Seina school helps transmit Italian culture and flavors

By Julia Orellana-Funes

SEINA, Italy — Dante Alighieri Siena School of Language attracts all types of people, from those abroad wanting to get in touch with ancestral roots, to helping people get ahead in their careers, to refugees assimilating into the country.

Whatever the reasons for coming to Italy, most agree the culinary course the school offers is a must.  In early July, a group of BYU students visited the school’s kitchen to prepare an evening meal.

BYU Study Abroad students prepared a meal a traditional Italian meal (Photo Joel Campbell).

Most importantly, in 2018, the school attracted Massimo Pedani, a retired banker from Siena who adores his native cuisine. 

“Siena cuisine is very poor and the typical dish in Siena is by reusing ingredients. They reuse ingredients that would otherwise be thrown in the trash,” he said.

Pedani’s greatest love since retiring is teaching others who come to the medieval town how to make mouthwatering food that can easily be prepared at home, regardless of what country you live in. Anyone can take a little bit of Italy home with them.

Nicole Colombo, another teacher at the school, also loves sharing her culture, specializing in teaching Italian and helping to serve as a translator in the kitchen when needed. 

After meal preparation, the BYU group waits for the meal to be served. (Photo Joel Campbell).

Though she has only been at the school for a year, Colombo previously taught in prisons and to refugees. What brought her to Siena is what would bring most people; schooling and love.

“It’s nice to see how people love Italian cuisine,” she said, “and to see different cultures and hear different languages and watch different cooking habits.”

The most rewarding part of being a teacher at Dante Alighieri for Colombo is seeing the people who come, old and young, that hunger for lifelong learning. 

Among those is Simone Introzzi, another lifelong learner. Though he is not a student nor a teacher at the school, he is still working on obtaining his credentials to teach italians to others. For Introzzi, helping in the kitchen not only refines his translation skills, but is a welcome reminder of his childhood.

Introzzi moved to Siena where his dad developed an interest in cooking. That cooking bug didn’t bite Introzzi until his early twenties, when he began to develop a taste and creative process of his own.

“I have a passion for this type of cuisine because for me it’s a moment of relaxation. When I go home and start cooking I have a moment of chill and empty my mind to cut veggies and create something.”

Categories: Europe News, Europe Travel, Profiles, Study Abroad Themes

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