Dig Into Italian Food Culture When You Study Abroad in Rome

February 7, 2022
Students having pizza at an Italian restaurant in Rome

If you’re preparing to study abroad in Italy in the future, there’s no better way to get acquainted with the culture and history of Italy than through the study of Italian food culture. Sure, you love Italian food, but have you ever stopped to wonder how Italy’s traditions around food emerged? 

Well known around the world, Italian cuisine is not only an integral part of Italy’s identity, it’s also a product of years of complex social, ecological, and nutritional histories. More than just pasta, pizza, wine, and bread, Italian food culture is defined by the agricultural processes, cooking techniques, the global trade market, and more. 

When you study Humanities at John Cabot University in Rome, you’ll have the opportunity to take a course called “Italian Food Culture,” where you’ll explore the concept of food culture, and the formation of Italy’s food culture today. Below, learn more about what food culture itself is and what you’ll learn by studying it in the Italian context.


What is Food Culture?

While you study abroad in Rome, learning more about food culture can enhance your experience in Italy. We rely upon food to live, but food and our practices around eating are so much more than a survival mechanism. The term “food culture” can be used to describe the beliefs, practices, and values which work to influence a culture’s way of producing and consuming food. A sub-discipline within the field of anthropology, the study of food culture aims to make sense of how economics, politics, social constructs, and other systemic forces have shaped how communities conceptualize their food. 

In the study of food culture, food is acknowledged as a central aspect of society, with traditional foods connecting generations and shaping cultural heritages and ethnicities. The Italian food system - as well as staple foods such as extra-virgin olive oil, cheese, pasta, and wine - is an example of a food culture that has evolved and changed throughout history. 


Feb 3 study abroad in Rome

The study of food culture explores how different factors have shaped food production and consumption


Learn About Food Culture While You Study Abroad in Rome

When you study humanistic studies in Rome, you’ll have the chance to learn more about Italian food culture in a course dedicated to the subject. “Italian Food Culture” explores early farming practices and peasant traditions in Italy, as well as the effects of the global food economy on these customs. Students will develop the skills to apply an analytical perspective to the consumption of food and the relationship between humans and nature, understanding how modern Italian cuisine has come to be. 

During the course, students learn the backgrounds of major Italian foods, such as pasta, cheese, wine, extra virgin olive oil, and identify other cultural influences on how Italians eat, including Germanic, Muslim, French, Greek, and Middle-Eastern cultures. With knowledge of how different global processes are changing the Italian food system - including homogenization, international trade, and more - you’ll be able to understand the complexities of Italian food, and how regional recipes have evolved to how we know them today.


Feb 3 study humanistic studies in Rome

While you study abroad in Rome, you’ll learn about the unique role that food plays in Italy’s culture


Get Started With These Facts About Italian Food Culture

While they won’t compare to what you’ll learn in the classroom, you can spark your curiosity by exploring a few interesting facts about Italian food culture.

  • Simplicity is key: While fine dining is still widely popular around the world, Italian food culture is renowned for its simplicity. A few high-quality ingredients are often the essence of classic peasant dishes which are still well-loved today. For example, ribollita is a Tuscan bread soup created using leftovers.
  • Opt for local: Italian cuisine is known for the freshness of its ingredients, creating a unique culture around the buying of fresh produce. Italians will typically shop at local markets instead of larger ones, in order to ensure that they’re buying the highest quality product.
  • Small breakfast, large lunch: While you might have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in Italy, the emphasis is on lunch. For breakfast, Italians might simply have a coffee, a pastry or bread, or some fruit and yogurt.

If you think you’re interested in learning more about Italian food culture, consider enrolling in a course at John Cabot University while you study abroad.



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