This week the XP team set off to spend a few days in Poggioni, Italy for the annual team Summer Party. It was the most wonderful time we’ve ever had – and today we have been looking through the photos, whilst shedding a little tear that we are no longer sitting under the Tuscan sun.
After a 3am start, a delayed flight, two cancelled trains and one broken suitcase, the XP team were finally met by Ian at Camucia station for the final leg of the journey – the windy car ride up a mountain to beautiful Poggioni.
The Italian XP office/home-away-from-home is the most peaceful place I have ever been to (although not immune to a Pokemon presence) and our CFO Josie was certain to make us all feel welcome before we’d even set our luggage down.
Angelina and Ian planned three days of local team-bonding activities and so for our first evening, I put together a nice, relaxing, light-hearted quiz for the team to enjoy. Little did I know, a simple quiz was enough to unleash some rather, let’s say, aggressive competitive streaks amongst certain team members (not naming names, but you know who you are) and the ‘one point difference’ in final scores was to be debated for the rest of the holiday.
After a long relaxing lunch and a dip in the pool on day two (as well as a count up of the previous night’s 10 empty wine bottles), we were taken for our first activity – cheese making.
Our host, Lapo, who can be seen in the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ greeted us with 10 litres of sheep’s milk in his gorgeous kitchen. We said a quick hello to his flock of mountain sheep before being taken through the steps to making three different cheeses from just the one batch of milk – Raveggiolo, Pecorino and Riccotta. It was brilliant (messy) fun and the finale of being served a cheese-themed dinner (and drinking the home made plonk) was quite the end to a great day.
It’s worth noting that Angelina was crowned ‘Numero Uno’ in the cheese-making class, and Lizzie was given the title of ‘La Donna Freddo’ – the Cold Woman. In three months time, the cheeses that we each made will be delivered to us at home in the UK – a lovely bonus!
Day three saw the team entering (actually breaking and entering, but that’s another story) the Etruscan tombs and learning about the incredible history behind these ancient constructions.
There was even a perfectly preserved Etruscan inscription in one of the tombs, and we couldn’t find a question that our guide Louisa didn’t know the answer to. This was followed by a mini-tour of the walled town of Cortona, and a brief history of how the town came to be in its modern day state.
One of the highlights for the whole team whilst in Italy was the chance to battle it out on the table football table – and it certainly brought out the animal in all of us (I think we all said things we didn’t mean). It is with regret that I have to inform you that Ian remained reigning champion of table football… I was cheering for Lizzie the underdog, but I guess in the end, the house always wins.
Our final evening was spent in the most perfect way possible – movie night. But not just any movie night. Ian set up a projector and sound system on the terrace by the pool, seats and cushions were pulled round for a good view and there was a one-time-only screening of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ for the team, complete with ice-cream interval. The film made the town of Cortona famous, contributing to the tourism boom (with many tourists actually searching for a fountain that doesn’t really exist) and so it seemed the most fitting end to our time there. It also gave us the chance to play ‘spot Lapo’ as he makes three appearances in the movie.
In between all of this, we managed to consume our body weight in home-cooked, delicious food (props to Angelina for her hours in the kitchen), try nearly all of the wines Ian has in the cellar and most importantly, further seal our team bond ready for the busy period in a few months.
A HUGE thank you to Ian, Angelina and Josie for being wonderful hosts, here’s to the next Summer Party!