Thursday, August 02, 2007

Paola Bianchi

The next Italian listed in our phone book is Paola Bianchi. She too responded in 1996, when I made the memory book for our 10th anniversary. Here is the picture she sent me of herself in 1996. I can't find any pictures of her among the campo ones I have. Here are the comments she made in the memory book: " I can't forget all the people. For me it is more difficult because I lve clost to the places we visited together during the camo. So, every time I go to Florence, Pisa or meet Dr. Grandi, he lives near my house, I can't stop thinking about those wonderful days. I hope everyone is well, happy and healthy." 10 years ago she was a law student in Pisa. I haven't found her on the Web yet. Anyone have any stories about Paola?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Elena Palmieri

Elena Palmieri was from Orvieto Scalo. For the 10th Anniversary, she responded with some info and pictures. She is married and has a son. She lives in France now in the Ardeche area. That is a lovely part of France! She is an Italian teacher and goes by Elena Courtial. I looked through my pictures and can't find any from the time of the camp. This one is now 10 years old. She sent it to me in 1996.

Simone De Sio

The next in the phone book is Simone De Sio. He is the next youngest, after Antonio Fidemi. He was also only 15 at the time of the camp. His birthday is in April and Antonio's is in February. Simone came from Civitavecchia, a city near Rome that has over 50 thousand inhabitants. Antoino and Simone were often together at the camp so I am surprised that they came from very different parts of Italy. Perhaps because they were both so young, they hung around together. Here are a few pictures. Anyone have any Simone stories?

Antonio Fidemi

The first Italian non-staff member that I will write about was also the youngest, Antonio Fidemi. In 1986 he was only 15. He was listed in the phone book at that time as being from Valguarnera. Googled that and found out it is a small town near Enna in Sicily. Ok, someone told me a story about this young man and one of you can confirm it. He was claimed to be...hmmm.... how can I say it?..very well endowed. Antonio. He was involved in everything. Here is a picture of him performing at the show we did for the town. Ok, I know that you have stories about him...let's hear them.

Green, white and red mini info poster --pre campo

Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them. Sorry about the coffee stain on the text side.
This is the front and back of a page we got. It is one of the many papers we received while still in the USA to prepare us for our trip. It is a general page with info about the general requirements to attend the camp. Females and males between 16 and 21. I think we had a few younger and perhaps one older than that. I hope this brings back some memories. Emjoy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What's the name of the game?! Thumper

Ok, if I say the next few words and you don't know the answer, either 1) you drank way too much and have no brain cells left, or 2). You never went to the bar while at the camp. Actually we even played it in the camp so this should really be the anthem of the 1986 campo italia.

What's the name of the game?


Why do you play?

To get fucked up!

Here are the rules of how to play in case you forgot.

You need: people and drinks

First everyone must think of a hand gesture. That is your "sign". Go once around the group and everyone demonstrates their sign. It can be anything you want, but it should be simple and fast to do. Then one person starts the round. Everyone drums on the table or ground with their hands throughout the whole game. The leader says "what's the name of the game?" continue drumming and yell "thumper". The leader then says, "Why do you play?" and the group yells back "To get fucked up." Once that is said, the leader makes his own gesture and then the gesture of one of the other players. The person whose sign was made must then make his own gesture and then someone elses. If you make a mistake, you have to drink and then you are the leader. Remember first make your own sign then someone elses.

I don't know who started this, Leslie (USA) was it you?You are right there in the picture, explaining it all! Gottcha! Anyway, it was a big hit at the Ponte Vecchio bar/pizzeria. We had the owners playing and I think we got a lot of free food/beverages because of this game.

Guido (Germnay) was nice enough to supply some pictures of people playing Thumper at the Ponte Vecchio bar. Great shots, Guido. Thanks. Anyone have any Thumper stories? Or Thumper pictures. post them here please!

Cin cin! Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elena Galluzzi -- our female leader

Elena Galluzzi was living in Sienna when we met her. She was the female counterpart to Francesco Carpena. She is a veteran of Lion's club camps. She has been to camps all over the world. In fact, she met her husband, who is from the Netherlands, while at a Lion's club camp in Japan! Together they run a fantastic hotel on the banks of the Arno River in Florence. Hotel River can be viewed in English at

Elena was so cheerful and fun. Here are some pictures she sent me over the years. One is from our camp she is holding Leslie (USA) along with Robert (Denmark). I hope we can see her again one day.

