The beautiful Italian Chapel on Orkney’s Lamb Holm is often referred to as ‘The Miracle of Camp 60’. I’m in Moena, the Pearl of the Alps, in the Italian mountains to celebrate the continued links between Orkney and the birthplace of Domenico Chiocchetti, the artist who, along with other former prisoners of war, created the interior of The Italian Chapel.
I’m spending time with Coriolano ‘Gino’ Caparara. He’s now 96 and as smart and as funny as he ever was. He talks about his experiences as a prisoner of war held by the British in Orkney as if they were yesterday when “I learned English 70 years ago,” he says “And I never get chance use it.” He speaks with a 1940s English accent, and tells his recollections with gusto, before breaking into a rendition of “Roll out the barrel…” with a glint in his eye. Gino was a prisoner in Camp 34 on Burray, just across the water from Camp 60 on Lamb Holm, where the Italian Chapel still stands.
“Do you know,” he says, “If I hadn’t had that experience, then I wouldn’t have met so many interesting people and done so many interesting things in my life.” He adds, “And we would never have met.”
‘Cin cin’ to you Gino. May your spirit endure throughout the ages. Thank you for your memories of people long gone, preserved for those yet to come. You are the Miracle of Camp 34.