An American in Pollenzo

An American in Pollenzo: My new blog and ambassadorship for UNISG

And so it begins…


A few months ago, I was contacted by my good friend Michele Antonio Fino, the director of two masters programs at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Piedmont): Wine Culture and Food Culture and Communications.

Michele had already recruited me as an instructor in the Wine Culture program. And I will be heading to Pollenzo at the end of October to lead a series of seminars on wine writing and wine blogging there (more on that later).

But on this occasion when he reached out on behalf of UNISG (University of Gastronomic Sciences), it was because he wanted me to join their team as a blogger and ambassador for the program(s) with a focus on English-language media geared toward the U.S.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled. As they say in Italian (and the expression couldn’t be more a propos), this was pane per i miei denti (literally, bread for my palate or colloquially put, right up my alley).

My professional life started in academia. And in many ways, my new partnership with the university — as an instructor and blogger/ambassador — represents a return to my beginnings, a peripeteia (as it were) that brings me full-circle back to my early professional aspirations.

In 1989, I complete a bachelor’s degree with honors at the Department of Italian at U.C.L.A. and then embarked a graduate program there that ultimately led to a Ph.D. and a doctoral thesis on Petrarchan prosody and Renaissance transcriptions of Petrarch’s Italian songbook. By the time I was awarded my doctorate in 1997, I had spent many years living and studying (and playing music) in Italy. And my interest in Italian culture, language, and literature had continued to expand over the course of my adult life (I was 30 at the time).

But after moving to New York City that same year, I quickly learned that Petrarch and my interest in Italian versification weren’t going to pay the bills. And so I shifted my focus to Italian gastronomy and food culture. And not long after I landed a job as an editor at the newly launched English-language edition of La Cucina Italiana in Manhattan, I started to concentrate on wine writing.

Today, nearly 20 years later, after a rewarding career as a wine copywriter and blogger, it’s great to return to the academic world that I’ve missed sorely for these last two decades. I’m finally “back where I belong,” you could say.

This post is the first of a twice-a-week series that will appear here on the New Gastronomes blog for the next 6 months. Not only will I be writing about my experience as an instructor and “an American in Pollenzo,” but I will also be sharing my insights into and impressions of the masters programs at UNISG.

If you’re considering applying to UNISG, please feel free to shoot me an email with any questions and/or thoughts (by clicking here).

And please check back soon here on the blog for updates and news from UNISG, Pollenzo, and the world of Italian wine and food.

Thanks for being here and thanks for your support! Stay tuned…

Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D.