British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
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British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023

  • Joined Feb 2021
  • Published Books 2
Winter Competition 2022/2023
In December 2022 the 22nd Football World Cup took place in Qatar.
During the following weeks, our teachers included activities and tasks in their lessons to celebrate the cultures of the countries that took part.
Early Years – Created a scarf to keep Timmy and his friends warm in the winter.
Lower Primary – Created a fact file for a country. It had to include the flag, the national dish, the capital city and three interesting facts.
Higher Primary & Lower Secondary –  created a storyboard or comic about a chosen country. Using story techniques or celebrating the country with facts.
Upper Secondary – Created a short story based on a country of their choosing and inspired by a short story presented in the lesson.


In the following pages you will find a glorious range of art, stories and facts about the countries that played a part on the 22nd World Cup. We hope you enjoy seeing these works as much as we did.
On behalf of the British Council we would like to extend a thank you to you the parents whose continued support outside of the classroom ensures that our learners get a fully integrated experience.
  1. Early Years


  1. Lower Primary – Notable entries


  1. Lower Primary – Runners up


  1. Lower Primary – Winners


  1. Higher Primary & Lower Secondary – Notable entries


  1. Higher Primary & Lower Secondary – Runners up


  1. Higher Primary & Lower Secondary – Winners


  1. Secondary B1+-Notable entries


  1. Secondary B1+ – Runners up


  1. Secondary B1+ – Winners


  1. Winners Photos







Early Years

British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Lower Primary

Notable Entries


Niccolò Lausetti

Thehan Dulnim Phillipsz

Mia Sermoneta

Francesca di Marzio

Sofia Boccalatte

Alice D’Anda

Oliver Bozza

British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Lower Primary

Runners Up

British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Lower Primary


British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -


Upper Primary & Lower Secondary

Notable Entries

Shenuki Rashell

Mattia Tamma

Tommaso Schenetti

Ayodya Rajapaksha Mudiyanselage

Jomana Essam Abdelkhalek Gafar

Anit Cirulli

Luca Bruzzese

Gabriele Guadagnuolo

Anna Maria Pane

Giorgia Manzo, Matilde Fioretti and Raffaele Volto

British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Upper Primary & Lower Secondary

Runners Up

SayumiDe Silva Runner up Milan
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Upper Primary & Lower Secondary


British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -

Secondary B1+

Notable Entries


Andrea Barcone

LSB1.1, Rome


In Spain lived three teenagers, their names were Ana, Pablo and Alejandro.

Alejandro was brave and intelligent. Ana was polite and kind, but she was also shy. Pablo was helpful and generous; his parents were very rich and he lived in a huge house with a big swimming pool.

The story starts with Pablo’s birthday.

At the beginning it was a normal day, but when Pablo became to home, he found a letter from his parents. The letter said: “Dear Pablo, we are staying  outside for this week, we are going in England for work. We leave this map for you and this is the gift of your grandfather Francisco for your 16 years. If you cooperate with Ana and Alejandro you can live a beautiful adventure and find a treasure. Good Luck. Mum and Daddy”.

Pablo called his friends and they together tried to understand the clues in the map. Alejandro understood that they needed a key to open the treasure chest, so they went in Barcelona the city indicated in the map.

They followed the map and arrived in a ballroom where there was a flamenco competition, and the first prize was the key. Alejandro and Pablo were not able to dance but Ana loved dancing and so she wore a flamenco’s dress, danced and she won the first prize.

On the top of the key, there was a strange word “Sturgeon”. Pablo knew that they is a typical Spanish fish and that the major farm of sturgeons was in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Balearic Islands.

In the farm they found another map that showed a red cross near Plaza del Sol in Madrid. So, the friends went in Madrid, and they discovered that around Plaza del Sol there was a sundial. At the centre of the sundial, they dug and found the chest. They opened the padlock with the kay and in chest there were diamantes and jewellery.

At the ending Pablo’s parents returned to home were very surprise that Pablo and his friends were able to find the treasure that a old uncle of Francisco had hidden many years ago and no member of the family had ever been able to recover it.

To celebrate the adventure and the found treasure, they went to a famous restaurant, and they ate paellas, tortillas and other delicious foods.




Pierluigi Frontoni

USC2, Rome


The last day of the President 


Much of the content is based on historic events, including names and characters, but most other aspects are fictionalized and just a figment of my own imagination. 


“One day, dear son, this shall be yours” Getulio Vargas told his beloved son, probably his favorite, Lutero. It was the evening of the 23rd of August 1964 and the day after, the longest serving President of Brazil, Getulio Vargas, would have shot himself in his chest, committing suicide. Lutero would have never thought of such a tragic ending to his father’s political life.  

Looking at the roofs of Rio de Janeiro, misty-eyed and holding a pipe with his lips, Getulio Vargas profoundly declared: “Serenely, I take my first step on the road to eternity. I leave life to enter History.” So sad! So lonely! and Lutero understood it! He knew that something bad was afoot “Maybe” he thought “tomorrow I can surprise him and help him to smile as he used to, one last time”. 


And so, the morning after, Lutero and Henrique, a friend of his, got on their bikes and looked for something that could cheer up the President. “I say he sees no more light in life” said Henri “I suggest we bring him a toucan or at least some hummingbirds, there’s plenty of them here, look!” and he pointed at a flock of colorful hummingbirds. “Now I know why my father dedicated his life to this country: only in Brazil can you find these wonderful creatures!” They climbed a tree and caught two of them with a net. But after hours of wandering they started thinking they could not find other things that could be useful, until… “Oh look over there, is she who I think she is?” “Of course she is, how could you even doubt it!” and there she was, gorgeous, fascinating, mysterious and joyful at the same time, the well-known and never-aged Tropicalia icon, the one and only, Carmen Miranda, wearing one of her unique baiana dresses. The two boys looked at each other and immediately ran towards her “Miss. Miranda! Miss. Miranda!” The lady was buying some food at the market “Who are you, cheeky boys, what do you want?” “We want you!” screamed Lutero and briefly explained to her the situation crying for her help “My father is a huge fan of yours, could you just come and cheer him up with one of your shows this evening?” “Not until I have eaten and prepared my Feijoada” and she laughed, but then added “Of course I’ll come, and maybe I’ll also bring with me a dish of Feijoada, it will be delicious: the dinner of the President!” and went away singing and laughing. 


Eventually, evening came. At dinner the atmosphere at the Catete Palace was heavy, the lights were low and the President had remained all day in his office, working or pretending to. But Lutero had prepared everything: “When I say go, you enter in the dining room with the hummingbirds in your hands, then you start dancing and, whenever you want, you let the birds go out of your grip and fly. During your performance we will eat the delicious Feijoada and, when you finish, we’ll clap and laugh, honoring and celebrating you.” 


The event went well, everything was perfect and Lutero, closely watching his father’s expression all the time lately said: “I knew I could not solve his problems, but at least I believe that evening he understood he could go in peace.” 

Bravo Carmen! Bravo!” shouted Vargas at last. 


Eletra Lucchelli

B2.2 Milan


The Ships


It was a normal day when they arrived. Normal as the sea that brought them to us, as a sadistic gift. And even if it’s been so long since that day, I can still remember quite well what happened before, during and after their arrival.

I was nothing more than a kid when those weird people arrived. They said that it was 1512 or 1513, but we, the noble Charruas, were extremely different from those people. They didn’t know how to call our country, and they used to talk about far lands, that they called home. They spoke a weird language and they called it something like Portuguese, but I’ve never really care about their culture. They destroyed ours, why would I care about theirs?

They didn’t like our way of clothing, but they didn’t try to change that. After all, I don’t think that in “Europe” (or whatever they call that piece of land) they had such a good taste in clothing. We were simple, they said, but when I looked at those Portuguese and Spanish strangers (they called theirselves “conquistadores”) I couldn’t help laughing, because it seemed like they had on their heads some kind of bird, like a lapwing or a parrot, or even that weird and big pink bird that I’ve seen only once in my life.

