Ever heard of “Flat Stanley”? He’s a colorful little guy no taller or wider than a sheet of paper. He gets sent by students in the USA to places around the world where he can explore  and then return to the classroom to tell all his stories. We had the fun taking “Flat Stanley” around Italy a bit for a special little girl in our lives and we thought you might like to hear about his adventures too!

So whether you need one more activity to do with your kids before the summer ends or care to learn a little more about the place where we live and serve, reading this letter that “Stanley” wrote and looking at the pictures throughout will take you on a little tour of our city and some nearby places in Italy.

Stanley writes…

Dear Friend,

I had a great trip and I am excited to tell you all about it! I traveled a long way to see some new friends. I went across the ocean to a continent called Europe. My friends live in a country there called Italy. It was a beautiful place and I have pictures to show you! You will see that Italy is very different than the United States in many ways. One big difference is that Italy is a very old country. The first people to settle there probably lived there close and 3,000 years ago! Now my friends, the Tello family, live there and I was able to spend a few days there with them.

The city the Tellos live in is called Bologna. The country of Italy looks like a boot and Bologna is a little bit above the middle of the boot. It is the 7th most populous city in Italy with about 500,000 people there. One of the nicknames for the city is “La Rossa” which means “the Red” because many of the buildings in the city are a shade of red. The Tellos took me around the city and I was able to see so many of the old buildings. It’s a medieval city so some of them even looked like castles.


There are many towers in Bologna and I got to see two that are the landmark of the city. They call them the “Two Towers” and they lead to the middle of the city. They were huge. Each one was built by a family a long time ago and they had a contest to see who could build the best one. One of the towers is leaning now (even more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and had to be made shorter so it wouldn’t fall. The other tower beside it was very tall. I got a picture right between the “Two Towers” with my friend Arianna. We are right in front of a statue that stands between the towers. Then we walked down the street and looked back at the towers and they looked like they were reaching into the clouds. Can you believe there were more than 100 of these towers in Bologna back in the 12th century?!


The city here is known for its porticos. Porticos are coverings above the sidewalks that protect you from the rain, snow, and hot summer sun. This city has almost 40 KM of porticos, which is incredible. They say you don’t need an umbrella in Bologna because if it’s raining you can still go places without getting wet because you can walk under the porticos! Each building has porticos that look a little different. I made sure to get a picture to show you some of them.


I found out that there are a lot of churches in Italy. The architecture inside the churches is beautiful and there is a lot of art in all the churches. I made sure to go inside of one and see for myself. It was one of the seven churches in a part of the city called Santo Stefano.


There is an interesting story about one of the churches here in Bologna. It is called the Basilica Di San Pietrono. It was supposed to be this magnificent church when they started building it in 1390. The plan was to finish it in a way that would make it even bigger and better than a famous church, Saint Pete’s Basilica, in Rome which is the capital of Italy. Then in 1514 there was a plan the Pope put this to a stop because he said it would not have been right for any church to be better than the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. So they actually never finished building that church here in Bologna. You can see in the picture I got in front of it that the bottom of the church is finished with beautiful white stone but the top is raw and unfinished. It seems crazy to me that it never got finished.


When I was standing on the steps of that church I looked out and saw a big open space where lots of people were sitting together, walking, and talking. The church is in the middle of town and that big space is called Piazza Maggiore (which means the main town center). It is the biggest piazza in Bologna. I got a picture of me theretoo. There are some other big buildings you can see on the other side of the piazza. One of them is a big library.


One other fun thing is that they have lots of big doors to the buildings in Bologna and many of them have interesting doorknobs. Each door is unique in its design and style, almost like each one had a personality. I got a picture next to one of them that had a very unique keyhole. It was made to look like a face with its mouth open and the key would go inside the mouth to open the door. Fun, right?!


We did a lot in the city that day. It was a lot of fun for me. Then before I left we were even able to visit another city nearby. It took about an hour to drive there from Bologna. It is called Florence and it is in a different region called Tuscany. It was beautiful in a different way than the city of Bologna because the ground isn’t flat like Bologna. There are lots of hills in Tuscany. We didn’t go to downtown Florence so we got to enjoy nature. I got my picture taken with Arianna in an olive grove there and you can see the hills behind us.


I had so many adventures in Italy. Thanks so much for sending me on this amazing trip!

Your friend,

Flat Stanley