Flanders to Rome
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We made the news!
We made it on front page of the Dominion Post and also made it inside various other newspapers around the country
Here's the front-page article as scanned from the DP. You can download a bigger version here (about 600KB) or a much bigger version here (about 4MB) or a large PDF here (about 5MB). Click here to read the full text of the article.
22nd August 2007
Uncle Sonny and our cousin Paolo Fulci the Ambassador have asked me to provide some additional information about the Memorial to our uncle and grand-uncle Charles Rangiwawahia Sciascia at La Bassee-ville , Warnerton. This is in response to many of the questions asked by the whanau. There is a very good description on the web already.
Let me start from the beginning family.
The start of course is with Angiola from Genoa finding the website created by Diane Taylor from Levin after the 1997 trip last May 2006. This was just a month after Piri and I decided we would go to Belgium to be part of the 90 year celebrations and to visit the memorial stone which Dominique had located. As you know once Uncle Sonny heard of our plans he quickly informed us we would also go to Italy as before he died he wanted to put his arms around a real live Italian relation. Piri and his family had of course met Michael Sciascia and his family from Bartholomeo, brother to Papa Nicola some 5 years earlier. We of course then planned an itinerary with Uncle making sure all his wishes would come true.
Angiola is from Raffella's line, a sister to Papa Nicola. She had done some research as she is like Diane has a committed focus to our whanau history. However we were able to fill in many gaps. Diane sent her all our information (which was considerable) Angiola took herself off to Trani to research the family history. There she learnt that 20years earlier an Ambassador Fulci had also researched the same family. He was from Giancinto line a brother of Papa Nicola. Angiola found a telephone number and decided to ring it. Claris, Paolo's wife said it was the strangest thing as she never answers the phone let alone the fax phone but this day she was walking past it as it rang and she picked it up. The rest is history, Paolo was put in touch with Piri and it turned out that Paolo had a Grandfather who's name was Carlo Sciascia ( Charles) who was killed in Messina in Italy 1908 and on learning about a Charles Sciascia killed in France he decided to research more. His daughter worked in Brussels and he was about to visit her. From the daughters inquiries she was put in touch with Dominique whom she was told, knew the family of Charles from New Zealand. Piri was able to verify that indeed we knew Dominique well.
Paolo and his family collected Dominique from her home in Denndermonde and they went to Mesen. Paolo of course knew of our intended visit in fact by that time I had sent him an itinerary.
On seeing the memorial stone with at least 500 other names, and realising there was no grave Paolo decided this was not good enough for us to arrive to so he quickly decided a monument of some kind needed to be erected.
They all went off to Warnerton ( La Basseville) where a spot was selected off the road down an alley of trees. Dominique coordinated the procuring of the site however on her return to New Zealand last year she informed Paolo that the Mayor was not receptive to such a notion and the only way forward was for Paolo to buy a piece of land. He immediately saw that this idea would lead to ongoing complications, ownership, maintenance etc so he returned to Warnerton to meet with the Mayor. To ensure he received some cooperation he took with him the husband of the French Ambassador. Two Ambassadors certainly worked and the Council of Warnerton is responsible for the site and its ongoing care.
Warnerton is somewhat like Porangahau, a creek runs through the area, one side is Belgium the other France. They speak French. Imagine the Pa side of the river in Porangahau is France and you have it. It through some light onto why the official Army record of Charles says he was killed in France, he could well have been. France is right there.
Of course Paolo also met with two other groups and a committee was set up ( my words) these were the RSA and members of a Historic Society Group who had a role in the history of the area and its monuments etc. They were all brought on side and so it began. Dominique found a stone mason and Paolo wrote some text which he sent off to our Embassy for verification. This was important as there were two decision for the inscription made that is different to the Army record. This was: Charles on record is of Porangahau and his official death is the 1st of August. The text on the stone reads of Koputaroa and went into battle on the night of the 31st July 1917. Uncle Sonny accepted this wording and in a booklet that Paolo has had printed with all the details it was stated that Charles name is on the Memorial stone at Levin, It could also read and “also on the Memorial stones at Porangahau”. The details of the site and the stone were set and a contract was made.
All that was left was the payment. In Paolo's word “ over the years I have contributed to many projects. It was an honour to contribute to my own family” However he realised he was not the only person who might feel this way so he sent out a notice to the other branches of the family in Italy and Brazil and a full list of those who contributed are also in the booklet. This booklet was handed to us the first night in Roma, a full account of the history of Charles and a description of the stone and about the ceremony that was carried out prior to our arrival. With a copy of all the speeches. Paolo has promised he will reprint extra copies and send them over so we can hand them out to the family.
The early unveiling: Paolo's explanation of why this happened was about ensuring that all the work was completed before we arrived. And to make sure it was, he invited a very important group of people to attend the unveiling a month before we were due. A very moving ceremony was held with all the people involved in the establishment of the stone and site, plus officials from France, Belgium, Italy and our own NZ Ambassador and most importantly the family from Italy, Enrico Colamartino, Claris and Paolo with Dominique and her parents. And of course the Historic Society, the RSA and the stone mason and his son. Plus I believe some locals.
Many of these people where there again for the official presentation during our visit. The Mayor expressed (with Dominique translating) that the frequent calls from the Ambassador was pivotal to his participation in what he thought was a strange request However after meeting us and observing our protocol and appreciation ( helped I believe by Uncle Sonnys speech and presentation from the Horowhenua Council as well as a lovely tie) he now could see why this stone was important. To end, it means that forever our family have a spot in Belgium that acknowledges not only our part in their history and the part of Granduncle Charles. But the part all the people of the world have played to ensure a better place for mankind.
well most of us have returned and needless to say very grateful to be back in a cooler climate.