Anyways, they didn’t like anything about us. They brought their cultures and forced it in our territories, just to make happy some kind of european king. And just because we lived a more “simple” life (they used to call it  “ancient” and “unevolved”), they thought we had no reason to live. They founded cities, because apparently “evolved” people don’t need to go around to survive, and they’re planning on building a city with a Spanish name, I think it’s Montevideo.

So many years went by. Your grandma is here to tell you what happened in those fearful years in your country the glorious Huruguay. Now you can go to sleep, because the ships will go away, in a day as normal as the day they arrived. And we will continue to hope that.



Paolo Cattaruzza

B2.2 Milan


One day in June Francois and other two of his friends were talking about their summer holidays. Each of them wished to do a trip all together and they started to share some ideas. In that moment Francois had an idea that proposed immediately to his friends. Doing a trip in Barcelona and see a bullfight. All the friends were interested and they immediately started to plan the travel. They planned that during the first day and the following morning they would visit the city and in the afternoon of the second day, they would see the bullfight.

One week later they started their trip in Barcelona, they went to the city by car. Immediately they visited the Sagrada Familia and they felt it very amazing for its height and for the decorations inside and outside the Cathedral. They also liked the stained glass that, with the sunlight, do exciting colour effects inside the cathedral. They also went upon the spiers and they saw all the city from above and they admired the view. Next, they visited la Rambla the most important street in Barcelona. So they stopped at Mercat La Buoqueria, that is situated along the Rambla, for having lunch. There they ate a delicious paella. In the afternoon they went to the Park Guell that was a park designed by Gaudì. It was full of plants and beautiful buildings decorated with coloured mosaics. In this place they felt very relaxed and in contact with the nature. The next day they first visit the Casa Batllo that was designed by Gaudì too. For the project this architect took inspiration from the sea environmental, this house is very lightful and smart, from dark blue of the deep water up to the light colours of the sea surface, everyone of the friends was interested in visiting it. After a break at the harbour, they went to the Arenas The Barcelona. There they attended the show, it was very impressive and crueller that they expected. In the arena there were also a lot of dancers dressed with the typical flamenco dress and there were a lot of bullfighters that fought each one with a bull at a time. They enjoyed it but after they felt little bit sad because a lot of bulls passed away only for the show.

When they returned home they were very happy because the trip was very interesting and enjoying. They promised each other to do an other travel like this in future, knowing that this they will never forgot.


Juliya Fernando

LSB2.2, Naples


The Haunted Halloween 


So, before I start my story, let me share something about me with you. I am Amy Gomez, and I live in a small village called Transylvania in Romania with my mom and my granny. About my father, I haven’t seen him in six years. I last saw him on my 10th birthday. My best friend is Penny, and she lives right across the street. Our friendship began in our childhood. We go to the same school and we are in the same class. My original nationality is not Romanian. I am American, but when I was seven we moved to Romania because my granny lived there. So, I am going to tell you about something that happened to us four years ago. 


It’s almost the end of October. Like every year the village council had decided to put together a Halloween carnival. Every year I went there with Penny and our parents. Unfortunately, this year we couldn’t go because our parents had to go out of town for business. They let us stay with my granny.  


That year we wanted to go to that carnival, because, unlike every year, they had planned a haunted adventure for the first time. My granny was too old to participate in our adventurous activities. As a consequence, this year we couldn’t go. “Oh no, how terrible!”. I felt like I lump in my throat. However, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I tried to find a way to this struggle. The days passed. I thought… thought… thought. Finally, I found a trick. It was, 


Every Friday afternoon we had basketball practice. That Friday was the 31st of October 2018, so it was just the day to go to that carnival. Penny and I would leave the house but not for the practice. Oops! We skipped the practice and went to the carnival. We sent an email to our coach saying that we wouldn’t be able to participate that Friday. My granny doesn’t like modern technology, so she never even checked her phone. The plan went smoothly. But then we came across a problem.  


We lived in a small town where everyone was friendly. So, we had to come up with an idea in order not to be recognised. We wore completely black clothes and a mask! We reached the main gate to enter the carnival. When we were about to enter a guard stopped us and showed the notice board beside us. According to that, children who are 13 or above could come there alone. We looked at each other. When I was about to say something Penny said “we are 13”. I don’t like telling lies but at that moment I felt like it was the right thing to do. 


The carnival was so spooky that year that I thought the decorations of spiders and witches were real. There were so many colourful lights and gigantic weird pumpkins everywhere. I felt like those pumpkins were laughing at us. Everyone was dressed up as witches, zombies, vampires and even werewolves. We could see the Bran castle, also known as Dracula’s castle, beyond the range of the Carpathian mountains. It blended with the theme of that night so well that it looked like a part of the festival.  


Penny and I were hungry because we hadn’t eaten anything since that morning. We saw a lady who was selling “sarmale”, a typical dish of Romania made with rolled cabbages. We had enough money to buy two portions and it was so mouth-watering… “Yummy.” 



Then we entered the haunted house. It was SO SCARY inside. By the second we entered, we changed our minds. It was too petrifying, so we turned back to run away, but it was too late. The men outside had already shut the doors. We panicked, but there was only one way out. We had to go through the whole house. “OMG,” I howled.  


A zombie appeared out of nowhere. I slipped and found myself inside a cupboard with loads of spider webs. Fortunately, Penny was there as my saviour. Then something slimy flowed through the roof. It smelled like blood. “So disgusting!” 


We nearly had a panic attack but continued to walk. There was a statue of a lynx staring at us. Then a werewolf started to chase us. We ran and ran until we reached a door. We thought that it was the exit, and entered. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. We missed the werewolf, but there was a ghost inside it. At that point, we couldn’t take it anymore and we fainted.  


A few minutes later we woke up and found ourselves laying on a bed. There was a pretty lady next to us. She was dressed up as a ghost to scare people. She gave us some water and asked about our parents. She listened to everything that we said and sighed. Then she explained to us the importance of obeying adults because they know the BEST for us.  


We begged her not to call our parents. She made us promise to never ignore an adult’s advice and told us to go straightly home. We were covered in dirt, so she gave us two chemises to wear. We thanked her and went home, and found my granny sleeping on the couch. She had no idea about what happened. We went to my room and determined not to ignore the elders’ advice. 


So, in this year’s competition “ The best adventure of my life”, I decided to write about this, because, that day I learned a very valuable lesson, “ALWAYS LISTEN TO ADULTS” because they have the best experience. 


Guess what! I won the first prize for the best story in our school. That day for the first time we told our parents and my granny about what happened. At first, our parents were angry, but then they smiled and said, “ everyone learns from the experience”. Then my granny called us to the kitchen and said that our parents used to do such adventurous things. Finally, we were so happy to tell them the truth about what happened that day because it felt so relieving to take out such a warden from our hearts. Penny and I looked at each other and smiled. Then we took our bags and left the house for a fresh adventure. We looked up, garish clouds were scattered across the orange sky. What will happen next??? 


Strange thing, it was the 31st of October 2022. 


Sofia Xinya Di Febbo, Lavinia Vitiello

Advanced, Naples


The Amazing Escape

As soon as Lupe heard the police sirens she started to run. She went upstairs trying to get rid of the police, but it didn’t work. So she decided to go on the bank’s roof. From there, Lupe could see all the city, Barcelona. It was enchanting and for a moment she stood still, amazed by the colorful sight, but she had no time for staring. The police were after her. Lupe looked around trying to find an efficient way to escape, but she couldn’t come up with anything useful. Suddenly she had a foolish idea: she jumped off the building. It was a spontaneous and insane decision, but she felt like she had no choice.


Afterwards, she was walking down the main street, La Rambla, like nothing happened. The city was full of tourists and it had been very easy to deceive the cops. She was going to the agreed place to meet her partner when she noticed something very concerning. There was a wanted notice with her face hanging on a tree and there were others all over the city. Lupe had to cover her face and she had to do it as soon as possible. She spotted a stall of clothes not far from her and decided to get closer. It had thousands of wonderful clothes, but only one particularly drew her attention. It was a black matador suit embroidered in gold. She spent the next five minutes admiring the suit when she reminded herself there was no time for shopping. Lupe grabbed a mantilla, covered her head and ran away.


