The week of intensive Italian classes ended on Thursday, but my weekend was the best course on agricultural Italy that I could have asked for!
To start this Sunday’s short but sweet story, I have to explain more about how I got here. Arcadia University and their College of Global Studies is the reason I get to enjoy this lovely country at all. They teamed up with my home university of Chapman, along with numerous other schools, to ensure that our study abroad experiences would stand out among the rest. Part of their helpfulness and generosity included taking all of us to a local farm in nearby Assisi.
I’ve driven through most of California’s agriculture center, but this single farm had something singularly special about it. It is situated just off the coast of a gorgeous lake, and rises up along the hills to offer views from all directions. Complete with a myriad of vegetation and animal stock, the farm held us in awe us from the very beginning of our tour of the vineyards.
The family that runs the farm grows three kinds of grapes, each for their own specific wine purposes. Luckily for us, they even let us taste a few right off the vine – hence my jumps for joy in the third picture! Next, a local artist came up to the big house on the family’s property and invited us to participate in one of his paintings. He really worked wonders with what we provided. Can you guess which half he painted and which half is ours?
The best part of the trip was the way this family made my entire group feel welcome by showing us into their home and feeding us from their table. Our meal was entirely raised, farmed, and cooked on their property. We enjoyed homemade bruschetta, pasta with a meaty tomato sauce, rosemary pork, and thin cakes with their own strawberry jam on top. It was phenomenal. I could taste the care this family puts into their food with every bite, and we were all so sorry when it was time to leave.
The whole experience really left me with more emotional understanding than practical knowledge. I don’t know exactly how they prepared our meal, nor do I know any of the realistic statistics that come with operating a farm in 2016. All I know is that this family loves what they do, and they love each other. They told us their pride and joy in their tasks has been passed on from generation to generation, and they are definitely continuing that Italian tradition today. As important as profit is in a self-sustaining industry, it was obvious that the close relationships between the many entwining lives on this farm were the true products of Italy.