From Field to Table: Turin, Italy

Porta_Palazzo_marketThis two-week trip (June 11-25) takes DeLaSalle students and staff to Italy for a firsthand study of the ecosystems, flora, and fauna of the Alps and Mediterranean Sea, sustainable agriculture practices, and the chemistry of food science. Science teachers Dennis Jung, Malcolm Newman, Marta Vazquez, and Colleen Williams’-Freier will teach the course. Students can earn DeLaSalle academic credit upon successful completion of the trip and course.

Update (June 12, 9:00am): “Greetings from Turin…we have landed, all students and luggage made it safely and we are on the way to San Giuseppe” reports Dennis Jung via text message. San Giuseppe refers to Collegio San Giuseppe, where students will begin the first portion of their trip.

Student Blog

june13-2We started the day off with a trip to the market. Flipping our backpacks to our front sides, we made our way through the busy streets (avoiding the fast moving cars coming from pretty much every direction). Our tour guide, Alessio, purchased us fresh apricots, bananas, and Torino’s unique type of plum (the ramazin). All was delicious! The market place was divided between the more seasonal/local selection, and then the farmer’s market.
Throughout the tour (approximately a nine mile tour collectively) we visited the four original entrances to the city, which were built in the Roman ages (300 BC). We observed the eclectic architectural influences, deriving from Roman, medieval, Renaissance, and fascist origins. june13-1After visiting multiple piazzas we split off separately in search for lunch. Each group experienced different interactions with vendors and the tasting of a multitude of pizza and gelato. We regrouped and continued our tour. [Click here to download video highlights of our tour]

We traveled back to the villa, and enjoyed some down time to play card games and write in our journals. We had a meal served by the Collegio staff, and gathered for a group reflection on the day. Highs and lows of the day were shared, as well as a collection of hilarious stories; ranging from “awkward” encounters with the locals, observations of the city, and where the BEST gelato is found.

We say, “good day, good night, can’t wait until tomorrow!”

Written by Rachel, Kylee, and Valerie

We started the day off going to a local market. We all had to try our best communicating with the vendors speaking in Italian. Some vendors easily could tell that we were tourists and laughed at us trying to seem like we knew what we were doing. The market was a cool place to visit even though it was raining the whole time but we had fun with seeing all different kinds of food. We also had a blast trying to communicate with the vendors with our Italian cheat sheet. Today was a success when all of us bought fruit like cherries and strawberries and we shared it with each other knowing the fruit here is better than the states (haha).

As it was raining all day today, we had to cancel our previous plans of going to the River Po. We decided instead to take a tour of the Lasallian school we are staying at, named San Giuseppe. june14-4They turned out to have quite a selection of books (closing in at 32,000), a great collection of preserved animals from all over the world, and a large number of fossils that went all the way back to the very beginnings of life. They also had a very beautiful chapel, greater than the one residing at DeLaSalle in Minneapolis, which our hosts graciously allowed us to visit. We saw the artistically crafted ceiling using perspective to make the room seem taller than it was, and the Stations of the Cross paintings that were a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife. Everything was a great experience and we all learned something that was not previously known to us.

After dinner the girls all went part of the way with the boys to where they’re staying. After dropping off the boys at the river, all of the girls went down to look at the River Po that flooded onto the sidewalks from the recent rains. june14-3We spent some time jumping onto benches that had become islands from the flooding and we ended up getting some memorable images from the experience. We walked along Via Po (the downtown street with all the shops and restaurants) as the street lights illuminated the night and were able to get the best gelato from a nearby vendor.

All and all, the day was fun and exciting and we had lots of new experiences. This is all of us signing off.

Written by Collette, Sheridan, Maggie

Today, the group split into two so we could all experience the activities without overcrowding the facilities. Group A went to the cooking class where we watched Chef Luca prepare and cook a three course traditional Italian meal. The first course was pasta with bacon and asparagus. june15-1We observed as Chef Luca, with Lily’s assistance, mixed together eggs, flour, and salt to create fresh pasta dough. We all took turns helping him flatten and cut the dough into a linguini-like form and later cut up the vegetables for the final pasta dish.

