Welcome to the heart of Italian and global gastronomic excellence, where tradition, culture, and nature come together to shape the future of food. This is how one could describe the atmosphere in Pollenzo, a fraction of the municipality of Bra, immersed in the beauty and history of the Piedmontese Langhe region. It is here, in 2004, that the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo (UNISG) was founded, a true hub of international knowledge, thanks to a student body hailing from 98 different countries.
Dealing with good food and proper nutrition no longer means, or rather, not only entering the restaurant market, perhaps aspiring to become a Michelin-starred chef. It means deeply understanding territories and their ingredients, absorbing their traditions, and rethinking food itself to face the challenges of the future. It means knowing how to communicate about food and elevate its value because it is one of the most precious things humans possess. Such an ambitious project, strongly desired by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, could only find its ideal home in Bra.
With a population of approximately 30,000, Bra has always been a place of encounter and exchange, where art, culture, music, tradition, and nature have fused together to create something truly unique.
Waking up in Pollenzo and Bra means being enchanted by cultivated fields and vineyards that take on different colors each season. It means strolling through the city and encountering doz- ens of artisanal and gastronomic activities, where one can savor authentic Italian slow food, perhaps enjoy a street artist’s performance or chat with students worldwide. It means getting involved in its history, retracing the traces of medieval walls dating back to the 1300s, and then discovering its incredible modernity. All of this is less than an hour away from the dynamic metropolis of Turin and a couple of hours from Milan, two of Italy’s most important economic and productive capitals. In other words, it means falling in love: living a unique, local, and global experience simultaneously, which is difficult to replicate elsewhere.
The University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo (UNISG) is housed in a splendid former summer residence of the Savoy family. The complex, dominated by its ancient towers, is immersed in meticulously maintained greenery, and the campus offers numerous services for the over 3,500 students it welcomes each year, including a Sensory Analysis Laboratory where numerous research activities are carried out to the Pollenzo Food Lab where all gastronomic practices merge, from horticulture to entrepreneurship. There is also a cinema laboratory, educational gardens, libraries, study rooms, and, no less importantly, a rich collaboration with the Wine Bank. This project, born in 2001 to repre- sent the historical memory of Italian wine, now consists of over 100,000 bottles from every region of the country.
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UNISG offers a comprehensive experience further enriched by a dense calendar of educational trips: not simple guided tours but long-term itineraries that take students from Bra to all continents. Since 2004, 57 countries have been visited, and 120 educational trips have been organized annually. All this is to rediscover the ancient roots of food, from cultivating rare ingredients to transforming them using traditional methods, to make tomorrow’s food increasingly rich and sustainable.
Additionally, Pollenzo University boasts internationally renowned professors who are true authorities in the world of food and science and makes it possible to experience the campus as a visiting scholar or researcher. Two bachelor’s degree programs, eight master’s programs, a doctoral program, and targeted training activities complete an educational offering built not only around market needs but, above all, around the needs of students so that they are immediately ready for the world of work. This is also thanks to the numerous collaborations that the University of Gastronomic Sciences has established with a wide range of institutions and equally willing companies: from obtaining a degree to securing a renowned job position, the path is clear.
Why hesitate? If you wish to deepen your skills in the world of food and are ready to embrace the challenges of future food, Pollenzo is truly a mandatory step. Among Piedmont’s hills, your mind will open up to the world, thanks to the exchange with people from every corner of the planet, artistic and cultural life in constant transformation, and the opportunity to taste high-quality food and establish relationships with the best food professionals.
So what are you waiting for? The new academic year is just around the corner: Welcome to Pollenzo!
“The food system, as it is today, does not work and there needs to be a change. As the University of Pollenzo, we must ensure that our students are active protagonists of this change, working to modify the ways of production and consumption. Therefore, we need Pollenzo to maintain its democratic spirit and be an accessible and open university, continuing to be a forge of active subjects.”— Carlo Petrini, 2022
In 2008, The Guardian included him in the list of 50 people who could save the planet.
19 years earlier, Carlo “Carlin” Petrini – sociologist, gastronome, writer, and activ- ist, founded the Slow Food Movement in Bra: a new way of thinking about food, where the Earth and its need for protection, the quality of ingredients, health, and well-being are at the center. A central figure for Italian and global gastronomy, as well as one of the main advo- cates for healthier and more sustainable agri- culture, Petrini has shed light on the current problems of food, combining science, culture, art, and politics. And it is from one of his ideas that the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo was born: the place par excellence where the future of food is decided.
Photos courtesy of Marcello Marengo – UNISG