If we had to answer in just two words, we would say it creates a "temporary citizen". By exposing students to real life and helping them interpret it through various lenses, students discover that Italy doesn’t always come in the shape of a Tuscan hill, a Roman temple, a cooking class or wine tasting.
Italy is a composite of real people living real lives.
"Vedi Napoli e poi muori - see Naples and Die" is an old saying attributed to Virgil, the Memoirs of an American World War II veteran, the title of a 1950s film, a tourism board's tagline, and a myriad of other claimants. It can be interpreted as a tribute to the beauty of this 2700-year-old town, once a capital of the biggest and richest kingdom on Italy, the Regno delle due Sicilie.
One of the most fascinating things about it is that the city center has not been transformed into a one big tourist shop-window: it’s a “real city”, a real-life scenario with many economic, infrastructural and political problems, among which the insidious presence of organised crime.
We visited Napoli with the students and professors of the courses Organized Crime and Social Innovation and International Business, to discover how it is possible to find interesting opportunities in such a complex context. To rise up and succeed out of such political, economic and cultural constraints, one has to embody leadership, vision, commitment and innovation.
Given this premise, we introduced students to the creators of Optima, a 100% Neapolitan innovative multi-utility company, which hires more than 300 people only in Napoli and 800 all over the country. Their cultural impact and socially responsible services epitomize the type of enterprise both courses focus on during the course of the semester.
Students then eat, sing and dance at Vico Pazzariello, an association of artists that strive to keep the old traditions alive, keeping young people involved and helping them avoid the tangles of organized crime.
Students are guests at the last 100% Made in Napoli leather gloves factory (Omega), the survivor of a centuries-old artisanal tradition in the city.
Here students find high quality leather gloves soon to line the showrooms of Fifth Avenue, Champs-Élysées and all of fashion's high streets the world over.
Walking further and longer than many claim to ever have done, we visit the breath taking San Gennaro Catacombs with a young cooperative organized by a local priest in an effort to employ underprivileged youth from the rougher neighborhoods of Naples.
They also get to relish in the beauty of the gulf from a top Castel Sant’Elmo and discover the wonders of Napoli handicraft in San Marino Museum.
And so, in just 48 hours, students discover the beauty and contradictions of an amazing city. And, while doing so, taste two amazing pizzas (among other things, the world has Naples to thank for the invention of pizza!) and delicious babà and sfogliatelle. And everybody came home safe, tired and with a big smile on their face.