Uncle Sonny and a party of 10 flew in Saturday, 15 of us stopped off in Hong Kong. Jean, Erin and the two girls Katarina and Jojo went off to Scotland and London. Linda Fletcher to Turkey. John and Helen Sciascia, Robyn and Don plus the Gardners Paul and Christine, stayed on in Italy doing a range of trips. Paul and Lania Mac Donald are back in Aussie, Paul in a wheelchair by his final leg!!! and so slowly we are returning.
Completely worn out mostly, a few sick with flu which went around the group a couple of times but thoroughly satisfied and happy to have been part of this remarkable experience.
I see there are reports of the final few days in Roma, but the highlight for me was the final nights presentation of a book which describes in detail all we have seen and learnt in regard to our family and its history. Piri did the comparison to our whakapapa and the coincidences continue so wait for that to unfold. He has also prepared a power point presentation and will lead a discussion at Kereru and Porangahau in the next wee while.
The book was put together by the two men we met in Bisceglie and Paolo Fulci. One of these men are related G La-Notte he comes from a branch before Papa Nicola's Grandfather Carlo. I will have to leave this for Piri to explain the connections of course. These two men were part of the group who hosted us in Bisceglie along with another Sciascia man who came to the reception with his Father and son. Amazing really as we walked around feasting our minds and bodies on the experience of discovery. That night the top Chef of Puglia( the district) cooked for us their fare.
So to receive this information written up, just was a highlight for me. There were extra copies so do contact your representative on the trip so you can read this for yourself. Needless to say there weren't 4000 copies so its a share situation. Maybe in the end it will be on the web so everyone can read it. I explained to our group that I am the only person from Porangahau where most of the village are Sciascia so many extra copies were given to me to hand out.
This document is a forerunner for a full book of all the families. Some of the branches have written their story already, Piri has been asked to write our story which he has accepted and I am sure he will seek the help of those whose interests cover the topic. Diana Taylor and I had begun the collection of the names for the whakapapa section which will be part of it. Paolo calls the next epic " the Sciascia saga" He is quite keen to form a United Nations of Sciascia as he has established we cover the major countries of the world and let me tell you whanau we come from great stock.
Along with this was another presentation of a German bayonet found at the site of Granduncle's Charles stone at La Bassie. That was quite moving for me and for Paul as the only RSA man on the trip and the person with the name La Bassee. Paolo had it boxed and it was handed to Uncle for the family.
All the families were represented at the dinner, Donato flew down from Genoa, Carlo who had been with us since we arrived in Trani came with his lovely sisters, Miriam and Slivan, her husband and their Mother Macello who is 96years.
There were others too and Piri has a handle on their names but all of it special and important. Again another feast and wonderful occasion.
The next day Paolo and Clarris came to say goodbye dressed in their Sciascia Pilgrimage shirts looking so fresh and happy. Again we got to say goodbye as their car followed us along the way for sometime waving to each other.
Without a doubt our hearts were touched by all of the family we met. Right from the first with the beautiful experience of Genoa, then Ortona with Flavia and Olena our cousins from Paolos family, then Trani and Biseglie, and of course the lovely Leah in Bari and her family who really fell in love with some of us!!! and finally Rome.
What an honour it has been to represent so many of those at home in our homeland of our Italy whanau.
Finally can I saw what a special group we had, such a great crowd to travel with. They made it easy with so many sharing the responsibility and roles. All doing our very best. There are some wonderful shots and I hope people will post them on this site as they come available once we have recovered.
Lastly my heartfelt thanks to Alan who made this communication possible. Alan, so many people have stopped me in the street, both family, friends and others to say how much they have enjoyed following the whole trip.
God Bless you,
Hi everyone, we have now arrived in Hong Kong yesterday afternoon after the 11 hour flight from Germany, we were so pleased that we weren't with the other members of our party who were flying on to NZ as it was a very long flight, although Brian and I did manage to score two seats each which was a bonus.
We had such a great time with everyone for the three weeks it was sad to be
splitting up but all good things must come to an end at some stage. We have
spent the last two days with the remaining members who have left Hong Kong this
afternoon heading for home. We have a couple of days on our own to explore this
We all had a great day yesterday haggling with the electronic store assistants over Ipods which seem to be the latest craze for people to buy. The guys seem to have us tourists sussed and all seem to be working together to keep the prices about the same. The have scouts that go from shop to shop warning each other that we are approaching. It was fun watching it all happening.
We went down to watch the great laser and fireworks show that is put on each evening on the Hong Kong Harbour at 8pm. It is a great spectacle and is watched by thousands. After this we went for a meal and a walk around the markets, which is not my favourite thing to do as everything is mainly the same and I get fed up with the hasselling.
The weather is very hot and humid and we try to be out of the sun at mid day when it seems to be the worst. There just seems to be so many people around at all times, but we are surprised at how European the shops are especially in the clothes shopping.
Brian has been recommended a friendly tailor by Palma Nand at PG , and is getting some nice clothes made.
We hope al all is well with everyone and will catch up with you shortly in NZ.
Love Brian and Marie Rose
Hi to you all,
Today is the last day for us in Europe and sadly we must head to the Rome airport in a few hours to catch our flight to Hong Kong, in transit in Munich for a short time.
