One of the first things most people think of when visiting Italy is the landmarks in the cities like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Rome, yet they don’t choose to venture to other parts of the country.
We chose to visit a place near the border of France and Switzerland, called Villeneuve; which is a small town in the Aosta valley region in Northwestern Italy.
Friday 4th August: TRAVEL DAY
We set out from Norfolk on Friday 4th for a 24 hour coach journey. Although this seems a long journey the company and films got us through and it was worth it as when we reached Acorn Adventure, it was nearly 40C and the views were stunning!
Saturday 5th August: ARRIVAL DAY
We had a tour of the site we were staying at for the next week and it was nice to see that other scout groups from the UK were staying on site (one which was considerably larger- about 60 people!). To cool off, we walked down to the local swimming pool, having some fun in the sun! Afterwards we tried out the famous gelato at the local ice cream parlour!
Sunday 6th August: LAKE DAY
Sunday showed us the wonders of the water, with kayaking, paddle boarding and rafting during the day. Luckily, it stayed rather sunny throughout! In the evening, we all participated in the high ropes course!
In the evening, we all did the high ropes course and we had to clip ourselves into the different parts e.g. zipwire! The closest thing that you could compare it to is Go Ape in the UK.
Monday 7th August: MOUNTAIN DAY
This was the day we visited Gran Paradiso National Park, and abseiled and bouldered to our hearts content, then climbed and conquered the hike up Mount Paradiso. Although it was tough, it was well worth the view once we’d peaked!
Tuesday 8th August: EXCURSIONS!
This was the day we travelled to Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc)- the 8th wonder in the world! This is where 6 of us on the trip officially became Network Scouts. The Scout Network is the fifth and final section of the Scouting movement, aged 18-25 and they undertake activities which they plan themselves and have fun! (To find out more about Scouting and Network, click here!)
To get from the bottom to the viewing point, we had to take two cable cars and these did 360 rotations. However, it became stormy and therefore we had to wait for it to calm down
We also visited the main town in the region called Aosta, where we were tourists to the max, taking pictures and purchasing souvenirs!
Wednesday 9th August: WHITE WATER RAFT DAY!
We went to Dora Baltea river on boats to test the white water and have some fun! It was a truly unbelievable experience and I would definitely do it again (even if I did get cramp in my foot several times!). We had two sessions of white water; one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with lunch in the middle! The first of the two sessions was more laid back, as we got used to the water and then in the afternoon, we made our way into stronger white water!
I think everyone’s favourite quote from this day of the trip has to be…
“Oh look it’s a floating rock!” – Katie
In the evening, after having some food, we took part in an activity called Nightline! Before we actually attempted the course, we were made to deal with some trust activities which included making animal noises and crawling around on an open field to find our shoes, which was probably quite funny for the people watching. Then we walked around the Acorn site in a follow-the-leader style line with blindfolds on following a clapping noise to direct us, and got a tad wet in the process (as of course people found it funny to chuck masses of water over us and down the backs of our jumpers and t-shirts!).
After this, we finally completed the Nightline course, which was basically rope tied round trees and there were obstacles, which as a team we had to avoid. The whole point of this exercise was to improve our communication and teamwork skills- however I think this was debatable with our team, as half of the team finished way before the others and didn’t help us out!
Thursday 10th August: MOUNTAIN DAY 2
We travelled to the Cogne mountain area by coach, this time though our day consisted of climbing. Unfortunately due to the weather; rainy and miserable, the water level had risen tremendously and therefore it was too high and was not safe for us to gorge scramble. But it gave us all the chance to watch a waterfall in full force and watch debris move down to the source of the river. Therefore, squeeze was also extremely wet and muddy and this meant we couldn’t attempt it either!
Luckily though, despite the weather, we got more time to climb the rock faces. I appreciated this as I’m an avid climber when I have time to climb in my busy schedule and it meant that I could properly experience real life climbing, and in a foreign country. What an experience!
Dinner time called us and we went to a local pizzeria, which served all you can eat pizza! One of the pizzas we had was chip pizza and there was also nutella pizza; I wasn’t a fan of this sweet pizza as I’m not someone who likes nuts!
A few of the network scouts headed to the local bar to say goodbye to the bartender and then we headed off to a wine festival to experience some culture. There was traditional dancing, birds of prey, archery and of course, you guessed it, wine tasting! Although it wasn’t quite our kind of drink, we had a laugh nevertheless and it was a good last night in Italy!
Friday 11th August: CASTLE AND DEPARTURE DAY!
This was the day we climbed up the hill up to the cemetery and Villeneuve Castle. As always, the views were picturesque! We popped in a local shop for a few last minute souvenirs and then on the coach we went again, this time back to the UK!
On the way through France, we tasted the French take on McDonalds! I had a McFish and they do it right in my opinion with ketchup instead of tartare haha!
Saturday 12th August: SLEEP DAY!
We arrived at Dunkirk about 2:30am and then went through border control an hour later! (Obviously this wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea- a bit early you could say!) After the ferry, we embarked a long 5hr journey from Dover to Dereham! Safe to say most people were shattered by this point and their bed was their first port of call when we got back!
Although I didn’t get hardly any sleep on the journey back (probably 1/2hrs) it was worth it as it was a fantastic well organised trip enjoyed by all! I’d definitely recommend visiting the region, as you learn a lot culturally and can be as adventurous as you wish- there’s something for everyone.