Here's a little bit about my 1996 trip to Italy!
I arrived in Milano on September 10, 1996, and stayed until September 23rd. Except for a couple of days of driving, I spent all my time in the village of Roccalbegna which is about 35 Km. east of Grosseto and 3 hours driving time north of Roma (Rome). Although estimates vary, the village has a population of about 250-500 in the central part and about that many in the surrounding area. It is a very scenic area, highlighted by the massive rock (with ancient fortress on top) that rises up out of the ground right at the edge of town. Being well off the tourist path, the village has retained its casual lifestyle and does not contain the usual shops, tour buses, visitor attractions, and associated crime rate. Rather, it is a lovely unspoiled place with friendly people, small businesses, few shops, and an incredibly beautiful landscape.
What brought me to this place, far off the beaten path? It was an event which occured on October 12, 1944. During this period Italy was occupied by enemy German forces and America was making an all-out effort to route the Germans from the country. On the 12th of October a massive campaign, Operation Pancake, was initiated and bombers from all over the area were sent to Bologna to destroy some strategic bridges. My father, Eugene E. Glanert, was aboard one of these planes; a B-26 Marauder which departed Corsica in a formation of 24. Within a short period of time, however, something went wrong and my father's aircraft was unable to remain airborne. It subsequently crashed and all six crewmembers were killed. My mother was later notified of the accident and was told the crash occured "20-25 miles east of Grosseto, near the town of Roccalbegna".
For many years I dreamed about visiting the site of the crash, placing a small monument, and bringing back a small fragment of the aircraft. However, not knowing anything about Italy, I always believed the crash took place high up on a snow-covered windswept mountain, far from human habitation and difficult to reach. It was not until January of 1996 that a friend, Donald Donnarumma, placed a note on the Internet and things began to take shape. Within a short period of time we were contacted by a couple of Italians who indicated a willingness to help. One was Giovanni Casagrande, an Italian in Genova, and the other was Alberto Poggesi, a transplanted Italian living in San Francisco. Thus, "Operation Roccalbegna" was born! After contacting his cousin who lives near the area, Giovanni traveled to Roccalbegna and was able to locate the crash site. He sent me a map of the area with the crash location carefully marked, along with milepost marks to help me locate the turnoff. From this point on, information concerning the event began to come pouring in. Giuseppe (Peppone) Filiaci, a computer engineer from Rome, went on site, took several pictures, and obtained precise GPS coordinates of the location. In August of 1996 Alberto flew to Rome to visit his folks and made a side trip to Roccalbegna with Peppone, to investigate. During this visit, they were able to locate and interview several villagers who remembered the incident quite well. Also, based on information contained in the map provided by Giovanni, and with help from the villagers they visited the site of the crash, confirmed the GPS coordinates, and videotaped the route from the village to the crash site.
Although descriptions of the event vary slightly, the events basically took place in this sequence: During the flight from Corsica my father's plane developed some sort of engine problem and dropped out of formation. The problem turned serious very quickly and crewmembers began pushing cargo out the door, presumably to lighten the plane and increase their flying distance. This did not work, however, and the plane quickly went into a dive. One (or possibly two) crewmembers attempted to bail out but were caught either in the turbulance, or the aircraft itself. The aircraft, and the crew member(s) who bailed out, all hit the ground at Latitude N 42° 44.28', Longitude E 11° 28.46'. A fire broke out immediately. Within a minute or two, one (or possibly two) of the 1000 lb. bombs on board exploded, showering pieces of the aircraft throughout the area. For the next hour or so ammunition which had scattered around the ground continued to explode. Eventually the fire went out and the area was secured. Because the crash site was in liberated territory, (the front line was, on 10/12/44 along the "Gothic Line") American forces showed up at the area four days later and removed the bodies.
For years afterwards, the villagers removed pieces of the plane and recycled them into articles desperately needed in war-torn Italy. Some pieces still live on and are visible today. But most importantly, the memory of the event lives in the minds of the elders and serves as a lesson to the youth of Roccalbegna.
My story describes the warmth and generosity of the Italian people during my visit to the area where my father was killed so many years ago.
9/9/96 - 9/10/96 (Monday-Tuesday)
Check-in at Alitalia. Have a 5:40 boarding time (now 5:00) and 6:25 departure. Simple check-in - ticket & passport. Security wanted to visually check metal detector case after x-ray. Alitalia - B767 white/green. Pretty flight attendants in pony tails. Announcements in both Italian & English. Approximately an eight hour flight to Milan. Hawaii poster (Kaneohe Bay) at jetway.
8:30pm EDT. Only 2 hours into flight. Food was good, coffee strong. Seats are narrow (as usual). Read magazines in seat back - multi-lingual. Thinking of where I'll go after picking up rental car. Still apprehensive about language barrier and day-to-day dealings (meals, hotels, etc.). Will probably not write as much after a day or two. Anxious to get on crash site. Hopefully I will have some time alone there.
9/10/96 7:30am (Italy time) Briefly spot land below before clouds cover. Expansive shoreline with water on south side. Must be the Bay of Biscay. Sun is rising and sky is red. Should be landing in another hour or so.
8:45am We have flown over an area where a thousand mountain peaks rise up out of the mist. It's unlike anything I have ever seen before: the Alps!
In Italy now. It seems our concerns about bringing in strange items (metal detector) were unfounded. I headed for the "Nothing to declare" line and strolled right out!
2:00pm At rest stop near Modena. Looking for hotel but have not recognized one yet. Got off freeway but took wrong turn and got right back on. Will try again near Bologna. Cars drive very fast! Area looks like south Jersey - lots of corn fields and old barns. Getting into vineyards now.
3:00pm Finally found a hotel in Marzabotto. It is Lit. 90,000 but I'm so tired I don't care. The room is quite nice and extremely clean. It is the Hotel Misa.
After checking in, I walked to the bank and converted $200US. They paid at a rate of 1502 which was quite a bit better than what I got in Hawaii. Time to clean up and take a nap!
What a nap! I went to bed at about 4pm and didn't get up until 6:30am! Did not even get up to eat dinner. The sleep was fitful and difficult as my mind was racing with all the thoughts of the trip. As I see it, the language barrier is by far the most difficult part of traveling in a foreign country. And, I am constantly worried about doing something wrong. I went downstairs for the included breakfast this morning but had no way of telling what was included. I had a roll (which I could smell cooking at 6:00) and a cup of coffee and quit at that. When I signaled to pay, he shook his head `no'. Most of the people ate & drank standing up but I found a small table across the room and sat alone. The feelings of apprehension I had while trying to sleep were almost overwhelming but my mind has settled now and I'm eager to get back in the car and see the countryside. I will spend tonight somewhere south of here and try to arrive at Santa Caterina sometime early tomorrow afternoon. BTW - I have not seen a single American car here!
