Program Led Fun by Courtney Smith

Some of the best days traveling abroad have been from our program-guided field trips! We have spent Thursdays each week going somewhere new and learning about Tuscany. My personal favorites have been truffle hunting, visiting a vineyard on a beautiful sunny day, and our class weekend trip to Sorrento!

When we went truffle hunting, we went out on a hike with two professional truffle hunters and their dogs to lead the way. They explained the importance of truffle hunting as a generational and familial trade and assured us that their employees were all invested like they were a family.

This is a common thing to hear about Italian businesses because many storefronts and farms are family-owned and run. They operate within a small region because the quality of products from Tuscany is unmatched and, generally, Italians seem to value quality over quantity. That was something that I noticed right away upon arriving in Florence and it has held true over many trips to different regions of the country.

For example, when we visited Castello del Trebbio vineyard, we were able to look out over the ridge and see the whole plot of San Genovese grapes that they use to make the wine we were tasting that day. Being able to visit various places that are off the beaten path for a tourist has been so rewarding because we have the time to connect with the people touring us around their facilities. Our tour guide at the vineyard and I got along really well, and he has been one of the highlights of my time here because of his kindness. We spent the whole day walking through their facilities, which are still running since their foundation in the 12th century, having a home-grown lunch, and laying in the sun.


It seems like many of the days that we have here are spent doing so much and, somehow, very little all at once. Our class weekend trip to Sorrento was a collection of days like that. We went to Pompeii on Thursday when we arrived and toured the city, attended a cooking class with a Michelin Star chef on Friday, toured a Lemon Farm in the rain on Saturday, and explored Positano before returning to Florence on Sunday afternoon. Though we packed every day full of activities, there was still time for all of us to connect with each other and get a big meal at the end of a big day. Overall, I felt like all students were able to make more meaningful connections with our professors over the course of the weekend.


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