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The characters in The Italian Chapel, breathe, you can almost hear the chatter and the camaraderie of these Italians, far from home, freezing in the Scottish weather, dedicated to a shared task to build a Chapel, a place of peace, a safe haven away from the horrors of war. The story is absorbing, uplifting, at times sad, but ultimately happy and triumphant. The relationships that developed between the Italians and the local people, and the respect that grew between them is an amazing testament to the power of human spirit, and selflessness in the face of adversity. The Chapel still stands as a true monument to hope, for generations to come.

I found this novel so hard to rate. I just loved it so much! All the characters are portrayed beautifully, the dialogue, scene and setting are superb, but perhaps the romance between Giuseppe and Fiona could have been developed a little bit more. I would highly recommend this beautiful novel to readers who enjoy historical fiction, romance, and anyone who would like to read an uplifting story, that just grabs your attention from the very start.

Italian Chapel, Orkney

Highly recommended for readers of Historical Fiction, Romance, and anyone who just wants a truly uplifting story! My reflections on the book: I went to school in Scotland, and lived there for many years, yet I have never seen The Italian Chapel! I enjoyed the book so much that I was very keen to find out more. The prisoners were stationed on the island between and to help in construction of the Churchill Barriers at Scapa Flow, four causeways created to block access to Scapa Flow. The chapel was constructed from two Nissen huts joined end-to-end.

The corrugated interior was then covered with plasterboard and the altar and altar rail were constructed from concrete left over from work on the barriers. He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a front facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. He remained on the island to finish the chapel even when his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war.

In the Chapel Preservation Committee was set up by a group of Orcadians and in Chiocchetti returned to the chapel to assist in the restoration. He returned again in but was too ill to travel when some of the other prisoners returned in to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their arrival on the island.

He died in Today the chapel remains a popular tourist attraction, receiving over , visitors every year. It has become one of the most well-known and moving symbols of reconciliation in the British Isles. My review is also available www. Please join me there. May 23, Jenny rated it it was amazing. A truly heartwarming story and easy to read. I recently visited the chapel and although fictionalised to a degree as explained in the afterword it tallies with the stories we heard from locals when we were there.

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Highly recommend reading this before or after a visit to this wonderful Chapel in the Orkney islands. Jun 27, Joanne rated it really liked it. I must admit that I found the book a bit of a slow burner at first as the author spent some time setting the scene and introducing the characters. However, as I got to know the characters, I quickly found myself caught up in the story. The book is, of course, based on a true story and I found the history of how the chapel was built by the Italian prisoners of war quite fascinating. Philip Paris mixes fact with fiction to produce a very readable account of how the building of The Italian Chapel ca I must admit that I found the book a bit of a slow burner at first as the author spent some time setting the scene and introducing the characters.

Philip Paris mixes fact with fiction to produce a very readable account of how the building of The Italian Chapel came about. He includes characters who really did exist as well as creating some fictional ones. It was good to read at the back about what happened to the real men after the war, as well as learn that many of the incidents described in the book really did happen, even the more surprising ones.

The Italian Chapel

The book put a human face on life in PoW camps. I expect that the experience was probably not the same everywhere but I liked the camp commander Major Buckland. He recognised that nobody on either side wanted to be there and that all had to make the best of it. Forced together through circumstances, the Italian prisoners and their British captors developed trust and respect in their relationships with each other. They soon came to realise that enemies or not, they were all just people with friends and families, hopes and dreams. A gentle, though forbidden, romance is woven through the story too.

This romance was only discovered by chance by the author when he had almost finished the book and he felt he just had to include it. I'm glad he did. The secret literally built into the chapel means I definitely want to go back again to see it for myself. I loved this book, probably in large part because we visited this chapel on a trip to Scotland and the Orkney Islands in We learned the history, heard the stories It fills in all the things I didn't learn there, except for those facts that have been lost to time.

If you get a chance, visit the chapel. Together with it's story, it's awe-in I loved this book, probably in large part because we visited this chapel on a trip to Scotland and the Orkney Islands in Together with it's story, it's awe-inspiring. Feb 24, John rated it it was amazing.

Although fictionalized in some part the basic facts are accurate. A compelling celebration of God's spirit and its universal application to the suffering and hardships experienced by all mankind. Aug 08, Abigail Ameen rated it really liked it. This is excellent historical fiction! I never knew there was a little Italian chapel in Orkney that I wanted to visit until I read this book. Dec 29, Peter J Nicolls rated it really liked it.

