Integrating Academics with Italian Cultural Immersion

Professor Lucia Mancini

Integrating Academics with Italian Cultural Immersion


Two of the objectives of my Principles of Management course here at Gonzaga in Florence are to help students develop an appreciation for the ways in which political, economic, legal and technological factors impact the opportunities that companies face worldwide, and to guide students to critically assess the complexities of the manager’s job especially within a global market.


My course blends management coursework with local Italian business practices. Last month, I brought my class for a site visit to Chiusi Siena. The itinerary included a visit to a women’s designer footwear (family-run) factory where students could view first hand the manufacturing of shoes from design inception to final product. The visit included a discussion with the factory owners and questions and answers regarding the challenges of manufacturing high end global brand products in Italy.


After the footwear factory visit, the students were taken to have a guided tour of Chiusi’s Etruscan underground labyrinth and then of the city’s cathedral (Duomo). The class was privileged in being able to visit Chiusi’s City Hall where Mayor Bettolini himself granted a question and answer period and let the students sit in the parliament hall council chairs. The class later enjoyed the town traditional “pici pasta” for lunch before visiting one of the largest plant nurseries in Europe. At the family-run nursery, a guide showed the students some of the thousands of species of plants and trees grown on the premises and then exported worldwide.


The site visit to Chiusi (Siena) served to demonstrate the intricacies of running a business in Italy, the challenges of working with many different cultures and industries, and the importance of family-run businesses for the Italian economy.


Professor Lucia Mancini is a native of Los Angeles who has been living and working in Italy for 17 years. She has over 17 years of experience as a manager and has been with GIF for the last 4 years. She is the author of “Living the Italian Lifestyle…Anywhere.”

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