9:00am Very lovely countryside! Winding roads, tunnels, many small villages (SS64). Vehicles frequently drift across painted line. Chilly in shade; sign on building said 10° Centigrade. #2 - Scene in "Municipio di Sambuca". #3 - Rental car - Opel Corsa 1.2 #4-5 - War monument at Km. 21 VII SS64. #6 - Along street at same. #7 - Near S. Momme - N of Pistoria. #8 - Intersection in Siena. Decided I wasn't ready to deal with traffic, etc., in Siena so I headed south, following signs to Grosseto. I'm now having lunch at bar behind gas station. Two salami sandwiches and a Coke. It was the only thing I could order by just pointing at. #9,10 - Countryside about 30km north of Grosseto.
3:00pm Arrived at Santa Caterina Hotel! Thank goodness for Peppone's GPS fixes north of Grosseto! When I reached the final fix, I was able to follow the signs the rest of the way. The hotel is very nice (3 *'s) and the man at the desk (Paolo Moretti) was very helpful. His English is broken, but he seems to understand well. Mr. Poggesi is expected today but is not yet here. I do not know about Peppone but am certain he will find me when he arrives. #11,12 - Hotel Santa Caterina. I am anxious to go to the crash site but would like at least one of the Italians to accompany me. Will rest up a bit now. #13-17 - Intersections on way to site. Could not wait any longer! Drove to area and tried to find the site. I believe I found the trail marked by 2 stones. Wandered into the woods but was afraid of getting lost so I did not go too far. When I returned to hotel Mr. Poggesi greeted me and we chatted for a while. He is a very nice gentleman who knows more English than he says he does. He gave me some military maps of the area with the site marked in pencil. We will be meeting for dinner at 8:00. Stefano is with him and was resting so I will meet him at dinner. The weather has been excellent - sunny, dry, and warm. I am still very weary from the travel and lack of sleep but hope to improve in the next day or two. How very nice it was of Mr. Poggesi to come to S. Caterina to meet with me and discuss the event!! #18,19 - Mr. Poggesi.
10:30pm Tonight I had dinner with Mr. Poggesi and his grandson, Stefano. It was a very enjoyable and informative evening. Stefano is a nice young man with a ready smile and pleasant personality. He translated for us and did a good job. I noticed that he even brought his Italian/English dictionary to use when he could not recall a word. Tomorrow we will meet for breakfast and travel to the site after that. Alberto called while we were having dinner and asked if everything was going well. Peppone said he should arrive at around 11am if the marmista has completed the drilling of the granite. It has been a long day for me so I hope to get some good sleep tonight.
Took various pictures of the crash site, Mr. Poggesi, Stefano. Also, two pictures of them with the Mayor of Roccalbegna (Andrea). Looked over the crash site - it was the same area I was at yesterday. Tried to use the metal detector but received many signals. Went to Roccalbegna and purchased a small scoop/shovel to dig with. Rainy in town - we all got wet. While we were there we met with the Mayor who said he had another witness he would bring by at 9:00pm this evening. Tomorrow morning we will pick up Mr. Pandolfi and set the forms and cement for the plaque. Returned to hotel to await Peppone's arrival with granite slab. Site is very wet right now and will require much work to locate any pieces. Mushroom hunters close by (100+ m.). Leaves blanket the ground and may have covered any pieces by several inches. Site appears to be in the middle of a stream bed. Not sure which came first, crash or stream. Suspect stream as it starts from opposite side of rock road. Mayor is trying to locate owner of land. Discussed monument construction with Mr. Poggesi & Stefano. Mr. Poggesi, Stefano and I returned to the site and began searching with metal detector. After a while Peppone joined us and we met for the first time. He is a warm open person full of enthusiasm. After searching for a short time we found a shred of aluminum. Then a small length of ¼" pipe, more pieces of aluminum, a .50 bullet projectile, and an identification tag from a `Stabilizer, R.H.' with `Martin' on it. I am now totally convinced that this is the correct site. Eventually we left for lunch and Stefano went to Roccalbegna and brought Mr. Pandolfi back with him. We all examined the pieces and then went into Roccalbegna where I met Mrs. Pandolfi and saw their house. After that we went to Mr. Pandolfi's shop where we fitted the plaque to the stone and created a form for the cement. When that was done, Peppone brought us back to the site so we could retrieve our cars. We are back at the hotel now.
Mr. Pandolfi came by with witness Elido Pastorelli who brought a .50 shell from the site he has had for many years and many aluminum fragments he picked up in the area in recent months. One piece he brought looks like it may be made of wood and he is uncertain if it originated from the plane. For over two hours I watched as they all told their stories of war, including the director of the hotel (Paolo Moretti). It was fascinating to see them all relive their experiences of the war so long ago as if it were yesterday. Occasionally Stefano or Peppone would translate an important bit for me so I was not totally lost. This has been such a wonderful experience for me - seeing how warm and giving these people are. Tomorrow we meet at 7:30am for quick coffee and toast and then we go into Roccalbegna to pick up sand and cement for the monument. Just to be on the safe side, Peppone has removed the monument from his trunk and put it in his room for the night. Now it is 11:20pm and I must get to bed.
Breakfast at hotel with Peppone, Stefano, and Mr. Poggesi. They have a table for four all prepared when we came down and there are no other guests. Everyone is speaking in Italian and I have no idea of what is being said. I know, though, that if it is something of interest to me, one of them will translate. As usual, Mr. Poggesi has arrived in a crisp, clean dress shirt with a perfectly tied tie. Stefano and Peppone are both wearing Stanford University shirts and they laughed about that. The weather is cloudy but looks good so far. I saw yesterday how quickly it can turn rainy and then again become clear. What a lovely countryside!!
9:30am Went to the crash area and Mr. Pastorelli took Stefano and me into woods 100 m. from impact site and showed me pieces he had found and left intact for me to `find'. Also, he gave me two .50 cal projectiles and one shell he had found earlier. While on the return, I found an ammo clip laying on the ground. Mr. Pandolfi is now preparing the cement. We have dug the hole for the form. At Peppone's suggestion we embedded a small piece of aluminum in the cement. It was a piece Mr. Pandolfi found while mixing the cement. Stefano is working the camcorder for the event.
10:45am Roll #4 loaded. Went to area Mr. Pastorelli showed us and Stefano and I found many small fragments. Took GPS reading (named waypoint `METAL'): Latitude N 42° 44.209', Longitude E 11° 28.468'. For reference, took another of crash site at the same time (`SITE3') Latitude N 42° 44.230', Longitude E 11° 28.523'.
1:10pm Stefano and I returned to hotel to meet Peppone and Mr. Poggesi. Peppone gave me a large piece of metal they found by the side of the road when they were leaving the site! We don't know for sure that it came from the plane but it seems to have been involved in an explosion so I will bring it home with me for closer inspection. It appears to be an exhaust manifold of some sort.
Italian coffee - very small cup/saucer - small spoon - very strong and not much of it. Coffee brand has to match the machine. Peppone has to go to Grosseto this afternoon and he said he would bring back a 3-cup Italian machine for me. What a wonderful people these Italians are!