She continued to escape walking through the most crowded street where there were different kinds of flea markets. She was exhausted and the hunger was driving her crazy. While she was running she was surrounded by a delicious and savory smell of paella. “It has to be lunch time and I didn’t eat anything” she thought desperately. Suddenly she saw a stall serving churros, a typical fried sweet. She came close to it and she silently stole a churro. The stall’s owner didn’t notice her, however everyone was staring at her with a surprised glance, thus Lupe ran as fast as she could in order to escape to a hidden place.


Lupe managed to escape in the crowd and she started to walk again to reach the agreed place to meet her partner. The flat was on the street opposite to Sagrada Familia, however she had no clue where it was. After hours of pointless walking, Lupe decided to stop someone to ask directions. She met a very nice guy, named Alejandro, who was willing to help her. He was explaining how to reach the Sagrada Familia when he realized she was the girl from the wanted notice. Lupe started to run before he could call the police following the directions he gave her. She arrived at the agreed place and while she was getting into the building all of sudden a herd of bulls came out of nowhere and blocked her way. Lupe was frustrated, now she had to find out how to get inside.


Lupe entered through the window, but there was no one in the flat and the light was off. Suddenly she felt a knife to her throat and a very low familiar voice whispered in her ear: “You’re late, love”. She smiled and turned around to face her boyfriend “A lady is never late” she said smiling. He smiled back “Did you succeed?” he asked while playing with her hair “Of course I did. The money is in the bag” she answered and then he leaned down to kiss her softly. “You’re amaz-” he started to say, but he was interrupted by a heavy knock on the door “POLICE! OPEN UP!” a husky voice shouted. “Oh God! We’re doomed” I exclaimed.


“And then, what happened mum?” my daughter asked me excitedly, “I guess you have to wait until tomorrow to know, darling. Now for you it’s bedtime.” I answered leaning down to kiss her on the forehead. “Goodnight mommy” she said yawning “Goodnight honey” I replied, closing her door. “She wanted a bedtime story?” my husband asked me and I nodded “Always the same one” I said. My daughter loves that story. It’s her favorite one. Perhaps one day I will tell her the truth, I will tell her this isn’t just a story for me. Or maybe I won’t


Luigi D’apice

C1.1 Milan



I wake up in my bedroom, it’s a normal sunny march day like many others, except for the fact it is my birthday. Today I, Zoran, finally turn seventeen and most of all, today it’s the most important day of the year: there’s Partizan vs Red Star. Moreover it’s first vs second ranked and we’re only two points apart, we can win and get to the top of the leaderboard. This match isn’t like other derbies, it’s more like in or out, live or die. In this day all the city of Belgrade stops and watch the most important event of the year.

After all, my dad 2 months ago finished his warning that excluded him from going to the stadium for 5 years and as a present he bought 2 tickets for today’s match. I’m over the moon, it’s the first time I go to the stadium with my dad because before he said I was too young. The game starts at 12:30 and i’m waiting for my dad to come and take me. It’s since I was five that my parents are divorced, my mum didn’t share my dad’s lifestyle. He was part of a Partizan ultras group and during the Yugoslavian wars he took part as a member of a far right  paramilitary group. But he decided to change radically and now he’s a completely new person.

The bell rings, it’s him, I run to hug him, I go to the bedroom to bring a Partizan scarf and we go to the bus station. I’m so excited that every minute of waiting looks like an eternity, but finally we take off the bus. Around the city the atmosphere is stunning; everyone wears a Partizan garment and everyone is happy. A lot of street artists in Dr Milutina Ivkovica, the street in front of the stadium, take advantage of all these people to make money. There are also some women who are dancing some typical dance wearing fistan, a typical serbian dress. We arrive in front of the stadium and we decide to eat a bite; we go for a dorcolac, a typical serbian sandwich.

Finally we enter 30 minutes before the game starts, so we can watch the players warm up and enjoy the atmosphere. The stadium is completely full, everywhere you turn you see black shirts and people waving their scarves. Just a small part of the stadium beside one of the two football goals is red and hosts Red Stars fans. Even if they are way less they’re very loud, but we are on another level of cheering.

The game starts, it’s very fought and tough for both sides. In the stands ultras switch on torches, pyrotechnic material and start different fires to challenge the police. Meanwhile on the pitch Partizan take the lead with a brilliant goal by Pavolvic. Partizan Stadium explodes with happiness. This is the best day of my life. At the end of the first half the score is still 1-0 for us but everyone expects a very suffered second half. After just a couple of minutes, Red Star scores and fifteen minutes after, they score their second and last goal of the match.

The game finishes, I’m quite disappointed because of the defeat, but I experienced a magnificent match and a moment with my dad. We leave the stadium and we see in front of the stadium some clashes between Partizan fans and Red Star ones. My dad tries to get far from the accidents but then one of his old friends comes to him and says that some Red Star ultras were hitting the members of his old group. He doesn’t know if he should intervene or not, but at the end he decides that the best thing to do is to go and beat up the others. When we arrive in the melee my dad immediately takes 2 men and punches them to the ground. I haven’t taken part in a clash of this intensity before, so I’m not very good. I accidentally walk away from my dad and I move to the police. The police is trying to control the confrontation with truncheons and tear gas, but one of them, probably panicked, shoots twice, once in the air and the other at eye level. The second bullet hits me in the chest, near my heart and I fall to the ground. I can’t feel any pain and around me I don’t hear anything. The only thing I can see is the blue sky over me, where I see 3 eagles flying away. I feel that my eyes are closing and I’m falling asleep, I wish with all myself I were like one of those eagles in the sky who could fly away from any problem and be free forever. But I know I don’t have much time to think, I feel I’m going to die now.


Ludovico Moreschini

C1, Milan


In the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Maria da Silva was getting ready for a day filled with adventure.

She had always loved the vibrant culture of her home country and today was no exception.

She donned her traditional sundress and sandals, and grabbed her favorite hat to shield her from the strong sun.

Maria’s first stop of the day was at the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, which overlooked the city from its perch on Corcovado Mountain.

She couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe as she looked up at the towering statue, which had become a symbol of Brazil’s strength and resilience.
After taking in the sights and sounds of the city, Maria made her way to the famous Copacabana beach.

The sun was shining and the waves were crashing, making it the perfect day for a swim.

After soaking in the sun for a bit, Maria decided to treat herself to a traditional Brazilian dish of feijoada, a hearty stew made of black beans, pork, and sausage.
As the day came to a close, Maria made her way back to her home in the heart of the city. Along the way, she spotted a group of capybaras, a typical animal of Brazil, lounging by a nearby pond.

It reminded her of the beauty and diversity of her home country and how much she loved it.
As she settled into bed that night, Maria couldn’t help but feel grateful for the amazing day she had experienced.

From the iconic landmarks to the delicious food, she knew that Brazil was truly a special place. And she couldn’t wait to discover more of it in the future.


Marco Cocozza

USC1.2, Rome


Shinji in search for the Kitsune


On a rainy Sunday morning, Ikari Shinji got up at 4:30 a.m, he took some eggs from the fridge, he cooked himself a tamagoyaki and he got out from home to take the subway.

After half an hour underground, he finally arrived at his destination: the Tokyo Skytree. When he wasn’t overwhelmed of homework by the university, he went there early in the morning to see the dawn from the top of the tower. And like all the other  times the sight wasn’t disappointing: as it stopped raining and the sky was cleared from clouds, he could see all of Tokyo. Nearer to him there was the Ueno Park, and his beloved (even if it gave him great challenges) university. Then there was the imperial palace with his gigantic park, and finally, standing out on the red sky, there was mount Fuji, with his great glaciers.

Shinji was alone in the room admiring this gorgeous view, when he heard the elevator opening. As he turned, he saw his mother, dressed in a beautiful white kimono, waving to him, but before he could say anything, the elevator doors closed again. So he called her, deeply confused of how she could have arrived there during the night from her house in Sapporo, at almost 1000 km of distance from there.

When she answered the phone, after scolding him for calling so early in the morning, she said that she was at home.

