Sira’s experience as a language teacher of many years was very evident. She had an expertise in how language works and was able, throughout, to make interesting observations about how Italian operates as a language. I also enjoyed her explanations of aspects of Italian culture / politics. She was very organised and had prepared a varied and interesting selection of things… for me to do, which included some challenging and thoroughly enjoyable work on works by de André, each of them very different types of text, presenting different challenges. This is very much the kind of exercise I enjoy. Also a challenge – but very good for me, given my particular needs (I find it hard to hear what is being said sometimes) – was listening every morning to the news and explaining the different items. Sira is a very special teacher. Sira was incredibly hospitable, encouraging and friendly. She had also organised several experiences (trips out, dinner with friends etc), designed to expose me to other people’s spoken Italian. All her friends were lovely too. I had a lovely lunch every day, each thing something typical of the area. All in all, the home stay in Sarzana could not have been a better experience.