5:15pm Stefano and I just returned from the site. We gathered rocks to place around it when the forms are removed and used the metal detector. It seems there are many fragments, especially SW of the impact site. After a while, we were ignoring all but the largest soundings and we brought back a bag of twisted metal fragments. All the while when we were searching, the mushroom hunters were moving through the woods calling out to each other. When we got back to the hotel Mr. Poggesi was strolling around out front and we chatted for a bit. He said the Mayor of Roccalbegna was interested in having some sort of ceremony or celebration next year if I, and/or some of the veterans, would be interested in returning. I told Mr. Poggesi that I would check the level of interest if I make it to St. Louis and will certainly maintain contact with Alberto. Right now I'm quite filthy and very tired. The Mayor is bringing a witness by tonight at 7:30pm so I need to be alert for that. Bath and nap time now!
Benito Goretti (witness) Andrea Zamperini (mayor)
I may be escorted up rock by Andrea on Mon or Tue. He will advise.
Had dinner tonight with above, plus Peppone, Stefano, Mr. Poggesi. During dinner Moreno called to say he was in Roccalbegna. Also, Alberto called to see how things were going. We may go to Roccalbegna festival after dinner.
#13-15 - Fiesta in Roccalbegna. Band is "La Focarazza" (The Big Fire) from Santa Caterina. Singing group dedicated a song to me and audience applauded. Leader of group (Raffaello Raffaelli) gave me signed copy of the song they sang (see photo of him holding sheet During the festival Franco Pameli gave me a hand-made pocket knife made from the aluminum salvaged from the aircraft (by him). Note - One individual at festival said he thought pilot had red or blond hair. Given photo reproduction from June '44 by Mayor during festival. Had wine in old wine cellar. Then, wine in house of Mr. Simonelli. Edoardo Giuseppe Simonelli - Gave me perforated plate, with handle, made from part of the fuselage. Used as cheese strainer (photo w/plate).
Returned to room at 12:30am.
9/14/96 (Saturday) Arrived for breakfast and found everyone waiting for me, including a person from TeleMaremma, a local TV station, who wanted to do an interview. He will return at 9:00am for this. We are now looking over local records which indicate the Carabinieri (the police) arrived at the crash scene 10/12@1600 - 6 bodies - 2 unexploded bombs. 16th Oct - Americans arrive to recover bodies.
After checking out the records, we went back to the hotel and met again with the reporter. He asked several background questions and then we all left for the site. Upon arrival there he `interviewed' me (with Peppone translating). They then took some more video of me with the metal detector and then we all left. Upon arrival back at the hotel I said goodbye to Mr. Poggesi and Stefano. At first they got ready to drive off and then realized that they had forgotten their luggage in all the good-byes. It was sad to see them go as I enjoyed both their company. After that Peppone and I went to Mr. Pandolfi's for lunch (see seating a few paragraphs back) where I finally met Moreno and had a wonderful lunch with the whole family. It was the stereotypical Italian meal with fast chatter, quick laughter, and lot of hand gestures.
Seated around table: Giuseppe Filiaci (Peppone) Merino Catani (Vittorio) Primina Catani (wife of Mr. Pandolfi) Elia Giannelti (Mr. Pandolfi's 88 year old mother) Vezio Pandolfi, Jacopo Chimenti (`YA-ka-po' - Moreno's son) Chiara Pandolfi (`KEE-a-rah' - Moreno's wife, Mr. Pandolfi's daughter) Isotta Chimenti (Moreno's daughter) Moreno Chimenti (Mr. Pandolfi's son-in-law) Luciano Giustarini (cousin).
Peppone and Moreno translated for me as we ate, talked, and then all took pictures of each other. I enjoyed the experience enormously!! I will return to their home tonight at about 9:30pm to attend again the festival that is taking place in town. Moreno and I discuss the large meals they have at mid-day. He says it is a very social family event and that there are times when they never even leave the table between lunch and dinner. When I arrive for lunch, each place has three slightly different types of dishes stacked upon each other. A service is provided on the top disk and then it is removed and a service is then provided on the next disk. The women traditionally attend to the cooking although Moreno tells me there are a few dishes he sometimes likes to prepare. Although my memory of food is often obscured by the conversations, it would seem a typical meal would include pasta, mushrooms, salad with greens and tomatoes, plenty of bread and wine (vino), appetizers, including ham and a vegetable, and no doubt several other items that have slipped my memory. After the meal they presented large bowls of what tasted liked glazed doughnuts but were in a different shape. One bowl had honey covered ones, the other bowl had plain. Everyone told me the food in Italy was good and abundant and I see they were right. I thought they may have been eating better than usual because of guests but Moreno said that was not the case - they eat in a grand fashion such as this at least a few times every week.
Note - Saturnia - hot springs.
Tomorrow morning Moreno will accompany me to the site, after which I am again invited to his house for the mid-day meal. After the meal we, accompanied by Mr. Pandolfi, will return to the site to remove the forms and clean up the area. This entire experience has been so good that it almost has an unreal quality for me. The people I have met have all been so nice and treated me special. I am unaccustomed to being treated in this manner so it is a bit `unnatural' for me but I deeply appreciate the fine people and now understand where Alberto gets his gracious generosity. There was a message waiting for me upon my return to the hotel. A Mr. Cosci from Cana called and said he will meet with me at the hotel tonight at 7pm as he was a witness to the airplane crash.
"MAREMMA" area around Grosseto and Roccalbegna.
Roll #5 loaded.
4:15pm Interview at restaurant in Roccalbegna. Peppone, Moreno & son present. Varo (Mario) Lorenzoni #4 - Crash site (other side of hill) as seen from in front of restaurant. #5,6 - Shock absorber (?) with Mr. Lorenzoni. #7 - View of inside of shock (sketch of shock & dimensions in log book) (Mr. Lorenzoni) Some people remember the parachutist having blue eyes. He will store shock absorber for me at his restaurant. Saw jettisoned blue aluminum containers approx 2' by 4' - white inside. Do not know what they were designed to hold. Guess 500 liter (capacity). Attilio Lorenzini recovered tanks. Lives in Scansano. Perhaps I will call and ask to see the tanks. (Note - never did get to call him). Containers may have been ammunition boxes). 5:30pm - Peppone just dropped me off at the hotel and left for his home. In the short time I've known him, I learned to like him very much. He is the kind of outgoing person that would be difficult to not like.
Interview with Mr. Cosci - Saw 3 bodies - one was a big man. Arrived one half hour after crash - aircraft was still burning. Heard an explosion after the crash. Some people at the scene did not actually see the plane because of distance. Was in Cana and heard explosion. Full name - Valeriano Cosci. Edoardo Bianchi - Brought large fragment for me (#8,9) Parachutist made dent into the ground. Mr. Cosci asks if I have a photo of all the members of crew. He was 16 at the time. Other bodies were removed from the airplane. Memories of the event are very vivid. (During interview with Mr. Cosci the camcorder stopped and I thought battery was dead - Turned out to be a full tape). Mr. Bianchi and his son arrived with a large piece during interview. His grandfather had had the piece laying in one of his farm buildings since the crash and he (Mr. Bianchi) learned of my presence during the festival last night. He spoke with me briefly then and offered to try and locate the piece. Interview with Mr. Cosci and Mr. Bianchi was a bit awkward as Paolo was translating and it was at times difficult for him. Paolo Moretti - Director of Santa Caterina Hotel.