Does anyone have some Elena stories to share? Please post them here.

Il Gabinetto!

One of the biggest culture shocks was the bathroom. Americans spend so much time and money on elaborate bathrooms that some of the ones in Italy were absolutely scary. The worst ones are those porcelain sewer covers in the floor. You have indentations for your feet and then a string to pull when you are done. Here is a very clean one I photographed in a bar in Rovereto and the other comes to us via Nikki. It is from La Spezia I think. These are still very common. The bathroom in La Spezia that was co-ed was quite a shocker too. Men and women in the same bathroom. I think you would be arrested for that in the USA. It is great that we were able to experience so many new things. As sheltered young people, we really expanded our outlook on life, even through something as simple as a toilet.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Italy -- Francesco Carpena

The male camp leader, the one who took care of us, answered our questions and most importantly WOKE us UP in the morning, was Francesco Carpena. A native of Bagnone, Francesco, he did a great job. Yes, waking up to the blaring sound of Dallas' Theme song or to 2001 Space Odyssey, was not fun, but it worked. We often went to bed so late and had to be up in the morning to go on a trip. Francesco is a very talented musician. He teaches and also plays in bands. He was in Vienna a few years ago for a gig and
we were able to see him again. His hair is a bit shorter but he has not changed much. He lived in England for a time as well. He travels to play at various events. He was in Hungary in the Fall. He recently sent me a link to his new page or to and to to read the latest news and hear some of his work.

Here are a few pictures of Francesco from our Campo days.

Friday, February 02, 2007

getting ready - INFO OVERLOAD

We got several letters from Italy before we left. All from Bruno Grandi.

Here are the letters:

Dear Lion Friend,
I have your letter dated 15 May '86 and I can confirm that all four young ladies have been accepted to attend the summer Camp in Bagnone.

I arranged for them to stay two weeks with Italian families after the Camp, and I look forward to receiving their trip schedules.

I also enclose the instructions sheets which please make copies for each of them.

Thank you for your good cooperation.
Yours in Lionism
Bruno Grandi

The next letter
On behalf of the Italian Lions Clubs, the organizing Committee of this International Youth Camp is pleased to receive you, young guests who come from all over the world and bids you the most hearty welcome in Bagnone.

It will be our task to offer you the most open and sincere meeting possible so that a better understanding among you youths, participating in this Camp Italy, permits that new friendly ties may be strengthened, in the interest of the whole world.

However, for gaining such success, everyone, whatever his origin, must give his personal contribution of open-mindedness, enthusiasm, friendliness and desire to know each other.
What we expect from you is that you take part in all activities and that you take back to your home countries the ideas on which the Camp is based. Therefore, the Organization is very happy to welcome you to the 17th "Youth Camp Italy". Thanks to be with us to meet the world in Italy!

Next letter:
Dear Young Friend,
The organization committee is very pleased to inform you that your application to the "Youth Camp Italy 1986" has been accepted. The Camp will start on July th 4th (Friday) and you should arrive at "Villafranca-Bagnone" railway station possibly within 8 pm of the same day.

We send two riders:
the first is the "trip schedule" which states your trip programme and arrival times which you are kindly requested to return as soon as possible" the second is a little bundle containing all the information and recommendations we thought useful, including the programme of the Camp, too. Don't forget it at home!

With all the information you have received, please arrange a "telephone schedule" for your parents, so that they can call you.
During your trip, for any emergency. please cal the following number:
area codde 0187 phone no. 496448

And again you are kindly requested to return the enclosed "voyage slip" to Bruno Grandi.

We wish you a safe trip and are looking forward to seeing you at the Camp.
Yours in Lionism
Bruno Grandi

Next one:
Practical Information
address of the Camp:
XVII Youth Camp Italy
54021 Bagnone (MS) Italy

The staff for the camp: The organization of the Camp is led by the Chief of the Camp who is a Lion. He is helped in his work by the staff members, every staff member has his own job.

It is possible to received calls during the meals when we are at the camp bu it is not allowed to call. the number is 0187/496448. Before 0187 prefix number of Italy. If you want to phone, you are pleased to ask at the secretary's office.

