POW: Quasi Una Fantasia

Name of traveller

Vittorio Bonucci (b. 1920)

Reason for travel

  • prisoner of war during World War II

Date of travel

October 1942 to August 1944; return visit in August 1980

I malandati dischi ci deliziarono di immortali walzers e foxtrot, perfino di marcette militari, tanto care a Mr Williams, il quale si era più volte dichiarato affascinato dalle ripetute scorribande, su e giù, e su ancora nella collina, del nobile duca di York, alla testa dei suoi diecimila cavalieri. Chi avrebbe mai potuto immaginare che quei prodi a avrebbero un giorno deliziato due ingenue fanciulle gallesi ed uno sprovveduto prigioniero italiano, in una sperduta fattoria celtica? (Bonucci 129)


  • agriculture:
    • detailed descriptions of work duties around the various farms on which he works throughout his imprisonment
    • farm work of the POWs often seen as a blessing by the local farmers
  • architecture: positively impressed by simplicity of farm houses and furnishings
  • art:
    • contains a number of sketches in pencil and coloured pencil by Egidio Ceccarelli, including a portrait, depictions of life in prison camp and work on the Welsh farms
    • POWs are allowed to found a camp orchestra; cheaply buy a set of used instruments from a local family on condition they play "Ar hyd y nos" in their first Christmas concert
    • describes one prisoner's creation of frescos in a cottage as a wedding present for a local farmer's daughter
    • description of the Christmas crib and the chapel complete with frescoes created by the Italain POWs in Henllan Prison Camp 70
  • customs: is astonished by uniformity of Welsh tombstones
  • language:
    • notes the Welsh language as entirely different from English
    • initial shock of not being able to understand some of the military personnel or local population on arrival in Wales
  • literature: contains poetry about the author's experience as POW
  • people:
    • recognises a distinct difference between Welsh and English physical characteristics
    • exchange of tokens of gratitude between POWs and the military personnel and local population
    • notes a general kindness and curiosity with which the Italian POWs are welcomed by the local population
    • colourful character sketches of fellow POWs, military personnel and farmers for whom he works
    • general feeling of solidarity between the Italian POWs and the Welsh families on whose farms they work; occassional hostilities towards Italian POWs
    • description of a football match between the POWs and the locals
    • some POWs marry local women and settle in Wales after their release from prison
    • falls in love with one of the local girls while working on her family's farm; is treated like a member of the family
    • on return in 1980 visits one of the families he worked for during his interment
  • politics:
    • arrived in Wales as an Italian prisoner of war after being captured by an Australian division in north Africa two years before
    • describes internal camp hierarchy among the Italian POWs and the leaders' antagonism towards the British officers
    • notes general good treatment of prisoners by British military personnel
    • POWs forbidden to fraternise with the local population
    • knowledge of English can place POWs in a privileged position within the camp's infrastructure
  • terrain:
    • initial conflation of England and Wales
    • detailed descriptions of rural landscapes and villages throughout the changing seasons
  • English translation: POW: Quasi Una Fantasia. Trans. Avril Hanrahan. Sutton: International Association Friends of Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God, 1995. Print.

Nationality of traveller


Language of publication

Italian; translation: English

Gender of traveller


Type of publication



Bonucci, Vittorio. POW: Quasi Una Fantasia. Viterbo: Edizioni Cultura, 1985. Print.