For those who knew the old premises of the British Council in Palazzo del Drago on Via delle Quattro Fontane, its new home, just off Piazza di Spagna, could hardly be more of a contrast.
The wide elegant staircase at Palazzo del Drago, the high painted ceilings, the large rooms and the feeling of faded elegance have all given way to the ultra-modern and infinitely more intimate surroundings in part of what was once a convent school on Via di S. Sebastianello.
Here the interior decorations are in shades of yellow, orange, red and green, the structures that separate classroom from classroom are not walls but glass dividers, some of which open and shut at will to make larger or smaller rooms, depending on need. The old teaching tools of blackboards, books, CDs and DVDs have now been replaced by the latest in interactive whiteboards linked to computers. Textbooks are now called iPacks and appear on screen only. This is learning (and teaching) made fast, easy and enjoyable.
There is a new buzz about the British Council after the years in the doldrums in the old location. That the organisation for the spread of British culture was coming to the end of its tenancy in Palazzo del Drago was common knowledge for a long time. But years of searching never seemed to find quite the right place, until the present premises in Via di S. Sebastianello became vacant. The large building, which still belongs to a British-founded order of Roman Catholic nuns, was once a fashionable Italian girls