“Attenzione: il treno arriva ora alla Torino Porta Nuova,” the high speed train announced as it screeched into the Porto Nuova Train Station and the 10th and 11th cohorts (myself included) of the Global Entrepreneurship Experience Program (GEE) took our first steps into downtown Torino, Italy.
Once known as the center of Italian film and the home of Nutella, it’s now a hustling and bustling metropolis that mirrors cities like Paris and Prague with excitement and entrepreneurial opportunity. Our walking tour made that ever so evident, as Danielle, our tour guide and University Studies Abroad Coalition housing coordinator for the Torino program, took us around the city. Not only is Torino currently the center of the national book fair and a location for Giro di Italia, a national biking race, but in the heart of the city, Piazza Costello, the leaders of the United Nations were scheduled to meet to discuss politics all during our stay.
Bright and early the next day, GEE jumped on a city bus to visit La Fabbrica di Cioccolato, famous for its delicious chocolates and gianduja, a mixture of hazelnut and chocolate, which was invented in the Piedmont region in 1875. Walking into the factory, the sweet smell of churning chocolate and hazelnut carried us in and grabbed our attention. From the process of turning cacao fruit into chocolate, to branding, licensing, and exporting the delicious product, the tour gave insight into what it takes to produce Italian cioccolato (chocolate).
After the tour, my classmates and I walked through some local street markets, where the spirit of entrepreneurship was alive and strong. Here, customers barter prices with the farmers and fisherman who produced their products of vegetables, cheeses, fish, and cured meats. By bartering, the customers and sellers are essentially calculating current market value in real time. Besides food, almost anything else can be found under these tents, from suitcases to sunglasses to toys.
Once we bartered for our fair share of souvenirs and lunch, we headed to the city’s oldest cafe, Al Bicerin, which served its first cup of caffe in 1763 —13 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Their signature drink, bicerin, where the cafe gets its name, is a traditional Italian mocha-style coffee with three layers: a steamed milk foam, coffee center, and a liquid chocolate bottom. Drunk the traditional way, you’re left with a foam mustache. With a sentimental toast from student Sean Stewart, we got our mustaches on and realized just how fortunate we are to have an experience as amazing as this. Without the help of Lee Business School, the Troesh Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and CSUN student government, a global educational experience like this would not be possible. We are so grateful!
With our matching milk mustaches, cohorts 10 and 11 headed to Chiesa della Consolata to see first hand one of the country’s many beautiful churches. We ended our day in Piazza Reale, a museum and the castle of the last Italian King, Victor Emmanuel III. As we were surrounded by suits of medieval armor and paintings depicting Italian history, we learned of Italian Unification, the church’s influence in Italian culture, and what made Torino into the city it is today.
Now, as I write this, we are headed to the setting of Romeo and Juliet. Up Next: D’nasia Thompson, a recent UNLV outstanding graduate, will take you through a day in Verona, Italy.