HECUA: Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Justice

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About Program

Unpack the Slow Food movement’s motto of “good, clean, and fair.”
Explore how the business of food affects the health and wealth of farmers, workers, families, and communities.

Students live and work at the Castello Sonnino, a historic estate roughly 12 miles outside the major city of Florence. The Sonnino estate include beautifully preserved historic buildings and 300+ acres of woods, olive groves, vineyards, and working farm land.

Students live in apartments on the Sonnino grounds, studying the political and economic context of the farming and food movements particular to Italy. They gain firsthand experience of sustainable local food systems and the role they play in maintaining rural culture in Tuscany through an internship placement on the farm, in the village, or in nearby Florence.

Program Highlights
  • Intensive, food-systems-focused internships
  • Accommodations in a historic estate, now a working farm and vineyard
  • Italian language instruction, class in English
  • Opportunity to live and work in a small community near Florence.

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Program Reviews

9.33 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
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  • Academics 7
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Yes, I recommend this program

A quick word about Italy

Spending a semester in Italy was amazing. The slow food and community oriented culture made the stay delightful and authentic. Many natives of Montespertoli were kind and welcoming as long as you were respectful. Filippo was incredibly supportive whenever we had questions or needed assistance. What I enjoyed most were the field trips we took all around Tuscany and further south. We got the privilege of experiencing the Italian countryside and wine culture at its apex with insightful natives as our guides. I also enjoyed the freedom we got on the weekends. I spent a lot of time traveling to other surrounding cities and countries. One piece of advice is to save up as much money as you can to travel in your free time. I spent a lot of time trying to decide if certain weekend trips would be worth the money but I never regretted the expenses after I made the experiences. However, contrary to many Italians, you will need to be punctual with your time. Getting to and from Montespertoli can be difficult and risky if you are negligent about the bus schedule.

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying in Tuscany!

Getting the chance to study abroad in a smaller Italian city gave us the chance to get to know some of the locals. I was lucky enough to stage at a local gelato shop, along with a few other students. The owners took the time to get to know us, helped us with our Italian, and taught us quite a bit about Italian food and culture.

At Sonnino, the teachers are very welcoming and are adaptive. They truly care about the students and the academics. We had a few classes that we were able to be outside, either learning about sharecropping, or from a local gardner. This program does provide opportunities to grow as a person as well as learn about the Italian culture and lifestyle.

What would you improve about this program?
Change up the internships. A lot of students did not feel challenged and a handful of the places of the business they worked at, either didn't have much for them to do or didn't know what to do with them. Also, increase italian language classes throughout the semester.
2 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester in Montespertoli

During the course of my semester abroad in Italy, we lived and worked in a winery estate vineyard. We were directly involved with the wine production on the castle's estate and we also learned how they market, sell and produce their wines. We also learned Italian language courses, and took 3 other courses during our time in Italy. On weekends, you are free to travel to neighboring countries or cities, which makes studying abroad a lifetime goal for any adventurer, learner or experience-taker.

1 person found this review helpful.

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