In John’s Gospel, Jesus says: “I am the vine, and you are the branches.” (15:5). Recently, the Providence College Rome study abroad students got a first hand experience of this rich Gospel metaphor.
The CEA Rome Staff organized a day trip outside of Rome for our students to see how wine is produced in Italy. Part of an extensive calendar of student life events, this “Friday fun” excursion was a great example of the importance of cultural immersion for American students in Italy.
Travelling about 90 minutes north of Rome, our group was taken to Tuscia, in Northern Lazio, close to Viterbo. There they visited a working vineyard. Since it is now harvest time for grapes, the students had an opportunity not only to hear a talk on wine making – while standing among the vines themselves – but also to pick some grapes. (Bushel baskets full of grapes in fact!)
Student life activities this semester include events such as “Climbing the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica”, a “Gelato and Pizza Crawl”, “A Bike Ride down the Via Appia Antica”, and “Roman Neighborhood Walking Tours”. These organized events are included in the Providence College tuition and coordinated by the CEA staff here to offer our students more than just the “classroom experience” of Study Abroad.
After the grapes were picked amidst much laughter, frivolity, and “farmhand fun”, the students were served a gorgeous luncheon at a nearby Agriturismo.
Besides vineyards, the area is also known for its oil and nuts or nocciole.These nocciole, in fact, are used to make the incredibly popular Nutella that we eat so much of here in Italy. The hosts served a “slow food” pranzo which included only food that was grown locally. Of course, the students also had a chance to taste the local wine produced from the same vines where they had picked grapes in the morning.
By “hands on” learning about the legacy, atmosphere, and life of agriculture in Italy, our students were able to immerse themselves in Italian culture in a very unique way. Viva Italia!