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This past Saturday the organic class took a filed trip to Florence. We went to the Ufitiz and the Academia. I’m supposed to write about the culture of Italy,  and I feel like I covered it very heavily in my post about Rome. I honestly have zero idea what to type about.

In my opinion I felt that Florence was more about the tourist attraction rather than the culture in comparison to Rome. Rome is a huge tourist stop but I feel like the sense of culture in Rome is much stronger than in Florence. By that I mean, I was able to witness how close families and friends are just by sitting at a park in Rome. Florence may be smaller but there are too many tourists. In Rome the cultural was so easy to observe, but in Florence there were too many tourist for that city. While I was strolling through the streets of Florence all I noticed was one tourist group after another, and a ton of pick-pocketers Florence is such a big tourist destination because of the Unfitiz, academia, the Domo, and the leather market. To me, people were much more excited about shopping and the leather market than going to the academia or the Ufitizi.

I feel like the culture of Florence is all about tourist and tourist traps. For instance, instead of people admiring the beauty of the Domo, they were all taking living through their cameras by taking selfies. Also, there are leather shops on every corner with the same thing as the leather market.

For instance, Rome was very family oriented. I went to dinner one night around 10pm and a ton of families were eating together or there would be groups of friends strolling around. Rome was very family and friend oriented.

Whereas Florence was not; I felt like Florence is very much more about the individual. It was hard to get a good judge on the culture in Florence because there were so many tourist and not many locals around the areas I ventured off to.

I guess you can say that Italy doesn’t have just one set culture but each town or city has its own culture and together it makes the Culture of Italy.

La Buccaneer Winery

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La Buccaneer Winery

Last Friday the organic class took a field trip to La Buccaneer Winery that is located right outside of the city walls of Arezzo. When we got to the vineyard, we went inside and the vintner greeted us. He told my class about the extensive process they use to make different wines and the chemistry behind it. Honestly I do not remember very much because he was talking so slowly and sometimes it was hard to pay attention when he was talking slowly. I do remember how the basics on how they make wine. At the winery they have these huge what it appears to be stainless steal containers that regulates the temperature of the wine while it ferments. The venter said these containers were better for cleaning and regulating temperature. I thought this was interesting since the older wineries use barrels.

The venter mentioned that for both red and white grape they de-steam the grapes but after the processes for white and red wines are different.

For white wines, the venter will crush and press the grapes before putting the must into the large stainless steel vats the ferment.

Once fermented, they clarify and stabilize the white wine. Then they age and bottle the white wine.

Red wine is a tad different than white wine. The red wine is crushed and then put in the vat to ferment. The color from the skins will give the wine the color. The peels will float to the top while the must is at the bottom. The venter takes a hose and cycles the must from the bottom to the top in order to mix it. This is important to the health of the yeast. The venter carefully selects each strain of yeast he or she, in this case he, will use because the strain gives the wine a certain flavor. Once the wine is done fermenting, it clarifies and stabilizes. Then it is matures and is bottle.

After the venter told us the process he uses to make the wine, he took us outdoors to see the vineyard. He mentioned how this winery is as organic as possible. They do not use harsh chemicals. Instead they use copper and sulfur to spray their grapes. I honestly forgot the name of the grape that they grow, but I do remember the venter telling us that tall the rain is bad for the grapes. Next, we started the wine tasting.

The woman that I assume owns the vineyard served us 4 wines, one white, two reds, and one dessert wine, and she taught us how to judge a wine. First step is to look at the wine. Judge the color of the wine to tell if it’s a new wine or an old one. Next, you smell the wine. Then you taste the wine. You want to get enough to coat your mouth. Lastly, you judge the aftertaste and how it sits on your tongue.

The first wine I think is called Donna Patties—Buccia nera—Toscana Bianco. This was a white wine. The grapes that were used to make this wine are 40% Trebbiano ,40% Malvasia, and 20% Grechetto. The altitude that the grapes were grown at is 300-400 mt a.s. and the soil that grapes used are Sand, clay, and gravel. The vine training uses the cordon spur system. The grapes are harvested at the end of September all the way to the  first half of October. Fermentation and maturation occur in a stainless steel vat that is able to control the temperature. The temperature to be served at should be 10 degrees celsius. According to the pamphlet the venter gave us, The wine has a straw yellow color with golden highlights, it smells like acacia flowers, yellow mature fruit, with peach, and it is suppose to taste soft and powerful. To me this wine was very light and smelled fruity and soft. I could taste acidity, but it was not too harsh. The wine went very well with the cheese. The cheese did not make the wine very sweet. In my opinion this wine was a little harsher than most whites I am use to.