9:15pm Drove to Moreno's and went with his family to festival. Watched dancing on basketball court and talked above the band music. Stayed at dance with Moreno and family until around midnight. By then I was quite cold but it was fun watching all the people have a good time and listening to the band play American songs in Italian. Mr. & Mrs. Pandolfi danced many times, as did Moreno's son and daughter. Moreno, his wife, and I stayed by the sidelines and conversed. They are a very lovely family and I am happy that they are willing to spend time with a stranger (me). Tomorrow morning Moreno is coming by at 9:30am and we will go to the site for a while. Then they have invited me to lunch at 1:00pm. At around 3:00 we will return to the site with Mr. Pandolfi to remove the forms and clean up.
10:15pm Folco Focacci. 14 years old at the time. Visited site 6 days after the crash and there were two Americans guarding the plane. Bodies were gone. Four more Americans then arrived to guard plane.
I am at the hotel now having my breakfast and it seems something is very lacking. I'm sure it is the absence of Mr. Poggesi, Stefano, and Peppone. Last night when Alberto called to check on me he said he had spoken with his father who was already back home in Rome. He was going to call Peppone and speak with him also. Yesterday Peppone had to go to Grosseto on business for a while (or was it the day before??) and he purchased an Italian coffeemaker and some Italian coffee for me. At lunch yesterday the Pandolfi's (and Peppone) demonstrated the method of making Italian coffee. Peppone would not accept any money for the coffee machine nor would he take any for the granite slab he brought for the monument. Paolo's wife, who prepared my breakfast this morning, just came from the kitchen and presented me with a paper bag (about the size of a lunch bag) which contained a fragment of metal approximately 1.5" wide, 10" long, and slightly curved. I asked her about it but she was unable to explain as she does not speak English. I must remember to ask her husband later in the day. I'm sure it's something that someone had at their house, or recently found, but at this point I have no idea who. The weather is again beautiful outside this morning. The temperature is cool (I am wearing my jacket at breakfast) but the sky is clear and the air is calm. When the sun is higher it will warm up nicely. Today we remove the forms and clean up around the area. I'm anxious to see how it all turns out although I know it will be perfect. Moreno has told me that he will check the memorial from time to time during his trips to Roccalbegna and advise me of its condition. Not that I see the item in the wild, I almost wish I had gone the extra distance and brought a heavier bronze plaque. If the aluminum plate does not hold up, I will certainly consider replacing it with something more substantial although I know it would mean starting all over again on the monument. We'll just have to wait and see how it endures.
9:25am Waiting for Moreno who is expected at 9:30. Air is dead calm and countryside is beautiful. I'm looking forward to some hiking and exploring in Roccalbegna this week! Church bells have begun somewhere in background.
Moreno came by at exactly 9:30am and we drove to the site. After stopping by to see the monument, he suggested we explore on the other side of the road. We went deep into the woods and found several interesting finds including three .50 cal casings, one of which had exploded, and one .50 projectile. At about 1:00pm we returned to Roccalbegna and had lunch with his in-laws (see menu, preceding paragraph). Then Moreno, his wife and son, and Mr. Pandolfi and I drove out to the site where Mr. Pandolfi mixed some cement and we surrounded the monument with rocks. It looks very nice and I am especially pleased with the results. After that we did a little metal detecting to demonstrate how it works and then Moreno and I returned to my hotel to retrieve his car. Paolo said my picture was in the Grosseto paper and showed us the article. He made a copy for me (2) and one for Moreno. Also, he said he and his friends would be glad to visit the site each Oct 12th and place flowers. The TV station called here earlier in the day and said the interview would be shown at 8:30pm tonight so Mrs. Pandolfi invited me by for a light dinner and I can watch it at their place. It's now 7:00pm and I said I would be there at 8:00 so I may try to catch a ½ hour nap before I go. Also, I think Moreno is staying one day longer in Roccalbegna on my behalf although I told him not to do anything different because of me. His daughter likes the ides (she gets to cut class tomorrow) but his wife is not very pleased about it. #12 - Moreno at plaque. At approximately 200 m. NE of site found steel ring piece, also small crescent piece at same place.
1:45pm Lunch at Mr. Pandolfi's. Tagliatelle al forno con besciamella e pomodoro e parmigiano. Pollo arrosto con acqua, vino salvia e aglio. Plate with pepper, onion, zucchini, celery, carrot, tomato, olive oil, sage. Formaggio Pecorino = cheese made from sheepmilk. (pecora = sheep). Strufoli (like glazed donut...) - cake. #19,20 -Mr. Pandolfi with carpe (carp) that he and Jacopo caught this morning. Basket of `figs' (fichi) - round, green - red & seedy on inside - sort of tastes like strawberry. Mrs. Pandolfi was going to serve me Italian coffee in a large cup as she thought this was the way we drank it. Everyone had a laugh when she did this and she was amused. After lunch Moreno, Mr. Pandolfi, Chiara, Jacopo, and myself went to the site. Mr. Pandolfi mixed some cement and carefully affixed stones around the monument. It looks better than I ever expected! Now I will go by in the next few days to loosely place smaller stones around the larger ones and to clean up the area a bit. I considered borrowing a tool and clearing all the bushes from the `crater' but perhaps it's best I leave it in its present natural state.
8:00pm At Mr. Pandolfi's. Visited by Giovanna Venturi whose husband was at scene within hour. Salvaged part of the parachute which was made into thread. Woman who came along had thread used to tie off umbilical cord when she was born. Daniela Venturi(daughter). Mother remembered incident well and tears of emotion flowed as we spoke. Mayor was with them and will be at Mr. Pandolfi's house for lunch tomorrow to visit with me. Also, he is available to show me around Roccalbegna on Tuesday afternoon and has invited me to his house for lunch on Wednesday at 1:00pm.
Had a very enjoyable dinner at the Pandolfi's with good conversation between Moreno, Chiara, and myself. We discussed pronunciation differences, various cultures, and the like. They are a very friendly, easy-to-get-along-with group and I feel like a cross between one of the family and an honored guest. We watched the TV interview at about 8:30pm and they all said it was nice. Because it was all in Italian, I could only recognize my name and `Roccalbegna'. I videotaped the TV screen so at least Alberto will be able to see it and provide a translation. During dinner we received a call from Alberto and he relayed email for me. He is keeping up with this trip very closely and it is reassuring to know there is someone out there I can contact in case of difficulty. Also, Moreno has told me to call him should I need anything after he and his family return to Rome tomorrow evening. In the morning I will meet with him at 9:00am and he will show me some of the local sights.
