Provincia di Pistoia Exchange 2017-18


Pupils from the senior stage to act as hosts for visitors from our twin school, Instituto Forti when they visit Motherwell in September.

If you would like to:

  • make friends with some Italian young pole
  • find out about Italisn culture
  • showcase our Scottish hospitality and culture
  • spend a week in the beautiful Italian countryside (optional)

then this is the job for you!!!!

For further information, contact the Modern Languages staff.


2015 Annual Italian Exchange Trip

Report by Rachel C

Our adventure started in an unfamiliar, foreign land. And no, I’m not talking about Pistoia- I’m talking about the grounds of Dalziel High School. On the 4th of February S6 pupils and one S5 pupil left behind the concrete jungle of Motherwell in search for more sprawling landscapes accompanied by Mrs Fitzpatrick. The trip was part of the annual exhange student trip which has been going on for 13 years. In the September of 2014 Scottish students at Our Lady’s High School welcomed visitors from Pistoia, and finally got to meet their Italian “twins”. Now it was our turn to see how the other half live.

After a 3 hour plane journey and a 4 hour bus journey, we arrived at our destination- not that we could see anything, it was pitch black outside. However the Hotel Ville Delle Rose where we would be staying for the next 7 days made up for the lack of visible scenery.

The next day we were (kind of) recharged and ready to reunite with our Italian twins. We visited their school like they visited ours and we finally had a chance to ogle at the landscape on the way there. Our Italian twins greeted us and brought us inside. We spent the morning dancing and singing and of course, eating. Later the Italians took us to a shopping centre for a few hours and then to one of the Italian’s houses to hang out.

After having the day to mingle with our Italians and settle in, it was time to do some sightseeing. Our first stop? Pisa! When we arrived we had the obviously had the chance to go up the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa (if you have a phobia of long, windy stairs I don’t recommend) and visit the Cathedral Piazza dei Miracoli and roam around the surrounding area and see what it had to offer. (Yes, I’m talking about food again.) That night we all went to a party hosted by one of our very hospitable Italian’s.

On the fourth day of our trip we went to the beautiful city of Florence. Florence is now easily one of my favourite cities. Fair enough most of the shops were out of my budget but the architecture was simply stunning! We visited the famous Ponte Vecchio which is built across the River Arno, and is the first bridge built in Florence. We also visited Piazza della Signoria, which contained many sculptures and statues including a copy of Michaelangelo’s “David”. But for me perhaps the most captivating sight was “Il Duomo”, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore- it was easily one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen in my life. At night we went to a karaoke bar called “Mago Bago” with the Italians.(You can bet that was a laugh considering half of us had sore throats and could barely talk.)

On day numero five we made a journey to Viareggio to attend the Carnavale di Viareggio. This was easily one of my favourite days, I have never witnessed anything like it. The point of the Carnavale is to poke fun at politicians and people in power, it is a satirical event. They do this by parading floats throughout the town. There are not only floats, but performers, music, food and a LOT of confetti. (I’m still finding it in my pockets) Whilst in Viareggio most of us also took up the opportunity to buy one of the famous Carnavale masks, as it is tradition. That night we ate dinner in the hotel.

We had an early rise the following morning, as that day we were heading to Venice. After the long bus journey and a short boat trip we were free to stretch our legs and roam the peculiar city. We spent the day exploring all the little nooks and crannies and browsing in the rather eccentric shops. Perhaps the highlight of my day in Venice was dinner. Not only was my first carbonara amazing, but it was accompanied by the live music of an accordion player- now that is a true Italian experience!

The end was looming near on day 7, and we used our last full day in Pescia to hang out with our Italian friends. We spent our last day like our first – in the school. In the morning we  experienced what Italian drama classes are like with a drama workshop. The workshop included a lot of fun – if not rather strange activities, I definitely deserved an Oscar after that class. We spent the next few hours being serenaded by our own Konner, Callum, Jack and two other very talented Italian students. After that we visited the quaint little town of Montecatini before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the farewell disco, where we ate pizza (of course) and the Italians showed us up with their dancing skills. (turns out the macerena doesn’t count…)

Day eight marked the final leg of our journey. We all knew this day was going to come, but we were just having too much fun to think about it. We met our Italian twins in the lobby after breakfast and not soon after the tears were flowing – and I MEAN flowing (knew I should have brought my water wings). We exchanged gifts and had the chance to take a few photos before heading outside with our luggage. We said our final goodbyes to our Italian friends, but for most of us, we knew it only meant, “Goodbye, for now.”  Now it was time to start on our long journey back to reality, but we left Italy on good terms, knowing that we would return.

