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Bradenton, beach, baseball: Italian teens dig into American culture, language

BRADENTON — Giulia Dattuone might like one more day at the beach.

Giulia Palazzi, too.

And Federico Pasquetti can’t wait for tonight’s game at the Trop.

They’re among a group of Italian teenagers winding up three weeks here, polishing their English and immersing themselves in the culture in and around Bradenton.

“La città amichevole,” said Dattuone, 17, repeating “The Friendly City” in her native tongue.

The teens, hailing from northern Italy, return Thursday to Milan.

“It’s going to be hard when they leave because they’re all really cool kids,” said Tonya Guyer, a host mom and program leader with Education First, a company for cultural exchange, language instruction and educational travel.

The kids will go back with good memories — and sand in their sneakers.

“I love the beaches,” Dattuone said. “We don’t have beaches like this in Italy.”

“Beautiful white sand — and the sea is hot,” said Palazzi, 17. “In Italy the sea is cold. Here it’s clean. In Italy, it’s not so clean.”

They’ve also canoed the Peace River, gone shopping and, of course, visited Universal Studios and Busch Gardens.

“Divertentissimo,” said Arianna Baglioni, 17. Very, very fun.

Educational, too.

“They’ve had English in their high schools, so our goal was finding areas for them to use it,” said teacher Pat Bliss.

That included places host families took the teens around town.

“Popi’s, Shake Pit, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sweetberries,” said teacher Marilyn Kelly. “A hot fudge sundae at Shake Pit is important. Or a blackened grouper sandwich at Sandbar.”

Make it a hot dog tonight for Federico Pasquetti.

The 17-year-old will be at the Trop for Game 3 of the Yankees-Rays series.

“We don’t see very many baseball matches in Italy, but when I come here, I see another face of America,” Pasquetti said.

A face that intrigues him.

“I didn’t know baseball,” he said. “I learned some rules. An amazing sport. No time (limit) to play. If you win the first inning, it’s not sure you will win the game. A good thing for sport. I like it.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at