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UConn Mediterranean Diet and Tuscan Cuisine in Florence, Italy (Faculty-led) (summer)

The Program

Please note: This program is administered by UConn, but it is not led by a UConn faculty member.

Why go abroad to study the Mediterranean Diet?

While the student is living in Florence, shopping at the local markets, eating in the restaurants, he/she will be totally immersed in the Italian food culture.   The students will use their own senses in Italy, to see, smell, and taste the differences in the foods of Italy versus the foods in the US. Nothing is equal to the first-hand experience that the students will have with the Italian cuisine.

The Academics

Am I Eligible?

This program is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in food, nutrition, dietetics, or other health related fields.   Priority will be given to students with at least one undergraduate nutrition, food, or health course.

What Classes Are Required?

You will be in class for 6 hours a day, two days a week.  Your courses will include:

The History and Culture of Food in the Mediterranean (3 cr) (HIST 3993)

This course will examine the historical evolution of food cultures in the Mediterranean, focusing on the intense cultural and culinary exchange processes within the Mediterranean region and with civilizations from outside the Mediterranean, which have shaped culinary identities in this area. The historical ‘creation’ of the Mediterranean Diet concept in American health research environments after WWII will be studied in particular detail. There will finally be a careful examination of the particular appeal of the Mediterranean diet in the United States but also in Italy, its connection to cultural as well as to commercial and media interests.

Italy’s Mediterranean Food and Our Health (3 cr) (AH 2330) (meets CA-41 requirement)

This course is designed to provide the student with information about the potential health benefits, food patterns, history and epidemiology of the Mediterranean diet.  We will explore the specific and unique dietary constituents of this diet such as fats and oils, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, milk and dairy, meats and meat products, seafood and alcohol.  Students will gain an appreciation for how these foods and their nutrients affect important physiological processes that will ultimately impact the risk of developing a chronic disease (including diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease).   Students will be expected to read scientific research and to prepare a journal club and or conduct a small research project on the Mediterranean diet.

The Experience

What type of special activities are planned?

The activities are designed for the student to learn about the characteristics of food production and service which are either uniquely characteristic of, or particularly prevalent in, Italy.  You will have the opportunity to experience a rich food culture with innovative approaches to food production and nutrition.

There will be food related tours and workshops that focus on the social and cultural factors that have shaped food consumption practices and patterns in Tuscany. Our activities will take full advantage of the rich Mediterranean cuisine and examine first-hand the profound role food plays in community, family, ethnicity, nutrition, health, and national identity.  Additionally, students will have tastings of Tuscan olive oil, meats, seafood, and wine along with cheese making experiences.

Institute at Palazzo Rucellai . . . Your Academic Home away from Home

You will find the Institute a warm and welcoming place, with an expert and accessible staff that always has time to answer a question or to help with a problem. There are two computer labs, a library, and a student lounge. You will be housed in double or triple rooms in furnished apartments shared with other program participants. The apartments have equipped kitchens and  a washing machine.

The apartments are located in the center of town within walking distance of Palazzo Rucellai. Along your way, you might stop at your favorite coffee bar for a cappuccino and a pastry, gaze into the shop windows at the artistically displayed goods, or marvel at major artistic, historical landmarks. The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the gelato, buying fresh vegetables in mom and pop shops, and the Italian approach to time, become a natural part of the day. Weekly cultural activities in Florence include a gelato walk, organized soccer games, the Ferragamo shoe museum, the artisans’ workshops, and the secret rooms Palazzo Vecchio. Optional day trips and to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, offer new perspectives on other parts of Italy. A day trip to Chianti is the closing event of Orientation.


Please note that the only type of financial aid that can be applied to the cost of this program, other than scholarships, are Federal Stafford Loans. Click the link below for this program’s budget sheet and contact the UConn Office of Financial Aid Services for information regarding your individual financial aid package.

Budget Sheets: Summer
The Details

  • Location: Florence, Italy
  • Terms: Summer
  • Homepage:

Dates / Deadlines:

Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 02/20/2018 02/27/2018 TBD TBD

Fact Sheet:

Class status: 2nd Year, 3rd Year, 4th+ Year Academic area: Agriculture, Sciences
Language of instruction: English Prior language study required: None
Open to non-UConn students: Yes Required GPA: 2.75