Jacob Webb attended a project in Italy at Rome’s International Soup Festival.

From 5th-16th April I attended a workcamp at La Città dell’Utopia community centre in the San Paulo district of Rome to help prepare for a community Soup festival.

Although I had previously been on one workcamp before, I was suitably nervous before departing the UK. However, following a moderate number of wrong turns and awkward conversations with locals asking for directions, once I had arrived at the community centre and saw a bunch of smiley people sitting down and eating some pasta, I began to feel right at home.

Those ‘smiley’ people were soon to become good friends with whom I would spend a large proportion of my time in Rome with. Despite coming from a wide array of countries, and from many different social backgrounds, we were drawn together by our common humanity and hours of working alongside each other towards a common goal.

The work on the camp was varied and interesting. One day, I would be weeding the garden and the next I would be marching round Rome putting up posters to advertise the festival: no two days were the same! Whilst often very physically demanding, it had the advantage of helping me burn off enough calories to eat a healthy amount of Pizza, Pasta and Gelatos (Italian Ice Cream) from time to time.

The Soup festival took place on my last full day in Rome and was an experience I will never forget. In between the hours of heavy lifting and running errands, the festival allowed me to indulge in the cultural life of Italy. I saw traditional Italian Dance, listened to traditional Italian music, and watched, rather bemused, a traditional Italian comedian.

At the heart of the event was a soup competition. Here around 25 teams of local cooks brought along their own soup to be tasted by a panel of judges and festival attendees in the hope of winning the golden ladle. As a man with a love of food, I found it a very enjoyable experience.

In my free time, I enjoyed experiencing the sights and sounds of Rome: I visited many of the famous historical monuments in the centre of Rome, including the colosseum, as well as the Roman seaside.

All in all, my trip to Rome was one that I will never forget. Thank you to all those at the International Voluntary Service and at La Città dell’Utopia, as well as the fellow workcamp attendees, without whom the fantastic experience would not have been possible.