Shinji went out from the tower and started walking on his way home, thinking that he had an hallucination, when he realized that there were strange white paw-shaped footprints on the sidewalks. So, he followed them to the Tokyo Station, where they stopped on a train platform. Shinji was about to give up, but he saw one of the footprints on the train map: it was near to the Mt Fuji station. After an hour- long train ride, he arrived at the station, and he found other footprints: they followed the path to the top of the quiescent volcano. So, after buying a bento with some sushi inside it to eat along the way, he started the walk.

After five hours Shinji arrived, completely exhausted, on the top.

There, he finally found what made the footprints: it was a beautiful white fox with nine enormous tails. Shinji had already saw some foxes, that are a typical animal in Japanese countryside, but they were all red and had only one little tail.

So, Shinji remembered a story that he heard from his grandmother: some fox, when they become really old, become supernatural creatures called Kitsunes. They get paranormal abilities and have additional tails: more tails equal to more power. The most powerful ones can even take a human form.

The fox had something in his mouth: it approached Shinji, left the object on the ground and went away, disappearing between the glaciers. The object was an Omamori, a typical Japanese amulet which takes the form of a tag and must be carried everywhere you go to bring good luck. Shinji took it from the ground and he read it; on it there was written: “The Great Kitsune gives his blessing to Shinji Ikari”


Stefano Tucciarone

USC2.1, Rome


A bittersweet symphony


Tokyo, Winter, 2 AM, the cold pervades the streets, everyone is in their house sleeping, everyone except Hiroshi. All of his friends call him Hiro, or maybe it would be better to say “used to call”, since he has no more friends, he has no one, only the shamisen his grandfather gave him before dying . So here he is, playing the only thing he can call his own in the middle of the night, when no one is watching, no one is listening, no one is there to judge, it’s just him, his instrument and the silence of the streets.


Hiro nowadays would be referred to as a peculiar being. After all, who would be so crazy to lose hours of sleep just for a mere instrument that’s becoming less and less known as the time goes by. Especially in a city like Tokyo, where many people crave to have the opportunity to sleep just a bit more, so that they could remain in their dreams and avoid facing for a bit longer the responsibilities of the real world. The fact is that, for Hiro, this is everything but a loss. He lives for his so much loved shamisen. Yet he still didn’t know what would go against because of this love.


It’s been six months since he moved to Tokyo from his old town located in the countryside near the city. Someone may think he made this choice to attend University, but would be wrong. Since his grandfather’s death, everything had changed for him. The countryside that Hiro once saw as an inspirational force for his music had now become a flat and monotone landscape that no longer communicates anything to his heart. It was as if death had not only taken away one of his dearest people, but had silenced his heart, which once communicated and cheered him. By now it had become unbearable to continue living there, he needed lights, sounds, colors that stimulated him, that made his heart speak once again. But things don’t always go as planned.

Hiroshi works in a conbini, his meals consist mostly of instant ramen and he still hasn’t returned to be the one he once was.


Days go by, people live their monotonous life that consists of an endless cycle that repeats itself. The only thing that changes are the wrinkles on everyone’s face which become more and more accentuated as the time flows. Obviously Hiro can’t escape the unchangeable fate that awaits him and without asking too many questions he continues to live his black and white life. But then an event occurs that would change him forever and make him realize that,


perhaps, life is not only in black and white, but can also be seen in shades of gray.


It’s the evening of the Sumidagawa firework festival and everyone is wearing traditional clothes such as kimonos and yukatas. Obviously Hiroshi can’t afford it, but that doesn’t stop him from watching the fireworks show. The moment everyone has been waiting for arrives, the fireworks are shot in the sky and as they crackle and light up the night, they also light up Hiro’s heart: the lights make his gaze rest on a girl Hiro falls in love with at first sight. But as soon as the light from the fires is swallowed up by the darkness, the illumination on the crowd fades away and this mysterious woman als vanishes.


Months go by and it seems like all the bad things that happened to the poor Hiroshi weren’t enough: he got fired and he can’t get this girl out of his mind. That was what Hiro thought until one afternoon he bumps into her. Apparently fate didn’t have only bad things in store for him. As they start talking and get to know each other they realize they have many things in common. This meeting will get them engaged a short time later. The light in Hiro’s eyes turned on again and things were slowly starting to go better again, he had found a stable job at a company and had gone to live with his girlfriend: Yumiko, that’s her name, had been his turning point. One thing had changed in particular: Hiro hadn’t played the shamisen for months, he no longer felt the need for it.


Hiro now lives his life peacefully, knowing that at home, when he returns from work, there is someone waiting for him at home. He receives a call at work and is told news that no one ever wants to hear: his girlfriend died, hit by a truck as soon as she left the supermarket.


He returns home and staring at his shamisen now covered in dust, memories of his grandfather resurface. Then, driven by impulse, he takes the instrument and starts playing it to bring out everything he had inside. As soon as he plucks a string that his heart lights up and a bitter sweet symphony begins to play in his head.


After all this is life, a bitter sweet symphony that constantly resonates within us and that alternates moments of happiness with moments of sadness, the important thing is knowing how to listen to it and let yourself be carried away by its sound.


Giulia Cardillo, Daria Gervasio

LSB2.1, Naples


The legend of God Ebisu


It was a sunny day in Tokyo, when Kuima was returning home from school. When she arrived, she found her mother Agumi lying in her bed sick. On that day her mother’ s health was getting worse and Kuima was very preoccupied for her, also because of her age. Kuima went near her mother and sat on the bed to tell her what she did at school, when Agumi revealed to her daughter a secret: if she wanted to heal her mother, she’ d have to find the spirit of god Ebisu at Kyoto. At first she was unsure but the smile on Agumi’ s face made her decide: she’ d go find the god and help her mother, no matter what. She took the first bus and arrived in Kyoto in a couple of hours, Kuima was very scared, she had never been there in all her life. She started searching for someone who could help her, asking random people if they knew something about Ebisu. At first, she found a girl, named Usagi, that could be her guide to the sanctuary, because she was also looking for the god: her brother had returned from war whit a deep wand. Usagi accepted and after three days of hard work in the mountains oh Kyoto, fighting the cold weather of winter. The sanctuary was well looked after with a beautiful view of the city, They walked into it when a low deep voice started speaking: “ If you answer correctly all the seven questions, you will get through to the spirit of Ebisu” Fortunately Usagi, being from Kyoto, knew all the answers that traditional recipes od typical dishes such as mochi, ramen and, obviously, sushi. That was easier than they expected but it didn’t end there a figure appeared in front of them, he looked like a normal grandpa with a long moustache and a bald head. At first it was a little bit hilarious until he spoke with

a creepy voice: “ Oh young ladies, you won, but now who of you will take my soul to heal you cared ones…?


Giulia Amadigi, Maria Giulia Esposito

USB2.1, Naples


A new member of the family 


Once upon a time, in New York, a young couple, Ava and Nate, were in love since they were 16, but unfortunately, they couldn’t have a son. 

In a sunny day, they were running in Central Park, the biggest park in New York, where there were a lot of animals, for example turtles and squirrels. It was a really good place to relaxing or training. Obviously, they were wearing sportswear, in particular a suite and sneakers.  

After 2 hours of intense training and also stretching, they were exhausted and hungry, consequently they decided to go home. On the return way they saw a famous pastry shop called “Sweetland”, that made some delicious cheesecakes. They wanted to tried it so they took a table to taste the caramel cheesecake. It was very big and lovely! 

Later they returned home so happy and founded in front of their door a pregnant dog. She was a dalmatian, white dog who had a lot of black spots, she was hungry, thirsty and wounded. In a first moment Nate didn’t agree to take care of her, but Ava after numerous attempts, she convinced him, so they welcomed her at home and called her Katie, like they wanted to call their hypothetical daughter.  

One-week later, Katie had two cute puppies, Henry and Ginny, finally, they had a perfect and complete family like they wished for years.  