Another day and the weather looks lovely. I am at breakfast now and was just thinking of all that has happened since I arrived in the area only 5 days ago! I feel I have been here much longer and I'm sure that is because of all the activity that has taken place. This afternoon Moreno and his family return to Rome and I lose my primary translator. Last night as I was leaving the Pandolfi's we spoke of teaching Mrs. Pandolfi a little English. I taught her to say, "See you later" and she did very well. She is an energetic and enthusiastic woman who, it seems to me, can speak Italian at a thousand words a minute. I asked Moreno if Italians really speak very fast or if it just sounds that way to a foreigner. He felt the latter was probably the case. Mr. Pandolfi is a quiet man with a ready smile who, although affected Parkinson's disease, was easily capable of performing the cement work on the monument.
I am to meet with Moreno at 9:00am this morning but I forgot if he is coming here or I am to go there. I'll leave here at about 8:45 and will likely meet him halfway if he is Santa Caterina bound.
9:20am Now on road with Moreno who is showing me some of the sights in the countryside. #4 - Approximate view Mr. Pandolfi saw when plane went down. #5 - View to the east. #6 - Mr. Pandolfi's garden on his rural property.
From Mr. Pandolfi - showed me direction he saw planes and black smoke come up from behind hill. Heard explosion approx 20 seconds later. Thought it was some sort of fuel tank and did not realize until later that a plane had crashed. He was 12 at the time and was helping his father plow the land. That evening news came to town that a plane had crashed.
Waypoint - MRP (Mr. Pandolfi's land) Latitude N 42° 47.432', longitude E 11° 31.564'.
Third of May, '44 - Bombing (one bomb) occurred 6-7 kilometers SE of rural property. Do not know what target was. Spitfires remained for almost an hour gunning targets. They found several casings in the area after the event.
#9 - Plaque at sanctuary. Monte Labbro (mountain lip) After leaving Mr. Pandolfi's rural land, we drove to a site high atop a hill (see note on waypoint LABBRO). It was a lovely place with sheep and an old shrine atop the hill. I hope all my photographs come out well! As notes indicate - I'm now on roll #7. #10 - View to the NE #11 - View to the N Waypoint - LABBRO Back to Mr. Pandolfi's for lunch at 1:30pm. Tour of house. Rice with mushrooms - actually quite good! `Risotto con Funghi' - Rice, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and broth, and parsley (from Moreno). Mayor with us for lunch. Had much discussion of the `u' sound. They would pronounce turkey as `tore-key' (sort of). I suspect the American `u' sound simply does not exist in Italian (ask Alberto about this). Dessert - a type of cookie dipped in an amber wine (`Cantuccini Alla Mandorla con Vin Santo (wine of the saints)).
Tried barley coffee while everyone awaited my opinion. I found it rather neutral - not bad, not good; ;just there. They also gave me a cup of `regular' coffee (Italian).
Remainder of roll #6 taken from `castle' above Mr. Pandolfi's house.
4:30pm Loaded Roll #7
#1-5 - Views from Il Sasso or La Pietra (`large rock above village).
6:40pm Time to catch up on today's activities. After lunch, walked up hill to castle behind Mr. Pandolfi's house. Being renovated by the village - hope to be done in about 5 months. Castle is around 600 years old. We then returned to the house for a while and shortly thereafter Moreno, Andrea, and I walked to the top of the rock overlooking Roccalbegna (see preceding paragraphs). Then returned to Mr. Pandolfi's to say our good-byes. Mrs. Pandolfi has invited me to drop by on Thursday at 1:00pm for lunch. Andrea has invited me out for pizza tonight and a tour tomorrow, and lunch at his house on Wednesday at 1:00pm. After leaving the group I walked to my car and heard someone calling me. It was Mr. Pandolfi who was standing by a wall with some friends. We spoke for a few minutes, he in Italian and me in English; neither of us understanding the other. Then we shook hands and I drove back to my hotel. There were two messages waiting for me, one from Peppone who indicated he will call again later. The other was from the Maresciallo dei Carabinieri (Carabienieri's Marshall; the Chief of Police) who dropped by to "salute and meet you". His message indicates he will drop back again at a later date to visit. Now I need to take a short nap so I will note be too tired this evening. Today has been very busy!
10:45pm - Just returned from pizza with Andrea and friends/relatives. The group consisted of Andrea, Riccardo (a hotel owner in Sierna who lives half his time in Roccalbegna, and was the English-speaking person of the group), Riccardo's wife, Andrea's nephew, Andrea's 2 sisters (I believe), a sister's husband (Kirk Douglas look-alike who cooked the pizza). It was a pleasant evening and everyone was friendly but I felt a bit (actually, a LOT) out of place for some reason. Not knowing the language is a big minus in a strange country!!
Tomorrow I am to meet Andrea in the town square at 2:00pm for a tour of Roccalbegna. I know Riccardo is going to Rome for the day so Andrea indicated he would have someone else there to translate for me. On Wednesday Riccardo will pick me up at my hotel at 9:00am and take me to an area (I did not write the name down) where there are vultures in captivity. He said he will get me to Andrea's in time for a 1:00pm lunch. Tomorrow morning is mine! I want to quietly go to the site and arrange the rocks, clean up around the area a bit, and spend some quiet time alone. I'll probably bring the metal detector along and do a little searching to pass the time. Moreno took a call this afternoon from an Elio Barbafina (075-8582164) who was a radio-telegraphic Aeroial (sp?) with the Italian Army who said he remembered a single-engine US plane crashing on 12 Oct 44 enroute from Savena to Toggia (Foggia?). The aircraft crashed near Cittą di Castello. He said the pilot, who was killed, was Argentine. He read of my search in today's paper and thought I might be interested in this account. Moreno took all the information so at this point I don't see a need to call him. Mrs. Pandolfi gave me some plum marmalade today. I sampled a tiny bit first and it sure is good! She said Moreno likes it too.
I am at the hotel restaurant completing breakfast now. Although the weather was rainy last night, it now looks like another clear, beautiful day awaits outside. In a few minutes I will gather my detector and cameras and depart for the site. Odometer distances: (from crash site to Santa Caterina) foot trail to gravel road - .35 (kilometer) to fork in road - 2.0 to paved road - .45 to central Santa Caterina - 5.3 After breakfast I went to the site and supplemented the rocks around the monument with many small ones. Also, I filled the muddy area in front of the monument with large rocks so people may cross the crater more easily. Then I searched the area about 50M north of the crater and found many fragments. Interestingly - I also found a shovel head in the area but it was buried much deeper than the aircraft fragments (8-10"). I don't know if that means it's been there much longer or not. It was a good morning at the site though, and I accomplished what I wanted to. Also, lighting was good so I took several photos of the area (up to about #17).