The second wine that we tasted is called Syrah Toscana. It is made from 100% syrah grapes. Vinification occurs in steel tanks that are temperature controlled. Fermentation last about 15 days at 29 degrees celsius and maceration of skin is about 1 week. What is really neat about this wine is that it uses spontaneous natural malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in a French oak barrel for 6 months. It is a ruby red wine, which means it is a young wine. This wine had a lot more flavor than the white did.The Syrah made my lips tart and it left my mouth dry. It was a soft taste. After I swallowed, a taste of black pepper lingered. The woman taught us about her wines called this one elegant.

The Third wine was called Sassocupo. This one was my favorite by far. The grapes that were used are 90% sangiovese and 10% canaiolo. The grapes are harvested between late September and early OCtober. It ferments in a temperature controlled steel tank. It also undergoes malolactic in the steel tank. After maturation, the wine matures for 12 months in a 30hl French oak barrel. The pamphlet says that the wine is suppose to have floral notes of violets and of ripe dark cherry and crisp blueberry. It also says that the wine is very dry and velvety. The smell of this red wine was really strong. When I let the wine sit on my tongue, I noticed that it was really dry and it felt like the moisture was being sucked out my tongue. To me the Sassocupo taste like really, really black cherry. After tasting, I smelt the wine again and I picked up a hint of wood.

The last one that we tasted was the Vino Santo. This is a dessert wine. This wine was quite of few people’s favorites; however, I was not a fan. This wine was a honey orange color and had a sweet honey aroma. It looked like honey and it tasted like honey. To me this wine reminded me of Jack Daniels honey whiskey and it made me want to barf. I was not a fan.

I really like the field trip we took. It was very eye opening seeing the where the wine is made and listening to the venter explain the complex process used to make wine. This field trip was definitely a cultural eye opening experience on the importance of oenology.                                                                                                                               FullSizeRender

Maya and Mara take on Rome

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Enjoy 😉

The last time I went to Rome was my senior year and it was just for fun. This time around I am with my best friend and observing the cultural aspects of this amazing culture. Even though I have been here before, the culture still surprises me. The Italian culture that I have observed during my time in Rome is quite different from the culture back at home. For instance, you have to ask for the check at a restaurant or you will never get it. Crazy right?

This one night Mara and I went to a restaurant and waited for a good 30 minutes before we decided to ask for the check. We didn’t know if it would be rude to ask. Italians find it rude to bring the check out after the food as been served. Also, they are not turning and tables and making money on tips….soooooo the more you wait for the check equals less work for them.

Since we are on the topic of restaurants, I have noticed that they have pasta as the first meal, meat and salad as a second, and then desert. They do not have take out but they do have take away, and they do not box your leftovers. Also, the portions are much smaller than American meals, expect for the pizza; however, the portions are very filling. The waiters do not refill drinks and you have to pay for water.

It’s a bummer that you have to pay to drink water, but the good thing is that there are fountains on the street. Okay now these are not like American water fountains. These fountains have beautiful architecture and some look like the fountains that you would see at a museum or on OU’s campus. The awesome thing about these fountains is that the water is nice and cool and it comes from a spring. It is totally safe to drink! P.S. you can drink from the Trevi. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

These fountains are very convenient especially if you are walking across Rome and are not carrying a water bottle. Romans walk A LOT more than Americans do. I mean a lot! Cars are prevalent in Rome, but the majority walks. Mara and I walked over 35 miles while we were in Rome. On the last full day of Rome, Mara and I went on a little adventure after our professors let us lose. We decided to go on a journey to find the opera house and to see the Nazzi, which is the hold Roman bath.

After going to see the baths, Mara and I had to Google map our way back to the hotel we were staying at. Our predicted time of arrival was 6:30 p.m. with about a 3-mile walk ahead of us. We were dreading it. Once we crossed over one of the bridges, we started recognizing our surroundings. As we passed by this park outside what we believe to be the Rome Court House we noticed they had a fountain to drink out of. We were really excited. Once we got water, we took another look around and noticed how many people were at the park. We sat down and started observing people. We noticed that this park is a local place for people to hang out and catch up, for families, for children to play, and for people with their dogs. This park was lively. Across from us was a bench that had a group of teens that were catching up and hanging out. To the other side were a bunch of dog owners that let their dogs off the leash. The dogs would play with each other and were very well behaved. The parents and or grandparents would play with their children. There were children playing with children and children playing by themselves. Also, there were children playing in a fountain that was not working, and teenagers sitting on a statue. If they were in America the park ranger or police/security would tell them to (A) get out of the fountain or (B) get off the statue. While I was in the park I was able to really understand what my professor has been telling us about family in regards to Italian culture. They really are centered on family and friends.

All in all Italian culture is very different from the culture that is in the United States