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  • Locations: Perugia, Italy
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Housing Options: Apartment
Max Credits Offered: 3 Area of Study: Anthropology, Art History, Geography, History, International Relations, Marketing, Sociology
Program Type: WCU Faculty-Led Study Abroad Available to Non-WCU Students?: Yes
Faculty/Staff Director: Michael Di Giovine
Program Description:
This extraordinary program involves students in an active anthropological research project while introducing them to Italian culture in the best way possible—through its delicious food and rich cultural heritage!

We will spend 5 memorable weeks in the historic city of Perugia, nestled in the mystical hills of Umbria in close proximity to the art of Florence, the spirituality of Assisi, and the vineyards of Tuscany. Under the instruction of West Chester University anthropology professor Michael A. Di Giovine, an internationally recognized scholar on food, tourism and cultural heritage, students will be instructed in the methods of ethnography, anthropology’s unique qualitative research methodology of participating in, and observing, the daily lives of locals. We will be introduced to the rich culinary culture of Italy through exclusive behind-the-scenes tours at organic vineyards, sustainable farms, and country inns—as well as a cooking lesson at our instructor’s home. We will then be placed in groups at a food-related venue among locals who have made their living valorizing and revitalizing their traditional sustainable food practices. Mentored by Dr. Di Giovine, each group will design, carry out, and present their findings of a short-term ethnographic research project at this practicum site. At the end of the course, we may have the opportunity to present our papers at an international conference, and may also publish our papers in a leading food-related Italian magazine. This trip is a must for undergraduates thinking of working in a consulting or research-based profession, as a public health professional, applying to graduate school, or who want a deeper understanding of Italy’s incomparable food traditions!

WCU students earn 3 credits for ANT375: Ethnographic Field School. Graduate students can earn credit as NTD 581. The course runs in WCU Summer Session 1 (late May to the end of June). It will be taught in English, and no Italian language skills are necessary.

We will live and conduct our research in the beautiful, historic city of Perugia. Located in the rolling hills of mystical Umbria, home of the ancient Etruscans and St. Francis of Assisi, and at equal distances from Florence, Siena, Rome, and the Adriatic Coast, it truly is at the heart of Italy and boasts some of the most iconic dishes of high Italian cuisine. A medium-sized city whose beautiful, pedestrianized Medieval center that boasts a world-renowned monument and is built over an underground Etruscan settlement, Perugia is home to one of the most important foreigner universities in Italy (Università per gli Stranieri). Although popular with tourists, it is considerably less “touristy” than Florence, Assisi, Siena, or San Gimignano—all easy excursions from the town. This ensures that Perugia has a welcoming and accommodating infrastructure for English speakers, while still maintaining its “authentic” Italian aura.
This course is offered in partnership with the Umbra Institute, and is listed as part of their Sustainable Food Studies program. Students may opt to take a second course in the curriculum to earn a Certificate in Sustainable Food Studies, or another course in Italian language or culture, at a small additional fee. See for more information on Perugia, the Umbra Institute’s courses, and student profiles.

Students will share apartments in the historic city center, in walking distance to major historic sites, restaurants, cafes and shopping. Each apartment will have a kitchen, so students can feel free to cook on their own if they don’t want to eat out all of the time. Dr. Di Giovine will also take students on an orientation tour of their surroundings, including a shopping trip at the market followed by a cooking demonstration in his home.

The course will be taught in English, and Italian skills are not necessary (though certainly welcome!). Students who have knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, or French may quickly pick up Italian, and we encourage you to take an Italian language course through our partner, The Umbra Institute, if you would like!

WCU students earn 3 credits for ANT375: Ethnographic Field School. Graduate students in nutrition can also earn graduate credit (NTD 535) in the Nutrition department.

For more information on these courses, or on Perugia, please view

We will be utilizing a hands-on approach to learning about, and researching, Italian culture in Perugia. This includes conducting ethnographic research, but it also involves specially organized behind-the-scenes tours at organic vineyards, historic country inns, sustainable farms, and local markets. We will enjoy pasta-making demonstrations and cooking lessons. Free time will be offered for students to travel to the Florence, Siena, Rome, or the beaches On the Amalfi Coast. Select students may also contribute to a special research project on food and solidarity movements in Central Italy.
Live in the historic center of Perugia, a city that boasts Etruscan architecture, Renaissance art, and even an entire underground medieval city.

Gain valuable ethnographic training while conducting a collaborative research project with professional anthropologists. Qualitative research skills are becoming increasingly important in the professional world!

Sample a range of Italian coffees and learn about the historical origins and cultural importance of one of Italy’s most well-known culinary rituals—the coffee break!—in a private coffee workshop.
Meet with the all-female owners of Perugia’s most important fair-trade stores.
Enjoy an exclusive visit to a biodynamic vineyard overlooking the medieval village of Assisi and its famed Basilica of St. Francis.

Sample gelato—Italy’s delicious ice cream—at an exclusive visit with a master gelataio who teaches at Italy’s famed Gelato University!

Savor fresh Italian cuisine at historic country inns (agriturismi) and sustainable farms in the Umbrian countryside.

Search for the elusive and highly prized summer truffle with an amiable truffle hunter and his incomparably sweet dogs.

Compare diverse local vineyards and winemaking perspectives during the Cantine Aperte wine festival.

Learn the secrets of making fresh pasta, torta al testo, and other regional specialties, at a cooking lesson with your professor in the Umbra Institute’s state-of-the-art test kitchen.

Study and work alongside local organic food producers who have dedicated their lives to continuing their traditional, sustainable food practices. 
The program fee for this program is $3,995, and includes airport transfers in Italy, special visits as advertised above, and some meals (welcome and farewell dinners, cooking lesson, gelato night, and all visits). In addition, all participants will be billed the $100 Study Abroad Application Fee through the WCU Bursar's office upon applying to the program and will be required to purchase WCU's mandatory international insurance prior to departure.

Additional costs not included in the program fee listed above are: airfare, most meals, and spending money. Also not included in the cost of the program and solely the responsibility of the student are are all costs related to COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and/or quarantine (if required at the time of travel). In the case of non-WCU student applicants, additional fees may apply for enrollment in the WCU course and issuance of the WCU transcript.

This program has received the Global Rams Initiative designation for Summer 2022, which allows for underrepresented minority students that participate in this program the opportunity to apply for the WCU Global Rams Initiative Scholarship for Study Abroad. All students are also encouraged to review the Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Travel Awards listed on the Center for International Programs website.

For more information, please contact Dr. Di Giovine at, 610-436-2247 (office), or stop by his office in Old Library 204 between 10:30-3:00 on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. More information on Dr. Di Giovine’s work on the anthropology of food and cultural heritage can be found at

This program is currently not accepting applications.