Its hard to believe we started off in Brussels just over two weeks ago, and then to Paris and Switzerland to Italy. The family visit to Italy has been so successful, way beyond the dreams of the elders of the family who have been searching for their roots for thirty years. We have met some really lovely people who also have embraced us as family and are so welcoming to us at each place we have been. Our tour directors says we have been to places that the normal tourist just has never a chance of going to. Even he has been included in all our celebrations and attended all the dinners that have been provided for us.
A great example of this was yesterday which is a holy day in Italy, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, so everything is closed. We travelled to see the Pope in his summer palace which is set the hills of Rome about 45 minutes drive by bus. It is overlooking a lake which was where the rowing took place during the Olympic Games. We were given the privilege of seeing him in an enclosed courtyard which is covered by large tarpaulins so is very cool and were right under him, if you don't have entry to his area you are outside with hundreds of others standing in the hot sun. The people just worship him and there is great cheering when he comes out on to the balcony for approx. 20 mins. He speaks in Italian, German,English, Spanish and Dutch to the crowd. After that we wandered around the small shopping area there, which has many souvenir shops and restaurants. We had lunch there before heading back to the hotel.
Last night we were given a great reception at the private club of The Foreign Affairs, hosted by Paulo and Clarice Fulci our cousins. Paulo is a retired ambassador and has many connections. It is mainly due to him that we have had such amazing events happen to us in Rome. It was a beautiful outdoor setting under umbrellas, alongside the pool and had wonderful food served to us. The NZ ambassor was there, and I was sitting next to the former Italian ambassador to NZ , a very nice man.
Most of the other relatives that we have met also attended as it was treated as our final function here in Italy. Even the 96 year old great aunt came along .
The previous evening Paulo and Clarice entertained us at
their private apartment to a cocktail party. The apartment was beautiful,
finished in marble gold and glass, with beautiful paintings adorning the walls.
On Tuesday we all did a city tour to see the highlights , then some of us more adventurous ones caught the Metro into the city and did a bit of shopping. We visited St Peters square and the Basilica and the Pantheon with all the other hundreds of tourists. The queue for the Cisteen Chapel just went for miles in the very hot sun so we did not get to see it. Also saw the Coliseum which we found so interesting. We had a private tour guide for this part which was just great as he was full of knowledge.
We hope to email you all from Hong Kong, but are sad to be leaving this country today, the history is just so unbelievable and overwhelming at times.
Love to you all
Brian and Marie Rose
Hope you are all fit and well. We are just waiting at the hotel as there is a problem with the bus this morning we are going to Rome and it takes about 6 hours from Trani where we have found out that our family have been since the 15 hundreds. The relations here have looked after us like we are royalty. Last night there was a civic reception and Uncle Sonny was made an honourary citizen of trani. It is the first time that this has ever happened. After the ceremony we went to a private club for a dinner, although everything is closed on a Sunday at midnight there are people everywhere and the place is just jumping.
Two day days ago Paulo Fulci
our diplomat cousin who seems to be able to achieve
anything took us to Bisceglie where the
Sciascia family came originally. He
even arranged a civil reception there and we went to the Sciascia
palace for dinner. It was an amazing night and
of course we all always new that we were from royalty.
When Paulo is with us we get a police escort where ever we go and we always get to park the bus very near to where we need to go.
For my birthday we had lunch at the Bari Sheraton hosted by our relations the Di Tomas. Up until a month ago Leah thought she had no relations and then out of the woodwork we came. She and her husband, son and nephew really turned it on for the NZ branch of the family. They even organised a birthday cake with candles and i was caught completely off guard but did manage to give a speech that seemed to be well received. While we have been here in Trani Paulo had arranged for interpreters to be with bus all the time.
The Italian branch of the family are as interested in us as we are in them. As a result of our visit they are now connecting which is great
Yesterday we went to the Trani cathedral where the was a special mass and blessing by the archbishop of Trani. We even saw the font where the members of the family were christened for hundreds of years. Our great grandfather was christened there.
Brian and Marie Rose
Leaving this morning after a whirl wind few days of
discovery and excitement. I have gone down with the flu again but still I cant
miss a beat!!!
What a moment, Uncle was completely blown away as he and Maudie sat beside the Mayor looking like the first Lady and the Prince. As His Worship read the citation Uncle realised what was happening and he had quite a battle to remain composed, he made it and at the end of the reading of a very long CV and the presentation of the certificate and plaque he rose and spoke. And as he has done through out our trip spoke so well covering all the important issues of the years and the family history. We were so proud of him.
Then one by one our names were called up and we were presented with a certificate of proclaiming the day a Sciascia Day. Then off we went for more surprises, a wonderful reception at the Union Club with fabulous music, food and wine and of course when it was time to come home no one quite wanted to leave.
Oh yes I forgot there was one other presentation Piri was made a member of the Trani Nota, a collective of learned men who love Trani. They also presented him with an award, plus a file with all historic information. He also was quite overwhelmed. Piri had been working with Paolo to provide all the criteria for Uncle so was very surprised to find himself in the hot seat.
At the dinner was more surprises as we found family portraits ( Alan fix this please) of Uncle Sonny, Piri and Atareta, plus Bartolomeo, ( brother of Nicola) his son Carlo, his son Carlo and his son Bartolomeo. Plus the work of a well known artist Salvodor and I can spell his last name. He also was present and between he and Carlo they hounded me all night to choose some works to bring back. I choose four. Plus I was presented with a wonderful (very heavy) book of his work. I am bringing one original work which is for sale for £800 euro, the portraits for £150 so get your money ready.
