Having hosted our Italian partners in November 2014, we were gripped with anticipation when travelling to Rome to begin the outward leg of the Italian Exchange. Having arrived on the evening of 27th March, we awoke on 28th to begin our two-day sightseeing adventure in the beautiful Italian sunshine.
Each morning, fuelled with a traditional Italian breakfast of cornetti (chocolate or custard-filled croissants) and caffe latte, taken in the bar below the hotel, we headed out from our hotel, which was within waking distance of the main attractions. The magnificent Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, the Forum, il Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuele, and of course the designer shops lining Via Condotti were just a few of the fantastic sites we visited. After two days of sampling Roman culture (and ice cream), we travelled down to Palazzo San Gervasio in Basilicata where we were reunited with our Italian partners and their families. For the next two days we were treated to the infamous Italian hospitality – especially the delicious and relentless home cooking! We were able to spend some time in our Italian link school and visit the stunning Matera; nominated European City of Culture 2019, and UNESCO Heritage Site. Let’s not forget the professional display of badminton brilliance from Ed and Silas in comprehensively defeating the Italians! With a heavy heart, we bade a tearful farewell to our partner families before heading back to England, via architecturally impressive Castel del Monte and a spot of last-minute souvenir shopping in Bari.
Laden with fond memories and decidedly full tummies, we agreed that we had been privileged to able to experience the “real Italy”; something that simply cannot be achieved on a standard sightseeing tour. Our group have created long-lasting links with their host families, and one member of the group has since met up with his host family together with his own family whilst in holiday in the Basilicata region. Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro. (Making a true friend is like finding treasure).