SISTERS who worked at a Bournemouth language school before leaving to begin new lives in Italy were astonished to find they were still well-remembered – 60 years on.

Yvonne Rogers and sister Jean left the south coast for Florence in September 1960 after being offered scholarships to study Italian.

The pair, who had worked for some four years as secretaries at the Eurocentre English language school in Dean Park Road, initially took a three-month leave of absence, but ended up deciding to stay in Italy.

Recently, they decided to return to Bournemouth – and the school – for a visit. And Mrs Rogers said that 'to their amazement', one of the current secretaries asked: "Are you the two ladies who went to Florence and married Italians?"

Mrs Rogers told the Daily Echo: "In the far-off September of 1960, my sister Jean and I, both secretaries at the Eurocentre English language school, were offered scholarships to study Italian.

"In Florence we rented an apartment overlooking the rooftops and the Palazzo Vecchio, enjoyed our three months of the intensive course and left with a Certificate of Progress and quite passable Italian.

"The trouble was that, by then, we had both fallen in love with the beautiful city, so we decided to stay and find work in the booming export business.

"Over the years we both married and had families and I ran my own business."

The sisters decided to return to Bournemouth for the first time late last year, staying at a hotel in the West Cliff area.

Walking through the Gardens, where they had played as children, Mrs Rogers said they felt a "shiver of excitement".

"Although there were a few changes, such as the pedestrian area in Old Christchurch Road, the town was still very much the same as we remembered," she said.

"We looked for our favourite coffee bar, the El Cabala, but it had closed.

"With a free day to roam around, we decided to visit the school.

"We walked in to find our office still in the same room. We introduced ourselves, and one of the three secretaries there took a long look at us.

"To our amazement, she said, 'Are you the two ladies who went to Florence and married Italians?'

"We couldn’t believe she had heard of us."

The sisters were given a tour of the school during their "emotional visit".