Now back to our stay here. Well we have been shown many special things, starting with the tomb with the bones of Giacinto ( Nicolas brother) and Carlo. Paolo of course only discovered this a month ago so was completely overcome too. He said and has said often if it were not for Uncle Sonny and his determination to connect none of this would have happened. The other miracle was the web site that Diane Taylor created after the 1997 trip which Angiola found of course the rest is history. But as Paolo has said these two women brought us all together.
Then we met Margurita family and Adele (Leah) and her husband hosted us the next day we were wined and dined again the to Bisgelia were we indeed found more.
It seems this is the place of our roots, early 1300 years ago, we were shown two Sciascia Palaces, and finally having a wonderful reception in the original home in foyer of the current owner who opened her door to us and the rest of the Sciascia family from Italy and the town officials. With the special food of Puglia. Wow and guess what it is on the water front. Such a surprise. It was like discovering Kahungunu was our blood brother. Totally overwhelming.
I think this is enough whanau, thanks to Paolo employing three very attractive ladies to act as interpreters we have been able to have conversations with all these people at different times. Needless to say this has been a blessing and we have constantly been humbled by this man's capacity to host us and share all the research he has done for many years. He calls us his dear cousins.
We have had TV following us, police escorts every where, traffic stopped so we can stroll through the streets, treated like Royalty thanks to our cousin Ambassador Paolo Fulci, he has made our trip blessed and truly special.
We are now on the home run, and we know Kit finally reached home. Our love to you all. You know the girls did suggest that we put her on ice till we got back, it almost turned out that way.
Love you and miss you all.
ps I will encourage the rest to try and catch you up as I have but scratched the surface.
Kia ora whanau
Well here we are into our last day in Trani. What an amazing few days
it has been and you can see of the lack of emails it has been full days. Much
eating greeting and celebrations.
Today we begin with breakfast with the Ambassador for Piri and I. Diane and family have gone to find some Levin soldiers graves. Then we have church with some of the family having their twins christened. The Te Tomba family who were the family of Nicolas mother. Then two official receptions, Carlo Sciascia has arranged an exhibition of contemporary Italian art plus some painting of the family. I believe he wants me to exhibit these in NZ and of course we have Te Poho exhibition 10th Nov in Hastings, plus he wants me to organise art to come here to Caserta.
Then the big surprise which I want to share with you. This evening Uncle Sonny is to be made a citizen of Trani, he doesn't know yet but I thought you will send your love and prayers to us as we become one.
Here in Trani we have completed the circle with us meeting the fourth branch of the siblings of Nicolas family. Our family of course and in Roma we will be all together for the first time.
It has been truly exciting, special and an honour. Uncle Sonny and Maude have been wonderful Ambassadors themselves as has all the family. A wonderful group to travel with.
Kit has never left our hearts and minds and we are so pleased she is almost home with you. The women karanga for her return at every place.
Our love to you at home.
Hi to you all,
We have finally arrived in Trani yesterday after a very long trip from Assisi, getting in at about 11pm . We had a number of visits on the way, one being with the Mayor and councilors of a small town called Castle Fatana on the way. One of the ladies in our party from Levin, had a special time there as her father who is now in his mid 80's was stationed there during the war in 1946 and stayed with a family there. He had a photo taken then and included in it was a young boy of 10. That child, now a man now in his 70's was there so it was very emotional for her.
We really enjoyed the town of Assisi. It is a beautiful place set in a hillside and has the most beautiful paved streets and alleys. It is very much centered around St Francis and has a Basilica dedicated to him in which rests his tomb. It was so busy with tourists and has many nuns and priests giving them information and advise.
Trani, the town where Nicola the great grandfather came to NZ from is a fishing area much bigger than what we expected. We are going to be doing a tour tomorrow and will be meeting more relatives.
The ones we have met so far have been so generous and are enjoying the reunion as much as we are.
My time is limited tonight as there is a queue, so will email again shortly,
We are still enjoying ourselves and the hospitality we are getting from everyone.
Love Marie and Brian Rose
Not much new news today but I did get a bunch of holiday snaps in from Linda. Check out the photos page or just click on this link to see everyone having a wonderful time.
8 August 2007
Our last sleep in Genoa was exceptionally short for some in our party. The younger members went out with Donato’s granddaughter Alice and as it was Pauline’s birthday what better reason to celebrate. Every one was on deck for our early departure not all were bright eyed and bushy tailed. It was raining when we left Genoa and as we travelled south via the inland route we didn’t see much of the Italian Riviera. Our tour guide Vidko is very knowledgable and keeps us well informed about the important landmarks as we pass. The comfort stops with refreshments today were at the truckie stops on the autostrada.
On the outskirts of Florence we stopped at the Commonwealth War Cemetery. Vidko found Uncle Barney Pene’s grave and Marina covered his stone with a korowai before doing the karanga to call the rest of our family on. As you can imagine this was a very emotional experience for Missy, Marcia, Jean, Erin and the girls. Especially not having Kit there with them. We had another moving service after which Uncle Sonny shared his memories of his cousins Pani and James plus the many other cousins who went away to WW2 that were badly injured. Standing beside his cousin’s grave he remembered his brother John and cousin Robert Ropiha who both lay at El Alamein.
