BOLOGNA, Italy, July 3, 2010 — -- It's not your typical University education, but Gelato University is offering an alternate route for those interested in starting a new life chapter or seizing a lifelong dream.
Gelato, the frozen dessert that can be found on virtually every Italian street corner, is reminiscent of American ice cream, but it's made with less fat and better known for being more flavorful. Now, students can specialize in production of the frozen treat at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy.
But the program comes at no small cost. A weeklong immersion at the Bologna campus can run about $880 and the machinery for your own gelateria will cost another $70,000. Students enrolled in Gelato University see this as a long-term investment, though, with many pursuing gelato production as a second act.
The first session was held in 2003. More than 6,000 students participate in Gelato University courses each year, which range from half a day to one week, or five days, depending on level and type of course.
Los Angeles resident Richard Rosenberg traveled to Bologna for a gelato education: He's trading in his recession-hit sign-making business for a career in gelato at the age of 74.
Elizabeth McCleary of Sacramento, California, is also pursuing gelato production after spending 20 years in the advertising business.
"I wanted a change and I wanted to do something that's going to benefit me in the future rather than working for somebody else," McCleary said.
Gelato Master Luciano Ferrari, a teacher for the university, says gelato will not only open the door to a new career but to other pleasures as well.
"You forget all the bad thing[s]," Ferrari said. "This is why people like to make gelato, to make happy people!"
Americans can get a taste of Italy without travelling overseas by attending classes at satellite campuses around the U.S. An online introduction class, which begins at $50, is also offered for those wanting to learn about the nuts and bolts of the gelato business for a lower price and from the comfort of their own home.