September 20th-22nd: SLA Chandni Patel and Prof. Grazia Sotis
"We put the FUN in funghi!" was the motto eighteen JFRC students truly embodied during the semester's first weekend study trip. On September 20th the students, accompanied by JFRC Professor Grazia Sotis and SLA Chandni Patel, set out for a three-day study trip to the Sagra dei Funghi, hosted by the town of Cusano Mutri. Situated in the province of Benevento within the region of Campania, Cusano Mutri is settled within the mountains and home to delicious local cuisines, including delicious plates using mushrooms and chestnuts. The JFRC group was fortunate to be welcomed into the town during their sagra with endless amounts of delicious food, wine, and dancing. The students were able to experience a truly authentic and organic Italian town for a weekend and participate in the culture of the sagra. Sagra is vital to small towns, allowing them to support their resident vendors and promote local foods, wines, and authentic culture. As the JFRC ate their way through the culture of Cusano Mutri, they were also able to take in and appreciate the nature surrounding the town.
On Friday, the students took a four-hour nature walk exploring the woods and rivers of the beautiful Campanian countryside, which the townspeople of Cusano Mutri use as their natural resources. At night, students dined and danced at sagra and then returned to their mountain cabins at Villaggio Turistico Calvarusio to cook s’mores and star gaze. On Saturday, the JFRC perfected their gnocchi and pasta-making skills with a cooking lesson from the generous Svago restaurant. After the cooking lesson, students developed their wine tasting skills with a lesson presented by local wine makers. After feasting on more mushroom dishes, students hiked up one of the tallest mountains in the region. At night, students returned to sagra and were able to teach the people of Cusano Mutri how to properly dance the YMCA. The study trip concluded on Sunday with a visit to the Paleolab Museum with a guided tour led by Professor Sergio, a prominent paleontologist from Milan. A source of academic pride for the province of Benevento, the Paleolab Museum houses the first complete dinosaur specimen found in Italy. The students concluded their study trip with a final visit to the city center of Cusano Mutri for one last meal and heartfelt goodbyes with the locals.