Benvenuti Amici – A review of the October 2023 Ravennati Visit

On October 4th, after a long wait of 4 years, we welcomed a group from Ravenna – and what a joyful reunion of old and new friends it was!

The visit was launched at Wellies Tearoom in traditional English fashion with cake, scones and jam.

After the first evening with hosts we set off to Brighton for a very enjoyable day visiting the Pavilion, Lanes and the Pier. A few members of the group chose to ignore a self guided walk and went straight to the pub instead – a good choice some would say!

That evening we joined other members of Friends of Ravenna for a fantastic dinner served by the catering department at Chichester College. Livia, Ravenna’s Chairman, was so impressed that she insisted on thanking all the students involved. They looked embarrassed but delighted with the unexpected praise.

The following day we all met up again at the Cross for the customary guided walking tour of Chichester ably led by city guide Hilly Sloan and member Carla Gaita who provided excellent translations – they made a great team!

Then followed a warm official welcome to the Ravennati in the Council building by Councillors Anne Scicluna and Claire Apel. Claire was Mayor of Chichester at the time of the signing of the twinning agreement back in 1996/7.

No time for a rest though as we hot footed it to the Cathedral for another interesting tour and then a quick car drive out to the Bluebell in Cocking for a great 2 course pub lunch. Crumble and custard quickly devoured we were off to sculptor Philip Jackson’s nearby studio where he generously gave a fascinating illustrated talk about his work, again wonderfully translated by Carla. His generosity included tea and cake in his home providing us with an amazing opportunity to walk around his stunning garden. Our Italian friends appeared truly amazed and delighted with this visit.

Then it was the last day and, as requested by our guests, there were trips to our 2 Roman Palaces – Fishbourne and Bignor – with a pause for lunch in the sunshine in the garden of members Alastair and Libby Alexander. Thank you both!

Water feature and mosaic floor, Bignore Roman Villa

For the finale we all gathered together with other members for a wonderfully relaxed and sociable evening of food, music and chat. Our catering team provided a delicious buffet with vast quantities of trifle and Fishbourne Community Choir finished the evening off in style, singing to us all in both English and Italian. It was great fun.

We said a sad goodbye on the Sunday morning and agreed that it really had been a very successful visit, thanks in part to the amazing weather but mainly as a result of the combined and magnificent effort on the part of committee members, Friends, organisers, hosts and the catering team.