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LeRoyans return to the home of their ancestors in Asiago, Italy

By Billie Owens

Photo, from left: Pat Stefani Iamon, Chris Stella, Dar Costa Hawkins and Bob Stefani stand in the piazza of Asiago, Italy. Photos provided by Pat Iamon.

By Pat Iamon

On the last day of a two-week trip to Italy a group of LeRoyans were able to visit their family’s homeland, Asiago, Veneto, Italy. The Go2Italy trip the group was part of was organized by Jim Frascati, owner of Capish! Pizza-ristorante on Main Street in Le Roy.

Frascati has been organizing trips to Italy for more than 20 years. He is an Italian American, a retired police officer from Rochester who came from Sicily as a teenager. Frascati speaks perfect Italian and escorts his trips with his partner, Frank Cordiddi, and their wives.

The trip began on Sep. 5th on the doorstep of Capish! where the group of 46 boarded a bus to Toronto Pearson Airport. Their Alitalia flight dropped them off in Rome where they quickly boarded their connecting flight to Catania, Sicily. Once there, Go2Italy had a bus waiting with their personal driver of more than 10 years, Luigi.

A ferry, then "harrowing bus ride"

Over the two weeks the group toured Savoca, Mt. Etna, Taormina, Cefalu, and then left the island of Sicily in a ferry at Messina. The ferry took about 30 minutes to cross the couple mile Strait of Messina landing at Naples. The bus headed north along scenic highways up and around the mountains and through many tunnels.

The next few days the tour group took in Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, and the Isle of Capri which included a harrowing bus ride through narrow mountain roads. The next stop was Rome where the group toured the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral. The next day they took in most of the other tourist sites in Rome.

The last hotel stop on the tour was Venice where the group took a water taxi to walk to St. Mark’s Square.

Before the final day of the tour Frascati tried in vain to rent a car and drive the group up to Asiago. However, it was Sunday and all the car rental companies were closed and not answering their phone. Frascati then helped the group hire a car and driver to take them up into the mountains to Asiago.

Rising up very early on Sept. 17, the group left their Venice hotel and boarded their van at 5:45 a.m. for the 90-minute drive to Asiago. Pat (Stefani) Iamon, her brother, Bob Stefani, and Chris Stella, who are from Lime Rock, along with Dar (Costa) Hawkins and her husband Ron, of Le Roy, rode along the three-lane highway to the two-lane mountain road.

Foothills of the Alps

That mountain road had many switch backs. As their van approached the foothills of the Alps the group anxiously awaited the sign announcing the little town of Asiago. The Stefanis' grandmother, Catherine Stella, came from Asiago with her family as child, her 4-year-old brother got sick and died before reaching the United States; their great-grandfather Stefani came as a young man.

Stella, whose grandparents were from Asiago, and Dar (Costa) Hawkins' grandparents also originated from there. Asiago at 3284-foot elevation is framed by Northern Italy’s picturesque limestone mountains.

“It looks just like a little Alpine village,” Iamon said.

The population today is about 6,500. There is a beautiful church in the heart of the village.

“It is such a quaint and welcoming little place,” said Dar Hawkins. The group stopped first at the piazza (village square), which is surrounded by many little restaurants and shops and town buildings that at the early hour were all closed.  In the piazza there was a stage with a colorful banner that seemed to welcome the group. The words on the upper left side of the banner, when translated to English, say: “Asiago a jewel in the midst of green.”

The group posed for photos that were taken by their driver, Allesandro, and a polite young man that was sitting on a bench there.

Cheese, green meadows, and graves

Asiago is famous for their soft cheese; as was evident by signage along the way and the cows grazing on the beautiful green meadows.

“It is the green mountain grasses the cows feed on that make the milk that make such delicious cheese!” Bob Stefani said.

The group headed into the countryside for a five-minute drive to the town’s beautifully kept country cemetery to look for their family names. At first it seemed like the gates of the cemetery were closed, however, there was an open door to the left of the gate that led to the main part of the cemetery.

The group spread out searching for graves with their surnames. It did not take long before they were able to find not only the graves of their families, but also other familiar Le Roy surnames such as Regoni, Bennetti and Forte.

No one in the group was certain what lured their ancestors from Asiago to the little town of Le Roy; however, rumors were that the stone crusher on Circular Hill Road sent for them to work at crushing and loading the limestone. Many in the group had ancestors; grandfathers, fathers, or cousins that worked at that facility, some retired from stone crushing at the plant.

“None of our family members ever returned to the village of Asiago or to Italy for that matter, which seems very sad," Iamon said. "I wore a locket containing my dad’s ashes that my son made for me. So, in a way I brought him with me. On our way back to Venice, we all felt quite nostalgic seeing and walking the same land that our ancestors spoke about and called home.

