Ciao everyone! The 10 days in Italy were absolutely phenomenal and I can’t believe how quickly the trip went by. The study tour was so intense that it left me with no time to blog during my visit but I hope to share in detail how amazing each day was.
A few chazeners started off the tour with a trip to Venice. As soon as we arrived we were enamored. We walked through all the little alleyways all the way to San Marco square, crossing over bridges, stopping to soak in the beauty and capture those moment forever. We also visited Cafe Florian for some apperitivo and then an indulgent three course meal at ABC quadri where I had some of the best Tiramisu ever! The next day we saw the St. Mark’s Basilica, Dodge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge and also went up the bell tower to get a bird’s eye view of this canal city. Later we visited Murano (glass blowing) and Burano (lace factory) which were a short trip from central Venice. At night we checked out the local bars and restaurants and got a glimpse of the student nightlife there.
The next day we left for Rome where are official Chazen trip began. We did a 3 hour tour of Rome and saw St. Paul’s Basilica, the colosseum, the roman wall, the piramis and also learnt about Roman history. It was definitely amusing to learn what the Romans did during theirs leisure time: working out, getting a massage, sitting for a steam sauna in open air pools. As we toured the city, I noticed how the facade of houses/buildings had a characteristic Roman touch. We were told that Rome has very strict rules on houses should look from the outside, so as to maintain the Roman look. Later that we were hosted President of Rome’s Columbia Business School Alum Association, Imran Tayebali at his Villa where we nibbled on tasty petit fours.
The next day we head to Tuscany, one of the world’s most celebrated wine regions, for our first company visit at Castello Banfi. Castello Banfi is a family-owned vineyard estate and winery located in the Montalcino region of Tuscany. This award-winning estate was founded on the philosophy of blending tradition with innovation, and is recognized as a pioneer in elevating the standards of Italian winemaking. Its revenues for FY2013 were almost 70 million Euro, almost half of which was generated in Europe and 40% in North America. It sold 15 millions bottles worldwide last year…and we soon found out how. After a wonderful presentation by Luca Devigili (Brand Manager Banfi Piemonte and Trade Marketing Manager) and Elizabeth Koenig (Estate Hospitality Project Director) we had the opportunity to taste three fantastic wines. We had the Brunello di Montalcino (one of their most premium wines), Aska (a Cabernet Sauvignon with mild percentage of Cabernet Franc) and a recently introduced wine targeted towards first time female drinkers, La Pettegola, which was my favorite. This was followed by the most sumptuous lunch at a restaurant on their vast estate. We had asparagus and saffron risotto with fossa-aged pecorino cheese and veal fillet in aromatic herbs crust with potato mille-feuille, with wine pairings of course. A special mention for the delicious olive oil which a few students even purchased and the staff were more than willing to wrap our purchases in the most secure way. As I looked all around the estate, the beauty of untouched nature left me mesmerized and I wish we could have stayed there longer…it really was the perfect start to our trip!