Emanuele Mustilli, Bruno Zazzera, Alessandro Gallotti

LSB2.2, Naples


An unusual flight to Japan 


Today was the great day. I woke up and realized that I was finally going to Japan! I energetically jumped off the bed, ran into the bathroom and dressed up in the blink of an eye. I rushed down the stairs, through the door and into my dad’s car that was waiting for me. Such was the speed that I rolled down the stairs—luckily, I was ok, got up again and scrambled towards the car! I jumped into the seat next to my dad and off we went! 

During the drive I started to imagine the trip: 

I would finally land at Haneda Tokyo International Airport after a twelve-hour flight. I would call a taxi to go to the city plaza, where I would be welcomed by Yuma and Musaka. They are two brothers who I met online a few years ago and they offered to guide me around Japan. Before starting our adventure, we would head to The Tokyo Ramen Show, where you can find tons of stands that sell different types of ramen and typical Japanese drinks. Of course, me, Yuma and Musaka are thrilled about these food festivals, so we would dash to the first stand, where there is a huge line—everyone is waiting for their huge bowl of ramen! Surely, in the evening, Yuma and Musaka would suggest we visit the Tokyo Tower. It’s a big telecommunication tower that can be visited for ten dollars or 1200 yen. Thanks to its great height, it has the most beautiful view in Tokyo. I’m interested in visiting it, but suddenly my daydreaming is interrupted by my dad who turns on the radio…  

When I finally arrived at the airport, I hugged my dad and got out of the car.  It was really crowded but after a long check-in, I somehow managed to get on the airplane.  

Again, in the airplane, my thoughts glided toward Japan… 

Oh how I love Tokyo, a city full of arts and monuments! 

And now it was time to go to another destination—we’re going to Kyoto! 

I woke up with the sun rising, I was sad to leave Tokyo, but I was sure that Kyoto would surprise me. During the trip, I was thinking about the places we could visit in one day in Kyoto. 

We made a quick stop on the border between Shizouka and Yamanashi, to visit the beloved Mount Fuji. We saw it from afar, but it was glorious. 

Kyoto, at last. There are so many monuments: 

The first is called Kinkaku-ji, known as “the golden pavilion”, a historic Buddhist temple. The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, and it dates back to 1397. Its floors and walls are covered with gold, it was unbelievable! We stayed there for an hour, and then went off to see another monument. It’s incredible how in Japan there is no traffic in the streets! In twenty minutes, we arrived to our second destination: Ginkaku-Ji. It is very similar to Kinkaku-ji, the only difference is that Ginkaku-Ji is the “silver pavilion”. Indeed, the monument is full of silver instead of gold. 

Finally, we went to the third and last monument of the day, Heian Sanctuary, a Shinto temple. It’s cool that in Japan there are lots of different churches and temples for every different religious tradition. The next day we left early in the morning and rushed to Kyoto Central station, and an hour and a half later we were in Osaka. We had decided on something quirky by going to the Universal Studios Park!  Our hotel had a Universal Studios theme, with myriads of cartoon and movie characters depicted on every floor of the building.   

The following day, I went with Musaka and Yuna to visit the huge park in the middle of the city…but suddenly, I’m interrupted by the shrieking cry of a little baby on the plane! 

Five more hours on the plane…perhaps that will give me enough time to continue my daydreaming about my enchanting trip to Japan….sayonara reality. 


Secondary B1+ 

Runners up


Riccardo de Ambroggi

USC1, Milan


It was rainy that day. In Sege, in South-East Ghana, the monsoons cover the sky during May and June and the rain pours down. A guy named Kofi was coming home after a day spent in his school, his shirt was dripping wet as his backpack and he was worried about his notebook, bought in Accra by his father Kwadwo. The streets covered by mud, Sege doesn’t have paved roads, were become a swamp and his sandals were as dirty as they had never been. After a long walk, he finally came back home. His mother Afiwa was in the kitchen preparing some delightful food to feed Kofi and his three siblings, they hadn’t enough money to buy  everything they need but rarely they starved thanks to the work in Accra of the father and the elder brother Kwasi. She was with her traditional kente, a type of silk fabric made of woven strips, typical between both men and women but nowadays is less used than the past and a lot of people use western clothes. Kofi sat on his mat and waited for the food to be cooked, which arrived on time as a clock. In Kofi’s house there wasn’t a table so they had to eat holding their bowls. Finally, Afiwa brought some banku, a traditional fermented swallow of their ethnic group consisting of fermented cornmeal mixed with cassava. Kofi was tribbling because it was Friday, he loves Friday, on this day his father and Kwasi came back after a week working in Accra, so he finished fast his meal and went to the N1, the only paved road in Sege, where on saturday there are the stalls where you can buy something from your neighbors. He didn’t need to wait so much, because in thirty minutes he saw the old red Ford of Mr Ayew driving under the Rain. The car pulled over and Kofi ran hugging his father, he seemed slightly nervous and Kwasi was unusually quiet. After the greetings, Kwadwo started speaking: “I’m glad to see you son, we have missed you these days. How is school going?”

“Really well dad, the notebook you gift me is so useful and I’m learning a lot of new stuffs”

“Good news. Listen, I have to speak with you about your future, but first, come back home, we are starving and I can’t wait to see what Afiwa gas cooked for us”. These words stunned Kofi, what was his father going to tell him, what did he want to say with ‘your future’, he was so confused.

At home, Kwadwo and Kwasi ate fast their banku, then they called in Kofi and the householder started speaking: “Dear son, I hardly thought about this and today I have come to a conclusion” he did a long pause to highlight the tension. “You are 14 and you are older enough to work with us in Accra, on Monday Kwasi will help you to find a job and you will start your life as a man to sustain this family”.

Kofi wasn’t convinced, he didn’t want to grow at this speed, but everything is said by his father is law, so he had to accept it.

On monday, Kofi woke up early and went to Mr Ayew house with his father and Kwasi. The rain finished on Sunday but the sky is still cloudy. During the journey, Kofi was attached to the window, he had never left Sege until then and everything was new for him, he could even see some hyenas eating the carcass of a lyon. It was scary and amazing at the same time. After some kilometers the landscape changed completely: they were finally arriving in Accra. The car stopped in 28th february road. It was 7 am but It was more crowded than Sege on the market day. His father went to his work in a dry cleaners, and Kofi went with Kwasi to find a job. When they are far enough, Kwasi started speaking: “Let me give you an advice, Kofi: Working in Accra as a kid will kill you ,you will work 12 hours and you will be too tired to do anything, come with me, I shoplift and pickpocket to survive as a free man in this city”

Kofi can’t believe his Brother’s words, he was a thief, he couldn’t become like him, it’s not fair and it’s a sin.

“Kwasi, my brother, how can you do this? How can you prefer to steal what is not yours just to avoid work? Those people work hard just like our father to buy the things you stole. How can you forget the sunday in church when the pastor says that steal is a sin and thief will be punished by God”

“That’s not the point, God won’t accept to heaven the people that used me as a Beast, I have worked one year as a construction worker, I used to work 12 hours for five days, sleeping on the street because they said my night wasn’t one of their problems and if I want the money i have to work as they said. And all of that for a few Cedis. One day I broke my arm when I was at work. Do you remember when I came back and stayed home for a month? When I broke my arm, they just fired me instantly and said to find another place, that I promise myself that I will never be treated as an animal again. So now I’m on the streets and I’m the criminal that I used to fear when I was sleeping on the Nima Road, but I can’t complain because I don’t know if stealing is worse than working for criminals. Come with me Kofi, trust your Brother and follow me, you shouldn’t suffer as I did”

Kofi seemed to be dead, he was pale and he couldn’t say anything, but he didn’t believe Kwasi. It isn’t possible that everyone in Accra is so evil, selfish and inhuman, if you look for the right employer you will be satisfied with your job, he didn’t need to be a thief like his brother.

He saw Kwasi staring at him, but Kofi couldn’t Say anything so he just ran away.

