Needless to say, I've talked nonstop for this past semester about my excitement for this Horticulture Study Abroad trip and the amazing experiences that we will learn from. I now am seeing that this description is a major understatement. Today was deliciously exhausting, as we ate infinite amounts of Italian delicacies and toured three factories where Italian horticultural products are produced. We started our day with a home-cooked breakfast, which included about eight different types of delicious coffee cakes, extremely strong coffee, and local juices. Our first stop of the day was the local pistachio factory, where we learned lots about the production of pistachios. We also learned about the different ways to eat a pistachio…and we went to town on the samples of sun-dried pistachios, pistachio butter (surprisingly delicious), cookies, cakes, liqueur, and, of course, pistachio gelato. I really couldn’t get enough—that is, until I had had enough. After scarfing down every pistachio dessert that they handed us, I realized that I could probably last for years if I never had to eat another pistachio again. Of course, we had a pistachio-themed seven-course meal for dinner at night, but that’s a different matter.
After the pistachio extravaganza, we made our way to a restaurant for lunch, and proceeded to take many obnoxious and touristy pictures in front of the beautiful view. It was well worth the disgusted stares that we got from the local diners, though, since the scenery was breathtaking. Our enormous group then made our way to the next stop: an organic honey farm. Bees swarmed about 200 yards away from us in colorful boxes, while the owners explained that they moved those boxes around the countryside, creating different types of honey based on the different flowers that the bees pollenate. Some varieties included orange, lemon, bee balm, eucalyptus, chestnut, and multi-flower honeys, which are created by placing bees in a large orchard that produces only certain organic fruits. The hives and bees are then removed, and the honeycombs are stripped of the wax and placed in a large centrifuge that can extract up to three tons of honey every eight hours. We had an extended period of taste testing and an opportunity to buy different types of honey, which I can't wait to bring home and show my family.