Driving to Stansted trying to reassure them that all would be well, or more likely myself, by running through some basic Italian vocab, it dawned on me that the boot is now on the other foot. After thirty years of running AHA’s exceptional courses in Mediterranean civilisation, I find myself to be the anxious parent, as my children head off on one of our 2-week Summer Courses.

We have twins (Cosima and Atticus) and they will turn seventeen while the course is in Syracuse in Sicily.  Why should I be so agitated?  They are confident and they are travelling with two of AHA’s top tutors; Steve Nelson and Marie Naffah.  They are attending a Summer holiday course on which they will travel with twelve others to Naples (including a trip to the enchanting island of Ischia), then to Reggio Calabria, then to their first stop in Sicily at Messina, then Syracuse, Agrigento and Palermo over two weeks.

Will they lose their passport, their insurance, their money?  I have always cheerfully said to students in the past, “We will treat you as a young adult.” This is not a school trip, I would say. “Your passport is yours to look after, as is your money and your budget.” All of this seems scary to me now, but then I realise that thousands of students have been through this before and that occasionally when things do go wrong, experienced tutors are on hand to help with benign guidance and the knowledge that there is an office ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.


Most importantly, will they get it?  Will they understand why we have spent years building Art History Abroad’s unique brand of education? It is not based on exams but on enthusiasm, creativity and the study of culture, on site, in small tutorial groups with a youthful expert.  Will they contribute, will they be fun to teach, and will the light go on; that switch that makes curiosity exciting and the world of culture so much more than a dim landscape.  We are on trial here … will they get me?

I so hope that when I see them again, Cosima and Atticus will stand a little taller, have adventures to tell, ‘must-sees’ to relate and possess an enduring love of life and the visual world around them.

Watch this space for an update on their adventures in Italy … or follow us on Instagram to see glimpses of both our Southern Italy and Northern Italy courses.

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