We then set off for Assisi and Vidko kindly arranged for the bus to take Linda and I to the Commonwealth War Cemetery as he knew it was quite some distance from the town of Assisi where we are staying but we had to pass it on our way. We had no trouble finding the grave of our Horowhenua soldier Wi Nera Edwards an uncle of cousin Puhi Carlotta Campbell. At the cemetery a young man who was taking photos obviously recognised Vidko and came and asked if we had been at Ploegstert, in Belgium. Linda and I both replied we didn’t get there but perhaps he had seen us at Messine’s Ridge and he said yes “Sciascia”. He had taken photos at Uncle Charles memorial service of the family. He had tried sending them to Sue but her email address had bounced. So it was fortunate we met up with him again and hopefully with all the business cards he was given today someone in the family will receive his photos once he returns home from his holiday in Italy.
Assisi is built on the slope of Mount Subasio. Our bus stopped at the bottom of the hill and we all walked up to our hotels carrying our overnight bags as suggested by Vidko the night before. One group is nearer the bottom of the hill and the rest of us are about 5 minutes further up the hill near the basilica which is a very impressive building which reminded me at first glance of the cathedral at Trani.
Tomorrow is another full day with another early start.
Ciao to you all
We woke up to another beautiful day today , 35 degrees and very hot but not the humidity of Auckland.
We have had another day in the company of the Italian relatives, including the younger generations. They accompanied us to the crypt of Rafaealla Sciascia who died in 1919 and she was the sister of Nicola Sciascia Brian's great, great grandfather.
Orlando and Susanna have told us about the cemeteries in Italy but we had no comprehension until we went today.
The graves are heavily decorated with statues and ornaments and many are very ornate with marble sculptures. It was an emotional experience to stand before the crypt of Rafaealla and the speeches and Maori singing in honour to her was very moving.
This evening we had a farewell dinner to say goodbye and to thank all the relatives in Genoa and also to the family members who worked so hard to make this trip possible for us all.
Today we ventured out by ourselves, catching the no 18 bus and went to the other side of the city to a large shopping centre and parted with some Euros. We have been told that the story of the Sciascia family has made the news in NZ and that the website is the most visited site on the web in NZ at the moment.
Tomorrow we are up early, bags have to be out by 6:30am to head off to Assisi so we had better get organised.
Will be in touch soon
Love Brian and Marie Rose
Today after breakfast we were met by our Italian relatives who accompanied us in the bus to Staglieno Cemetery where their grandparents Raffaella and Donato Colamartino are buried in the family tomb. Staglieno is one of the largest monumental cemeteries in Europe. http://www.cimiterodistaglieno.it/ Designed in the early XIX century by one of the most appreciated city's architects, Carlo Barabino, it features hundreds of striking marble sculptures and monuments to the people buried there. The layout of the cemetery recalls the topography of Genoa itself with a labyrinth of paths and stone steps weaving up the hillside amongst towering cypresses and cedars. At the entrance to the cemetery are florist shops with the most impressive array of flower.
We had a very moving service below the tomb with karakia and hymns with Piri leading us. Linda who was taking photos walked right around the passage and said our singing sounded beautiful bouncing off the acoustics.
Later, Linda and I went in search of the three New Zealanders buried there during WW2. The CWGC instructions told us the climb the steps and turn right at the CWCG sign and we climbed the first steps we saw and immediately started searching. It was like walking around in a maze and we finally came out on the same street we started on. I was frustrated, my feet were killing me and getting all hot and bothered and was quite prepared to flag searching for them.
Thanks to Linda’s tenacity we decided to walk 300 metres up the road we started on and she found the sign and if I had thought I’d climbed steep steps previously these steps to the CWGC graves bring a whole new meaning to the word steep. I huffed and puffed all the way to the top only to turn in the wrong direction into the old English part, which was overgrown with brambles and thorns. The War graves were on three levels above and happily we found our men and were able to photograph their headstones.
Due to lack of interest we couldn’t get enough people to enable us to visit Monaco this afternoon. On the suggestion of the hotel Concierge, Richard & Sue, Lania, Tina, Des & Linda, Jean, Peter Gardner, Linda Fletcher and myself caught a train to Santa Margherita a very picturesque resort on the Italian Riviera. From there we caught a ferry to Portofino hoping to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Apparently it is not unusual to see the likes of George Clooney walking around. Jean and I sang Whakaaria Mai in a beautiful little church set high on top of another steep hill. The acoustics were wonderful. On our return to Santa Margherita we walked across the pebbled beach and paddled in the sea, which was clear and warm. That’s the Mediterranean down roll on the Adriatic. Peter as camp father did a great job making sure we all stayed together but his sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired. Photos don’t lie!!
To bring our wonderful day to a close our Italian family here joined us at the hotel for dinner, which was another memorable occasion with the sharing of gifts, speeches and waiata not to mention good food. Hopefully now we have made the connection others in our families will come Genoa and met these wonderfully hospitable relatives who have embraced us all with much love and affection.
Tomorrow we leave Genoa early for Assisi and on the way will be calling in at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Florence where our uncle Barney Pene is buried.
After meeting our Italian relations last night we were all up early for breakfast eager to start our day which had been planned for us by Donato and Enrico Colamartino.
Breakfast was typical of all the breakfasts we have come to expect on this tour. There are the usual cereals similar to what we have at home and a selection of flavoured and plain yoghurt for those who prefer. There is always a selection of the most beautiful tasty bread, buns and croissants with cold sliced ham and cheeses. Plus bacon and eggs, fruit juice and hot drinks etc.