He ran, ran and ran and while he was running, he heard his brother calling him. When he couldn’t take any step forward, he started looking around him. He was on Atta Mills High Street and he was in front of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, a park in Memory of the First ghanese president that gave independence to his country. When he read the name of the former president in the park his heart was filled with patriotic pride, in fact he had loved when in school the teacher Isaac speaked about him and what he had done for Ghana and for the whole of Africa. Looking at the big monument made him definitely choose his path: Ghanese are good people so nobody would treat him as a beast and he could find good employment, unlike Kwasi. He started his search at the harbour and then he started asking everybody he met for a job. After a couple of hours a Chinese man came to him and offered him a job, Kofi was unsure because he has preferred to work for a local, but he decided that a simple question that his brother’s story suggest to him can decide the intentions of that man:”Do you have a place where i can sleep after the work time?” “Of course, a bed only for you”. Kofi used to sleep in a bed with his younger Brother, so this was a big deal for him and he decided tò follow the man he found out to be called Mr Zhou. He arrived in a factory on the Harbour Close where there were 6 guys from 16 to 30 years old working with some boxes. Kofi’s job consisted of moving the cocoa beans cartons from the trucks to the containers so they can be exported. The first day was hard and he started to work at 12 am and he didn’t finish until 9 pm, at the end he was tired as he had never been, nor when he had played football with his friends for the whole afternoon.

At 9 o’clock Mr Zhou blew in his whistle and Kofi and his coworkers followed him to their accommodation. When he saw it, he didn’t want to believe his eyes: it was a room of 12 square meters without beds closed by a door with bars and they couldn’t go out from there. Kofi spento the night thinking about what his brother said and he regretted his choice. After just one day of work he wanted to escape and he will do it in the morning, when Mr Zhou will open the room that he has locked up.

The sun didn’t rise that morning, the clouds covered up the sky and threatened to rain, Mr Zhou opened the door saying that there was a lot to do today, the guys went out and Kofi started running. He ran, ran and ran and while he was running, he heard a gunshot. When he couldn’t take any step forward, he started looking around him: he saw the hyenas eating the carcass of the lyon, he saw his brother stealing a wallet from a tourist near the Black Star Square and he saw his mother preparing banku calling him, and Kofi realized that he was no longer in Accra.


Gaia Maria Luisa Tucciarone

USB2.1, Rome




It was winter and, while the rest of the world was living cold and cloudy days, in Ryad there was a dazzling sun; this meant it was the perfect day for Aisha to go to the local market with her mother and sister.

While she was looking for turmeric, a typical spice, she touched by mistake the hand of a boy.

After having said something in Arabic and understood that he didn’t speak her language, Aisha repeated: “I’m sorry” “Don’t worry” responded the boy “I’m Elias by the way, what’s your name?”.

She was about to answer him back when she heard her mother call her and ran away.


The following day, while the boy was looking for a rafatka, he met her again and said “Yesterday you didn’t tell me your name!”; she answered back incredulous: “Arisha”.

They started to talk a little bit about themselves and their lives: he was from Belgium and was there to visit Saudi Arabia.

“I will stay four days before leaving for Qatar to go to see a World Cup match” said the boy.

“My dad and brother will go there for the same reason! It would be a dream if I was allowed to go” said Arisha.

“Listen… now I have to go but how about we meet here, same place, tomorrow? You could give me a little tour of the city!” said Elias “Yeah, why not” responded Arisha.

The next day they met each other at the market, as usual, and started the tour by going to a stand and eating a typical dessert, the luqaimat. “This is so good! Maybe as good as gracht brood…a Belgium sweet” said Elias.

One hour later, while they were walking and from time to time observing the camels passing through the street, the boy asked her: “Do you go to school?” “No…” “Then how did you learn to speak English?” “When I was little, at night, I used to steal my brother’s books from his room and read them all”, “And, if I may, are you taking a risk being here with me right now?” Aisha didn’t answer.


It was afternoon and the street were free from the morning crowd, when Aisha, seeing the sunset, said: “Oh no, it’s late, I really have to go” “Will we see tomorrow morning? I’ll leave after lunch” said Elias before even noticing that the girl wasn’t there anymore.


The next day the boy went to the market but saw no trace of her; he went to the spices stand but nothing, she wasn’t even there!

He was about to leave when he heard a voice: “Boy wait… I have something for you”

Elias turned and saw the man from the spice stand handing him a note: “Thank you so much for making me live what I only read in books; these last few days were like a dream but now we have to go back to reality. I hope that one day I’ll taste that gracht brood -Alisha”


Gaia Maria Luisa Tucciarone


Sara Iemmolo

Advanced, Naples


José had never hated and loved someone at the same time, except his cat. This was the third time in the week Tequila had escaped, and he was getting tired of searching for him all over the city. José had even started knowing Motril better than everyone else who lived there because it was Tequila’s favorite place to hide. 
“Next time I’d better take Tequila on a leash” sighed José, leaving his house and starting to walk on the main road. At least, he thought, a bit depressed, he didn’t need to ask people if they had seen his cat. Everyone in the city knew that Tequila had the bad habit to run everywhere when left one second alone. So, when someone saw José walking, immediately indicated to him a direction saying “Tequila has gone there!”. They were used to that. 
That time, instead, no one seemed to have seen Tequila. He also went to the Pueblos de America park, Tequila’s favorite place for his big trees and the many people who visited it, but he didn’t find any trace of his cat. 
He started to feel a bit depressed. He had been walking for hours, and Tequila didn’t show up. During the research, he also had false hope from a man who had said “a black cat? Oh, yes, I saw it in España Square”, but when José went there, he only found a Galgo Español, a black dog. “How can you mistake a cat for a dog?” complained then, still walking for the roads. 
It was only when an old lady, who was dressing in a traditional Chulapa, walked toward him, that things changed. 
“Are you the guy who’s searching for a black cat?” asked the lady, obtaining a hopeful look from José. “Yes” answered him immediately. “Did you find him?”. 
José followed the lady for almost five minutes, when they finally arrived in front of a little house, decorated with many colorful decorations. 
“Is it there?” José asked the lady, who nodded proudly. 
When they entered the house, immediately José recognized Tequila, who was quietly sitting on the sofa. “Tequila!” exclaimed José, running near the sofa “You are such a spiteful cat, you know?”. 
“Yeah, he really is” laughed the old lady “He destroyed my sofa”. 
José blanched. “Really?” stammered “I’m sorry”. 
The lady laughed again. “Don’t worry, it was all right. I really liked to have some company from this cat. To thank you, can I offer you a plate of Paella?”. 
So José spent the rest of his Saturday morning talking with the old lady and eating Paella. He went out of the lady’s house only two hours later. “Thank you very much,” he said while opening the door. 
And Tequila ran away again, through the half-closed door. 
José and the old lady watched the door, and then exchanged a look. “Tequila, nooo!” sobbed José, before starting to run after his cat once again. 


Secondary B1+



Filippo Sangalli

USB2, Milan


The old mister Abe

Jimbocho, Tokyo


Jimbocho is a small neighborhood in the Nord-East of Tokyo. It’s a neighborhood known for its enormous number of libraries that are a symbol of this part of the city. In the neighborhood there also are a lot of izakayas, the typical Japanese pub. Here, in a little and anonymous izakaya in Jimbocho, starts our story.

The dragon horn is a little izakaya in a little street of Jimbocho, surrounded by lots of historical libraries, frequented by some regular customers and managed by a happy and chatty barman named Hisanobu Inoue. One of the most regular customers is an old man, on the eighty, with a pair of thick white moustaches, always well-dressed with always a pair of geta sandals. This old man, known by everyone as mister Abe, is known as a very wise men and a good listener, who love to know the secretes of the people, by all the customer of that izakaya. This quality made him a very good advice giver for all those who ask, and not only.

Our story starts on a lately evening in the beginning of April, when mister Abe entered the izakaya greeting the owner, “Good evening, Inoue, how’s business going?”

The owner smiled, “You ask me every single day, as long as I keep on this shack the business go well.”

“It was just graciousness, don’t get angry,” said Mr. Abe with mock indignation, sitting at the counter beside the well-known Maruo Matsuda, a father of family always destroyed by work.

“Do you know Abe,” said the owner, after pouring sake to the old man, “that this evening we have a new little customer, she is about twenty years old. She doesn’t know anyone here.”

