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Food in Sicily students explore the island’s ancient Greek past

Students interested in the Food in Sicily study away program, scheduled for May 9-29, 2024, are invited to attend an upcoming information session on Microsoft Teams.

Participants in the study abroad experience can earn six Ohio University credits, learn about the culture of food in Sicily, and get hands-on experience tasting and making Sicilian dishes.

"Like ice cream, cheesecake, and chocolate? What about marzipan, cannoli, and sumptuous pasta? Then, come experience the cultural and historic food ways of Sicily, the Mediterranean's largest island. We'll travel Sicily's eastern 'Greek' coast to see and taste this unique island's rich history of food traditions. You may even meet the Chef's Table star while visiting Caffè Sicilia in Noto, Sicily," said Food in Sicily Director David Bell, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Interested students are invited to join an information session via TEAMS. Join the meeting at one of the following dates and times:

•    Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m.
•    Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
•    Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m.
•    Monday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
•    Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m.
•    Monday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m.

Food in Sicily Students Re-enact Ancient Greek Games

The  Greek colonization of Sicily began in the 8th century BCE with the building of such cities as Siracusa in the south-eastern corner of the island. Today, one of the most visited attractions in the hills above the modern city of Siracusa is the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis home to the Teatro Greco, the oldest Greek theater in Sicily, and the Anfiteatro Romano, originally used for gladiatorial combats and horse races. From May to early July, the 16,000-seat theater puts on a spectacular season of classical Greek plays. But on May 17, 2023, all the attention was on the Anfiteatro Romano and the fifth re-enactment of the Giocchi di Zeus Eleutherios, the ancient Olympic-style games.

People in traditional Greek dress race through a field

The revival of  the games is the work of Dr. Heather Reid, Scholar in Residence at the Exedra Mediterranean Center, and Professor of Philosophy Emerita at Morningside College in Iowa. Reid has published numerous books and articles in ancient philosophy, philosophy of sport, and Olympic Studies. In the days before the re-enactment of the games, Food in Sicily students spent time at the Center fashioning costumes and olive branch crowns. They also had to decide whether to participate as athletes or judges.

People in traditional Greek helmets with feathered plumes race through a field
A group of people in traditional Greek dress walk in a line beneath a stone archway in the open air
The Parade of athletes and judges into the Teatro Romano

On the morning of the re-enactment Ohio University students gathered at the Teatro Romano together with students from the Liceo Gargallo, (a classical high school in Siracusa), and ITS Fondazione Archimede (a professional school providing training in tourism, hospitality, and the cultural heritage of Sicily).  The games opened with a parade of student-athletes and judges followed by the inauguration ceremony with short speeches in Italian, ancient Greek, and English. 

And then the games began. Athletes competed in various races: the stadion, a short race; the the diaulos, double the length of the stadion; and the oplitodromos, a double-length race wearing a helmet and carrying a shield. The judges carefully monitor the races for any infringements of the rules and signal the winners by pounding their staffs on the ground. At the closing ceremony, the winners were crowned with laurels and poems of thanks were given up to Zeus.  One of the winners was Marco Messina, Exedra Center staff and on-site program coordinator for Food in Sicily.


Food in Sicily Study Away Program

Food in Sicily is a faculty-led program for Ohio University credit. In OHIO study away programs, students earn OHIO credit, take courses with other OHIO students and are taught by OHIO faculty. A student's financial aid package applies the same as it would for on-campus courses.
Food in Sicily is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and students can earn six credit hours while learning how to make mozzarella, practicing Italian with a "Table and Market" meeting with local social enterprises, helping with dinners at a local soup kitchen, taking cooking classes, and visiting farms, breweries and wineries. (For additional information see the articles on "Singing, Dancing and Churning the Cheese in Sicily" during the 2019 trip, and "Food in Sicily students experience how service changes people's lives" and "Food in Sicily students discover the power of community resilience" during the 2022 trip).

Visits to markets and sites in Ortigia, Italy, include the Catacombs of San Giovanni, the medieval Jewish quarter and Castello Maniace. Day trips are planned to Catania, Italy, where students will visit the fish market, historic city center, Benedictine Monastery, Greek Theater and Cathedral. Students also will hike on Mt. Etna and enjoy time on Sicilian beaches, as well as tour the historical towns of Noto and Taormina

For more information, visit the Food in Sicily webpage or contact Bell.

See more about Experiential Learning at OHIO.


December 6, 2023
Staff reports