Unpack the Slow Food movement’s motto of “good, clean, and fair” in its Italian birthplace. Explore how the business of food affects the health and wealth of farmers, workers, families, and communities.
In much of the world, industrial food systems provide plentiful and relatively cheap food, a convenience that comes with steep environmental and social costs. HECUA’s exploration of culinary culture and food production in Italy offers an alternative, taking students behind the scenes in the Chianti region, an area known for its innovative organic farming and organic wine production. Students see how Italian and European agricultural policy, business practices, and financial structures affect workers and their communities. Students live and study in Greve in Chianti, a town located 31 kilometers south of Florence, in Tuscany. Students observe how Tuscans define sustainability and are working toward it. Students gain direct experience with food systems, rural Italian culture, and policy through an internship at a nearby farm, school, or other local organization. Students live together in shared apartment-style housing and receive a food stipend to prepare their own meals. In addition to the immersive coursework and concurrent internship, students complete a guided individual study project. Italian language instruction each week can accommodate all levels of proficiency. Students also have the option to participate in the “Cucina for English” program, a language and cooking exchange opportunity with local Italian families. Read more about the Italy program here!
Highlights/ Good to Know
Housing: Students live in shared apartment-style homes. The accommodations are operated by Italian families in Greve. Orientation to food shopping in Greve in Chianti and cooking instruction helps students manage the stipends they receive. Students will have access to kitchen space for preparing meals.
Italian Language: Italian language fluency is not necessary. All students are enrolled in an Italian language course upon arrival, and all levels of proficiency can be accommodated.
Partner Institution: The program is offered in partnership with Università per Stranieri di Siena, which sponsors students’ visa applications, hosts the program for a field experience, staffs the Italian language instruction, and collaborates on curriculum.
Field Study: The program is based in the olive and grape-growing region of Tuscany. Students live and study on a working farm with active cultivation and processing of olives and grapes, and land in farro (spelt, an ancient wheat). There are also chickens and bees on the farm. Field trips will include visits to other farms, agricultural coops, food processing plants, and grassroots organizations. Historically, settlement and farming have been quite different in northern and southern Italy; the program will include comparative study with at least one other location in Italy.
Total: 4 course credits / 16 credit hours
- Agriculture and Sustainability in Tuscany (4 credits)
- Economics of Sustainable Food Production in Contemporary Europe (4 credits)
- Sustainable Italy Internship (4 credits)
- Independent Study Project (4 credits)
The courses are taken as an integrated whole and provide the equivalent of a semester's worth of credit, i.e. 4 course credits, 16 semester credits or 27 trimester credits. This program is full-time, five days a week, with classes scheduled for two days a week, and two or three days a week in an internship.
Students can expect to gain hands-on experience on an organic farm, a school-based site, or another local organization. This internship experience is integrated with coursework and other field experiences to provide you with a holistic experience of sustainable agriculture.
Click here to view current fees on our website.
Note that fees vary by institution. Fees includes group transportation to field sites, planned group excursions, lodging, meals, local transportation, medical insurance, and administrative costs. Students are housed in apartments.
None. No course or language prerequisites. Instruction is in English. At the beginning of the program, students will receive intensive instruction in basic Italian language (or at other levels for those with previous study).
This program is open to any undergraduate students currently enrolled in a US college or university who have completed their first year of college and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Prospective students are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any other eligibility questions.
Students live in shared apartments and receive a food stipend.
HECUA offers multiple scholarships to students each term. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) students, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Visit our website to learn more.
If you're ready to apply or just want more information, we suggest that you connect with your HECUA Campus Representative. Click here to view the HECUA staff page
and contact the Campus Representative who works with your institution.
Click here to apply to HECUA.
More information at the HECUA Italy webpage >>>
- Connect with a HECUA Campus Representative
- Submit an application to your home institution
- Submit an application to HECUA
Gustavus belongs to the HECUA Consortium, so we are a part of the organization that offers this program. Any eligible Gustavus student is welcome to participate in this program.
Gustavus students will first apply for Gustavus approval through this website. Once approved by Gustavus to participate, you will then complete an online HECUA application as well. Note that Gustavus has a nonrefundable application fee of $70 (required for all Gustavus study away applicants), and that HECUA has a separate nonrefundable application fee of $50.
Advising at Gustavus.
If you would like to speak with a Gustavus program advisor, please see our Advising page
for more information.