In October 2023, I had the pleasure of staying with Sira for a one-week homestay. I was apprehensive at the prospect of my first solo trip and the idea of staying with a complete stranger but, from the moment she met me at the railway station she made me feel welcome and, by the end of my first day, I felt like I was staying with a friend. The accommodation that Sira offers is wonderful, a private bedroom and bathroom, very cozy and comfortable. The medieval town of Sarzana is beautiful and within easy reach of Pisa airport by direct train.
I had previously had some 1:1 lessons with Sira back in 2021, but also had an assessment prior to my stay to enable Sira to know my current level of Italian. The course was then tailored to my specific needs and interests. Even though the weather was truly awful while I was there, Sira made sure that we were able to do all of the things that we had planned, including a visit to the marble quarries in Carrara, visits to San Terenzo, Lerici and Tellaro as well as going up into the hills to visit the medieval village of Montemarcello. On the day that rain really did stop play, we went to the market for ingredients to cook traditional dishes of Torta d’erbe and Tiramisu, which we then ate while entertaining one of Sira’s friends.
Sira was very intuitive and knew what I needed for me to move forward in my Italian learning journey before I did. She quickly realised my struggle to keep up and understand, when listening to spoken Italian, and that it affected my confidence. She immediately suggested a way for me let her know that I needed her to stop, to enable me to process what was being said, before we continued with the conversation. Something which helped me immensely. “Cosa stai dicendo”, Sira!!
Each day began with a more formal lesson based on what we had done the previous day, this may have been at the kitchen table or on occasion when we went to ’il bar’ for caffè and croissant. It wasn’t just during the lessons that I was learning, it was continuous. During conversations at breakfast, lunch and our evening meal, while in the car or on the occasions when I met Sira’s friends. Being constantly immersed in the sounds of the Italian language was a great way to learn.
I have visited the Liguria region many times before, but to experience the area with someone who was able to tell me about the history of the villages, the Italian culture and way of life was amazing.
If you are looking for a total immersion into Italian life, with someone that is truly dedicated to teaching, VERY patient and a lot of fun, then an Italian Homestay with Sira Gheller is definitely for you.
Grazie Mille Sira, Mucca and Briciola for a wonderful week that I will never forget. You are a truly lovely person and I was genuinely sad to leave. You quickly became a special friend and I hope I will be able to visit again in the not-too-distant future.

Debra W. – U.K. – (October 2023)