We then helped him make veal covered in a traditional tuna sauce. The veal was browned and then roasted with several different types of vegetables, which were then puréed with tuna and other ingredients to create the sauce that coated the veal. Served along with it was zucchini flan that Group A helped prep for at the beginning of the class. Finally, for dessert, we had a chocolate bunet (a traditional and extremely popular Italian desert) with a caramel covering and a moscato-based zabaglione sauce on top.

When everything was ready to be served, we gathered around the table to enjoy the three courses for lunch. It was delicious!

Group B went to the fish market and observed the similarities and differences between it and a United States fish market. We learned how the fish market works firsthand. We later visited an urban garden where we recorded the various herbs we saw, and a supermarket where we found foods from every group on the food pyramid.

As a whole group we all visited the Orto Botanico, the botanical garden here in Turin. We attended a presentation by professor Consolata Siniscalco and with her help we walked through the botanical garden, sketching and recording the various plants we came across. Despite our time being cut short by the rain, we had enough time to experience the beauty of the garden and all its trees, flowers, and shrubs.

Overall, the day provided us with new experiences only possible in Torino.

Written by Anna and Patrick

Today we split up into two groups, one group went to a cooking class at a cooking school in Torino, and one group went to the Egyptian museum in the morning. june16-9bBoth of us were in the group that went to the cooking class. The other group got to go out to lunch and had some time to explore the city hours after their tour of the Egyptian museum.

We made a three course lunch. We made homemade pasta with asparagus, zucchini, and bacon. [Click here to download a video of students cooking]  The second course included a veal roast in a wine marinade topped a tuna sauce. Our desert was a chocolate pudding cake with a wine cream sauce on top. It was delicious! The professional chefs were very passionate and were very fun to work with.

june16-2aAfter lunch, we walked over to the Egyptian Museum in Torino, it is the second largest Egyptian Museum in the world! It was filled with marvelous artifacts. In one of the exhibits, we saw the tomb items of Kha. It was unbelievable! They had the real food from 5500 years ago.

After the tour of the museum, it started to pour rain, and we ran back to the school where we are staying. From there we took car rides to the urban vineyard in Torino, Villa Della Regina. Since it was pouring once again, we were limited to touring the inside of the main building. We got a brief lecture from the owner of the vineyard and the history of the place itself. We even got to taste wine-flavored candy!

We are now back for dinner with a lecture afterwards.

Highlights of the trip so far include the , the lunches on the patios, and just spending time with one another.

Arrivederci from Keenan, and Zoe

june17-5aToday was a great day, partly due to the fact that we strolled through the Mediterranean weather on our way to a chocolate factory. We crossed the river Dora, which is a river that flows from the glaciers and is a striking steel blue color.

Once we arrived at the urban chocolate factory, we were treated to a nice sampling of their chocolates. It was very professional, with a palate cleanser between each “course”. The chocolate factory, called “Guido & Ohino” specializes in a traditional chocolate called “Gianduja”.  This chocolate includes locally grown hazelnuts and tastes “nothing like Nutella” (as we were repeatedly told).

After we had satisfied everyone’s cravings, we went to tour the factory and watched how the chocolate was made. We learned about everything from how the cocoa beans are harvested to the final packaging in the factory. Finally, we were able to purchase some chocolate products to bring back to loved ones at home (or eat ourselves).

After a very relaxing lunch in the heart of Torino, we met at the Academy of Sciences. june17-2bThe extensive archives lined the walls and we were fortunate enough to personally see examples of books printed in the 1790’s.  They got out the white gloves and everything! Members of the Academy include names like Darwin, Marconi, Rutherford, Babbage, and even a former president of ours, Woodrow Wilson. The beautiful setting underscored the work and contributions of these prestigious people.

The ceiling was painted in a style using the art of perspective which makes  images seem to escape their two dimensional canvas. Throughout our visit we experienced an array of chemistry, physics, mechanics, mathematics, the natural sciences, geography, and astronomy.

We were lucky enough to have an afternoon break where we were allowed to explore the city. Students broke into small groups and went off to see Torino. Many people went shopping, relaxed in the piazza, and got gelato. It is safe to say that everybody enjoyed a break from our studies and an opportunity to explore Italy!

