Mark Consalvi and John Moser watched from Aloha Tower Market Place today as the Italian three-masted vessel Amerigo Vespucci approached Honolulu Harbor. The ship will be open to the public on Sunday and Monday from 3:30-7:30 p.m.

Italian sailors plan
flurry of activities
during tall ship visit

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Fifty-six visiting Italian sailors will be in the stands at Aloha Stadium when the University of Hawaii Warriors kick off their football season Saturday night, part of a weeklong visit of the tall training ship Amerigo Vespucci.

Margherita Parrent, board member of the Friends of Italy Society, said an ambitious itinerary is planned for the crew and the 120 Italian Naval Academy cadets after the 71-year-old three-masted vessel docks this morning at the Aloha Tower Market Place.

"It's a very big deal and historic event," she said, describing the first visit by the oldest ship in the Italian navy, which is named after a 15th-century Italian explorer.

Parrent said members of the Pearl Harbor-based USS Russell will serve as host for 421 crew members and 120 cadets who are sailing on the Italian ship.

The Italian training ship Amerigo Vespucci docked at the Aloha Tower Marketplace this morning for a weeklong visit.

The crew will call on state and county leaders tomorrow and on Friday will lay a wreath at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, and visit Schofield Barracks, where they will pay tribute to three Italian prisoners of war who were buried in a Wahiawa cemetery while imprisoned on Oahu in 1944. Nearly 500 Italian POWs were held here during World War II.

Later in the day the Italians will visit the Coast Guard station on Sand Island where there are several sculptures designed by Alfredo Gustic and built by the Italian soldiers. The sailors also plan to visit the fountain in Fort Shafter's Palm Circle constructed by the same imprisoned soldiers.

More than 200 island dignitaries have been invited to an invitation-only dinner on the ship planned for Friday night.

While some of the cadets will be at the UH game Saturday night, others will remain on the ship for a dance where students from several high schools including Punahou, La Pietra and Kamehameha Schools have been invited.

The ship will be open to the public from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and Monday. There is no admission. It will leave for Christmas Island, Tahiti and New Zealand on Tuesday.

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