In the words of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.” This is definitely how GEE students felt as we wrapped up the final leg of our tour throughout Italy and explored the cobblestone streets of Verona!
Known as the City of Love, Verona is famous for being the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. After spending three days in the city and eating an unimaginable amount of gelato, we can definitely confirm that we, too, fell in love with this historic destination.
We kicked off our days in Verona with a walking tour of the city. Between interactions with the kind-hearted residents of Verona and sight-seeing throughout the medium-sized city, we quickly realized that Verona is a perfect blend of the small-town feeling of Reggio Emilia and the big-city nature of Torino.
Bordered along the Adigine river, Verona is recognized for its medieval and Renaissance architecture, many of which included Roman ruins and buildings that are still standing to this day. We explored a 1st-century amphitheater called the Verona Arena that is 45 years older than the Colosseum in Rome! It was once used to host operas and musical performances and that tradition has continued today since the arena continues to host an annual opera festival (which has featured artists like Adele in previous years.)
We trekked to IUSVE University to learn more about international marketing with University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) professor Mary Wieder. Although born and raised in America, professor Wieder has lived in Verona for over 10 years and works as a strategic/digital marketing expert and consultant. Driven by her passion for gender equality and diversity, she has also launched a non-profit organization called Verona Professional Women Networking.
As entrepreneurship students, we were eager to hear professor Wieder’s lessons on the importance of social impact and how that translates into international business. She also gave us insights into the cultural and lifestyle differences between Italian citizens in Verona and the norms that we are used to in the United States.
She then took us to explore a local women’s fashion business, Progetto Quid, that specializes in ethical sustainability by creating women’s fashion pieces with discarded fabrics that were thrown away by prestigious fashion/textile companies. The mission behind Progetto Quid is to not only reduce waste in the fashion industry, but also provide employment to Italian women in disadvantaged situations that struggle to find work. Over 70 percent of their employees come from disadvantaged backgrounds (victims of abuse, trafficking, refugees seeking asylum, etc.) The company specifically uses their platform and mission to help these women and bridge the gender employment gap in Italy.
Many of the company's fashion collections are also used to bring awareness to the issues that affect Italian women and share the personal stories of their employees. As someone who is passionate about diversity and women empowerment in the workplace, I am excited to bring this experience with me as I move to New York City and work in the beauty industry. In the words of Progetto Quid, “diversity is richness,” and I cannot wait to use this experience to later fuel my own trek towards social entrepreneurship later in my career.
After this exciting lesson on marketing and social impact, we spent the next day at a local Verona business called Bruschetteria Redoro to go olive oil tasting! Our guide, Marco, walked us through the history of his family’s business which has produced and distributed authentic flavors of olive oil throughout Italy and beyond for hundreds of years. We quickly learned that the concept of family businesses were very common in Italy, since Marco and many other Verona residents maintain and upkeep the businesses that their great-great-grandparents humbly started generations ago. We ate more Bruschetta than you can imagine and enjoyed tasting the most authentic blends of Italian olive oils!
Finally, on our last day, the GEE students spent time exploring the countryside of Verona. We found a castle called Castel San Pietro that cozily sits in the hills of the city and provides a perfect panoramic view of Verona. As we sat at the top of this castle, we could not help but to take it all in and reminisce about the experiences from this trip that we will cherish forever.
The GEE trip throughout Italy is one full of memories that will stay with us for a lifetime. Thank you for following along our journey throughout Italy! Until next time, ciao!
About the Global Entrepreneurship Program
The Lee Business School’s Global Entrepreneurship Program, or GEE for short, is a four-year curriculum that teaches students of any discipline the necessary skills in creating and scaling a business.