“And we don’t know her yet.” added Maruo.

“Does she have any problem to talk about? Or a troubled past? If not, she’s not even worth knowing.” said as usual the old man.

“Why are you just interested about people’s problems?” asked the owner.

“Because are the most interesting part of people” and said that, he moved, sitting in front of the young girl, a few tables away.

“Hi little girl,” said mister Abe “you’re new here, what’s your name?”

The ‘little girl’ was a young girl named Chikako Okamoto. She was twenty-two years old, and she attend the last year of the Imperial University of Tokyo. Okamoto was a slender girl of ephemeral beauty. She had very delicate features, very dark hair. Her eyes emanated a kind of melancholy. In that moment she was reading an old Japanese book named ‘Remnants from the Mayfly’s diary’ written by Murō Saisei.

The kind girl lifted his eyes from his book and watched the old man in front of her “Good evening sir, I’m Chikako Okamoto but if you want you can call me Chikako.”

“Such a modern girl,” said Abe.

“Oh no, I just don’t like small talk,” whispered the lady.

“Well, I see that you’re reading a very-well written book and I also see that there is a very particular bookmark in that…Can I…?” said the curious mister Abe taking an old bookmark with a photo of a young lady printed on it.

“Don’t touch it,” said the girl, catching it with her hand and rising and going out with indignation.

“What was happening here?” asked Inoue, with a mixture of anger and curiosity.

“You always make me lose customers,” shouted the owner at the back of the old man who, after finishing the sake, was leaving the pub.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” Abe said in greeting.

The next day was a rainy day. The owner just opened the izakaya when Chikako entered in searching for the old mister Abe.

“Ehm…good evening, sir, have you seen the old men that yesterday was sitting at my same table?” quickly said the young girl.

“Oh, hi, if you’re referring to Mr. Abe, he’ll be here any minute, so sit down and get something on the house,” replied the owner.

As the owner said mister Abe entered the pub about five minutes after. The owner told him about the conversation he had just before and invited him to sit in front of the girl, at a table in the corner of the pub.

“Hi sweetie,” said ironically mister Abe as soon as he sat down.

“Oh, h-hi mister Abe, I want to apologize with you for what I did yesterday,” said the girl with embrace.

“No problem, I get cranky sometimes too, and by the way, call me Kenji”

“Oh, such an honor. Anyway, yesterday I got very angry because I care to that bookmark. It belonged to my mother,” she said.

“Oh, I’m so sorry dear. Excuse me for the intrusive question, she just happened to be dead?” the old man whispered shyly.

“Oh no, it’s just that we haven’t spoken in a long time,” said quietly Chikako.

“This is going to be interesting” thought the old men, “Can I ask you why?” asked him instead.

“This is a long story” sighed the lady.

“I don’t have nothing to do tonight” answered mister Abe.

“Okay, if you really want to. You should know that my mother and I have two very different characters, two-bit skulls, and tempers. She wanted a safe life for me, with an arranged marriage and a good job; but I always loved adventure and decided to move to Tokyo to study philosophy.” started telling the girl, “To avoid the lengthy discussion one night I took my things and I left without his knowledge” continued the girl.

The two kept talking for several hours until the owner interrupted them and brought them back to reality.

Finally, mister Abe said “Your story is really interesting. If you still need to talk in the coming days, you will always find me sitting here.”

“Thank you I’ll be there. Goodnight” answered the girl.

When Chikako had left the pub and Mr. Abe was about to leave, he said, “You’ve seen Inoue, everyone has some secrets to hide, something that has haunted them for too long, something to stay up at night for.”

The following days neither the owner nor Mr. Abe saw the girl. The first time that they met after the first conversation was on a sun-kissed Wednesday, after about two weeks.

That day mister Abe had already arrived when the girl walked in with a jolt. He immediately ran to sit at the usual table, almost bumping the poor Inoue intent on serving tea to an old lady.

“I’m sorry” said the young lady to the owner, and soon after he added to the old man, “I have a news, but I want one of your advice because I don’t know how to behave”. While she was saying that she took a letter from her backpack.

“This is a letter from my mother” continued Chikako, “She wrote me a few days ago about her disease. I discover that she is very hill and that she don’t kwon if she’s going to live longer. What I have to do?” asked the poor girl.

“Well…” said quietly the old man, “What do you feel?”

“I don’t know, I’m in conflict with myself and my ideals. I know that if I returned there, she would do anything to make me stay and to make me abandon my life; but if I did not go I would feel guilty because I would risk not to see her again.” said the girl bursting into tears.

“The most common sense advice I can give you right now is to go home and cry as much as you can, you’ll see it’s good to let off steam, come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about it,” said softly the old man, handing her a beautiful embroidered silk handkerchief.

“Thank you very much mister Kanji, it’s a promise” whispered sadly the girl, taking his things and leaving the izakaya.

After the little girl and all the customers left the pub, the owner starts to talk with mister Abe, “Why do you care so much about that girl, besides, you’ve known each other for so little?”

“She reminds me of myself when I was her age” said quietly mister Abe, finishing his beer.

“What do you mean?” asked the owner.

“As I think you know, I love secrets, but I’ve never told you mine. Well now that moments arrived,” start telling mister Abe, “When I was his age, I lived with my father in a small mountain village at the foot of Mount Fuji. One summer, as I was learning to fish by the river, I met a beautiful girl named Osaka, exactly like the city. She was the daughter of a wealthy family who came to buy a part of the land of that place. Her family stayed there for a few months, and we had better acquaintances, I initially very disliked her because she was rich but then I slowly fell in love,” he stopped and took a sip of beer, “The feeling was mutual, he always loved me being a simpleton, and when I talked to my father about moving to the city, he forbade me to see her. He was a man very attached to betrayals and being his only son, I would receive all the inheritance, so he wouldn’t leave his house. I decided not to look after him and a few months later, after collecting some money, I catch the first train to Tokyo.”

“And your father?” impatiently asked the owner.

“I never saw him again until an old family friend called me and told me that after a lifetime of effort and sacrifice, he had fallen ill and then died a few days before. The first time, after a long time, I saw him was at his funeral. It was also his last,” mister Abe stopped for several seconds, as if to swallow a bad memory, then resumed, “I don’t want her to make the same mistakes as me, but it’s not me who can decide. You know Inoue the best advice you can often give is to not ask at all,” and, having said that, he stood up and walked out.

The day after mister Abe was the first customer to entered the izakaya, Chikako arrived thirty minute after. Before she sat down, Abe started talking, “Hi Chikako, I’ve been thinking a lot about this talk tonight, I’ve been wondering what my role is in this story, and I realized something.”

“What do you realize?” said the girl.

“I realized that this is not my story at all and that I have a duty to make you choose, hoping that you will not make the same mistakes as me. Here on the table are two envelopes: in one there is money to send to your mother, sooner or later you will return it to me, in case you do not want to visit her; otherwise, in the other there is a plane ticket,” mister Abe caught his breath for a moment, “Now it’s your turn to choose whether it’s easier to deal with a person or not do it at all.”

Having said that, mister Abe got up, greeted the owner and left the pub. The girl petrified by the words of the person who stood little earlier in front of her, was looking with empty eyes at the two envelopes.

At the Dragon Horn, after that last episode, nothing was heard of the old Abe. It was not even known which choice the girl made, because she never returned too. Everyone inside that izekaya had their own idea about the two protagonists of our history, but nobody ever confirmed it. Only the owner was sure of what he was saying: that mister Abe was really a special person, a person who knew people, a man who knew the depths of each one, a man to remember.



Chiara Guagnano

USC2, Rome


A little magic in Iran


It was an unusually stormy night in the Iranian summer. The wind was so strong Shirin was afraid it could have blown her whole house away. Everyone was sleeping except from her, she was nauseous, she had the sickening feeling that something tremendous was about to happen. Shirin always woke her father up when she was having a nightmare as he was the only one who knew how to calm her down. He would light a candle and hold her in his arms. He would then start telling her a story. His soft voice and his warm hands lulled her into the darkness and helped her walk slowly towards the land of her dreams. Dariush was an old, wise and kind Qashqai man who loved sewing. Shirin was fascinated by his hands softly touching the fabrics and magically turning them into hats, shirts or veils.


