors, Dr. Lomonaco, is from Italy, as well as being a food science professor; we were all grateful for her translations during the trip. The wine cellars seemed like an endless line of production equipment and barrels. We learned that since the barrels begin to collect unwanted deposits over time, they get cleaned every couple years. Interestingly, this job can only be done by a single family from the south of Italy, who are known for their acrobatic skills and flexibility, allowing them to fit into the very tiny doors on the barrels. We also got to see some barrels that were over two hundred years old. It was weird to think of all of the people who have drunk wine from those same barrels. The tour ended with a small meal paired with a wine tasting, and of course, some shopping.

This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I took home a plethora of useful information that I can use in my future. I have endless information and lessons that I could tell future employers. I could discuss the value of international experience and breaking language barriers, or I could go on about all of the production techniques I got an insight into. That being said, I would probably describe all of the interesting microbial facts I learned at each production facility, as this is my area of interest and I was sure to ask copious questions involving it. I think one quote sticks out to me the most, as it was repeated by just about every student on the trip; “what a country”. I will certainly be saying this about Italy every time I discuss my trip.