Siblings From Brazil Come to Florence to Study Their Passions

Siblings Mateus and Manu Nardi, hailing from Brazil, converge their ambitions at AUF in pursuit of their bachelor’s degrees.

In pursuit of culinary mastery and cultural enrichment, Mateus was the first sibling to leave his home country. Studying Food, Wine, and Wellness with a concentration in Culinary Arts, Mateus has gained a broader cultural understanding through his professors and classmates. “I think working with other classmates from different countries really contributes to seeing other cultures, how they utilize their ingredients, and their techniques, which I wouldn’t be able to experience if it were just school,” Mateus said.


Manu is enrolled in a BA in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Fine Arts. They mentioned that opting to study in Florence has provided them with extensive access to museums, art exhibits, and overall, easy access that they wouldn’t have had in Brazil. “Historically, this city boasts incredible culture and everything amazing; art is ubiquitous, ingrained in the city’s roots,” Manu said.


AUF offers long-term programs for degree-seeking students. Manu underscored that the teachers are exceptional, highlighting a Creative Writing class they took, taught by Sofia Galli, which was particularly eye-opening for them. The class sparked Manu’s interest in possibly pursuing a master’s in creative writing. They also praised the other teachers for the immense amount of knowledge they offer students and the relationships students are able to build with them, enriching the entire program. 


The culinary program combines hands-on and classroom learning. Mateus stated that he feels he gradually develops comfort in the kitchen and becomes accustomed to it in a way that, if students were not taught with an experiential learning concept, they wouldn’t be able to succeed in a kitchen. “I feel like every single person in the class could walk into any kitchen right now and work,” he said.


One thing Manu loves about AUF is that the school offers a variety of classes within the fine arts program, and they don’t have to pick just one to study. They started studying at AUF at the age of 17, which is such a young age to decide exactly what they want to do when they graduate, especially with fine arts having so many roads they can travel down. Manu is allowed to take multiple classes to figure out which type of fine arts they prefer. “I really want to try to go into more like a graphic novel area or somehow mix up my passion for writing and arts at the same time,” Manu said.



The culinary program focuses on culinary classes right away. That said, students do not just learn in the kitchen, but they actually get to experience working in a restaurant and a café. AUF's student café, Fedora, and student restaurant, Ganzo are pivotal experiential learning outlets for students like Mateus. Culinary students are in the back, baking pastries, preparing the week’s menu for lunch, as well as the dinner menu for the public to enjoy. Although Mateus enjoys the structure of the culinary program, the overall class structure really compelled him to choose to study at AUF because he would be able to enroll in other classes, such as history.


While living in another country, there will always be some challenges. Manu and Mateus said they do not regret living in Florence because of the education and cultural enrichment it has brought them, but living in another country will always bring some challenges. They each miss their family, and when they first moved to the city, it was hard trying to create a friend group at first since there is a small full-time student community. However, during their first year they were able to create a friend group that enjoys watching movies and playing board games together. 


Manu and Mateus are both exceptionally grateful that the university allows them to be creative and explore numerous options for their future. While Manu gets to experiment with various aspects of fine arts, Mateus is excited to delve into new culinary ideas in the kitchen, showcasing his learnings from the culinary program at various restaurants worldwide, and ultimately aspiring to create something uniquely his own.


The educational journey of Mateus and Manu at AUF exemplifies not only their pursuit of academic excellence but also their quest for cultural enrichment and personal growth. Through their programs in culinary arts and fine arts, they have embraced the diverse opportunities offered by AUF, from immersive classroom experiences to hands-on learning in renowned establishments. Despite the inevitable challenges of living abroad, their dedication to their studies and the vibrant community they have found in Florence reaffirm their gratitude for the enriching experience. As they continue to explore new horizons and cultivate their passions, Mateus and Manu stand poised to leave their mark on the world, fueled by the invaluable education and experiences gained at the American University of Florence.

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