1:40pm - I have come into town to meet Andrea and decided to eat at the little bar that advertised hot dogs and `ambergers' out front. But, they had no idea of what I was talking about when I ordered a `amburger'. So... the waitress brought a menu and appeared to be making a suggestion. I nodded and then she nodded and disappeared into the kitchen. We'll see what arrives on my plate! When she signaled `drink' I said `coke' and she nodded and then fixed me the sweetest (sugar+) soda I've ever tasted! (Lunch turned out to be spinach ravioli - it was very good)
Met with Andrea late (I had to wait for my lunch). Alessio Tiberi - student who speaks some English and did some translating. Eugenia Del Giudice - Farmacy of Roccalbegna - also helped translate.
Drove/hiked with Eugenia and Andrea to large rock above town. Took rest of roll #7. Roll #8 3:20pm. Waypoint - ROCK #1-8 - On stream trail and pool at end. #9 - After strenuous hike up hill. Waypoint - HILL. Did not carry water. Quite thirsty. Eugenia and I are tired - Andrea is just loafing along. We are now back at the bar. Andrea led us to the top of the rock and then down into town. I had the largest coke they could make. Eugenia has left us to return to her pharmacy and I will drive Andrea back to his car. #? - 15 - On climb down from rock. #16 - Eugenia's pharmacy (Farmacia). #17 - City Hall on left, road to Santa Caterina on right. #18 - Tractor with firewood going up main street.
Andrea followed me to the hotel and then I went with him to a farmhouse in the hills above Santa Caterina where I met a woman (Beatrice Hartmann) who speaks English quite well. Andrea has asked me to go by the school on Thursday morning at 9:00am to speak with the children via the woman. I am also asked to bring some of the pieces that have been given to me, some I have found, and the metal detector. Then we will all bus to the site and examine the monument. Also, I will give a brief demonstration of the metal detector. There was a call this morning from someone who wants to meet with me tonight at 8:00pm (in 20 minutes). Originally this was thought to be a witness but they called back later and said they were not a witness but, rather, had a large piece of the plane they would like to offer me. I'm anxious to see what they have. I'm not sure how difficult it would be to ship the item to Hawaii so it's something I may have to leave behind. I'm starting to drive like an Italian although I have a long way to go. On the way back to the hotel I felt I was negotiating the curves very well until I looked in my mirror and saw Andrea right on my bumper!
Interview - One half hour after crash - smoke but no fire - 4 bodies outside plane. 10-12 people. Two people with parachute. Did not see crash but heard it. Two explosions - 30 seconds to one minute after crash. Father made a rifle stock from propeller but rifle later burned in a house fire. Lived 5-6 Km. from the site. Noemi Corridori, Valeriano Corsetti (her son). She has a piece of the plane that she would like to offer me. Paolo and I will go to her house to view it and see if it's something I can take home. He was my translator again and did a good job.
9:15pm - Just spoke with Alberto again. He has called a few times to check on the progress of my trip and the `mission'. He has been relaying email messages back and forth between the folks in Hawaii and my mother and has been coordinating all the efforts of Peppone, Moreno, and everyone else he can. Were it not for Giovanni and Alberto, this trip may never have gotten off the ground and, even if I had arrived here, the trip would be only a small part of the success it has been!
Only three days here remaining after today. The time has gone by quickly. This morning the weather is dry but cloudy so there may be rain later today. I have several things to do today and it will be a fairly busy schedule. I am now waiting for Riccardo to pick me up and show me his vulture breeding station. The tendon in my left foot is quite sore from yesterday's hike but that shouldn't be a problem today.
9:50am - With Riccardo at Falcon site. #23 - Information display. Waypoint - FALCON. #24,25 - High above Rigo river (which eventually joins the Albegna river).
10:05am Roll #9. #1 - Above Rigo river. #2,3 - Joining of Rigo and Albegna rivers. Riccardo, biologist (brown shirt), friend, & Lark (the dog). Water level is up in Feb-Mar. Small worms in ponds. Riccardo says many Italian men have worms in stomach (tapeworms?) Waypoint - RIVERS. 12:30pm Riccardo just dropped me off at the hotel. He is involved in the preservation of a white eagle - only 300 pair remain in Italy. We carried material to build a blind. He will set it up at a later date when the eagle has migrated out of the area for the winter. We walked over several trails and down the river bottom to where the two rivers join. We were eventually joined by a biologist from a university in the area, and a friend of his. A very pleasant morning. I am now preparing to meet Andrea for lunch in Roccalbegna.
1:20pm At Andrea's house. We walked to school and met some of the teachers and the children. Also, the `translator' dropped by. This is where I will report tomorrow at 9:00am. Seems we are now waiting for others to arrive. It is only me, Andrea, and an old woman cooking in the kitchen but there are 8 places set at the table. Rocca = rock. Albegna = the name of the river. #5,6 - Dinner at Andrea's. 2:30pm Clockwise around dinner table: Andrea Zamperini, Mario Zamperini, Francesco Pellegrini, Giulia Pandolfi, Massimo Pellegrini, Raul Taradel, Alessandro Taradel, Michael Gawley (This was dinner at Andrea's mother's and Andrea wrote all the names, including mine, in the book)
4:15pm After dinner Andrea, Mario, Alessandro, and I returned to the hotel and picked up Paolo. The five of us took two cars and first went to a house just south of the hotel where we met Mr. Bellucci (in picture next to wheelbarrow). He had several fragments, two of which I took with me (each about 10" x 10") and two long pieces about 4' x 6" (in picture) which I left.
Interview with Mr. Bellucci with Paolo, Andrea, and others. He indicated two planes collided (a guess?), one evacuated and then crashed into ocean, 2nd plane is the one that crashed in Roccalbegna. Dropped bombs in sea - 5 bailed out, pilot returned, plane in flames, pilot bailed and plane crashed. No collision but he feels certain the two crashes were same day, same formation. Second crash - town of Magliano in Toscana (dropped between Magliano and Doganella in the estate of Prince Francesco Vivarelli Colonna: Living heir: Riccardo Vina-Relli Colonna). Belluccio Bellucci. 0564/980019. Queries: Gino Bini and Fortunato Bini. 59 21 80. 59 22 17.
After we left there, we all drove to the house of Noemi Corridori and her son to view the `large' piece she said she had. And what a large piece it was!! It must have been 5' or 6' wide and 4½' high. There was no way I could bring it with me so I took several pictures. After that she invited us in for wine and gave me a basket of mushrooms. What a splendid woman! And her son has a very friendly and perpetual smile. After that we all returned to the hotel where everyone went their way and I returned to my room.
Andrea is going to try to contact the mayor of Magliano to see if he can check the police records to confirm the crash occurred on 12 Oct. All this information is very new and contrary to what I had heard earlier that it is very suspect to me. There was some discussion that we could meet in Magliano on Friday afternoon to gather further information if it turned out the story might be true. Also, they said I am to be honored at a reception at City Hall on Saturday morning at 11:00am. For now, I think I will drive to the site for some quiet time alone. Paolo said he will have dinner ready for me at 8:00.
