Food and Culture: The Italian Experience

Siena, Italy

This award winning 2-week study abroad program will be a faculty-led experience to one of the most beautiful and culturally significant regions in the world — Tuscany, Italy. The course will be an intensive, full-immersion academic and cultural exploration centered on the theme of Food and Culture in the perfectly preserved, magical medieval city of Siena. No previous knowledge of Italian is required; all that is required is a love for Italian food and culture!

Students will also enjoy an exciting field trips and a day trip to Florence where students will learn more rich history of the Renaissance.

Courses and Credit

This program allows students to earn up to 10 credits while experiencing one of the most alluring cultural destinations of the world. There are no prerequisites for this program.

ITAL 290 Italian Food and Culture
(required, 3 credits - fulfills Italian minor and major requirements)

Food represents one of the most attractive features of Italian culture. In this course, students will undertake a rigorous cultural and critical exploration of the role of food in society through the examination of the Italian case. This summer’s course will primarily focus on representations of food in Italian cinema and popular culture. The aim of this interdisciplinary course will be to gain expertise in understanding how questions of personal and collective identity are expressed and regulated through food in all societies.

Classroom assignments will include an exploration of food practices in Siena and other food-based activities in combination with readings, film screenings and field trips.

Students will participate in hands-on cooking classes that will allow them to experience and be part of the Italian obsession with food. They will also have the opportunity to practice conversational Italian as they learn to cook. There will be six sessions of three hours each where participants will learn about the cuisine and culture of six different Italian regions. Chef Guida, your chef instructor, has extensive experience as head chef in several top restaurants in Italy and the United Kingdom.

The cooking classes will serve as a cornerstone experience for the program. Each evening class will end with the traditional sit-down dinner as a group where everyone will be able to taste their own gastronomic creations.

Italian language courses at the Università per Stranieri di Siena (optional)

  • ITAL 101/102 equivalent, 4 credits, can be used towards fulfilling the World Language requirement.
  • ITAL 201 and beyond equivalent, 3 credits
  • ITAL 278 Independent Study (for minors and majors in Italian), 3 credits

Itinerary for Summer 2015

Students will have weekly assignments beginning April 25th and two orientation sessions held at UMass Boston on May 9th and May 23rd.

  • May 30: Arrival in Siena and program orientation
  • June 2: Field trip to Florence
  • June 6-7: Weekend field trip
  • June 14: Program ends, students may stay and explore Europe independently or return to the US


Vetri Nathan is an Assistant Professor of Italian Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. He received his PhD from Stanford University and specializes in Immigration and globalization in Italy, Italian cinema, and postcolonial/transnational theory.

Chef Instructor Angelo Guida, a native of Naples, who previously worked at award-winning restaurants Gusto in Rome and Bocca di Lupo in London. For more information about Chef Guida, visit his website at

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Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.

Schedule and Fee

Program Runs
May 30 - June 14, 2015

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Program Fee
$1,999 with minimum of 20 participants; if less than 20, a surcharge may apply.

The program fee covers all instruction and academic fees, lodging, six culinary classes with meals, and field trips. The program fee does not include transportation between the US and Italy, most meals, or travel insurance.

To Apply

This course is open to all University of Massachusetts Boston students. Individuals from other colleges and universities are also welcome to apply.

Application Deadline
March 31, 2015*

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* Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Early applications are strongly recommended as space is limited.

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