‘Matera, A Hidden Gem’ – Tuesday 18 January, 2024

Matera – A Hidden Gem

This event will take place on 18 January 2024 at 7:30pm via ‘Zoom’.

Members will recieve a link and instructions on how to join the meeting via our monthly ‘News’ email


Speaker: Daniela Centonze

Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is stunningly beautiful and has a fascinating and remarkable history. Why was this oldest city in Italy and in Europe overlooked for so long?

Daniela Centonze

About the Speaker

Daniela Centonze studied at Pescara, “Gabriele D’Annunzio” University and then gained her Masters at the University of International Studies (UNINT) in Rome. She took part in the Erasmus Programme, spending six months studying in Russia. She is currently teaching English.

Daniela is a native of Matera and her family have lived there for generations. 


How to donate: If you’d like to make a donation of £5 towards the costs of the evening, please send your payment via BACS transfer to: the Friends of Ravenna (Barclays Bank) Sort code 20-20-62 a/c 73194604. Please put your name and ‘Matera’ in the reference area when you make the payment

If you prefer to pay by cheque Please send  it to ‘The Treasurer’, 9 Dolphin Court, Bognor Regis. PO21 1TP

Benvenuti Amici – A review of the October 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.

A Musical Christmas Celebration, Tuesday 5th December

Jon Grave, Jon Grave BMus (Hons), MA Tenor, Pianist, Director & Conductor

Tuesday 5 December 2023 at 7:30pm.

A Christmas Celebration with music

We look forward to welcoming all our friends to an evening of delightful Italian and English music and singing to celebrate Christmas, with a glass of wine and festive snacks during the evening.

Our Musical Guests

Jon Grave, Jon Grave BMus (Hons), MA Tenor, Pianist, Director & Conductor

Jon Grave. Tenor, Pianist, Director & Conductor, University of Chichester, accompanied by Kiera Smitheram-Roberts, Loula Weller, Carmen Kew, all highly accomplished musicians from the University of Chichester Conservatoire.

Described by Classic FM as ‘one impressive tenor’ with ‘something special in his beautiful voice’, Jon has performed for the Royal Family and in many world famous concert halls. Jon has lectured since 2009 at the University of Chichester Conservatoire in Italian, Opera & Operetta, Music Theatre, Acting for Film, Voice and as a Choral Director.

Kiera Smitheram-Roberts

Loula Weller

Carmen Kew







Kiera is a soprano, actor, saxophonist, and writer. She is also a trained music technician and music teacher. She works extensively in Cornish Academia, specialising in History, Culture, and Musicology.

Loula recently graduated from the University of Chichester Conservatoire, and is working towards a Masters in Music Teaching. She works within the Stroke Association’s Involve Network and is developing a study in the potential benefits of instrumental music playing as a form of neuro-rehabilitation. Her focus is the recovery of fine motor skills in people who have experienced stroke at a young age.

Carmen is a third-generation musician. Women in her family have been singing, plucking harps and fiddling about on violins since the early 1900s. Since moving to the United Kingdom from America, Carmen produced a ‘Melodies of the Great War’ concert in Storrington to coordinate with centennial celebrations.


Prices: £10 members and £12 for non-members

Va-Va-Voom: Personality and Practicality in Italian Transportation Design – 14th November 2023

Tuesday 14 November 2023 at 7:30pm.


Professor Greg Votolato will reflect on the brilliance of Italian design found in different modes of transport. 

When the words ‘Italian Design’ are capitalised in print, they typically refer to the world of stylish consumer goods, mostly those used in the home. Occasionally a car or scooter slips into the canon of products deemed to be great as do certain iconic buildings as architecture forms the basis of design education in Italy.

In this talk, Greg will focus on how the brilliance of Italian transportation design reflects those same traditional relationships between personality, practicality and the technological. 

Architect, curator, teacher and writer on design, technology and culture, currently Greg Votolato is Course Director at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 


Prices: £10 members and £12 for non-members

‘Blood and Power’ – Dr John Foot will reflect on the rise and fall of Italian Facism ‘. Tuesday 17 October 2023 at 7:30pm.


“Italy invented fascism. It was in Italy that the first fascist dictatorship took power in 1922. Without Mussolini, it is unlikely that there would have been Nazism, or World War Two. This talk looks at the rise of Italian fascism, the central role of violence in the movement, and the fall of the regime in 1943-1945”.

John is Professor of Modern Italian History at the University of Bristol, Department of Italian. He has published a number of books around Italian history, culture, politics and sport.


Prices: £10 members and £12 for non-members