First week of school in Italy completed! Yippy!
Technically, I popped into an Italian language class last week but only a handful of classmates were there so today was the real deal. Needless to say, I was very excited to finally meet everyone and begin my journey as a UNISG student in the flesh!
Luckily for me, my first day at school was an exciting one as a sensory lab was on the agenda. Looking at the science of taste, we sample three different kinds of teas and then chocolates. Using all senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and sound), we each sat down in a private booth and answered questionnaires on the properties of the products. What I found particularly interesting was that at a certain point, we were even instructed to sample the products under a red light and then blue light, which is thought to have contract reactions among consumer trials!
Another exciting thing that happened this week was our private meeting with Carlo Petrini. Founder of the Slow Food Movement and creator of the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche (UNISG), Petrini is an iconic global figure for what it means to eat good, clean and fair.
A Bra native, Petrini is a journalist who took part in a campaign against the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome in the ‘80s. A political activist, he continues to write for publications like La Stampa and La Repubblica. In 2004, he founded the University of Gastronomic Sciences, with the goal of devoting space to new gastronomes and innovators of sustainable food systems.
We were able to have a conversation with him where he wished us all the best in our studies. Taking the time to talk with each of us, learning where we came from, our stories and our interests, meeting the man behind this giant manifesto was quite an honour and helped to really make us feel at home.
Offering us encouragement in this tricky time, it was heartwarming that he actually was able to have a chat with us and that we were able to match a face with a name. But, rumour has it that he frequents town and campus a fair bit so I doubt that this will be the last time we see him!
Also on this week’s agenda were a bunch of spritz-fuelled aperitivo gatherings with my new classmates and even a tasting with local wine producers from Trediberri and Matteo Coreggia, which you can read about here. I can’t wait for more adventures!