Take me to the Alps - the Swiss Border

It was beyond difficult to leave my host family and beautiful seaside town of Albisola, but it was the nature of my job, at the time, to be sent anywhere in Italy. So it was that I found myself on a train bound for the extreme north of Italy, this time on the boarder with Switzerland.

The English camp I had been allocated to was called 'Domodossolla' and did not have a train station, so from the first I knew I was, yet again, in a very remote part of the country. In the exploring the 'off the beaten track' you find some wonderful gems so from the start I was optimistic.

I was told by my camp director that there was no family to take me in, so I and another tutor were housed a 35 minute drive away from camp in the tiny town of Varzo, high in the mountains. There the mornings were misty and cold but the views breathtaking. We were housed in those lovely wooden homes you conjure in your mind when you think of the Swiss Alps, as much of the architecture in those parts replicates. Everything inside the home was also made of wood and it had the most delightful 'nature smell'.

Whilst the 35 minute commute each morning was not ideal, as I would have much preferred a sleep in, there were some benefits. On one occasion our camp director took us to her mothers home for dinner and she cooked us lasagne. A real Nonna dinner, I could hardly contain my excitement. I was so overjoyed by the experience that I asked her to pose with me for a photograph, despite her not speaking any English and my Italian being absolutely horrendous, she was happy to oblige.

Another advantage of living in Varzo was its proximity to Switzerland, in fact, one day we meandered into Switzerland for a coffee. I say it was just for a coffee but we all know the real reason I went was for the chocolate. So, of course, I stocked up and added another country to my growing list!

The second week of camp saw me move in with a family, their daughter was in my class. Their home was closer to the camp but still lodged firmly on the side of a mountain, as many people live in those parts. The views from their home were also stunning, and every afternoon, after school, I would sit on their balcony to take it all in.

The family were lovely and took me around to see the lakes district that the north is famous for, more on that in our future article 'Italian Lakes'.

At school we invented new ways to entertain the children including a game of 'Pokemon Go Safari'. This consisted of all the tutors wearing a sign designating themselves as a Pokemon, the hid somewhere in the school grounds and the children found them. When the tutor was located the children had to encircle them and constantly asked them questions, in English, whilst transporting them to the 'PokeCentre' where they would register their catch for points.If they stopped speaking English the tutor could simply break free from the circle and run away, with a 1 minute head start.

I also lived out a life long mission to play quidditch and release the golden snitch which I made a hat for. The hat had long streamers protruding from the back and as the snitch ran around the field the streamers flew out behind them. The catcher from the two teams playing had to run around and catch the student wearing the hat. It was a good laugh for all.

So as my time in Domodossolla came to an end I received my next posting, yet another rural posting, this time the far north on the Austrian border. By all reports, whilst the rest of Italy was in the peak of summer with temperatures reaching 40 (Celsius) plus, my next location looked like a winter town. So I said farewell to my host family and set off for another adventure.