PietrasantaSummer Study Tour

The Italian Mediterranean diet and gastronomy ‘la cucina italiana’ is recognized and admired around the world, making it available almost anywhere. It includes deeply-rooted local traditions that change based on the region and its specific climate, community, and landscape. But what is it specifically that curates the Italian eating experience, both historically and culturally? And how can developments in the food process, from production to consumption, contribute to improving environmental and agricultural sustainability?


This tour will take you to the town of Pietrasanta, located within the region of Tuscany. Tuscan food culture is known for its ‘cucina povera’ (poor cuisine). But this name does not mean the food culture is inferior, rather the opposite. Tuscan cuisine is all about simplicity, prioritizing freshness, and using only a few ingredients that incorporate seasonal produce. Beyond the town of Pietrasanta, you will explore the surrounding area known as Versilia, located within the province of Lucca, where the cuisine is influenced by its geographical location between the sea and mountains. Fixed between the Ligurian Sea and the last foothills of the Apuan Alps, the province has developed a very particular palette of traditions and recipes, all with deep historical underpinnings. We will experience these close ties to the landscape and seasons, and observe how they contribute to the sustainable living and fabric of the area. As we explore the geography, culture, and history of Tuscany, you will also have the chance to experience many of the foods this region is famous for, including its chianti wine, meats such as lardo di colonnate and Tuscan prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and the famous cantucci dry biscuits with almonds (also known as biscotti) that ubiquitously accompany each Tuscan’s morning cappuccino. 

Tour Objectives

  • Explore and learn more about Italian and Tuscan culture, history and socioeconomic climate, using the lens of food and agriculture as our driving vessels
  • Contemplate how culture, traditions, landscape, people and politics relate to food and to sustainability, both in the present and past
  • Compare observed and experienced approaches to sustainability in Northern and Southern Europe, and what makes them the way they are

Possible Activities

  • Visit small-scale, local, agricultural producers to taste and learn about their organic production methods for vegetables, cheese, olive oil and wine.
  • Experience historical roots of anarchy, marble, art, community and sample the famous lardo di Collonata near Carrara
  • Spend time on a small Tuscan farm near Pietrasanta that serves as a prototype for sustainable living and where a contemporary ‘nature academy’ has begun
  • Learn about the historical roots of Italian and Tuscan heritage share cropping estates, and how they connect to biodiversity and sustainable living
  • Explore the concept of the Slow Food revolution and meet producers in the area
  • Taste regional products, including a visit to the local market in Lucca, and learn to cook a regional recipe at the international academy of Italian cuisine