Written by Isabel, Kate, and Julia[

Today we learned all about the wine-making process at Fontanafredda Vineyard, starting with the growing and harvesting of the grapes all the way to the racking of the wine. The vineyard is a one hour drive outside of Torino.  june18-3bWe toured the cellars and learned about the wine-making process; from grapes being put in large wood vats to pick up different flavors, then moving to large fermenting tanks and finally to the end product-a bottle of wine.

Our last stop in the cellar was a taste of one of their white wines.  After the tasting, we enjoyed a traditional 3 course Italian meal including Vitello e tonnato ,(a delicious tuna salad with veal), beef filled ravioli, and ice cream with fresh strawberries.  We ended our visit at the vineyard with meditation, taking in the sweet sounds of nature whilst swatting away the bugs.  On the way back to Collegio San Guiseppe we made a stop at a quaint town above the valley for a scenic view of the vineyards and the pastures.

Written by Sarah & Ana

Today we took a journey to visit the town of Imperia and the Pelagos Marine Sanctuary. We took a 2 hour bus ride that was absolutely stunning; we drove through luscious green mountains and were able to see a whole different side of Italy. There were small villages and houses sprinkled up and down that were dyed pastel colors. It was so lovely and I am so glad we were able to see it. Bella, Ben, and Evie, three other students from DeLaSalle who are staying with some exchange students from San Guiseppe, accompanied us.

june19-2bWe departed the harbor on the tour boat with a couple local tourists. Before heading out to sea, we stopped at two more docks to pick up more passengers for the whale watching excursion. As we started out to the open sea, while many found the rolling waves and boat exciting, many students succumbed to a bit of motion sickness. The many tones of the blue water was simply mesmerizing. As we moved farther out, we encountered a small school of blue fin tuna. About halfway through our day, we had not seen any marine mammals. Then, we spotted a pod of striped Dolphins. They were so playful and fun as they dove underneath the boat and reemerged with spectacular aerial spins and flips.

While we were unable to see any whales during the trip, it was still a very enjoyable experience for most of the group. As we headed back to shore, many were relieved to finally get off the boat and be able to stand on land. After docking, we were given the chance to go find gelato in Imperia, stretch our legs, and steady some stomachs before getting back on the bus to head back to Turin. The bus ride gave many a chance to rest after a long day of boat rides, dolphin watching, and seasickness. Everyone was exhausted by the end of the day and were ready to go to bed after dinner.

Written by Adam Collins, Daniel Swords, Madeline Rohlf

Today we arrived at Gran Paradiso national park. In the morning, we all loaded onto the tour bus. Some of us were exhausted from the day before, so half of the bus ended up napping.  As soon as we started getting up into the mountains, everyone was in awe of the picturesque landscape surrounding us. There were mountains covered in pine trees, perfectly clear waterfalls down the mountains, snow-capped mountains, fields of tiny flowers in every color imaginable, and beautiful mountain wildlife. june21-1aWhen we finally arrived at the adorable hotel that looked like something right out of a storybook, we unloaded our stuff and got comfortable in our rooms.

Soon after arrival we met our alpine guides Alex and Lilliana.  They took us to ski lift which brought us up to a height of 2200m (about 7,200 feet). We hiked from there. The air was thin and the climb was tiring for some, but it paid off when we hit the high points and looked over the cliffs. From the snow-covered tips to the green open valleys, every picture you took was worthy of a postcard.

After hiking for hours, we had the option to either hike back down or to sprint to the gondolas and ride them back. Those who hiked back down took longer to get back to our hotel. Needless to say, we were all very hungry for dinner. To our surprise, we received yet another 4-course meal. The lasagna they served us was delightful to the tastebuds and we also enjoyed a pudding-like dessert paired with tasty wafers. After a long day we were excited to get back to bed, and rest up for another day of adventure.

Written by Elsa & Jorge

First, we’d like to say Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers!

