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World March Blog
10 November 2009

Goodbye to the Balkans – Ciao Italia!

With a great sense of needing to go back one day with time on my hands, we left the Balkans, crossing the border from Slovenia to Italy on Saturday morning.  I realise that there has been a “balkanisation” of my wallet over the last week as I seem to be carrying with me; Turkish dinars, Macedonian dinars, Serbian dinars, Bosnian marks, Croatian Kuna and the Euros used in Greece and Slovenia.  Of course all of this paper accompanies well the New Zealand dollars, Japanese yen, US dollars, British pounds, polish zloty, Czech crowns, Russian roubles, Kenya Shillings and Ghana cedis which are the consequence of a year of travelling that has been extremely good for the airlines.

Saturday was an intense day for us.  The bus left at 8:00 am, the first meeting was at 9:00am and we continued until 11:00pm.  The events included; a meeting in Sežana where an Italian/Slovene choir sang for us; a meeting at the border where the Mayor of Monrupino welcomed us; a stop outside Opicina where we laid flowers at a monument to the 71 victims of the Nazis who were murdered and then cremated at the only Nazi crematorium in Italy; then another stop in the centre of the town where a group of “runners for peace” set off for the centre of Trieste dressed in World March t-shirts.  All of this was before noon!

Then on arrival in Trieste a police escort guided us into the town centre where we had an official welcome at the University.  It was fantastic and quite emotional.  As we walked into the hall with our World March banners we were applauded and cheered loudly by those present.  One old lady in the second row was sobbing vigorously, something which is guaranteed to almost make me cry in solidarity.  Once again, the bus has given me the job of spokesperson, but as there’s been no time to prepare anything, I speak without notes, hoping once more that I don’t mess up.

In the reception there are professors from the University; including a very interesting professor from the department of Peace Studies, whose point of view is clearly in line with ours; the Mayor of the town and the President of the Province.  There was a moment of tension when the Professor started to denounce the policies that the Mayor identifies with and the facilitator tries to explain that this is not a platform for politics, unfortunately what most people seem to have failed to realise is that Peace is political.  There is so much contradiction in what politicians say and do.  In one moment they speak of peace as their ideal, and in the next moment they speak of the need to sell arms to countries “because if they don’t then another country will”, as if this horrific statement justifies anything.

There’s a referendum campaign in Switzerland at the moment in which there is a proposal for Switzerland to stop selling weapons overseas.  Those who oppose the proposal use the argument that “if we don’t sell weapons overseas it will create unemployment” and as Dani Horowitz said in yesterday’s press conference in Geneva, this argument can be said in other words; “it’s ok to kill people in order for us to earn money to eat.”

Anyway, the Mayor was clearly feeling a bit attacked by the Professor and later as I presented the Mayor with the World March Certificate and Scarf, he was so pleased that he pulled me into a big hug, and he’s much bigger than me!

Later on, after finding some nice Italian food (Dino had proposed we eat Japanese food but why would you go to Italy and then eat Japanese?) we assembled in the main square for a peace sign.  Supposedly it was to start at 3pm, so knowing we were in Italy we ate happily until 3:30.  Imagine our surprise when we arrived in the square and it was full of people, already in formation, accompanied by a fantastic Samba Band who created such a great atmosphere; full of energy and life.

They played until at least 5pm, long after we’d taken all the photos and videos we needed of the peace sign.  It was a great gift from the Trieste organisers.  There were many more than the 1000 people they had expected.  I’m delighted for them.  Also the sun was out most of the day and it does make a great difference doing activities in the sun or the rain!

Later on we went to see a number of different choirs sing in a World March concert and then at the end of the evening we were treated to a special concert by Stefano Barone who plays Spanish guitar but in a way I’ve never heard before.  He doesn’t just pluck the strings, he hits the wood, he kind of raps on it with the plectrum, and makes all kinds of noises which he then records and plays as accompaniment to the next sound that he makes.  You have to watch him to see how he does it and it’s fascinating.

Anyway, all of this ended at 11:00pm at which time we had to go to our accommodation which was by far the most basic we’ve experienced, but it was free so no one complained!

I don’t have the pictures for the day, but you can see some here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/imagenpressenzaspain/TriestePrimaTappaDellaMarciaMondialeInItalia#

and the video that the video boys made:

with a big hug,

Tony

3 comments to Goodbye to the Balkans – Ciao Italia!

  • Matias

    Waw, Tony, so glad to reading you again!
    What a fantastic March we are doing altogether
    Best regards,
    Mati

  • Davide Bertok

    Tony, many thanks finally for your report!! Anyway don’t be surprised that the peace sign was “in time” at 3.30 when you arrived in the square: we in Trieste have a secular influence from Austrian Empire (till 1918) so you can see how accurate we can be for time schedules :)
    You will be welcome every time you think to come back here!

    Other pictures of the day are here:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/pressenzaimmaginiitalia/7NovembreTriesteFulvioCelsiPerS4C#

  • alessandro capuzzo

    hallo, I’m the manager of the arrival at the University. Everything’s gone well, for many good people worked to put the things together,
    I hope the Peace Table over the Borders that we tried to begin november 7th, will arise as a forging tool for other things to come.
    So bad Flavio Lotti did’nt come. Will be next time, as I hope.
    Bye, Alessandro
    PS Americans did begin a new structure called THE CIVILIAN RESPONSE CORPS
    People can take a look at
    http://www.crs.state.gov/index.cfm?fuse action=public.display&shortcut=4QRB
    Will it be a good new for a peace corps formation center in Vicenza ?