"We were all very happy that we had made the trip. Our ancestors must have really missed this beautiful scenery and rolling hills in this lovely town. I would certainly like to visit here again!”

2nd Annual Route 98 Museum Crawl

By Holland Land Office

Spend Saturday and/or Sunday visiting these local museums. Get your passport stamped at each museum you visit and win a discount at a local restaurant or other merchant. Fun, educational, and just plain interesting! 

Participating Museums include:

Event Date and Time

Register now for Tahiti Travelogue April 29 at Woodward Memorial Library

By Trisha Riggi

Wednesday, Apr. 29, 6:30 p.m. Travel to Tahiti!!

Escape the bitter cold without spending a cent! Experience the adventure and fun of traveling to the French Polynesian Islands (Moorea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora).  Laura Landers will share photographic highlights and talk about her recent trip.

Registration is Required. Visit online at or call 585-768-8300.

Event Date and Time

GCC to offer study trip to Costa Rica next spring

By Billie Owens

Next spring, Genesee Community College will offer an immersion trip to Costa Rica to study the Central American rain forest. The tour is open to all students as well as community members who are interested in learning and studying the ecology and conservation methods of Costa Rica.

Participants will have the chance to earn college credit while learning about ethnobotany, elementary botany, ecology and earth science during this nine-day ecological tour.

The tour will be led by Genesee biology professor Maureen Leupold, who has studied the rain forests of Costa Rica on two previous college trips. Students who enroll, will earn three college credits while studying the stunning ecological terrain of Costa Rica, including volcanoes, rain forests and beaches.

Participants will travel throughout the country exploring various plant and animal habitats, experiencing the vibrant cultural traditions of the Costa Rican people and discovering how inhabitants of this diverse country are trying to conserve and protect their ecological wonderland.

The study tour starts in San Jose, the capital and cultural center of Costa Rica and continues on to the Arenal Region where students will visit a biologically diverse theme park, an active volcano, natural hot springs, biological research station and waterfalls.

The tour will continue on to Monteverde where students will visit an ecological reserve, explore rain forests, plant trees, view a canopy tour of a rain forest and attend a lecture. Participant will also experience the Central Pacific Coast and the Manual Antonio National Park. The tour closes in the Puntarenas region where students will visit a coffee plantation before returning to San Jose for their departure home.

"This is an incredible opportunity for the students here at Genesee Community College," professor Leupold said. "We strive to offer these types of hands-on learning opportunities for students at the community college level. This ecological and conservation tour is true experiential learning at its finest."

Students enrolling in the tour for college credit will register for BIO114 and be graded on a daily trip journal they are required to keep while on the tour, as well as online exams, a major research paper, oral reports, and discussions both online and in person.

The course and immersion trip is in the distance-learning format in which course material will be available online throughout the spring semester. Participants on the study tour will meet for a pre-departure seminar one month before the tour.

The Costa Rica immersion trip will run March 9-17, 2011 and is open to all. However, seats are limited to the first 24 participants. The cost for this tour is $2,227 plus airfare, with an optional insurance fee of $135. Participants who enroll for college credit in BIO114 Rainforest Biology will also pay the appropriate tuition fees for full- or part-time enrollment.

For further information on cost, registration and details, please contact Maureen Leupold at 343-0055, ext. 6394 or <>.

Genesee County Chamber of Commerce offers trip to China this fall

By Billie Owens

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a nine-day "familiarization tour: of China from Sept. 26 to Oct. 4.

Very similar to their successful trips in 2008 and 2009, the chamber is offering the community the unique opportunity to travel to China for the low price of $1,999. Price includes air fare (from JFK), bus to/from JFK, hotel stays, three meals a day, bus tours (with guides), admission to tourist spots, and airport taxes throughout the trip.
Of professional interest, this trip will present opportunities to learn a great deal about how the Chinese business system operates.

The group will tour many memorable sites, both ancient and modern, and enjoy a multitude of unforgettable experiences in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou.   This year, there is also the opportunity to go to the Shanghai Expo, in addition, there is the option to visit Xian (Terra Cotta Warriors) or to Guilin (Elephant Trunk Hill) for an additional fee.
The chamber believes this trip to be an exceptional value. For more details call at the chamber at 343-7440 ext. 27, and sign up to attend an informational meeting at 5:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office on East Main Street in downtown Batavia.

Details on the trip can also be found at <>.

Happy Easter

By Bea McManis

Can it be Easter already?  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.

I'll be going away for the weekend.  I'm really looking forward to spending some time just relaxing.  Relaxing comes with a price.  The "to do" list seems to grow as the departure time nears. 

