27 Gastronomes Walk Out of The Pollenzo Bubble

“A year from now, we’ll all be gone, all our friends will go away.  And they’re going to better places, but our friends will be gone away.  Nothing is as it has been and I’ll miss your face like hell.  But I guess its just as well, I miss your face like hell…”

Rivers & Roads by The Head and the Heart

When I woke up this morning there were so many other things that could have run through my mind.  So many other things that should have run through my mind. Did I miss my alarm? Should I go to class 

today? One week until the adventure with Ry starts! I need to pack.  I should drink water, last dinner with the gang is tonight. But none of those were echoing, my first thought was Laura leaves tomorrow, the goodbyes are beginning, our time here over.

For people who haven’t gone to UNISG, they say its only been nine months, and aren’t wrong.  But its been nine months spending almost every moment with the same 26 people.  In ¾ of a year, we have eaten some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (and some of the worst), became entirely too judgey, learned a bit, traveled, laughed, drank a lot of wine, wrote a few papers, and used the words “high-quality”, “sustainable”, and “food waste” more times than our entire lives combined.  But still, no way it can be over, it just barely started.  We just got to this sweet tiny town. It’s not possible nine months have already come and past.  But its true, its time to go.  


This weird band of misfits from around the world, a dentist, an economist, a few chefs, a few journalists, the fresh bachelor’s grads, and everything in between.  We were all dropped here like Dorothy, except we didn’t come from the farm fields, we were dropped into them, scratching our eyes in the sunlight and thinking this isn’t the city anymore Toto.  The Pollenzo Bubble was the safe space.  A place for all the wacky ideas a gastronome could have, a place where you could find what might be the only other person in the world who also had that passion for fermenting everything.  Life is different here, its slow, tasty and encouraging.  Here is one of those rare places where you believe that you could actually could change the world.

I never imagined myself going to food school in Italy.  Nor did I imagine spending every waking minute with the same cohort for a year of my life.  But above all, my wildest dreams never included becoming family to those 26 other people.  Like siblings, we know what makes each other laugh, how far we can push a joke, and we also can argue like cats and dogs.  But God-forbid one us receives heat from someone outside the family because you will be met with the full force of FC23.  We were each other’s people because we had to cling to something when it was new and scary, but we became each other’s family by choice.

I was born an extrovert, bubbly and wanting to be friends with everyone.  I love people, I love love and I love food.  This time has been extremely challenging in some ways, and the most comfortable in others.  But to put it in perspective, it hurts to close this chapter in the same way as it hurts to leave my mum at the airport.  I know I will see them soon, but that won’t be quite soon enough. You know that no matter how easy it is to fall back into your same conversations and routines, nothing will ever be quite like it is now.  I’m more sad leaving my food family, and stepping out of the Pollenzo bubble into the real world, than I can remember being before.

So, thank you my sweet friends for the past year. For every inside joke, professor imitation, bottle of wine, international dinner, study party, crappy vending machine coffee, correction of mispronounced word, producer adventure, over-exaggeration, night out and every moment in between.  Its a year I was enthralled to begin, but one I could have never imagined I’d be so nostalgic and sad to leave.  I have changed in ways I probably won’t even fully realize for years to come, and so much of it is directly attributed to the people here.  I am big believer that people come into our lives for a reason, for us to learn something and for us to teach them something in return.  This year, and you all, were no exceptions.  

I haven’t left you all yet and I am already so excited to see you again.  I will miss you tremendously, more than I can articulate.  Go, do incredible, weird food things.  See you in five months….

“Rivers and roads, rivers till I meet you….”

Photo Credit: Laura DeOliveira
                                                                        IG: @prismfeasts

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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