The Italian exchange truly was a life changing experience, a once and a lifetime opportunity that I am so glad I took part in. We got to visit so many beautiful and exciting places, and we made true friends with some amazing people. It was a truly eye opening experience, and I would recommend that any upcoming fifth and six year students sign up, as it is a journey you will never forget.

Pistoia trip 2015

Report by Mrs Fitzpatrick

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In September we welcomed a group of 20 Italian students, accompanied by their teacher, to OLHS. The Italians love coming to Scotland and are always eager to return the great hospitality that they receive from us.

A group of senior pupils accompanied by Mrs Fitzpatrick have just returned from a fabulous week in Provincia of Pistoia in the beautiful region of Tuscany. We took part in a lot of activities which gave us a great insight into the Italian way of life!

Our diary was jampacked! We visited our twin school – Instituto Forti – and took part in a variety of lessons including, language, music and theatre. We became seasoned tourists, visiting the beautiful cities of Pisa and Florence. We climbed up the leaning tower and improved our haggling skills in the typical markets.

We were really lucky to be in Italy during Carnavale and got to experience two very different carnivals. On Sunday we spent the day in the coastal town of Viarregio and were awestruck by the fabulous floats. These include gigantic papier mache, moving puppets which depict a very satirical view of Italian and international politics. Everything here is good humoured with music and dancing and lots of people in fancy dress. On Monday we visited Venice and were able to get a glance of one of the oldest carnivals in the world. This is an altogether more elegant affair than Viareggio. Lots of people, including actors, local people and tourists stroll around the city dressed in costumes and masks that would be worn to a masked ball. We discovered that some of these costumes are generations old! We also had the chance to be serenaded by gondoliers.

On the last night we were treated to a feast of pizza and dancing. Of course, the real highlight of this kind of trip is the fabulous friendships that are forged and deepened with our Italian ‘twins’.

Thanks to Jack Divers for the photographs.

Click here for the pupil’s-eye view of the trip!

Italian exchange 2014-15

Pistoiavisitors5745Report from Mrs Fitzpatrick

Once again Our Lady’s welcomed visitors from their Italian twin school in Pistoia, Tuscany. Senior pupils and their families were hosts for sixteen students from the Istituto Forti situated in the spa town of Monsumano.

Our pupils did a fantastic job in demonstrating Scottish hospitality and introducing their guests to Scottish culture. They were served typical Scottish meals and even had a go at baking shortbread in school.

The weather was fantastic and the Italians had the opportunity to visit Glasgow, Edinburgh,Stirling and Loch Lomond; they were entranced by the beautiful scenery and the friendliness of the people. The entertainment, too, was second to none, including a disco and farewell ceilidh.

We are now looking forward to planning our return visit to Italy in February.

Pistoia 2014

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Report by NG

From 5th-12th February, 5th and 6th years participated in an exchange trip with students from an Italian high school in Pistoia. We went with Mrs Fitzpatrick to visit our Italian twins who had previously visited us in September ’13. We were in Italy for 5 days, during which we visited the Italians’ school, the towns of Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Venice, and got to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa Cathedral, St Peter’s Square and Florence Cathedral. We also celebrated Liam’s 16th birthday during the trip.

It was a great experience which we all really enjoyed!

Italian visitors 2011

For the 10th year, Our Lady’s pupils hosted visitors from the province of Pistoia in Tuscany, along with other Motherwell schools, bringing over 90 Italian teenagers to North Lanarkshire.

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OLHS hosts brought their guests along to learn how to make shortbread with Mrs Zambonini and Mrs Stemplis.