However that night was different, Dariush never woke up. Rivers of tears were shed for the loss of the loving man by every inhabitant of Isfahan. Shirin’s body was shaking in fear during the funeral. She felt her lungs contracting as if air could not pass through them. She was now the one responsible for supporting the family. A storm of thoughts run in her chaotic mind. What could she do? The young lady went to look at the stars. She desperately needed to talk to her father, to feel his hands caress her cheeks and to listen to his voice telling her that everything would be alright. She laid on the ground and she didn’t even feel the hard rocks under her back as she was so immersed in the contemplation of the astonishing blu sky. “Father, please tell me what to do” she said. Then something incredible happened, something that even she has never been able to explain to this day. She felt her father caressing her soul and his lips kissing her forehead as a symbol of protection. At that moment she knew exactly what she should do to keep her father’s inheritance alive: she would sell the wonderful Qashqai clothes he had been making for years.


The following morning she left for Teheran, the big capital she had never visited before. It was early, the sun was making its way across the sky, painted with shades of pink. She had always loved the dawn. She walked for days and finally, just when she was starting to loose hope and her body was about to fail, she reached the big city. She found herself in the middle of the market. A myriad of colorful fruits and vegetables as well as veils, fabrics, clothes, shoes and golden jewels populated the streets. People walked around as if they owned the place and she started to feel a little lost. She sat down in a narrow street, her back leaning against the cold wall, and she closed her eyes for just a second. She suddenly opened them when a boy shook her, fearing she could be dead. It was at the moment that she realized she had been sleeping for a while. The boy told her his name was Abtin, he was a merchant coming from a land far away from Teheran and he was looking for a place to sell his goods. He seemed really nice and he had such a soft voice which reminded Shirin of her father, so she decided to trust him and tell him her story. It was not long before they became inseparable friends.


Soon after the two decided to go sell their goods in the most famous place of the city, Shah Mosque. They were standing in front of the enormous, almost intimidating, building, but they felt no fear, they saw their future in there. They made their way in the mosque and their eyes could not help but shine in front of such beauty. Painted walls surrounded them, the blu dotted with thousands of yellow figures looked like an endless universe trying to hug them. There were multicolored carpets under their feet, so big they could cover the whole pavement of one single house. The two began to show around the clothes they were selling. Little did they know they would catch the governor’s attention. He was amazed by the interesting texture of their fabrics and decided to buy them all. They were so happy they burst in tears of joy. The good governor then invited them to dinner in his palace.


Shirin and Abtin entered the governor’s palace full of joy. They ate an exquisite dizi, the governor had told them it was his mother’s favorite dish, she used to cook it every time she felt happy. At the thought of their families the two kids started to feel a bit nostalgic and the governor did not fail to nice that. So he brought them to meet his friend, a big leopard. Shirin was scared of getting bitten at first but the governor reassured her and told her there was nothing to be afraid of, his leopard friend was the most gentle creature he had ever met. She caressed the leopard’s head and it started licking her hand. Soon after Abtin joined the girl and they started playing together. The governor then revealed them the leopard’s secret, it was magic. They did not believe nor understand what he was trying to explain to them. As a result the kind man suggested whispering in his animal’s ears the name of the person they were missing the most. The two reluctant kids

were surprised at the discovery of the marvelous power of the leopard: it could let everyone hear the voice of the people they were missing. Shirin was able to hear her father’s voice telling her that he loved her while Abtin heard his little brother asking him to go play in the garden. They were left speechless. “Why are you showing us this magic?” Asked Abtin. The governor answered that he had always wanted to share his leopard’s magic with other people but he never knew how to do it. He thought they looked like smart kids and then showed them, hoping to find a way to give everybody a little magic. Shirin then had a brilliant idea: they would make the leopard touch every carpet they had sewn in order to spread its magic on them.


A few weeks passed and the kids, with the help of the governor and his precious and friendly leopard finished their work. It was time for all of them to say goodbye. Tears filled the palace but they were not alone, they were mixed with smiles because every one of them knew they could always listen to their voices with the magic carpets. They went home, sold the carpets to a lot of Iranians and never forgot each other. Shirin now tells this story to her children to help them fall asleep, just as her father did. Who knows, maybe Abtin and the governor with his loyal leopard can hear it too when they miss her.


Miriam Sepe

US Advanced, Naples


A special Harami


It was a warm and sunny day in May. There was no wind and birds happily chirped flying in the sky. Watanabe was thinking about the horrible time that he was about to have with his family: they were going to see the cherry blossom, the “Harami” at the Castle of Hirosaki. It was a family tradition, but Watanabe wasn’t so excited by it: he had witnessed it every year since he was 5! He would have rather been with his friends in Tokyo, but his parents forced him to go with the family.


He was walking with a bowed head, when suddenly he saw someone who made him smile: his best friend Kizuki. Their families lived in the same neighborhood and the two of them had been friends since childhood. Watanabe was over the moon: he ran toward his friend and hugged him. Watanabe and Kizuki decided to go for a walk by themself. Without children who ran and shouted, Watanabe could appreciate the beauty of the nature around him: the cherry blossoms were wonderful, their scent filled the air around them and the Castle of Hirosaki, which stood before them, looked like an enchanted Castle that flew on a group of pink clouds. He was admiring all of this when something caught his gaze: it was a girl, a beautiful girl with dark hair intertwined with flowers, a blue Kimono with pink orchids, that made her blue eyes stand out and a smile that lit in the dark. Her name was Naoko, she attended the same math class as Watanabe and Kizuki. Watanabe had been in love with her since the first time he saw her, but he never had the courage to talk to her. And now, here she was in front of them, smiling and waving. If it hadn’t been for Kizuki, he would have been paralyzed. Fortunately, his friend was here to help: without even acknowledging it, he was walking and talking with the girl of his dreams.


They kept on strolling all over the park. Watanabe was completely enchanted by Naoko: he found out that they liked the same music, the same food, and the same books. They even wanted to study at the same university. Maybe, there was hope! After they had bought some dorayaki, they arrived in the ancient part of the wood: vegetation was much thicker, and the sun’s rays had difficulty passing through the branches. Suddenly, Naoko started to tell a story of an old legend about that place: hundreds of years before, a beautiful princess with golden hair lived here with her lover, a brave samourai. One day, the princess got ill and died. The lover, destroyed by pain, buried the princess in the wood and around her grave, golden flowers began to bloom. From that moment, the samourai promised to protect the grave and the golden flowers. Some people claimed that his ghost kept on prowling in the forest. Although Watanabe was a wimp, he acted like those were just stories. Hence, Naoko gave him a challenge: going into the wood and bringing her a golden flower. Watanabe would have never done it, if Naoko hadn’t promised to give him her phone number as a prize. He didn’t think twice about it: a second after, he was marching toward the forest followed by Kizuki.


They had been walking for 15 minutes and they hadn’t seen neither a golden flower, nor a ghost. They were really scared, but they were also determined to win the challenge. They were passing through a bushy group of brambles, when, pushing aside a branch, they found themselves facing a little glade covered by beautiful golden flowers. Watanabe felt the victory in his heart: he went into the glade and picked a flower. He was already imagining all the conversation he would have with Naoko, when the two boys heard a noise behind them. It sounded like someone was crossing the bushes. Watanabe and Naoko were too scared even to run away. They could hear the sound of broken branches, while whatever was in the bushes was approaching them. They had started screaming before they had the opportunity to see what was coming: just a Japanese pheasant, which, scared by the screams, flew away. The boys laughed and Watanabe hoped that Naoko hadn’t heard anything.

Fortunately, she didn’t. When they came back to her, Naoko took the flower and gave Watanabe a quick kiss on the cheek : he almost passed out. Then, she gave him her phone number.


This is the story of how a simple family tradition turned out on the best day Harami Watanabe had ever had.


Winner photos

British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
British Council Italy Winter Competition 2022/2023 by British Council Italy -
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