As a child, Sarah had many penfriends from all over the world: New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, Ethiopia, France, America, Germany, Sweden and more. She wrote and received colourful letters every week and often got sent photos, stickers and little tokens from her penfriends to resemble their countries. One of her penfriends was an Italian boy, Domenico, and Sarah actually got a chance to meet him on a family holiday to Sorrento in Naples when she was 13.

Domenico arrived at her hotel with his entire family in tow, and both families sat down to meet and greet each other. The hotel manager very kindly offered to spend some time with them translating between the families. As Sarah and Domenico already communicated each week by writing in English, this was the easiest option for them, as well as making basic attempts at miming things to try to get their messages across to each other. Considering they had been penfriends for a couple of years, they were both extremely shy at having actually met each other and Sarah felt quite nervous and silly in her attempts at trying to ‘speak’ to Domenico. After a little while, Domenico´s family left with the promise of returning shortly. And sure enough, not long afterwards, they returned with the lovely gesture of a gift from their family to Sarah´s family. It was a beautiful mosaic plate with a brightly coloured peacock on a golden background that glistened in the sunlight. Touched at such a thoughtful gesture, Sarah´s family hugged Domenico´s and thanked them for such an exquisite gift. And that was the last time Sarah saw Domenico…until now.

25 years later, she was going back to Naples and had arranged to meet up with Domenico again. Never having forgotten her embarrassment at not being able to speak to him properly the last time they met, she had enrolled in some fun conversational Italian classes based in Newcastle where she quickly picked up the basics she needed to be able to have a general chat with Domenico. Competitively priced and at a venue to suit her, Sarah was very pleased with these bargain language classes that allowed her to be taught by an Italian speaking teacher. In a very short time, she felt confident that she would be able to hold her own in a one-to-one conversation with Domenico.

With her flight ticket in her hand, Sarah grabbed her passport and suitcase as the cab pulled up outside her home and excitedly closed the door behind her. In just a few hours, she´d be back in the sunshine meeting her lifelong friend, only this time she planned to surprise him by showing off her newly acquired speaking skills. This was going to be the best Italian experience she could ever imagine!