Class Trips to Val d'Orcia and Florence!

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Grace Wolf
May 1, 2024

The course trips that IES Abroad organized, as I have said in other blogs, are some of the coolest ways to learn about the country you are living in with professors at your side. The last two trips that we went on were to Florence and the Val d’Orcia region!

The second day trip to Florence was organized by the black death history and renaissance art class professors, but everyone in the program participated in the trip. First, we took a walking tour of Florence- we even got to see where the original Roman boundaries to the city were, and where the famous Medici family originally lived! 

After the walking tour, my friends and I had lunch at a local restaurant called Osteria Cimatori Trenta, which was delicious! After lunch, we met back up with our professors to tour the Pitti Palace. A benefit of IES Abroad programs is that they provide their students in Siena with Uffizi cards. The Uffizi cards allow for free and unlimited access to the archeological museums, the Pitti Palace and all of its galleries, the Uffizi galleries, and the Boboli Gardens! 

The Pitti Palace property was bought by the Medici family in 1549, and it quickly turned into an incredible collection of art and valuables of the renaissance. Today, it is the largest museum in Florence with lots of different exhibits, such as fashion history, in addition to renaissance paintings. I had visited the palace before with my Uffizi card, but going with my art professor was completely different. We learned what rooms and styles were from which time period, and who had paintings commissioned. My classmates and I felt transported into the renaissance walking through the massive museum!

After the Pitti tour, we went to the Uffizi gallery. It was so incredible to see so many paintings that I have only seen prints of, such as the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Woman With a Veil by Raphael, and the Tondo Doni by Michelangelo. Seeing the incredible talent of the most famous artists of the renaissance was an absolutely incredible experience. There were also exhibitions of artworks from the ancient times from Rome and Greece which was incredible. Overall, our second trip to Florence was incredible- and I can’t wait to go back with my Uffizi card before the semester is over. 

Our next trip was to the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany with the history of wine professor. It is so beautiful and authentic that it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Our first stop on our tour was to Pastificio Mulino Val d’Orcia, a company that produces their own flour and makes their own fresh pasta. We learned about how different flours can create different pasta types with different textures, and about the health benefits of each. We got to taste samples, and I took a few bags of the pasta home! 

Our next stop was at Frantoio Fregoli, an olive oil producer. While they grew their own olives to press, they also pressed olives for other producers in the area. The workers have to take the entire press apart after they finish with one producer's olive batch before they start another to prevent contamination. We also learned how you get more oil out of an olive picked earlier in the season but that the highest quality oil is from picked later. We ate lunch at the Frantoio Fregoli agriturismo, which is similar to a farm-to-table restaurant, and it was incredible!

Our last stop on our trip was to Casanuova delle Cerbaie, whose main product is Brunello wine. We got to tour and taste the wine, and learn how to distinguish how long a wine has been aged by the flavor. We also learned about the process of making rosé wine. The views from the winery of the vineyards were incredible, and I would love to go back there. I am so thankful for these trips to learn hands on from Tuscan business owners, wine producers, and farmers about their craft! 

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Grace Wolf

Hi! I’m Grace. I'm a first-generation, Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying Economics and Environmental Science. I was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I am an active scuba diver, yogi, and gardener. 

2024 Spring
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