A Day At Giogalto

Florence has been incredible, offering stunning sites, wonderful food, and a lively hustle and bustle. Yet this weekend was a welcome breath of fresh air.

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Traveling two hours east of Florence to the area of Ortignano Raggiolo, we arrived at our Director’s family villa, Giogalto. Walking down the long gravel road, we came upon a beautiful yard and patio. A lavish breakfast awaited us as well as a smiling Rebecca Olsen. Time was given to take in the sites both inside and around the villa. Views of the entire countryside sprinkled with other villas and homes could be experienced best from the back porch.

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Yet some of the smaller spaces offered just as incredible views. A small church with carved wooden doors was home to an exhibition of Rebecca’s paintings made specifically for the site. With light shooting through the carved stone tympanum above the door, the tonal and textured paintings evocatively held one’s attention and imagination.


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Then, of course, came the cooking. With an itinerary chock full of dishes to be taught, prepped, and cooked, we spread to respective kitchens. Potentially the most important lesson was pasta making, both for our personal knowledge as well as our lunch later that day. Family recipes and tips were shared and hopefully remembered. Ingredients were explained, and subsequently tested. This was especially true during the tiramisu lesson. Shining through the cooking frenzy was the key to italian cooking: fresh and wonderful ingredients. There was a magical simplicity to the dishes that showcased the beauty of the produce, herbs, and spices used. Promises fulfilled, every dish was buonissimo!


Sharing the food we had prepared with our new SRISA family of students, professors and directors, overlooking a stunning view, was enough to make us pause from our meals to take it all in; but only for a moment of course. Giogalto was dreamy, through and through. We are all so grateful to have entered into such a wonderful community. A huge thank you to all of the monitors, professors, and directors for providing so much during our time there, as well as to Rebecca and her wonderful family for welcoming us into their home. Grazie mille!

-Ariel Wood

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