Very moving story. Dec 27, Jill rated it it was ok. Was recommended to me some time ago , and although I thought it was ok , it just didn't do it for me. I felt it went on for too long. May 19, Debbie rated it it was amazing. Having just visited the chapel, I found this book very enjoyable. It is well written and does match the stories that I heard when I was there. Jul 22, Lauren Gemmell rated it really liked it. After starting to plan a trip to Orkney I found a list of books about the area.

This one was great, I enjoy historical fiction, the story was very true to life perhaps too close to life and could have done with some more embellishment. However I enjoyed it immensely and would definitely recommend for anyone traveling to Orkney. Jan 15, Pete F rated it really liked it.

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I have finished reading a book called 'The Italian Chapel', by Philip Paris, a combination of fact and fiction, but mostly fact. I was very interested in this book and the title jumped out at me when I saw it in the library in the fiction shelves. The reason being, is that I have been to the chapel myself, when I was in the Orkney Islands in It is situated on the small Orkney Island of Lamb Holm.

The Italians spent several years at Camp 60 as it was called, and needed spiritual sustenance, so with the encouragement of an Italian padre, they built a chapel out of two joined up Nissen huts which were going spare. The main person involved in the project was Domenico Chiocchetti, who had artistic skills, but was helped by others stationed there, and encouraged by their British captors.

The Nissen huts were added to with decoration and icons, an altar, a bell and a cross and all the other trimmings one would expect to see in a Catholic church, so that by the time the chapel was finished in , it could not have been recognised as a couple of corrugated iron huts placed end to end, but instead a beautiful place of workmanship and worship, with so much art, architecture and loving care gone into it. Over the decades since, it has had to be restored several times because of the ravages of the Orkney weather and the salty environment of the sea close by. It is a popular tourist attraction along with the Churchill Barriers which were made into roads after the war and which link several islands in the south of Orkney.


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When I visited the chapel in June , Chiocchetti, who had visited and helped to restore the chapel several times over the decades, had died in Italy only weeks before in his 90s. The chapel is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit in adversity, and this book is very inspiring and beautifully written.

Although parts of the book are fiction, most of the characters and events were real. Jun 12, Regie rated it it was amazing Shelves: scotland. The Italian Chapel on Orkney is remarkable. We visited it a few years ago and I was struck by the overwhelming sense of peace that pervades the very fabric of the building. I'm not a religious bloke, far from it, but there's no denying that the little chapel on a bend in the road at the end of the Churchill Barriers is a very special place indeed.

The Italian Chapel – Orkney, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

We visited a lot of ancient sites on that trip - our reason for going to Orkney in the first place was to explore the island's rich arcaeological heri The Italian Chapel on Orkney is remarkable. We visited a lot of ancient sites on that trip - our reason for going to Orkney in the first place was to explore the island's rich arcaeological heritage - but somehow, that little chapel stayed with me. So when I came across Paris' book in the little bookshop in Dornoch, I had to buy it. The story that Paris weaves is one of "faction" - a fictional tale heavily laced with real people and real events.

His research is impeccable, and he has in fact also written a non-fiction book about the chapel too. It is a charming story, when taken at face value. A story about the devotion of a group of men, far from home, who find a way to make their stay more bearable. In a declaration was jointly signed by officials in Orkney and Chiocchetti's hometown of Moena, reinforcing the ties between the two places. The building has been lovingly preserved and is still used as a chapel. The song was written in by Hamish Henderson, a passionate proponent of peace and international cooperation.

Henderson was a leader of the post war Folk revival, and founder of The People's Festival the forerunner of the Edinburgh Fringe he was also a fluent Italian speaker. Thanks to all present, the sailors on the beautiful Swan, and Creative Scotland Menu Search. They created a facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. The light holders were made out of corned beef tins. The baptismal font was made from the inside of a car exhaust covered in a layer of concrete. When his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war, Chiocchetti remained on the island to finish decorating the newly consecrated chapel.


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In , the Chapel Preservation Committee was set up by a group of Orcadians. In , Chiocchetti returned to assist in the restoration. He returned again in , with Mrs Maria Chiocchetti, but he was too ill to travel when some of the other prisoners returned in to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of their arrival on the island. He died in In , a declaration was jointly signed by officials in Orkney and Chiocchetti's hometown of Moena, reinforcing the ties between the two places. Today, the tin tabernacle is still used as a chapel and remains a popular tourist attraction, receiving over , visitors every year.

It has become one of the best-known and moving symbols of reconciliation in the British Isles. Philip Paris wrote two books, one fiction and one non-fiction, about the building of the chapel. In , a special mass was held at the chapel to mark its 70th Anniversary.

In , professional art restorer Antonella Papa, offered and had her services accepted to restore the chapel's frescoes, spending a month on the work.