Since this is a road trip, it means a trip to the grocery store for the picnic lunch I plan to pack.  A meatless picnic is a challenge.  Thinking seafood salad sandwiches.

Dig out spring clothes and get laundry finished.

Pack a bag - not a lot, it's only a weekend.

Hair cut on Friday morning

Bring the book I'm trying to finish, "Out Stealing Horses".

Remember to take the phone that has Navigator so I don't get lost.  I can get to the hotel okay, it is the trip from the hotel to my destination on Saturday that is always dicey.  Even worse is the trip from there back home.  Almost a hour on back roads before getting back on Route 5 and familiar surrounds.

Straighten out the house before i leave.

Bring camera.  This is a sporting event, so there should be good action shots.

Somewhere in this coming weekend there will be time to relax.  I'm looking forward to that.  Stretch out and finish that book.  Take the time to enjoy the wonderful scenery that our New York has to offer. 




Conversations with Calliope- Avatars

By Joseph Langen



(Parrot Avatar)

JOE: Good m0rning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How have you been?
JOE: Fine. I'm just working on a new column/newsletter.
CALLIOPE: I thought you just finished one.
JOE: I did but I will be doing a little traveling and have to get one in before I leave.
CALLIOPE: What's it about?
JOE: Avatars.
JOE: I went to see the movie yesterday and got to thinking about Hindu avatars.
CALLIOPE: Where did you go with that theme?
JOE; I considered how I thought most people displayed a variety 0f avatars under different circumstances.
CALLIOPE: Sounds interesting.
JOE: It is. I'll post it when I get back.
CALLIOPE: Where are you going?
JOE: Someplace warm. I'll let you know about it when I get back.



Pair of Megabus accidents puts company's safety record in spotlight

By Howard B. Owens

European-based Megabus, which a year ago started service in the Northeast U.S., bills itself as the eco-friendly, high-tech, inexpensive and safe way to travel between major cities.

It's that safety part that raises an eyebrow or two recently.

Two Megabus motor coaches have been involved in Thurway crashes in the Gensee County area in the past two weeks.

In both cases, buses tipped over. In one, high winds are a likely factor. In the other, the bus driver is accused of falling asleep.

WBTA spoke Edward Hodgson, president of Megabus, who said Megabus has a good safety record.

A search of Google didn't uncover prominent documentation of ongoing safety issues, either.

Megabus operates passenger service between Toronto and Buffalo to New York City using the New York State Thruway.

Right Time. Right Place. The Wagon Teamser!

By E D

I had to go to Tractor Supply Co. in Batavia, NY on Friday 10/17/08 to return a ball mount that didn't have a deep enough drop for my camper. 

When I pulled in, I looked to my left and there was a wagon and four absolutely beautiful large work horses with wonderful halters on.  Now, I am absolutely curious, but I have to make sure that I don't get sidetracked and that I make sure that I keep my focus. 

I went in and made the return, trying to rush to get back outside to investigate.  After what seems to be hours, I finally get back outside and I start walking towards these beautiful creatures that are contently huddling around an odd looking wagon. 

As I begin to look at one of the horses, I hear some rustling to my left.  A middle-aged man comes walking around and we make the make our introductions.  With making conversation, I was able to to collect some interesting information: the man's name is Bob; his horses are of Percheron breed; their names are Doc, Dolly, Joyce and Dee Dee; he travels with his horses and wagon; and he is currently packing up to head back west. 

After chatting with Bob, I noticed some spectators starting to show interest, so I figured I would take one more look at the horses and then go on my way.  As I am walking back to my vehicle, I figure that I should take some quick pictures of this unique situation.  Though I am not a professional photographer by any means, I grabbed my camera from my vehicle and took as many pictures as I could before they could leave.  I figured this would be a perfect addition for my calendar that I plan to make of various nature pictures I have taken over the years.  So, photo after photo, I am scurrying to always get that last picture before they can leave. 

As they begin to exit the parking lot and make their way left, across Rte. 5,  I rush to my vehicle and slowly drive ahead of them.  I pull over into the parking lot of a small welding business that is about 300 feet in front where they are currently traveling.  I jump out of my vehicle with my camera and started taking pictures of them coming at me on the main roadway.  It is neat to watch these four horses loyally and proudly pulling their friend and his wagon. 

As they begin to pass by me, I wave to Bob and tell him thank you.  Thank you for being you, thank you for caring and keeping these beautiful animals, thank you for being so courageous and unique to travel all over the American north east with them, and a much bigger thank you for providing and showing this neat phenomena to the world.  In response to my thanks, he gave a very kind gentleman's nod and replied, "Your welcome." 

I snapped a few more photos as they continued down the road and muttered to myself, with the utmost amount of satisfaction, "Right place.  Right time."

 (For more info, visit their website:


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