We started our second day of hiking to the Alpine Gardens with a delicious homemade meal and the smiles of the staff at the cozy hotel in Gran Paradiso. Before our venture on the 40-minute hiking trail, we had to stop for a herd of cows crossing the path and also to learn the different types of cows and the purpose for why they were bred. We looked for Ibex, Marmots, Chamois, and mushrooms before we even hit the path.

june21-2aFinally, we reached our steep trail to the gardens where we hiked for a few minutes before we looked down and saw just how far we had already hiked. We stopped several other times to take in the wonderful nature around us. We had a perfect day with blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and warm sun. Group B stopped in the middle of a field and had class outside where the background was three different mountains that portrayed winter and summer mixed together. Group A continued on with Alex, one of the hiking guides, on the trail. On the way, Alex discussed his exciting life as a naturalist and his love of nature. Once at the top off the trail, Alex had his group put away any distractions and sit down on the grass and enjoy the spectacular view.

Both groups joined up at the Alpine Gardens for a tour by each of their guides. We learned about the various plants and their uses. We hiked away from the garden to a field and river, where we had a quick lunch provided by the hotel staff. Then we started our exploration around the area for our field study and final project. june21-4aHere we split up into groups of 3-4 based on what plants or environmental observations made us curious. The groups collected data for their study and most were able to find connections to Minnesota. The most commonly found connection was that a plant grown in the Alpine is able to grow in the Twin Cities due to the same latitude, but has a variation because of the different elevation.

As we reached the end of the trail, we were given free time. Most people headed out for a much needed gelato while others went shopping for presents or went back to the hotel. Everyone met back up at the hotel and only had a 3 course meal that consisted of salad, meat and polenta with a side of peas and sausage, and a thick nutty cream drizzled with a chocolate pudding on top for desert. With everyone tired from hiking and filled with delicious food, we had a quick closing circle and then went upstairs and fell asleep.

Written by Erin and Elisabeth

We started the day with another delicious homemade breakfast at our hotel in Gran Paradiso. After breakfast we packed up our bags and left for the Fontina cheese factory. june22-1cWe arrived after about an hour of driving through the Alps. There we learned how Fontina cheese is made, how it is stored to age, and we got to taste it. While we walked around the visitors center and learned about the process of making Fontina cheese, we got to see pictures of each step of the process.

We learned how the milk producers in the Aosta region sell their milk to the cheese producers, who then bring their cheese to the factory we were at to sell it. After that the cheese is seasoned with salt and aged. Fontina cheese is a soft cheese and good for melting. After the presentation we had the opportunity to walk through the area where the cheeses are stored to be aged. We walked into the old mine shafts (this factory is in an old copper mine) and we saw rows of cheese going on for what seemed like forever. It was very cold and humid and smelled strongly of ammonia. The smell is generated by the aging cheese.

june22-3bWe got to see cheeses that were in different stages of being aged and we also learned that the cheese is supposed to be brushed with either dry or wet salt every day. The Fontina cheese factory brushes the cheese mostly by hand, but they also have a small machine that can season five circles of cheese at a time. After this wonderful tour we went and got to taste 3 month aged Fontina cheese and 9 month aged Fontina cheese. This was also our lunch so we were given different meats, such as salami and ham, and bread. After we relaxed for a little bit, we got back on to the bus and started our drive to Aosta.

Aosta is an ancient Roman town located in a valley in the Alps. Although the town has mostly modernized, there are still many Roman ruins located throughout the city. We started off by visiting an ancient bridge that used to span the river that runs through the city. Although the river was redirected long ago, the city has kept the bridge in perfect condition. After that, we saw a monument arch located just outside of the old city, and then went into town to see the old Praetorian Gate. The gate used to be the main entrance in and out of the walled city. It was interesting to see that many modern shops and buildings had been built connected to the wall.

Next we went to go see the Roman theater and amphitheater. The difference between the two is that a theater is for music and the arts, whereas an amphitheater is more like a stadium. The theater still had a huge artistic wall intact; it was amazing to see that such a large object had withstood 2000 years of alpine weather. Finally, we walked through the Roman arcade, which was an underground tunnel adjacent to the city square. This was unique because it is the only fully intact Roman arcade left in the world. Once we finished our tour of the Roman ruins, we had some time to explore the city on our own. Most of us ended up getting gelato in the city center.

