Brescia - snowing in summer
My camp in Brescia, in the North East of Italy, was to be my last before a 2 week 'hold period' in which I would meet Dean in Croatia after 6 weeks apart. When I was told I was going to Brescia I was excited as it would have been the largest city I had been to during my camp allocations. In actual fact the town I ended up being allocated to was not in Brescia rather it was 2 hours on the train north of Brescia in a little town called Vezza D'oglio, in the province of Brescia. The town was located at an altitude of 1000 metres above sea level and, you guessed it, did not have a train station.
Upon arrival at the nearest train station I nervously awaited collection by our camp director. The other two tutors, 2 girls 1 of which I knew from orientation, were yet to arrive. As it turned out we all arrived on separate trains in 2 hour intervals. Once I was picked up I was taken to the camp directors home and the apartment below that I would share with my fellow co-tutors, and 2 of us would sleep in the kitchen, a very interesting arrangement. Lucky for me my co-tutors turned out to be a couple of amazing, kind hearted and hilariously funny girls - which is most fortunate because we just about lived on top of each other for the week.
By now, all of us being placed in similarly remote camps, we wanted to see a city, or anything really. We made the decision, after an attempt to take a bus that didn't run on a sunday, to take the 2 hour train ride into Brescia and see what it was all about. On the train there we were frantically googling trains back to ensure we could return on the same day - lucky for us it was possible.
First on our 'to-do' list was seeing the roman ruins. It was my first in Italy and it didn't disappoint. There was a small amphitheatre and buildings to explore as well as a temple, which inside, housed the many declarations of the town. This set of buildings are known as the 'Capitolinium of Brixia' the temple being built during 73AD.
We also walked up the hill behind the ruins, 'Castello di Brescia' (literally the Castle of Brescia). We didn'd have time to go in, as we had to make it back for the train, but we did manage the hike to the top. the castle is known as the 'Falcon of Italy' because of its position atop this mountain, and from the rapid climb and our heavy breathing when we reached the top, we agreed it was a good defensive position. Having no time to explore the castle or the ground, i posed for a photo with a lion, as you do.
As the week wound on we found our camp most unconventional. For starters my students were between the ages of 4 and 6 which presented some significant hurdles as they did not speak a lick of English. Fortunate for me they hadn't yet realised what language was and so they stared at me and in Italian would tell me 'I don't understand anything you say' much to my amusement. I plastered the classroom walls with pictures and words, though the words didn't help much as most of them had not begun reading or writing in their native language, let alone English yet.
One day during camp we had an outing to an adventure park where there was a tree course. I am not one for heights but I took to the trees, on the lowest course, for the children. Yes, there were some hairy moments when I thought I could not continue, such is my fear of high places, but I was encouraged to do so by the students behind me whining about me taking too long.
The rest of the week passed with little event. My students mastered basic colours, counting to 10, happy and sad, and by the end of the week were able to sing 'Baby Shark' (I love sharks by the way) and 'Colours of the rainbow'. At lunch time I sat with them to eat, cut their food, and in some cases fed them. There was one hilarious incident that I must share. Usually I pride myself on being quite good with names and I had a student who had a typical Italian name. somehow, in my brain, I got his name confused with another and I spent the entire day calling him an incorrect name much to his own frustration and protestations. By the end of the day he came up to me, in Italian, and yelled at me 'why are you calling me....?' I couldn't help but laugh. Of course I apologised and made a point to repeat his correct name over and over and, by the end of the day, he had forgotten the entire incident. What makes it even funnier is that they all had name tags, and I had even created a sticker chart, both with the correct name, though still called him by an incorrect name. Oh, the workings of a tired brain.
On the friday we had a late start so I and my fellow co-tutors decided to go up the glacier the was nearby. The journey consisted of a car trip to Ponte di Legno and a cable car up to Presena Glacier, at some 3,200 metres above sea level. one would assume as it was summer that the weather would be quite mild but the temperature still was far below zero. Despite this, and lucky for me that I had the appropriate clothing, the views were nothing short of sensational.
After a walk around many photographs later we retired to the cafe atop the mountain for a well earned, and rather expensive, hot chocolate.
Now back to the town itself. as I have said in previous articles, bad weather was something of a theme during my time in the North, Vezza d'oglio was no different. By Wednesday night temperatures had plummeted below 10 degrees (Celsius) and storm, which at first I enjoyed as it reminded me of my home country, came crashing down around us. Quickly this turned into hail, which I do not at all enjoy - does anyone enjoy hail?, and it became impossible for us to wander around the tiny town despite being able to walk to school or the town.
By Friday, though, everything had returned to normal in the town though on the glacier we experience something I never thought would happen, SNOW IN SUMMER. The town, however, was stunningly sunny and it allowed us to wander around, have a gelato and buy some postcards to send to our families.