8:30pm - Just returned from dinner and I'm stuffed!! Paolo has been preparing the mushrooms (!!) that were given to me today - a plate of sliced mushrooms and cheese in some sort of butter sauce, then pasta with mushrooms, and finally two of the large mushrooms cooked in such a manner as to resemble two round, thin steaks. I tried a small piece and it was quite good (nothing like the mushrooms I have learned to hate back home) but I am so full that I could not eat another thing. So, I told Paolo he could eat them. I have been feeling a little weary as of late. It's probably due to all the activity, plus the hiking yesterday and today. Just to be sure, I plan to go to bed early tonight and get a little extra sleep. Tomorrow I will be at the school in the morning and at dinner at Mr. Pandolfi's in the afternoon. I hope to have time to explore the town of Roccalbegna and take some pictures of the village. It's a charming segment of Italy with its narrow streets, arches, old construction, and pleasant people. It certainly deserves at least one roll of pictures.
After breakfast I went to the school where I met with the teachers, Mr. Pandolfi, Mr. Pastorelli, and Beatrice Hartmann (translator), and Andrea. We went to the class where about 30-40 11-13 year olds were waiting. I spoke to them about why I was there, demonstrated the metal detector, passed out business cards, and fielded some questions. Then they all loaded into a bus and drove to the crash site. We took the car and met them where they all looked over the monument and then I found a few pieces with the detector for them. When we were at the school they gave me a book about Roccalbegna that they had all signed.
My translator is Beatrice Hartmann. Her husband's name is Peter Luthi. Their children are Anna Unoa Lucia-Eud, and Podere Grillaione.
12:00 noon #30,31 - Woman from school whose father-in-law was on Oahu, and the `translator'. Taken in front of the school building.
After all that I returned to the hotel briefly and then went back to Mr. Pandolfi's for lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Pandolfi, Riccardo and his wife, and Eugenia. After a while Andrea came by and we discussed the `second plane'. He was unable to find out an exact date but he said it was a four-engine plane so I assume it was not a part of my father's formation. Based on this information, I do not think it would be worth spending time to travel to the area tomorrow but I will certainly look into the matter further when I return to Hawaii.
5:30pm - New roll of film.
After lunch, Andrea took me, Mr. Pandolfi, and Eugenia south to several areas of historic importance. We started at the medieval town of Sonova where we viewed the cathedral and several other buildings. Then we drove to Soreno where we walked around the back streets. It was like being in a Disneyland set, with narrow walkways, unsquare buildings, stairways everywhere, and the ever-present cats in every corner. Here Andrea ran across someone he knew who invited us to `cantina'. We followed them out of town and stopped at a farmhouse where we all sat at a stone `picnic table' and had wine and cheese until it got dark. Waypoint - CANTINA. Then it was off again into the darkness. We stopped briefly at a place Eugenia called Pitigliano which she said was a very important place in Italian history. This too was a place like none I have ever been to. It was built atop a large hill (mountain?) and we could literally look over the edge and beyond at the winding road that led away from town and over ancient (?) arched bridges. On the sides of the hills I could see many caves that they told me were used to store the vino. We left this area and shortly came upon another lit place in the middle of nowhere. Andrea turned off onto a dark dirt road and climbed a hill to the end. Here we got out and walked through the darkness to a fence. Beyond the fence was a temple-looking structure illuminated with floodlights. Eugenia said it was a very ancient tomb with large underground rooms. The place had closed an hour before, though, so we could not get in to look around. Then it was back into the car again where we launched off into the darkness. Andrea navigated all the many curves with aplomb as we rocketed down the narrow unlit highways, occasionally passing through a small village while hardly slowing down or obeying any stop signs. At one point he swerved right to avoid a group of several dozen large sheep-sized animals in the middle of a very dark stretch of road. I asked what they were as we shot past but the response came in Italian and I did not recognize the word. Finally I saw the `rock' ahead and knew we were almost back. They dropped me off at my car and asked if I would like to go to Mount (something) about 30km away tomorrow but I declined, explaining that I would like to walk to Roccalbegna and take some pictures, weather permitting. Perhaps we will go to the mountain on Saturday afternoon.
Survana - birthplace of Pope Gregory the VII.
#7 - Soreno.
Pitigliano - stopped at on way home from `cantina'.
9:30pm - Just returned to the hotel - too late for dinner so Paolo said he could fix me a bowl of ice cream (at my request). Today was very busy but enjoyable. When I did finally get back to the hotel it was 9:30. Paolo said Alberto had called and had messages from home and would call me again tomorrow morning. I'm certain they are nothing urgent but it's nice of him to take the time to call. Tonight I will sleep well!
I did sleep well, although I spend the night racing along dark curved roads in my sleep! Alberto called this morning promptly at 8:00am and passed some messages from home and we chatted about the trip. After dinner I videotaped the route from the hotel to the site and from Santa Caterina to Roccalbegna. I went by Mr. Pandolfi's house and his wife indicated he was at his shop. I could not remember the route so I asked Eugenia and she showed me. Mr. Pandolfi is working on some furniture and wrote `PM' on a piece of weed to indicate I should come back in the afternoon. Meanwhile, I will take some pictures of Roccalbegna. While walking near gas station, I spotted the Alessio, the student I had met a few days ago (he speaks English) so I crossed street and began chatting with him. He said he is a college student in Bologna but school does not start until 15 Oct. He told me he had been in the US in '94 as an exchange student with a group of others and had stayed in Baltimore and saw DC, New York, and Pennsylvania. While we were talking, the local police dropped by and, via Alessio translating, we talked for a while. He said there was a man in the square who was a witness so we called him over and talked for about 15 minutes. Witness - two groups of 12 airplanes. Saw plane try to land on hill - throwing things out of plane. Right engine smoking - two planes returned. Saw one man try to parachute out 100 m. away. Found boxes of sugar. Saw bodies being carried away. Saw 5 bombs in tail (?). Did not hear any bomb explosions. (Alessio translating). No other plane in distress. Slender body - smaller. Thought at first it might have been a woman. Emiliano Morgisechi (#36,37). Was about 3pm when crashed occurred. With Carabinieri. I then took their picture. Afterward, I continued to wander through town and saw several people I recognized including the woman and her son who have the large piece of the aircraft. Saw Mr. Pandolfi's mother in alley and she (reluctantly) agreed to let me take her photograph (#1).
10:20am Returned to hotel to freshen up and will go back into town shortly to visit with Mr. Pandolfi. I could not understand all of this morning's conversation but hope that they are not now expecting me for lunch as I have already imposed upon them a great deal. I am beginning to understand how tiny Roccalbegna really is as I run across people I have met all the time now. Naturally their names are difficult for me to remember but I can usually recall the situation I met them in. Those I have met great me with a warm smile while those I have not met usually stare with a quiet curiosity. This morning I met two mushroom pickers on the trail to the monument who were rather reserved until they realized I was the one who placed the stone. Then it was a warm greeting and handshake. Will I be able to return to the life of a `commoner'?? I hope so! #14 - Via Archi #15 - Up alley towards rock. #16 - Fold down entryways. #17 - Ever present laundry - wall that goes around city (part way) #18 - Unlocked bicycle #19 - Looking away from rock #20 - 3-wheeler - no license required. #21 - Behind church. #22,23 - Scenes near "Raccolta d'arte Oratorio SS. Crocifisso" #24 - Albegna river, as viewed from park above. #25 - Municipal park at edge of town. #26 - Rolling store in middle of town. #27 - Local shops on `main street'. #28 - Side street (walk only) #29 - Cats everywhere! They panicked and ran when the camera clicked. #30 - Roccalbegna school. #31 - Municipal building with `handle'. #32 - WWF poster on store front #33 - Farmacia de Eugenia #34,35 - Mr. Pandolfi's home. Roll #11 loaded.