The visitors were given a flavour of Scottish hospitality and culture, with trips to the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, along with a ceilidh at Dalziel HS and a disco at Our Lady’s.

Visitors from Pistoia

Our Italian visitors have returned to Tuscany full of their Scottish experiences. Their enthusiasm for Scotland was so huge, they even bought kilts!

The group and their Motherwell twins enjoyed making shortbread and visits to St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our Lifestyle Development Faculty taught them the Dashing White Sergeant and other Scottish dances, which they were able to put into practice at an evening ceilidh, while they showed off some Italian moves at a disco the following night.

One entire day was devoted to Language activities, with 6th year pupils acting as facilitators. Games included identifying Scottish places from photographs, pass the parcel (with forfeits), and a European quiz. The guests also learned some local banter, as they tried to match Scots and English phrases e.g. “Be quiet” and “Haud yer wheesht”.

Everyone is looking forward to meeting again in Italy next year.

Italian shortbread

Our visitors from Tuscany had a treat on Tuesday when they learned how to make shortbread, courtesy of Mrs Zambonini (with much appreciated input from Mrs Stemplis and Mrs Flanagan).

Mrs Zambonini precisely measures the sugar for her shortbread.

Mrs Zambonini precisely measures the sugar for her shortbread - about a wooden spoonful.

Matteo and his shortbread

Matteo - very proud of his baking.

The Italian pupils had a lot of fun and were extremely proud of their creations which were beautifully wrapped in cellophane and tied with a lovely wee tartan ribbon.

In fact, they were so chuffed that Mrs Zambonini even received an impromptu Italian song as thanks!

“Grazie, grazie, Signora Zambonini” (Translation available from Mrs Fitzpatrick.)

Pistoia visitors

Plans are well under way to welcome our latest group from Pistoia, Tuscany.

Eighteen Italian pupils are being hosted by senior pupils and will enjoy a range of cultural, language and social activities, including visits to Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews, with discos and a ceilidh. One whole day is being devoted to language.

Pupils from Our Lady’s will return to Pistoia in February.

Visitors from Pescia

In connection with other North Lanarkshire schools, Our Lady’s pupils hosted a group of Italian students again as part of our annual exchange programme. The Italians come from the beautiful town of Pescia in Tuscany. The OLHS group chose to go bowling as a fun way to get to know each other.

A special lunch was laid on to welcome our guests in OLHS on Wednesday, where our Italian visitors also took part in classes, shadowing their Scottish hosts. A fabulous ceilidh was held in the evening, with everybody getting involved with the dancing.

The Italians and Scots took separate paths for most of Thursday, but met up again in small groups after school for various activities including informal tours around Glasgow, going out to dinner and even visiting Celtic Park.

Finally on Friday night, OLHS hosted a disco, which was agreed to be a fantastic end to the week, before tearful farewells took our guests back home.

More information about last year’s fabulous trip to Pescia can be found here.

Pistoia exchange

Once again 5th year pupils from Our Lady’s High School have returned from a wonderful exchange visit to Italy, taking part in the annual North Lanarkshire schools visit to the Province of Pistoia in Tuscany.

Pupils, accompanied by Mrs. Mary McKeown, Principal Teacher Modern Languages, had the opportunity to spend time with Italian families, and enjoyed their hospitality, discovering many new ways to eat pasta.

We also enjoyed two days in our partner school, the Istituto Forti in Monsummano where we learned a little Italian and helped Italian students with their English, with the help of Paolo Nutini.

A highlight was an afternoon of song and dance with Italian students and students from Clyde Valley High School. The chorus of ‘Volare’ from all the Italians and Scots certainly raised the roof and everyone left their inhibitions behind to join in the dance class. Global Citizenship in action! Molto bene!

Everyone enjoyed the visits to Florence and Siena as well as the colourful extravanga of the carnevale in Viareggio, with more than a few Scottish saltires on display.

As well as gaining in confidence through linguistic and cultural insights, we also strengthened links with our fellow exchange students from Dalziel and Clyde Valley High Schools. All three schools are now starting the preparation for the return visit of the Italians in September.