Message from Casola winner, Alessia Giusti

June 2023
Casola 2023 Winner, Alessia Giusti

I am beyond honored to be a recipient of the Casola scholarship. Growing up, my father did his best to introduce me to Italian language and culture. Born in Rome and having grown up in Florence, he was able to speak to me in Italian and share with me Italian recipes and traditions. Once I got to college, however, I began to feel somewhat disconnected from this part of me. With my dad across the country and Italy a ten hour flight away, I found myself missing Italian culture. It was for this reason that I decided to add an Italian minor to my studies. Being able to speak Italian and immerse myself in the traditions with which I grew up revitalized my love and passion for Italian culture. This was when I decided that during my gap year between undergraduate and medical school, I wanted to obtain a degree from a culinary school in Italy, and with this scholarship, I am one step closer to being able to do so.

Food has been integral to my relationship with Italy. When I could only speak elementary level Italian, cooking was one of the few activities I could do with my nonna. It helped, too, that food is such an important part of Italian culture. Cooking with her always reminded me to slow down, appreciate my ingredients, and be thankful for the time with family spent around a dinner table. It’s Italy’s emphasis on the slow food movement that really captured my attention and made me want to get a culinary degree specific to Italy. The slow food movement emphasizes local agriculture and traditional recipes, which I believe greatly reflects Italian culture as a whole. It’s not a rejection of modernity per se, but more a cherishing of humanity. It dismisses standardization and mass production and instead highlights community, health, and an appreciation of and connection to nature. This is the message I would want to spread with my Italian culinary degree. Italian culture believes that food and life in general should not be commodified. They should be enjoyed, taken slowly, and spent with the people you love. This philosophy goes hand in hand with the message I would want to spread as a doctor as well. The food we eat and the way we engage with it are pivotal to our health and it’s because of Italy’s slow and sustainable culture that its people have such a high life expectancy. Because of this generous scholarship, I will hopefully be able to obtain a culinary degree to learn more about how Italy’s engagement with food increases its national life expectancy and then pass on what I learn to my future patients to promote traditional health and wellness.

Alessia Giusti