After breakfast Donato and Enrico arrived and we left by bus and drove down to the harbour where we boarded two open-air buses for an hour-long sight seeing tour of the city. Cradled between land and sea, the terraced hills embrace the city, Genoa is a city of many different faces. A modern metropolis and a severe custodian of artistic heritage, an industrious marketplace that also has shady, century-old parks to relax in.
Genoa hides her riches in an historical centre that looks traditionally
seaward yet at the same time exhibits a new beauty achieved by restoring the
splendour of ages past. Enticement abounds in the vistas between sea and sky,
over the cliffs. Genoa’s favourite son is Christopher Columbus and we saw his
house and also a garden where the flowerbeds were the shape of sailing ships and
anchors. After the tour we boarded a boat for a harbour cruise. This gave us the
most marvellous view of the city and surrounding hills. It was from the harbour
where we saw the place the Colamartino brothers had chosen for lunch. Set high
on a hill stands the Santuario Della Guardia a beautiful old basilica.
Our bus driver Antonio negotiated the narrow winding road tooting at every corner and we arrived at the top much to the relief of all-onboard. It was here that we met Donato and Enrico’s sisters Ottavia and Margherita plus their spouses. Ottavia came up from Rome to meet us.
We shared a delicious leisurely lunch with the family, several different courses with a selection of wines for those who wanted.
After lunch it was decided we would have family photos and Don found the ideal place on the steps of the basilica. The Colamartino siblings posed with every family and Linda did a great job of taking our photos for the site. (click here)
We left around 4pm for the drive home and most of us rested before dinner, which was again here in the hotel. Today has been a truly memorable day and I feel privileged to be here.
Tomorrow is our last day in Genoa and we will be visiting the grave of Raffaella Colamartino (nee Sciascia). We have formed a strong bond with our newly found uncles and it will be hard when the time comes to say goodbye.
Hi to you all, it is a few days since we have been able to send you all an
email. We have done a lot of travelling and are still having a wonderful.
On Saturday we had a long trip in the bus from Paris to Bern , the Capital of Switzerland. It was such an interesting journey driving through France, passing many diverse areas . The beautiful green pastures, the cropping in the fields, the haymaking with the large round hay bales like we have in NZ scattered for miles in the paddocks, the vineyards of Burgundy. Scattered among this were the lovely little villages and Chateaus and Castles way up on the hills.
We then traveled over the Swiss Alps into the land of Heidi and Rolexes, and stayed in Bern for the night. We had a sightseeing tour around this city and next day headed to Lucerne to have a look around this beautiful city on the lake.
We are very impressed with the hotels we have been staying out, they are all very comfortable and provide all the facilities that we need and all very helpful. The tour director is really going all out to give us the opportunity to see all we can.
We arrived in Genoa this morning and are blown away by the history of the City, Its hard to believe we are looking at streets and buildings that were built in the 1400s. like Christopher Columbus Home.
We met the relatives of Genoa today and it was very emotional seeing Uncle Sonny hug is cousins for the first time after searching for them since 1974. The two men are 77 and 75 and very sprightly, and their two younger sisters, also very charming ladies. They also were so pleased to see the family from New Zealand are very interested to hear more of the New Zealand family. They and their wives gave us a wonderful day today. The arranged for us to have a city tour of Genoa on an open deck bus and then a tour of the harbour. You really get an appreciation of how wonderful this city is from the harbour. It is the second largest port in Europe for departing and arriving cruise ships. Then for lunch we were taken to Monastry on the highest point in Genoa up a very winding narrow road, a bit scarry in the bus. While there, we had photos taken with each branch of the family. (click here)
Tomorrow morning we are going to visit our great grand grandfathers sisters tomb, her name was Rafaella and she was the grandmother of the four cousins who hosted us today, then a free afternoon to maybe do some shopping .
I meant to say earlier that if you wish to following our travels , there is a very good dedicated website that is being updated daily with news and photos. www.sciascianz.com
On Wednesday we head off to Assisi for a nights stops before going on the the great grandfather's birthplace of Trani, were we stay for four days and meet other relatives.
The weather is very warm 35 degrees today, much warmer than our previous days,
We hope to update you again soon
Love Brian and Marie Rose
Hello whanau from Genoa.
We are having so many special moments its hard to know where to start. It seems the greater power is looking after us as we continue this journey.
Lastnight after our arrival I rang the brothers Colomatino Donato and Enrico and invited them to join us for dinner and so it began:
They arrived very quickly and there were tears of great joy as we meet each other. They were just as moved as we were I can assure you.
Piri and the whanau gathered in the Dining room and with Diana and Richard ( Aunty Pollys family) we escorted them to dinner.
They of course were quite overcome as were we but very quickly they settled in and a great and merry meal followed. Before that Piri and Robyn took us for karakia and a mihi to Kit as meeting the family had been a dream of hers. Its great that Aunty Maggies family are here to follow that through.
We started this day early with the two brothers escorting us around the city in an open top bus with ear phones to hear an English explanation of the many sights including the house where Christopher Columbus lived as a young man. Then surprise number III we were taken around the harbour on a boat. Now we really enjoyed that.
Then more!! we went on this narrow winding road 900 metres up to a Cathedral where we were guests of the family. By now Donato and Enrico were joined by their two sisters Ottavia and Kiko, 87yrs and 82yrs beautiful vibrant women and the brothers wives and a son.
What fun, more tears and song and feasting which took till 4pm to end.
The highlight was the fourth course, dryed fish like enaga, herring, prawn and squid.
Then we went for family photos. (click here)
Finally returning to the hotel around 6pm. Another full day.
