Taya’s Travels: Introduction – Taking on Tuscany

Hi! My name is Taya Hoetzlein-Sirman, and I am a rising junior in the Frederick Honors College, pursuing a double major in History and Political Science, and a minor in Literature. I’m currently enrolled in Pitt’s Food Studies program in Florence, Italy, and I’m excited to share my journey with you guys!

I chose this program because its focus on gender, sustainability, and food studies perfectly aligns with my academic interests as a history and political science major. I find it fascinating how the preparation of food, and even its harvesting, has largely been regarded as a domestic task and thus relegated to women.  Understanding the history behind the foods we eat, the expectations and associations we hold regarding food and its preparation, and exploring the policies behind its distribution and inequities will complement my studies and enhance my global and cross-cultural awareness. As a history major, I’ve also been enamored with the history that’s written into the very foundations of Florence. It’s amazing to see the works of the Renaissance, to walk the same streets as Machiavelli and Dante and Michelangelo, and to notice the remnants of its Roman past. I recently took a class on cities in historical perspective and Florence was one of the cities we focused on. I’ve really enjoyed seeing some of the things we’ve talked about in practice, including the legacy of the Medici family and their “secret” Vasari Corridor that runs from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti across the Ponte Vecchio.

Another one of the reasons I chose this program is because my mom’s side of the family is from Italy, and so I feel a connection to Italian culture. My mom makes Italian food a lot, and I’ve always loved cooking with her. I really value our culinary traditions, and especially the time spent cooking with my mom, and of course eating with my family. Food has a remarkable ability to connect people and bring them together, and this program thus has been a perfect intersection of my interests.

I’ve never been abroad before, or even flown on an airplane, so this trip marked some big milestones for me! The first two weeks have flown by and I’m looking forward to making the most of the rest of this trip. I plan to make a couple posts soon updating you all on what I’ve been up to so far, but until then… Ciao!


“Through these busy streets I wander dreamily; Around me Florence sweeps her busy tide of life.”

– William Leighton

Leave a Reply