The Puglia Diaries

The thrills and spills of a British Council Language Assistant in Molfetta, Italy

Prepare yourself, Puglia

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In one week, my year abroad will finally begin. After months of telling friends, family and strangers what I will be doing, I am going to actually start doing it: I will move to Molfetta, a coastal town in Puglia. On the 1st of October, I start my British Council Language Assistantship at an Istituto Tecnico, a vocational technical secondary school.

So before I start worrying about my role as a teaching assistant, what am I looking forward to about life in Molfetta?


Living by the sea

Judging from photos and a few awkward attempts at Google Street View, Molfetta is a proper Italian town. With its ubiquitous green shutters, intertwined alleyways and the impressive Duomo right on the water’s edge, it seems to promise eternal summer and lots of fresh sea air. I can picture myself riding about on an old bicycle and never getting bored of the bright blue Adriatic. Cue the classic Italian guitar track.

Meeting new people

On my arrival in Molfetta, I will be lodging with the vice-president of the secondary school. It was my top goal to live with Italians and luckily for me, I have avoided the hassle of an accommodation search and instantly got a link with the locals. As well as experiencing the community of Molfetta, I am also in close reach of the student hub Bari, so I’ll have somewhere to go in search of shops and urban scenery.


I have never been to the South of Italy, let alone Puglia, so this will be an opportunity to explore. I could start with the highlights of the area: the Baroque city of Lecce and the famous Valle d’Itria, with its little houses called trulli with conical roofs. Will they be conical and comical? We shall see.


I’m going to pretend that food isn’t the top thing I look forward to. But I have heard such raving about the pasta, seafood and fresh vegetables on offer in Puglia that I believe I might have gone up a dress size by the time I get back to Leeds. Apparently the typical pasta shape of the region is orecchiette, meaning small ears. Lovely!


Improving my Italian

So far at university I have managed to get by on good written work and the occasional timid oral presentation, but not next year! My first assignment is to telephone the school to make sure they know I’m coming. This already scares me. But I will have to get used to total immersion from my first week dealing with banking, telephone contracts and other administrative thrills. I have a feeling that progress will be inevitable!

My friends are already far-flung, having already begun their adventures in France, Spain, Germany, Canada and Wales, so now it is my turn to embark on my year abroad. Let the final countdown begin.


Author: Elly Cooke

Recent graduate of English Literature and Italian from the University of Leeds. Book lover and part-time Italian speaker.

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