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A Mediterranean Experience in Review - 2015

Review by Sean McNeely

Sipping fine wine at a vineyard in Tuscany, a group of Humber students were feeling pretty good about their chosen careers. Twenty-eight Humber students speak about their two-week trip to Italy and Spain where they were immersed in Mediterranean food and culture.

The group was made up of students from the Tourism and Hospitality Management, Culinary Management, Baking and Pastry Arts Management and Food and Nutrition Management programs. Joined by Tourism Management Professor Julie Zomparelli, and Culinary Management Professor Francisco Rivera, the group set out to study the cultural attractions, cuisine and lifestyle of these countries. Or as Julie put it, “to live the classroom abroad.”

That living classroom made quite the impression as the entire group returned feeling that both their horizons, as well as their career options, were opened.

“I will cherish this experience for the rest of my life and it will definitely help me with my career,” said Tourism Management student, Blazo.

The wine tasting was part of a winery tour of Banfi, a world-renowned Tuscan winery that’s known for producing exceptional wines while using environmentally sustainable growing practices.  

The first Canadian student group to tour its facility, the students savored the wine as well as the scenery that included a castle that’s been converted into a restaurant where the students dined. Another divine experience ‒ a visit to the Vatican that included a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, attending Mass led by Pope Francis, and a visit to the Sistine Chapel. Before the Mass began, visiting groups were officially welcomed in a variety of languages. Suddenly hearing, “We’d like to say a big hello to the students and faculty from Humber College, Toronto, Canada!” the group erupted in cheers.

“It was a goose bump moment,” said Blazo. “It didn’t seem real.”

Pope Francis at The Vatican

Feeling blessed, the students later traveled to the University of Florence. There, they enjoyed a campus tour, including a tour of the school’s culinary labs at the school’s International School of Hospitality. Discussions about food preparation, ingredients, diets and menus followed over a special lunch prepared by one culinary class for another.  

Crossing the Mediterranean, the students then dawned their aprons and took a cooking class in Barcelona, learning how to prepare Spanish Tapas dishes under the guidance of a local chef. “It was one of the best meals we had,” said Julie. “Experiences like this reinforce the students’ professional choices,” added Julie. “Each and every student took away something different.”

For Blazo, he’s decided to focus on European tourism after he graduates.