Tomorrow we are visiting their Grandmothers tomb, Nicolas sister, Raffella. Having the afternoon off and a farewell tomorrow night.
Already I feel sad.
Thats a lovely report Dominique and Linda and others have placed on the web, the memory of the special tribute to our Granduncle Charles filled our hearts. Enrico flew to Brussels for the day to be present at the unveiling in June. Donato had explained that they were grateful to make their contribution to the memorial.
Linda will post some family pictures, its an wonderful feeling to know that this connection is now established. And although we who are older may never travel to these places again our children can and our grandchildren can. More then that the family here can come to NZ.
Again thank you for the many messages whanau. We have been blessed with the most professional Tour Guide who is going out of his way to make this trip an unforgettable experience for us all.
We received news also today that Kits journey home is underway so keep in touch with Randle.
I have been speaking with Paolo Fulci these last two days and he says people are gathering to meet us. The journey unfolds.
It was another emotional night for the Sciascia family - this time in Italy.
Late on Sunday afternoon the pilgrimage reached Geona, and a
long-anticipated meeting with Italian relations. It
was exactly a surprise – it hadn’t been planned – but two of the Sciascia living
in Genoa joined the tourists for dinner
Brothers Donato and Enrico Sciascia joined Sonny and Maudie Sciascia and the whanau for their dinner at their Genoa hotel. For Sonny it was the end of a more than 30 years of searching for the Italian family. He started in 1974 and made his first visit to Trani in 1978. In 1997 66 members of the Sciascia made their first pilgrimage to Italy to search for descendants of Nicola Sciascia but without success. In 1998 they found a branch family in Caserta but when planing started in 2005 for this latest trip there was no more progress. By the time they left at the end of last they had found every branch of Nicola’s siblings.
Last night (Sunday) Sonny fulfilled a long-held wish – he put his arms around his Italian relations for the first time. The meal that followed was a joyful time. Donato and Enrico Colamartino, who were grandsons of Nicola’s sister Raffella, were greeted with a powhiri lead by Piri Sciasica. Sonny and Maudie Sciascia sat with Enrico and Donarto. Their English is better than the tourists’ Italian, so communication was not too difficult.
As they dined the family groups in the hotel restaurant burst into song and the Genoa family gamely joined it. Sonny was visibly moved by meeting his Italian whanau for the first time. “I have waited many years for this. It was very emotional, and they too felt the same way.”
Donato told his New Zealand family: “Here we are all together after 105 years.”
Sonny is grandson of Nicolo Sciascia who came to New Zealand and married Riri McGregor in 1880. The rest of the Italian family thought Nicolo had dropped off the face of the earth and were overwhelmed with meeting his family. It was as a result of the search from New Zealand that other members of Nicolo’s family in Italy actually found each other. Many different branches of the family joined the pilgrimage. Kim Steffert from Porongahau said. “They gave me the biggest hugs.”
Tomorrow (Monday) the Genoa family will show the travellers their city and a visit to Rafella’s grave is also planned. From Genoa the pilgrimage moves through Florence and Assisi to Trani to meet another branch of the family.
Some thoughts from Dominique
[Note from Alan. I have been asked to remove this from the website.]
Had another fab day today. Started off with a great city tour and what a fabulous city Paris is. Such amazing buildings and gardens.
One highlight was our visit to Notre D' Cathedral and we then went to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and what a view. This evening eight of us took the Metro and did an evening cruise up the Seine and then the Eiffel Tower lit up like a Xmas Tree and what a sight that was. The rest of the party went to see a Cabaret show which they also enjoyed.
Up early in the morning as we are going to Bern, Switzerland and that is a long trip for one night and then to the family in Genoa in Italy.
We are keeping up with the pace and having a load of laughs as everyone is getting to know each other and work out how we are all connected.
Things are expensive here in Paris but some of the group are managing to find things to buy.
Michelle, Peter Sciascia has a great rugby shirt from the
Emerald Club, he lives in Mackay.
Luv to All,
Marie and Brian Rose
Tuesday in Ypres was a very emotional time…after breakfast we had a church
service in the hotel lounge with karakia, waitata and tributes to Kit.
The family decided to go on with the trip, as Uncle Sonny said and everyone agreed, it was what Kit would have wanted.
Dominique first took us to La Basse Ville where Uncle Charlie died and there we found a magnificent monument she and the Paolo’s branch of the family had made. (see above explanation of how the monument came about)
We then went to the Messines Ridge Memorial to the Missing where Uncle Charlie is remembered. Another emotional time.
Then it was lunch at a classy restaurant on the battlefield…very haute cuisine but very nice, plenty of wine.
We had a little bit of free time before going to the Menin Gate, which was just down the road from our hotel, for the Last Post a fantastic occasion. It is held every night at 8pm. Then the family visited Kit at the funeral home.
Started the next day (Wednesday) with more karakia and waiata then we headed out to do the Passchendaele battlefields which involved a fantastic museum with a fantastic guides.
After a tour of the battlefields and lunch some of us visited the grave of James Gardner…Audrey Sciascia’s uncle who died in Belgium in 1916. Peter, Paul and Christine Gardner, and Linda and Des Salmon are on the trip. That was very special visit and achieved thanks to our very accommodating tour guide.
At 5pm we returned to Uncle Charlie’s memorial.
Gathered there was the NZ ambassador to Belgium Mr Kennedy and his lovely wife, the mayor of Warneton, the president of the RSA (equivalent), the stonemasons who made the memorial, buglers, flag bearers and local people, photographers, council workmen…and us!!
