A tiny string of rocky islands called the Tremiti archipelago and situated in the Adriatic Sea is now a place tourists love to visit but it has a secretive past.
In 2013 the B.B.C. reported
“Seventy-five years ago in Fascist Italy, a group of gay men were labelled "degenerate", expelled from their homes and interned on an island. They were held under a prison regime - but some found life in the country's first openly gay community a liberating experience.”
Benito Mussolini was fascist leader of Italy in the 1930's.
As a supporter of fascism few exceptions from what was classed as "the norm" were tolerated by Mussolini the leader of Italy. His hit list included Jews, people who were physically or mentally disabled and homosexuals.
They were unwanted and the scourge of the country. and one way or another Mussolini was determined to rid Italy of such people.
He decided to purge the country of undesirables as Hitler was doing in Germany, ensuring a pure and manly race of men.
"Fascism is a virile regime. So the Italians are strong, masculine, and it's impossible that homosexuality can exist in a Fascist regime," says professor of history at the University of Bergamo, Lorenzo Benadusi speaking of Italy at this time in history.
As the mood in the country soured one police prefect in the Sicilian city of Catania used it to full advantage.
In 1938 around 45 men in the area were identified as homosexual, rounded up and exiled many miles from home. They were forcibly shipped to the island of San Domino, in the Tremiti archipelago.
Although some men allegedly found the experience of living openly as an identified homosexual liberating these exiles were kept as prisoners and had to obey a curfew.
Italy has continually tried to bury details of the men and their island exile and existence leaving people to only guess what it involved. Some local people however still have memories of the men arriving and living as prisoners in their island community.
For decades tourists have flocked to the area and tiny islands for some tranquil time in the sun during the summer months, totally unaware of the island’s dark past.
More recently however a group of visitors including gay men, lesbian women and transgender rights activists, came to the Tremiti archipelago. For them the purpose of their visit was not a quiet vacation in the sun but a more meaningful visit.
They came to this remote place to remember and reflect and a small ceremony was held to mark what is viewed as a shameful episode in the islands' history, one which unfolded in the islands more than 70 years ago.
Cornwall is the county that covers the south-west corner of England. It narrows as it moves west finishing with Land's End at its tip. Cornwall borders Devon but otherwise just has a coastal border.
The coast of Cornwall has some beautiful beaches, spectacular cliffs and wonderful rugged scenery. Most of the areas and towns worth a visit, or an actual stay, are on the coast. Despite the often harsh winds Cornwall has one of the mildest climates in the UK and the plants and gardens are lush, plentiful and the grass very, very green.
I first visited Cornwall for a one week holiday with three school friends, all at the ripe old age of 16, way back in 1968. The holiday was our first without adult supervision and we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast where the owner was known to my family.
We stayed in Helston which was a relatively small village a short distance from the coast.
The nearest coastal village was called Porthleven and we visited Porthleven on more than one occasion. It had a small harbour and was unspoilt but I imagine it has changed these days. There was no transport link to Porthleven and we had to walk up and then down a hill in order to access. However it is a place that still holds fond memories.
Most of the places we visited back in the sixties will have changed considerably these days but when I visited in 2006 with my husband there were some constants.
We stayed near St Ives on the opposite coast of Cornwall at a place called Carbis Bay. This tiny pretty area has a golden sandy beach that resembles the type that you find abroad in countries such as Spain. St Ives was a short walk, train or bus journey away. I preferred the lovely walk through the countryside along the coast to St Ives.
St Ives is a bustling resort with many Art Galleries including a local Tate Gallery, quite a few beaches, shops, scenery and good local restaurants. We visited in late August and St Ives was busy no matter what day we visited from our base at Carbis Bay but it was still pleasant and not too overcrowded.
Carbis Bay would be a good place to base yourself if you want to tour around Cornwall.
Our visit was an organised five-day coach trip which included the hotel accommodation. However there are many camp sites and bed and breakfast establishments in Cornwall. Cornwall is not the cheapest place to visit though, especially St Ives.
St Ives also has plenty of surfing and water sport enthusiasts who holiday there regularly to enjoy water based activities.
We visited Land's End but for us it was nothing too special. Sure the scenery is rugged and the air fresh and bracing but it is very commercialised. Better to visit Lizard Point, which is the most southerly point of England, as the scenery is much better.
Marazion is also worth a visit if only to look across the water to St Michael's Mount. At low tide it is possible to walk across an old roman road to the mount but be careful as the tide soon changes. At 16-years-old we started to walk across only to find that the tide almost overtook us and we came out looking like damp squibs.
I was pleased to note in 2006 that Marazion and St Michael's Mount were much as I remembered them.
You can take a small boat trip across to the mount which is not too pricey a ride. Also the village here has some nice local shops and good views.
Nearby Penzance is more a coastal town where you can shop and visit the gardens as along its coast it is more a working town.
Overall what you will find with Cornwall is:-
Cornwall is a great place to visit, it has so many attractions, things to do and great places to visit that having written about it, I cannot wait to visit again.
Where in the world do you want to go today? One Woman uses personal experiences to show you some of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom and beyond. Enjoy!
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