Santa Severa: Italian Section Meeting, 2 – 5 September 2022

Italian meetings have always been stylish, gastronomic, and with a great mix of Italian culture and aviation-related content, and this year was no exception. So, it was really nice to see members from the Benelux and the French, Benelux and UK section, as well as PWP George Chaffey, still over from California on his “European Tour”, joining with members of the Italian section on the first weekend in September for the meeting at Santa Severa, north of Rome. 

Monti della Tolfa (MDT) airfield was our base for the weekend, and we assembled there on the Friday morning for a welcome drink and a light (3 course) lunch at the Osteria del Volo restaurant.  What better way to start than sitting outside, under the shade, only yards from the 800m (2,600’) bowling green smooth and flat grass runway. General aviation may be harder in Italy than in other parts of Europe (and indeed none of the group had flown themselves in), but with hangars full of ultralights it’s clear that GA is still thriving here. 

Lunch at Monti della Tolfa airfield

We were in no hurry, and there was time for a couple of folks to take to the skies. First up was PWP George Chaffey, flying with our host Angelo Midei in his very sleek Tecnam P2008.

Angelo Midei’s Tecnam P2008 – think Cessna 152 with sex appeal!
George and Angelo hitting it off together

Mid-afternoon, we took a short bus ride to the 14th Century Santa Severa castle, located right on the shoreline for a guided tour and of the castle and sea-museum.  

0Santa Severa castle – as photographed by your President from Angelo Midei’s Tecnam

Luckily, our guide was one of the archeologists of the castle. She brought its interesting history to life with presentations in Italian and English.

Inspecting the Etruscan ruins of Santa Severa castle

Friday evening’s dinner was in our hotel in Civitavecchia, the port town north of Rome that serves as the terminal for cruise ships visiting Rome.  Over 20 of us sat around the one big table for a wonderful 6 course “family meal”, washed down with copious quantities of the local wine.

No details overlooked!
Maybe not the Groucho brothers!

On the Saturday, we took the coach to Rome for our visit to the Museum of the Vatican State.  With a pre-booked guide, we were able to avoid the long lines.  In addition to going through the main rooms full of amazing masterpieces, our guide took us on short detours to learn a little more about Etruscan history – useful preparation for our visits the following day.  The formal tour ends with the majesty of the Sistine Chapel, built between 1475 and 1481,with its painted walls and ceiling, including Michaelangelo’s famous “Last Judgment”. 

No noise allowed in the Sistine chapel, so our guide explains what we are going to see
And before our tour, explains the layout and history of the Vatican City

We then had time to visit St Peter’s Basilica, where preparations were underway for beatification (the first step on the road to becoming a Saint) of the late Pope John Paul 1 later that day. 

St Peter’s Basilica

After a late leisurely lunch we reboarded our coach for a whistlestop tour of key sites of Rome, including the Colosseum, before returning to our hotel.  Dinner that night was at the Poggio del Principe restaurant, owned by IFFR member Angelo Midei.  Another 5 course gastronomic treat, with digestifs on the terrace including aged rum into which one dropped small chunks of rich dark chocolate!

IFFR member Angelo Midei – our host on Saturday evening

Our plans for the Sunday morning had been hastily re-organised when it was discovered – with true Italian bureaucratic style – that the Italian Air Force had not been notified of the plans for our visit!  Instead, our Etruscan expert guide met us at the National Archeological Museum in nearby Cervetere to lead us through their amazing pottery collection, before taking us across the valley to the “city of the dead” – the Necropolis Banditaccia.  Anyone had the right to be buried on this sacred ground – but, it was the wealthy Etruscans and Romans who built replicas of their homes to serve their bodies in the next life!  To be honest, we enjoyed seeing these insights into life thousands of years ago, off the beaten tourist trail, more than the treasures of the Vatican, where you are processed through with 10s of 1,000s of other tourists.

A “family home” in the city of the dead
Life inside an Etruscan family home at Necropolis Banditaccia

Back to the TDM airfield for another lunch, and an impressive presentation on the IFFR Italia “Totem” project. A Totem pole tells a story – and this one does too. The IFFR Totem is a fully programmable 2m (6′) tall video display that can be used to promote Rotary and IFFR. Designed to be taken to airports where there are a crowds arriving for conventions, or other suitable opportunities, this is a great way to attract interest and potential new members. Have a look at the video!

Then, suitably fed and watered, it was time for another afternoon of flying!  Angelo and another local IFFR member very kindly offered more site-seeing flights to IFFR members.  Angelo has a beautiful Tecnam P2008 – think Cessna 152 with classic Italian style!  We had visited the Tecnam factory during last year’s meeting in Salerno, so I really enjoyed getting to see how well they fly. 

My turn to fly with Angelo
The city of Civitavecchia from 800′

The other aircraft, flown in by Yves Geenaert (Benelux section) was the only light aircraft I’ve seen where the P1 seat is on the right! 

P1 controls on the right – really?

Sunday night was Gala Dinner night, in the rooftop restaurant at our hotel. Joining with the Rotary Clubs of Civitavecchia, Cervetori Ladispoli and Roma Tevere, the Rotaract Club of Civitavecchia, and together with District 2080 Governor Guido Francheschetti, over 80 of us sat down for a Conviviale Interclub dinner.  PWP George Chaffey sat next to the District Governor’s wife, Daniela, herself also an ex-District Governor, only to discover they had been at District Governor training events together in the USA many years ago. What a small world!

Happy to be a sommelier now – but formerly an Alitalia pilot!

In the course of the evening, banners were exchanged, and I had the pleasure of supporting Italian section chairman Enrico Maranzana with the induction of three new members of the Italian section. 

Presidents gathering with the District Governor for the banner exchange
Maurice Tax presents the Benelux section banner
And the Rotary paparazzi crowding to capture the moment the IFFR banner is presented!
IFFR member Clementi Ingenito presents a copy of his book Piloti Di Se Stessi to the President of the Rotaract Club
A fine way to end a wonderful evening – more rum and dark chocolate digestif

Monday morning was time to head home.  But not before Enrico had announced that next year’s meeting of the Italian section will be in the north of Italy, based around Caorle airport, just East of Venice.  Now, that is a trip that is not too challenging for who fly themselves. And Venice is very easy to get to by public transport for those no longer flying.  I’m sure we will see even greater numbers there!

1 thought on “Santa Severa: Italian Section Meeting, 2 – 5 September 2022”

  1. Anthony Paul Giannobile

    I was viewing the very interesting 2022 IFFR meeting in ITALY ! I am going over in June and possibly attend some IFFR and Rotary meetings and do an air tour in Italy . Its going to be a busy 3 week vacation taking 14 family members , but with the help of cousins over there we will get it done !! A. Paul Giannobile , IFFR 5000

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