Overall, it was a great day exploring all the roman ruins and learning about cheese making.

Written by Cassie and Jacob

We started our day by going through our field notebooks with the teachers andmaking sure we knew what we were doing for our final project. After we were clear on this, wehad one of our last opportunities to explore the beautiful city of Turin. We had free time for lunch, so we were able to eat as well as shop around a little for souvenirs. We met back at theCollegio around 1 and got a lecture from Brother Alfredo about the Holy Shroud of Turin that wewent to see. We learned many great things about the Shroud, one was that the Holy Shroud is only shown once every ten years and we were just so lucky to be in Turin at the time the Popewas blessing it.

After this lecture, we were on our way, walking down to the church and standing in line to see the Shroud. june23-1aThe line was moving pretty fast so we made good time. We all got through the security to see the Shroud which seemed to be a very strict process(almost like an airport).

The Holy Shroud is a shroud that is said to be the one that covered the body of Jesus after he died. The Shroud has details on it that show how Jesus was crucified. Some of the details include the detailed face of a man we think to be Jesus and sketches of nails that were used to pin him to the cross. The Shroud shows the effects of the crown of thorns including blood stains on the forehead. It is amazing that the Shroud has lasted so long, and that it has survived all that it has been through.

After seeing the Shroud, we walked back to the Collegio just in time to change clothes for our big soccer and volleyball games we had planned against the Collegio students. Little didwe know that the Collegio students were very good at soccer and kicked our butts. They even went easy on us! We ended our day by having a wonderful home cooked meal by Franco andwent to bed for one of our last nights in Italy. Ready for our final day tomorrow.

Written by Hannah J and Graham M

Today we were guided by Alessio and Niko to Eataly through the Torino subway system.

Eataly is a is a global organization based from Italy focused on helping people eat more healthily and locally. While at their downtown Torino location we got a tour of the building by Silvia, their resident guide. The location had previously been an alcohol manufacturer and they maintain a small museum with some of the old equipment, which we also  toured.june24-1a

Eataly promotes farm to table eating as well as being transparent with their clients. As a part of this, customers can physically see aging where site-produced cheeses and cured meats are stored. They also make all of their breads and pastas fresh, right in front of you so that you can see the process that goes into it. In another part of their store they have a market fresh produce is sold, with the name of the farm it is from. They have a bookstore that sells cook books and books about healthy eating and shopping locally.

When we got back to the school, we dropped off our stuff and then had time for lunch and some final souvenir  shopping. We then finished up our academic wrap-up until our farewell dinner. For our farewell dinner we ate on the roof patio of the school and had various appetizers, including veal with tuna sauce and sautéed vegetables and little sandwiches. Then we had lasagna and watermelon for our main course with apple cake and butterscotch sauce for dessert.

After dinner we had a small concert with some of the schools student musicians. We finished the night with fireworks from 10:30 to 11:00, which were actually in celebration of the feast day Turin’s patron, Saint John the Baptist.

We had a bit of an early morning. We left Collegio San Guiseppe and almost got on the wrong bus (there was another tour bus where we have been getting picked up). Luckily, we made it to the airport safely but sadly we had to say goodbye to some of our group early- Mrs. Vasquez, Kate, Mr. Jung (who has been joined by his wife) were all heading to differentdirections like Spain and Florence. At the airport, we said goodbye to Patricia and thanked her for all her help during the trip.

Transferring in Amsterdam involved some minor issues in passport control plus some students being selected for additional random screening, but soon we were on the way back tothe States. We went through passport control in the U.S., turned in our field notebooks, picked up our luggage, and went through customs. Home!

Major Points of Interest

  • Visiting the Academy of Science – one of Europe’s oldest science academies
  • Learning about marine biology and whale-watching at Pelagos Sanctuary
  • Studying the flaura and fauna of the Alps at Gran Paradiso Park
  • Botanic Garden: Read more here about the history of this centuries-old landmark
  • Seeing the Shroud of Turin
  • Students will tour and enjoy Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest open-air market
  • Visit to chocolate factory with chocolate tasting and guided tour
  • History of winemaking, eco-sustainability, and soil management at fontanafredda winery