1:00pm Drove/walked to top of `rock' and took video. Waypoint - RKBGNA. I met with Vezio (Mr. Pandolfi) at about 1:30pm yesterday and we went to his house for lunch. While there, Mrs. Pandolfi and I were discussing the hamster that I never did see (nocturnal). She removed the door and signaled that I could reach into its nest and touch it. When I put my finger in the nest, it promptly bit me! We all had a good laugh about that. Later in the afternoon Andrea, Eugenia, and Alessio came by and four of us headed out for the afternoon (Vezio, me, Alessio, Andrea). We drove to Montalcino where we toured the castle and the city. It was very unlike Roccalbegna with all its open shops and many young people. At the end of the day it was once again off into the darkness with Andrea (driving my rental) careening into the night. Soon we were back in Roccalbegna and went to Vezio's. Andrea disappeared for a while and later reappeared with pizza for all of us. We talked (Alessio translating) and joked until eventually Andrea got a call from someone with information about the `2nd crash' south of here (see notes in previous paragraphs). I decided it would not benefit me to drive down there today to investigate but rather will see what further information I can call up when I return home. Also, I am invited to Vezio's for dinner tonight and a `witness' with information on the 2nd crash will be there. Plus, Moreno called yesterday and said he will most likely show up this afternoon. He is interested in the metal detector and said he would like to purchase it from me. I can always order another when I return to the states. Today I need to cash another traveler's check, buy postcards, and get some tape to wrap my metal parts in. Then I need to be at City Hall at 11:00am. This afternoon I should spend packing as I will have no time for that in the morning or this evening. Hard to believe my Italy adventure is coming to an end! #2 - In Montelcino. No drinking age in Italy for wine. Tour town - many shops. Visit castle - photos from top and video. Waypoint - MONTI. Low wall - no guard rail. Vezio sitting on wall gives me the chills. Andrea doing the same. Can see Siena to the north. When parking, set time on dial in windshield. Information: (?) spoke with Andrea (Nivo Corridori (told Ivo)) and described what sounds like a P38. Said three bailed and three remained and died in the crash. He confirmed the date as 12 Oct 44 and said the crash occurred at area mentioned by the other fellow (Magliano).
8:40am - It is raining heavily outside this morning. I suppose if it had to rain, this is a good day for it. The weather otherwise has been very good during my stay.
Lori Bellucci Boccaleguo (sp?) - Greeted me outside City Hall and gave me a handkerchief his wife made from a piece of the parachute! He said she also made a silk blouse that his daughter wore when she got married, but he could not find it now.
At 11:00 reception at City Hall. Estimate 50-70 people, Andrea in crisp suit. Gave nice speech - translated by woman from hills (Beatrice Hartmann). Met many, many people. The entire reception was enjoyable, although I felt quite uncomfortable being the center of attention. They presented me with books on Roccalbegna, Santa Caterina, Vallerona, and the "Provincia Di Grosseto", each signed by local government figures and by citizens of the community. Also, I was given a painting by Raffaello Raffaelli which I handled very carefully to ensure it made it back to Hawaii undamaged. After Andrea's speech, I was expected to give a little speech which I did as best I could. Following this, we all ate from a vast table of food that had been prepared for the occasion. While eating, many people came up to shake my hand and wish me well. It was a fabulous experience that I will never forget.
8:50pm - Interview with man from SW Roccalbegna who saw the 2nd plane crash - 3 died - 3 bailed. Description consistent with P38. Sure it crashed on Oct 10,11,or 12th. Perhaps not a twin tail aircraft. Only saw one plane falling in flames - did not observe any other aircraft. Two engine bomber. Bare aluminum (not fully painted). Nivo Corridori (from Magliano) 0564-592554. Also today - tour of eagle farm. Tour of castle by Raffaello Raffaelli (ex-school teacher of Moreno, and the man who gave me painting of Roccalbegna).
I'm at breakfast now and will be leaving Santa Caterina shortly. As all good things, my vacation/mission must soon come to an end. After checking out, I will make one last visit to the site and then head for Grosseto. I plan to drive all day and arrive in Milan/Malpensa this afternoon where I will find a room for the night and complete my packing for tomorrow's flight. My good-byes yesterday were difficult. I have become attached to many of these fine people and find leaving them painful. · late entry - Eagle farm - several of the white eagles in captivity. Old farm - nobody living there. Dogs followed us throughout. Castle - many rooms - cross with 5 half-moons - closed down when they poured cement without permit. Old furniture - high ceilings. 3:45pm - I am now at the Cardano Hotel which is very close to Malpensa Airport. Cost here is Lit. 130,000 but it's close and I don't feel like spending a lot of time shopping. This evening I need to get everything packed and grab something to eat. All I had for lunch was a box of vanilla wafers and something that looked like M&M's. I was going to eat a sandwich at a roadside stop but couldn't figure out how to order (they were using vouchers) so I grabbed the quickest thing. The drive up was smooth but long and rainy. When I went by the monument this morning there were two mushroom pickers reading the plaque so we chatted briefly. Was nice to see people at the site. I could hear others back in the woods hollering to them.
7:00pm - Dinner at restaurant near hotel - steak (?), veggies, 1/4L red wine, ice cream, American coffee. Not bad but a little pricey. Ice cream is very rich and good. Almost all packed - should be ready to head for airport first thing in the morning. Am concerned about customs. Although there is nothing in the bags that should concern them, all the aircraft scraps are suspicious by nature. I have the newspaper articles handy and can use them for explanation if necessary. Also, I'm going to try to give myself plenty of time to check in. By this time tomorrow I will be back in the US. What a great trip this has been! Although it will be nice to be around "English speakers" again, I'll miss the Italian `scene' and hope to find a realistic way to study the language for my next trip. Many of the people in Roccalbegna asked if I would be returning next year and my stock answer was, "I hope to", and that's correct. Although I will doubtless be treated more `normally', I think a return trip will still be special. And, although I would still concentrate on Roccalbegna, I would probably structure something around Rome and a few of the other major sights of this lovely country.
9:15am - Now at the gate awaiting boarding. Check in was easy - left two bags with ticket counter and brought rest with me. No customs check or anything like that. In another 2 hours I should be on my way and, hopefully, so will my luggage
On to the description of the October 12th ceremony
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Last Modified 03/01/03