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Avila College Italian language and culture course

Eighteen students from Melbourne are immersed in Prato life.

From 19 to 23 September eighteen students from Avila College in Glen Waverley eagerly took part in an Italian language and culture course held at the Monash University Prato Centre. The accompanying teachers from Avila College describe what a wonderful success the course was in this beautiful reflection of the week: 


How does one describe the Prato experience for a secondary school student from Avila College in Melbourne? One needs to take into account the fragrant smells of the food, the Tuscan fashion, the beauty of the historic buildings, the ringing church bells and the interaction with the locals. A true immersion!

Upon arrival our group of eighteen girls and three teachers took what we thought to be a leisurely Sunday stroll into the town centre. In fact we were met by an ancient, medieval castle of which the group climbed the battlements and then observed a wedding below in Piazza Santa Maria dei Carceri. Once exiting this piazza and taking a right turn past the Piazza Comune with its historic Palazzo Pretorio, we followed the road to Piazza Duomo where a festival of food, music, culture and a stunning view of the façade of the Duomo di Santo Stefano welcomed us. The girls immediately felt at home in Prato. 

The Avila College students experienced five days at Monash University Prato learning Italian. But it was not just the language they learnt. They learnt what life is really like for a young person living in Prato. The lessons were made relevant for the students as they were linked to life in the town and in the region. More so the cultural aspects of the course were linked to their own age group. On two occasions the students were able to practise conversation with local students as well as visit their school and sit in on classes. The looks of anticipation prior to the local students’ arrival was soon replaced by laughter and exchanges of details on social media. Friends for years to come perhaps?

On two occasions the girls took part in cooking lessons at a local restaurant. They cooked two separate menus for the entire group, each course made entirely by hand. The course also involved a theatre performance, in which the students made all their own props and sets and then recited their own interpretation of Carlo Collodi’s ‘Pinocchio’ in Italian.

One of the highlights of the week was a visit to the Textile Museum. The students not only saw the origins of the industry, but also created their own garment to take home as a memorable souvenir of their time in Prato. The week concluded with a treasure hunt around the city and a celebration commemorating their week of learning. 

Prato will always have a special place in the heart of the Avila College students and for the college itself, a place for future learning and relationships for years to come.