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Home / Academics / International Programs / For Students / Program Options / Short-Term Field Courses / May/summer 2013 / (Italy) Slow Food in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany

Slow Food in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, Italy

Course Title: Slow Food in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany
Faculty: Jason Tor (associate professor of microbiology)
Course Number: NS - 289S
Location(s): Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, Italy
Dates (approximate): May 21-June 4, 2013
Program Fee (approximate): $2,500 + airfare

*Course logistics are still being finalized for 2013. Details are subject to change.*

“In Emilia-Romagna there is real joy in creating something extraordinary, whether it be a sheet of pasta dough, a vinegar, a ham or a cheese.” -- Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table

Watch this YouTube video to see highlights from the 2012 Program!
And, take a look at photos from the 2012 Program!

Mealtime, Photo by Jason Tor, Summer 2012 Program Director

Program Description
In Italy a fusion occurred over the past 5 centuries between the peasant kitchens and those of the nobility to produce the extraordinary food tastes of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and much of what is known world-wide as Italian food. From the outside the food of these regions often appears monolithic, which may be due in part to the international prominence of key ingredients such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Pecorino, Chianti Classico, Aceto Balsamico, and tortellini: all iconic, traditionally produced in Emilia-Romagna or Tuscany, and widely regarded as Italian. By taking a little more time to familiarize oneself with the smaller provinces and towns in the region, however, one could discover subtle differences in the raw ingredients, variation in production techniques, and an indefinable character of place (terroir) that results in dramatic differences in the final product known primarily to local consumers. Contrary to the modern ethos of an industrialized food system requiring strict homogeneity in their product, traditional foods are celebrated for their subtlety and variation is embraced.

Fish Market
Shopping for Local Produce at the Fish Market, Photo by Mika Hernandez 10F, Summer 2012 Program Participant

Fermented foods are a particular emphasis for this course because they have been a part of humans’ regular diet for many millennia, owing in large part to their durability, desirability, and health benefits. Of the 6 ingredients mentioned above, 5 are products of fermentation and experience huge demand in the global market. Over the past 100 years (or so) the rise in our technological understanding of the fermentation process has led to a co-opting of the natural role microorganisms play and the insertion of industrial techniques to generate food-like products that are homogeneous and easy to produce cheaply. We are living in an auspicious time when the primary source of our once traditional foods is corporations; despite that fact, some craftspeople using traditional methods can still be found. Notwithstanding increasing government regulatory control over their ability to continue using these traditional methods, purveyors are often drawing premium prices in the marketplace and enjoying cult status amongst many consumers for the aesthetic and perceived health benefits of the products.

Wine Casks
Wine Casks, Photo by Jason Tor, Summer 2012 Program Director

In this course we will travel to the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to explore a broad range of questions about the past, present, and future of traditional Italian foods. Although we will be focusing primarily on traditionally fermented products, we will not miss the opportunity to explore a wide variety of unique local delicacies, from aceto balsamico to zampone. Our journey of discovery will take us to museums dedicated to food and traditional farming practices, farms, dairies, producers of fermented foods applying traditional techniques, modern industrial manufacturers, farmers' markets, grocery stores, remote rural places, small towns, and cities.

Students at Work
Students at Work, Photo by Jason Tor, Summer 2012 Program Director

The course is open to all students. There are no specific course prerequisites; however, previous completion of food science, nutrition, biochemistry, or a related course is recommended.

Italian language preparation is not required but is encouraged, and would certainly enrich the experience.

Housing Arrangements
Group accommodations will be provided in a rented house or apartment in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.

Travel Plans and Requirements
Participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements to and from the course.

Program Cost and Additional Expenses
Hampshire program fee is approximately $2,500. This includes course expenses, accommodations, in-country transportation, some meals, and most excursions and cultural activities.

NOT included in the program fee are the following: airfare ($1,300), U.S. transportation to and from the airport, passport fees, some meals, and personal expenses. Students should budget an additional $1,500 to cover these costs.

Vineyard Visit, Photo by Jason Tor, Summer 2012 Program Director


Application Deadline: Thursday, March 7, 2013

All short-term applications are due to the global education office by 4:30 p.m. on the application deadline. Applications can be found in the global education office or downloaded from this page. A non-refundable deposit of $500 (credited to tuition) will be due to the GEO by April 1 in order to reserve your place in the program.

Financial Aid
Students who receive need-based financial aid from Hampshire College are eligible to apply for financial assistance through the global education office to offset the program fee. Students are expected to cover all additional expenses, including airfare. Awards vary from year to year and are dependent on the number of applicants and the amount of aid available. Eligibility for financial assistance does not guarantee that aid will be awarded. Please indicate your eligibility and desire to apply on your application form.

Questions about the application process or financial aid should be directed to Heather St. Germaine in the global education office at or x5542.

Questions regarding the academic content or itinerary should be directed to Jason Tor (associate professor of microbiology) at


Contact Us

Global Education Office
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Fax 413.559.6173

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