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Summer Term 2013

Travel dates: September 6 - September 20, 2013

Estimated Program Fee: $2,900 - 3,000 depending on enrollment (Tuition included, but airfare and incidental expenses not included.)

Application Deadline extended to April 29, 2013

Applications and more information available at:

2013 Flier  |  2013 Tentative Schedule  |  2012 Syllabus  |  2012 Reading List 

For the 10th year, the Tuscany: Sustainability in City and Country program will explore historic and contemporary connections between city and country in Tuscany within a framework of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Topics include rural land use, sustainable agriculture and forestry, food production and food networks, agritourism, landscape stewardship, urban design, and alternative energy production. This program fits with PSU’s growing focus on international sustainability and the transferability of those concepts. Lessons from other countries can inform local and regional sustainability efforts (notably Portland’s urban growth management goals and growing food & place initiatives).

City-country relationships have long been important in Tuscany.  In the Middle Ages, agricultural land was often owned by
 city-based landlords and farmed through a mezzandria (sharecropping) system that lasted until the mid-twentieth century.  The Tenuta di Spannocchia, where the program is based, dates back to the 12th century.  The Spannocchi family were residents on the property by the early 1200s and later settled in Siena.  In today's tourist economy, these conditions between city and country remain important.  The Tenuta is now an organic farm and forest, an agritourism operation, and part of the Alto Merse nature reserve.

The program starts with three days in Siena, perhaps the best-preserved medieval town in Italy. As part of the section of the class on historic landscape patterns as an element of social, economic, and environmental sustainability we will also spend two days in Chianti looking at projects to restore terraces for olive and grape production.  EU pressure to expand agricultural production resulted in land use management practices that led to increased soil erosion.  Restoration of terraces in the Chianti area aims to mitigate this problem and restore historic landscape patterns.  In addition to our visits to Greve in Chianti (a Slow City) and the Badia a Coltibuono winery, we will visit two terrace restoration sites: Lamole and Montefiorale.

For the remainder of the program, we will be based at Spannochia, where students will explore sustainable agricultural practices and agritourism in self-defined, individual projects that may become part of an interpretive plan for the cultural landscapes of the estate and its surroundings.  As a group, we will explore the estate and surrounding landscape on hikes and tours, and possibly contribute to service and mapping projects.  On day trips from Spannochia, we will examine urban design and social life in Italian hill towns.  The hill towns we will visit may be World Heritage sites, members of the Slow Cities movement, market towns, or unknown and untouristed villages.

For additional information:   The Spannocchia Foundation  |  Citta Slow  |  Slow Food