We planted a tree near the memorial, everyone helped fill in the hole.
Lots of speeches in all sorts of languages…we sang and there was a resounding haka, with Paul attracting the attention of the photographers.
After it was over there were more photographs...and a very lively reception with the locals involving food and drink…and some lovely singing which see-sawed to and fro and ended with Auld Lang Syne.
Just marvelous. Very hard to tear ourselves away.
None of the Italian family were present because a separate unveiling had been held on June 20, as some of the older members would not have been able to cope with the heat of July.
We are now in Paris after passing through the battlefields of the Somme…today ended with a dinner at a little French restaurant where once again we impressed with our singing…and Robyn even managed to wrestle the guitar of the singer to play for E Te Hoko Whitu Atu.
I wanted them to sing 10 Guitars, but there was a certain amount of resistance… not to mention lack of time, so we did Now is the Hour in Maori and English.
Think of us tomorrow out and about in Paris…more news as we move through Europe to Italy and our first meetings with the Italian whanau.
Hello to you all at home? No need to say how much you all
are in our thoughts as you wait for Kit to arrive home without us.
It was one of the most difficult things to do and you can well imagine how those closest to her felt. For me as one of the people having to make the decision, my biggest fear was that Missy would insist on staying behind. The thought of leaving her was so bad. However thanks to all of you who rang to say Kit would want her to journey on for her really helped. A big mihi to you.
Arriving in France Paris has set a new tone. We had a long journey through the Somme and Uncle talked to us about it being the place where the two brothers and Uncle Wally and Poutu had met up. Plus about his cousin Somme who was named for the battlefields. It linked us to the day before at the Memorial for Uncle Charles where he spoke about our Dad La Bassie being named for the battle field where their Uncle had died.
We arrived and were taking to a French restaurant for tea and a jolly good sing-along which was just what we needed and for the first time I was able to sleep through the night and didn't hassle Ellen in Waipukurau until 5am.
The news from Brussels is that they are working to find a space to send cousin Kit home with a route that will allow it to happen quickly.
Missy hasn't totally given up the idea of trying to travel with her but actually its far too hard and gets harder as each day passes and we get further away.
Let me assure you all they have been special and so helpful whanau. Our love to you all.
Sorry I haven't kept you up to the play but its been so long and tiring I run out of energy. I came home today especially to email you all before I reach the too tired stage
Love to you all, we are well and know we are doing what
Kit would have wanted us to do.
Message from the NZ Embassy in Brussels
It was lovely to meet all of you yesterday. Wonderful
occasion for us also which will be a major part of our memories of Belgium.
I am attaching a selection of the photographs we took, a number of which I sent down last night to our media adviser in Foreign Affairs. I understand that there may be some interest (perhaps from the DomPost) in doing a journal type article on the family upon your return.
Enjoy the rest of your travels
All the best
Peter and Demetra Kennedy
Sad news in today. Word from my brother John via
Aunty Pauline is that Kit Perawiti has passed away. I'm not aware of the
details but this note in from Brian Rose has some further info. RIP Kit
Well thank you all for your kind thoughts, its been such a sad time while its been a very special time as well.
There is still nothing sure to report but tonight the police released Kit room and things so that's been encouraging. Tomorrow we leave Ypres for Some and Paris. The girls are coming with us as its unclear how long it will be before Kits body is released. Its only a matter of process. However Missy has been instructed to carry on as everyone is sure Kit would not want to waste her money if they went home. She paid for the girls to come. As to the cause, I still don't know but it could be a range of things
Missy has been talking to Randle and we put both the Embassy and the the insurance in touch with him. Ellen also she is from Holiday Shoppe. Every thing should be taken care of and Ellen will organise this so tell the family to keep in touch with her.
Last night the police allowed us to go to the undertakers and spend some time, there was tears and laughter and karakia. How ever the police escort would not allow us near the body and no one was allowed to touch Kit which was really hard, but let me say she was beautiful, looked so like Aunty Signa.
Hi to you all from Ypres Belgium. It was a long flight from HK to Frankfurt then on to Brussels. We are having a great time and just love it here, such beautiful buildings. We had a shock the second day to awake to the news that one of the ladies had died in the night. They are not sure yet what happened, but she was found on the pavement below in the very early hours with her washing alongside. It may have blown off the balcony and she came down to retrieve it and had a heart attack or fell. They are waiting for a post-mortem. It was wonderful to see how the Maori dealt with it in their way and helped each other through the day. She was 71 and travelling with her sister; It must be a tour directors nightmare as there is a lot of officialdom to overcome.
We have spent the last two days visiting the Passendale cemetery and seeing where the Uncle Charles was killed and visiting a new memorial for him in the town: Going to an official reception for the family tonight, with the Mayor and NZ Ambassador and other important people so will have to be on our best behaviour.
We are off to Paris tomorrow so looking forward to the days ahead. The weather is great, not too hot:
Brian and Marie Rose
Arrived in Hong Kong safely.
Everyone is in fine form and we are all slowly donning on shirts and caps and a feeling of family is well on the way.
We are still to meet up with Don and Robyn Parkinson, Jean Te Huia plus two daughters and Erin and her daughter. They have been here for a few days but will join us at 1pm. Paul and Gaylene are in Belgium.
Uncle and Maudie are leading the way, we are all showered, feed and waiting for the next boarding call. Ellen did us well in her advice to check in her for $40. Well worth it.
Love to those at home
Nicola's and Riria's portrait images kindly
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