The Comenius Project brings together pupils from selected European schools to develop a greater understanding of other cultures by experiencing them first hand.
It was the turn of our Italian partners to host the fourth of five visits by Comenius students and staff, this time from Latvia, Germany, Greece and Gairloch. The Liceo Camillo Golgi is in the small but bustling town of Breno, nestling in the spectacular Valle Camonica in the north of Lombardy. The area has been populated for thousands of years and is steeped in history from prehistoric times onwards. Although the famous resorts on the beautiful lakes Como, Garda and D’Iseo are not far away, and further north are the Tirolean Alps, Breno itself is not a tourist centre, so it was a slice of real northern Italian life for our group: David Gorman, Leanne Mackay, Mags Matheson, Kieran Morrison and Ian Paul, accompanied this time by Mrs Campbell and Ms Mackison.
The north of Italy had experienced particularly wintry weather just before we arrived, so the River Oglio, which runs the length of the valley into Lake D’Iseo was partly frozen, and remained so while we were there, although the snow on the Alps receded to the topmost peaks.
Once settled with their host families, our group’s schedule was packed. On Monday, after some survival Italian lessons at school, we were shown the oldest parts of the town, including the mediaeval castle. After the Carnival procession which had taken place on Sunday, the remnants of decorations and confetti were everywhere, so, colourful as the buildings already were, they were even more so for the religious festival prior to Lent.
Our visit to Brescia, Lombardy’s second largest city after Milan, coincided with the return of crisp sunshine on Tuesday, so the Roman temple and forum, the mediaeval buildings and Renaissance cathedral were ready for the literally hundreds of photos the group of students took! On Wednesday, the weather was equally obliging, so after delivering our presentation of a story set in Flowerdale, based on an idea by Calum Nelson in S2, and portrayed in photos with the help of Callum MacKenzie and Connor Moore, we walked up in warm sunshine to the important archaeological site at Nadro, where ancient people engraved images of their gods and way of life on rock smoothed out by glaciation.
By the middle of the week, the students had enjoyed all kinds of activities, in classes, in the games hall, and the Italian hosts had also laid on a seasonal Fancy Dress party with disco and live music. On our final school day, we visited Bergamo, where the original walled city perches on top of a hill with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.
As the temperature began to rise, we were all reluctant to leave on the Friday, to say the least, so to keep the memories alive we invite families, friends and fellow pupils to join us for an Italian Evening in the multi-purpose hall at the High School on Tuesday 20th March, where we will share our experiences, photos, and some pizza!