From Sunday the 17thto Saturday the 23rdof of June 2018, a group of 20 participants from Aeres University of Applied Sciences in Wageningen (Netherlands) was in Tuscany to attend a subject-specific study week. The group consisted of full-time and part-time students in Consumptive Technology, Garden & Landscape, Nutrition & Communication and Floral Design. The organization and coordination of the total program has been established by Jan-Willem Noom, in collaboration with Italian landscape architect and (art)historian Mariachiara Pozzana, who has a design studio in Florence. Pozzana is well-known for her publications about historical gardens and estates all over Tuscany.
With Siena as home base, there has been carried out a joint program for three days. On forehand it was exciting how this would turn out in a diverse group with rich variety of ages and backgrounds of the students. It has had a very positive effect in the end. On the first day, students were asked individually to search for the ‘Genius Loci’, the character and the soul of the place. By sketching, drawing, writing poems, meeting locals and looking for characteristic objects and products, everybody started to explore. The shadow of the botanical garden was the right place to share the results. Other joint activities included reading and analyzing the cultivated agricultural wine landscape, a wine and olive oil workshop (including tasting) and a visit to Locanda dell’Amorosa: the place of love! A beautiful farmhouse in the landscape of the Val d ‘Chiani, where a special large variety of garlic is grown: Aglione. The garlic variety is ten times as big as a regular garlic bulb. Moreover, it is milder in taste.
During the second part of the week, two sub-programs were carried out: a program for students in the spectrum Nutrition & Gastronomy and a program for students in the spectrum Garden, Landscape and Floral design. The students focused on Food visited Eataly, a large catering trade fair and wholesaler in Bologna. Various products and technologies have been explored here and a workshop on Italian ice cream production has been the follow up. Furthermore, students in Siena have attended masterclasses at the cooking school of the famous Lella Cesari Ciampoli, they have visited the five-star Continental Hotel (including wine cellars) and they have visited an agriturismo-farm where organic wine is produced. The Landscape and Flower students have visited a spiritual garden of 8 hectares of parkland in the Val d ‘Orcia, finalist in 2015 of the prestigious European Garden award, category ‘innovative contemporary concept or design of a garden or park’. Here the group participated in a master class on design principles, conducted by the owner. In addition, this group of students visited some reputable historic estates and villas. Final activity has been a floral design workshop at the Florentine Villa la Massa, where students have made floral arrangements in historic terracotta pottery, to decorate the lobby of a luxurious hotel.
The participants in the group shared the passion and enthusiasm for their profession. A wonderful group of students and a richly varied program that has been set up in collaboration with various leading experts. Unique to be able to work as a small university together with these renowned people in the sector!
La vita e piu belli sotto i cieli di Toscana.
Lecturer in landscape design and coordinator international mobility/ board ENTER-network