NYU Florence is different from any other Study Abroad site. Its campus is made up of Villa La Pietra’s world-famous gardens and the bucolic agricultural landscape that surrounds them. As a small, but perfect, 37 acre Tuscany Villa Estate it does produce food but its main purpose for more than 550 years has been the wellbeing of the community it serves. Today, that community is the students and staff that form the NYU Florence family.

Pliny wrote “I always feel energetic and fit at my Tuscan villa, both mentally and physically.
[Epistles, V. vi.45]

Broadly, the estate may be divided in two parts: the formal gardens where students may participate in outdoor classes, revise for upcoming exams, attend summer performances of music, theater and dance or simply relax, take the sun and enjoy a homemade picnic in beautiful surroundings; the olive groves and the walled garden, the Pomario, form NYU Florence’s Community Farm supplying fresh, zero-miles, produce to the on-site cafeteria as well as being a Green Laboratory of learning opportunities for a range of courses and extracurricular activities.

Through talks, live and prerecorded, workshops and discussion groups, Terra Firma Firenze aims to facilitate a deeper appreciation of this special place, to more fully enjoy it and to use it as a mirror reflecting wider issues in the world.

August/September 2022 – Introduction

Tuesday, August 30, 3:20 pm
Introduction to Terra Firma Firenze
On Zoom

Friday, September 2nd, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Introduction to Terra Firma Firenze and its Fall 2022 Program
During the InfoFair staff will be able to give you details of the Fall 2022 Program and talk about the individual events it is made up of.

The following three videos will be available to watch on this Terra Firma Firenze web-page between August 29th and September 2nd. Watching them will enable a better understanding of the estate’s history and what it offers NYU Florence students.

September 2022 – Events

Tuesday, September 6th, 6:00 – 7:00 pm (Aula Le Vedute)
The Theory and Practice of Sowing and Planting Vegetable Plants
This session aims to equip you with some basic knowledge about sowing and planting vegetables in preparation for a practical session later in the week.

Friday, September 9th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon (Pomario)
Practical Session Sowing and Planting in the Pomario
The Pomario, the walled garden attached to the north side of Villa La Pietra, has produced food for those who live on the estate for more than 550 years. The hundred plus noble citrus trees, the grape vines and the ancient pear trees provide living structure within which a wide range of vegetables is grown. Planting and sowing crops and caring for them until they are ready to harvest allow you to be actively involved in producing fresh food, grown on campus, and to be part of a tradition that stretches back to the Italian Renaissance.

Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the Semester, 09.00 AM – 12.00 Noon (Pomario)
Coffee, a Chat and Caring for Our Veggies
“A little and often” is the byword of good vegetable gardening that these regular sessions encourage. More of an activity of the mind than the body, you will be encouraged to question why things are done and to plan what needs to be done next as you work alongside Federico Ricci the gardener in charge of vegetable growing at Villa La Pietra. Call by the Pomario to ask Federico how our veggies are growing or work alongside him and learn his gardening secrets. Stay as long or as little as you like but coffee is served at 10.00 AM!

Tuesday, September 13th, 6:00 – 7:00 pm (Aula Le Vedute)
Healthy Soil – Healthy Food
The secret to successful vegetable growing lies in the soil. Many feel modern agricultural techniques ignore the soil’s wellbeing while greatly adding to climate change. This talk looks at what soil is, both its mineral  and living components, and how gardeners may work to ensure it is in good health. [60 minutes]

October 2022 Events

Tuesday, October 4th, 6:00 – 7:00 pm (Aula Le Vedute)
Vegetable Garden Management – Part I
Research shows that growing vegetables is good for your health, both physical and mental. Using your brain more than your body ensures that the hard work too often associated with gardening is kept to a minimum. Part I of this talk looks at the features of the perfect vegetable garden and how to manage them to make things easy while producing a succession of healthy crops to eat. Part II looks at how we deal with organic waste to produce the very life-blood a good vegetable patch runs on and how to care for a simple range of crops.

Tuesday, October 11th, 6:00 – 7:00 pm (Aula Le Vedute)
Vegetable Garden Management – Part II

Friday, October 21st – Sunday, October 23rdSaturday October 29, 10:00 AM –  2:00 PM
Olive Harvest, Harvest Lunch and Oil Tasting
The olive oil we produce at Villa La Pietra is a particularly good version of the Tuscan olive oil that is famous the world over. We start the day by looking at olive trees and discussing their importance within Tuscan culture. We then harvest olives to work up an appetite for the traditional harvest lunch that will be on offer in the olive grove. The day will end with an explanation as to how the harvested olives are pressed to release their liquid gold and the chance to taste a range of very different olive oils from across Italy. Quality is a complex concept that needs to be safeguarded but also appreciated.

November 2022 Events

Friday, November 5th, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (Borgo San Lorenzo)
Chestnut Harvest, Cooking with Chestnuts, and Harvest Lunch
A bus will take you to meet students of the Giotto Ulivi School at Borgo San Lorenzo. Together you will harvest chestnuts and hear about the unique balance between producing these nuts that the Mugello area of Tuscany is famous for while maintaining the unique ecosystem in which they grow. Back at the school you will take part in a cooking class to prepare a typical chestnut-based meal before enjoying it with your new classmates. Before returning to Florence you will hear how the school is involved in a program to convert food waste into meals for a local charity.

Wednesday, November 9th, 3:45 – 4:45 PM (Limonaia)
Slow Food Production
Joint session with Dr Olivier de Maret’s Food, Culture and Globalization: Florence. Fresh food can be produced with very limited tools or chemicals and, in doing so, help limit climate change but most of our food is not produced in that way. Indeed, things are not as green as many of us would like to think. Growers use lots of plastic that becomes difficult to recycle and chemicals, organic or not, that harm the world we live in. Then there’s the consumption of water and fossil fuels. This session looks at some of the issues, allows us to appreciate the complexities, look at possible solutions and asks the question, is it time for some Slow Food Production.

Tuesday, November 29th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm (Villa Sassetti)
Taste the Difference of Fresh Food, Cooking and Eating VLP’s Homegrown Produce
It is often said that the key to good cooking is to use good ingredients. Harvesting home grown vegetables for a meal is a sure way to ensure your meal will be tasty but it will also ensure it is as healthy as it can be. From the time crops are harvested they begin to lose their nutritional value and much of what is on offer at the supermarket may have been harvested weeks earlier, often before it was fully mature or ripe. This session allows you to harvest and prepare vegetables, cook them and delight in tasting the difference all on the same day.