Money Exchange:
If you want to change your money you are pleased to apply to the staff member employed.

If you need a particular diet, you are pleased to inform the staff member employed.

Meals time-table:
Breakfast 8,00
Lunch 12, 30
Dinner 19, 45

For any kind of problems or for anything you may need you can apply to the staff members.

Next letter

1 How... reach Bagnone. Bagnone can be reached by car (going out of Leghorn-Parma A15 motorway at Aulla or Pontremoli toll station) or by train on La Spezia - Parma railway line. Getting off at the station of "Villafranca-Bagnone" which is a few kilometers far from Bagnone.

La Spezia is situated on the route: Genoa-Pisa-Rome. In the case you arrive in Italy by plane, you should land either in Genoa (or Milan) or Pisa (or Rome) for reaching La Spezia by train and then Villa franca, where (at last) some staff memeber will be waiting for you. If you have indicated in the voyage schedule a correct arrival time. Otherwise from "villafranca station" call Camp Italy. (no. 496448).

2. What..... bring in your luggage.
The area of the Camp has an average temperature of 23 C. You have to carry along sportswear (swimming, tennis, soccer, gym activities, excursions etc) and a formal suit for official meetings. If you wish you can bring musical instruments or anything else you are interested in. You have to prepare a short outline of your country (geographical details demographic, political, social, cultrual, industria, etc) and if it is possible with photos, slides and films. You can in this way, show the other participants the features of your country.

3.) it's......
.......necessary that you bring along your medical and/or hospitialzation insurance policy or certification, in case of any emergency. If you come from a country belonging to CEE or associate (France, Belgium, Holland, West Germany, Luxemburg, England, Denmark, Austria, Greece) It is sufficient for you to bring along the form. Please do not forget that the trip expenses, including those to reach the host family hosting you, are on your account or of the club or district sponsoring you.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Signore Renzo Luigi

Mr. Luigi lived in Bagnone and was a local Lion who stopped by the Camp from time to time to check on things. The first night we were there, we went drinking at the Pizzeria. When we got back to camp, there was a part going on. Mr. Luigi had brought a big doll and was dancing with it. He was very nice. On one of our last days at the camp, he invited Alain (France) and me to his house. His daughter had just gotten married to Bruno Grandi's son. He had a lovely house. Franceso informs me that Mr. Luigi died a few years ago. Anyone have any good Mr. Luigi Stories? Here he is with Anat(Israel) and me. He wrote me a postcard after the camp was over. He said "maybe you will come back to Italy on your honeymoon." Well, he was not too far off. Remember that you can click on any picture in the blog to enlarge it. Ciao.

In the beginning....

Let's go back to how I got to be in Italy in 1986 in the first place. I grew up in a mainly Italian area of St. Louis, Missouri, USA. This area is known at The Hill. It is a working-class neighborhood with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Italians from both Northern and Southern Italy living in one neighborhood. In 1985, a group of kids were sent to Italy to learn first-hand about their heritage. They did not go to a Lion's Club camp but they were the first to be part of the "Youth Exchange" program. The following year the kids would be sent to the Lion's club camp in Bagnone. To decide who would go, first you had to write an essay saying why you wanted to go to Italy. Then you went on an interview. Of all the people who applied, 4 were chosen. A benefit concert was held to help pay for the tickets to send us. In 1986, 4 girls were chosen: Cheryl Imo, Angela Polizzi, Victoria Bottini and me, Margherita Lahrman. We all lived in the same area. Cheryl and Angie were in the same class,one behind me. Vicki was in the class ahead of me. We took some Italian lessons from John DeGregorio. We helped to make Italian Immigrant Statues which were sold to help pay for the cost of the trip. Here is a picture of the 4 of us at the cheese and wine reception after the concert. Then here is a concert ticket and the sash that I wore at the concert to designate that I was going to Italy. The last is a newspaper clipping from a local paper.
Behind me you can see the original Italian Immigrant Statue that is in front of our local Catholic church St. Ambrose.

Bruno Grandi

Ok let's start with the main man,the big wig, the top dog. Bruno Grandi. We all will remember him as the guy who left Ulf and the fab 5 in Florence. He never tried to get to know us. Anyone have a "good" story about this guy? I don't know if he is still alive or not. Here is a picture of him. He was the organizer of the camp and in the end responsible for all of us.