31 August 2009

Padre Pio statue hides weapons

I noticed in the news today that the Carabinieri have uncovered a stash of 400kg of illegal drugs, money and weapons, the latter hidden under a statue of Padre Pio in a notorious district of Naples (Scampia, where scenes from the film Gomorra were shot). Early today, on the Venetian island of Burano I took another photograph of a statuette of Padre Pio. Recently made a saint, this south Italian hero priest was a pretty controversial figure and not always popular with the Catholic authorities. However, his overwhelming popular appeal with devout working-class Catholics, especially in the south of Italy, means that you'll see his image almost as often as the Virgin Mary, and certainly more than either the Pope or Jesus. Look out for the bearded brown-robed priest next time you're walking through an Italian village or passing a religious souvenir shop. Some would say that this tale of a Padre Pio shrine concealing a Camorra/Mafia stash embodies all the problems of Italy's South.
> My photo gallery of Padre Pio images
> Repubblica: Scampia, sequestratati 400 kg di droga
trovato arsenale sotto statua di Padre Pio

> Padre Pio (Wikipedia)

24 August 2009

Maratea and the South

The newest article on Italy Heaven is about Maratea, a lovely village in the Basilicata region. Maratea is on the coast, but is high above sea level and it makes an unusual holiday destination. You can walk up the hill above town (where there is a giant statue of Christ the Redeemer), sip an aperitivo in the elegant village piazza, explore historic alleys... or catch the bus down to the sea to potter around a port or splash about on a small beach.

I visited Maratea as part of a southern tour which will be fully online shortly. Destinations added so far, connected to each other by train, are: Paestum, Palinuro, Maratea. The website also contains a new section, Photo Galleries, which will feature collections of images of some of the places and themes featured on Italy Heaven.

> Maratea
> Maratea photo gallery

and a good article about Maratea from the Guardian, earlier this year: Absolutely Fabio's (apparently Cannavaro is a visitor)