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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Harris and Patricia Pastides pose for a atop a wall with a bell tower to the left and the landscape of Italy in the background.

    Exploring Italy

    Join the Pastides and your friends from the College of HRSM on this unforgettable journey!

Exploring Italy: Food, Wine & Culture • September 15-23, 2023


To secure your spot on this exclusive trip, please submit your first payment of $4,000 no later than May 31, 2023, using the button below.

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The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management invites you to join our celebrity hosts, President Emeritus Harris Pastides and First-Lady Emerita Patricia Moore-Pastides, for an adventure in Italy exploring food, wine and culture!

We'll begin by getting acquainted with the ancient city of Florence (Firenze), birthplace of the Renaissance and home to some of the world's most iconic art, architecture, restaurants, and markets. Then, we'll take our time traversing the Tuscan countryside, enjoying sights and sips at the region's finest wineries.  We'll also get behind-the-scenes access to regional food production facilities, tour the famed Lamborghini auto museum, and so much more!

Highlights Include:

  • Three days in Tuscany with accommodations at an enchanting villa
  • Private tours and tastings at Castello Banfi, Cantina Buccelletti, and Il Borro Wineries
  • Visit to Emilia Romagna with visit to Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar producer
  • Guided tour of the Lamborghini Museum (and factory if available)
  • Exclusive USC faculty-led educational experience with Karen Edwards and Sandy Strick
  • Five days (total) in Florence, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world
  • Guided tour and food/Prosecco tasting at the San Lorenzo Market
  • Italian cooking class with dinner
  • You’ll also visit the Accademia Museum, learn to cook like an Italian, watch a live opera performance, and enjoy world-class shopping


Tuscany — II Verreno

For your three-day trip to Tuscany, you'll stay at Il Verreno, which is situated above the town of Ambra in the southern Chianti area. It is a Tuscan retreat with the relaxed atmosphere of a country house but with hotel-style service. Il Verreno boasts the best of Tuscany; tranquility, sumptuous scenery, delicious food, and easy access to activities both cultural and sporting. Its large suites are decorated in a contemporary twist of Tuscan heritage with an emphasis on comfort and relaxation.


  • The sun rises over a a vineyard in Italy.


    Part of the experience includes three days in an enchanting villa while enjoying the breathtaking views of Tuscany!


  • Arrival in Florence, airport pick-up and transport to hotel
  • Hotel check-in and welcome session
  • Wine tasting and discussion at Enoteca Alessi
  • Welcome dinner at Beppa Fioraia
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • AM guided visit: San Lorenzo Market, includes food and Prosecco tastings
  • Visit: Accademia Gallery museum
  • Evening aperitivo at rooftop bar
  • PM opera performance at St. Mark's Anglican Church
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • AM brunch
  • PM Italian cooking class, with 4-course dinner
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Hotel check-out and transfer to Tuscany
  • Visit: Castello Banfi:
    • Guided visit of winery
    • Wine tasting
    • Group lunch
  • PM check-in to Tuscan villa
  • Dinner on your own
  • Breakfast at villa
  • Visit: Cantina Buccelletti:
    • Guided visit of winery
    • Wine tasting
    • Group lunch
  • Dinner on your own
  • Breakfast at villa
  • Visit: Il Borro Winery
    • Guided visit of winery
    • Wine tasting
    • Group lunch
  • Return to villa
  • Group dinner at villa
  • Breakfast at villa
  • Hotel check-out
  • Day trip to Emilia Romagna:
    • AM visit to Parmigiano Reggiano producer and balsamic vinegar producer, includes tastings
    • Group lunch tasting of Parma Ham
    • Guided tour: Lamborghini Museum
  • Return to Florence and hotel check-in
  • Dinner on your own
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • AM free for shopping on your own
  • Farewell dinner
  • Breakfast at hotel and check-out
  • Transport to airport
  • Departure to U.S.

Please note that events listed here and on final itinerary are subject to change based on business necessity.

  • An aerial view of Florence, Italy, at dusk.


  • Inside St. Mark's Anglican Church in Florence, Italy

    St. Mark's Anglican Church

  • Castello Banfi winery in Tuscany on a sunny day

    Castello Banfi Winery

  • The buidling of II Borro Winery is Tuscany

    Il Borro Winery

  • A clock tower in Emilia Romagna sits atop a hill

    Emilia Romagna

  • An inside look at the cars in the Lamborghini Museum

    Lamborghini Museum

Faculty Leaders

Your faculty leaders on this premier trip abroad are two of the College of HRSM's most decorated faculty members, Karen Edwards of the Department of Retailing and Sandy Strick with the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The duo have led several study abroad excursions to Italy and across Europe, most recently facilitating the Maymester course luxury management in Italy.

Karen Edwards headshot

Karen Edwards, J.D.

Karen Edwards, J.D., is the College of HRSM's interim associate dean of academic programs and has been a faculty member in the Department of Retailing since 2006. She and Sandy Strick, Ph.D., have led numerous education abroad programs to Italy and around Europe, focusing on luxury food, wine and fashion. Edwards' research, which focuses on legal issues affecting the retail and hospitality industries, has been published in leading journals including the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, Journal of Retail and Consumer Services, and Tourism Management. She co-authored Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Merchandising (2nd ed.), which will be published in early 2024.

Sandy Strick headshot

Sandy Strick, Ph.D.

Sandy Strick, Ph.D., has been at the University of South Carolina in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management for more than three decades. Among other things, she studies and teaches in the beverage sector of the industry addressing issues related specifically to wine. She is the founder and director of the Wine and Beverage Institute at Carolina that was created to teach industry as well as the greater community about beverage. Strick is a certified wine educator, has intro level Sommelier certification, Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2, and is a Certified Hospitality Educator. Along with Karen Edwards, she has led students on multiple global learning experiences to Italy, France as well as the UK.


Fees Include:

  • Four-star accommodations (eight nights, double occupancy)
  • Breakfast daily
  • Eight group meals including five lunches and three dinners, plus seven additional wine and/or food tastings as scheduled
  • In-country transportation, including transit to/from Florence airport on program start/end dates
  • Entrance to all venues and tours listed on final itinerary
  • 24/7 emergency assistance through our trusted partner organization
  • $1,000 donation to the HRSM Study Abroad Scholarship fund (tax deductible)

Fees Do Not Include:

  • Transportation and airfare to/from Florence, Italy
  • Travel interruption insurance (recommended)
  • Meals, site visits and excursions not listed on final itinerary
  • Passports, any required vaccinations and/or medical treatment/testing/documentation
  • Personal expenses and shopping

Price per participant is $8,700. This trip is limited to 16 participants and is expected to fill quickly; reserve your space by submitting your first payment of $4,000 per person by May 31 and your final payment of $4,700 by July 15.

Program fees are not refundable. If the program is canceled by USC prior to departure, recoverable costs will be refunded.

Submit Payment

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the program please feel free to reach out to Georgia Petritsis in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Georgia Petritsis headshot

Georgia Petritsis

Program Coordinator
School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management


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