A Taste Of Italy - Summer Study in Urbino
Following the Spring 2017 semester, a group of 15 students traveled to Italy with Associate Professor, Dr. Dante Di Gregorio, for a two week study abroad experience. The College of Business created the program in partnership with the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, a leading Italian university founded in 1506.
Preparatory class sessions held on campus introduced students to business in the context of Italy. Students learned about the Italian business environment, studied cases of Italian firms, as well as foreign firms operating in Italy, and completed research projects to prepare for the trip.
After a brief stay in Rome, students traveled to Urbino to attend sessions with university faculty and guest speakers, as well as to visit companies in the region of Le Marche. Among the sites visited were the Hotel Mamiani, a hotel that utilizes aggressive social marketing to create a competitive advantage; RossoFuoco, a pizza oven start-up that grew out of a metal fabrication business; Valmex, a leading producer of energy efficient products including heat exchangers; Pascucci Caffè, a rapidly growing coffee brand; and Guerrieri, a family-owned winery and food producer.
Within the magical setting of the picturesque Italian countryside, students absorbed the rich culture along with informative presentations by local faculty, business owners, and industry association representatives. Combined with behind-the-scenes tours of production facilities, students gained valuable insights into Italian agribusiness. Professor Di Gregorio observed, “Students were able to witness how responsible business plays out in the Italian context. For instance, we visited a winery that produces other food products primarily so that it can keep its workers employed year-round.”
Businesses the group visited are deeply rooted in the region of Le Marche, and seek to contribute to their region’s economic vitality. Many of the businesses also incorporate cultural resources into their core business models in ways that preserve and renew those resources. Students’ experiences defied simple stereotypes of Italy and Europe, including meeting a female entrepreneur who is bringing a new product to market, as well as observing deep-rooted family firms that are leading their sectors in innovation.
Urbino serves as an excellent venue for CSUMB students to gain international experience. According to Di Gregorio, “The region faces many of the same issues that we see in the Monterey Bay, such as increased international competition and opportunities to leverage valuable cultural resources. Hopefully the students can leverage their observations from Italy to become more effective managers and entrepreneurs, and to contribute to their home communities.”
Most importantly, students were able to interact with University of Urbino students, who were gracious hosts, joining the group for several sessions and site visits. Professor Di Gregorio expressed appreciation to his group’s hosts, saying, “The success of the program would not have been possible without the efforts of our dedicated partners at the University of Urbino, including Professor Pete Cullen and Program Coordinator Nicola Aulitano.”