I love little bits of ephemera, those pieces of paper that go in a pocket and are thrown away without a second thought. Eighty years later they become a fascinating insight into a moment of time. Today we have some of the most ephemeral of items, a pair of tickets for other ranks to buy meals at restaurants in Italy at the end of the Second World War:
These tickets were given out by the Army Welfare service and allowed an Other Rank to get a hot meal at a set restaurant, here the blue one is for the Ristorante Valiani by the Central Railway Station, whilst the buff ticket allows lunch to be purchased at Dal Bolognese. These restaurants were presumably subsidised and the tickets ensured that an other rank could still afford to eat at them.
Italy offered opportunities for men to widen their cultural horizons if they wished, as recorded in his diary at the time by L W Gibson of the RAF:
Jan ’44. We now go to Termac for hot baths. These are hot waters containing various salts from hot springs from one time volcano at Puzzuoli. Pre-war, this Hotel was visited especially for these ‘medicated’ baths & there are several large wings of hotel- all bath rooms. These are first rate- very enjoyable- only a little snug. Difficult to get a good lather with salts in the water. The rest of the Hotel (which is on the sea front) is used for rest camp for RAF on seven days leave from 329 Wing.
Heard Lucia de Lamm**** 1/1/44- Very fine production- the Coloratura Amelia Remey was marvellous- understand she has sung at the Berlin State Opera House. The scenery was exceptionally good- wonderful sky effect- gave idea of looking great distance- blue with stars & moving cloud, very realistic. Remembered the songs we have on record at home of Swain-Gilge etc. Thoroughly enjoyed it- the famous sextet was fairly sung & also duet in the first scene. The opera contains some grand melodies in true ‘Italian’ style including a fine coloratura with flute obligato- foolish to attempt this unless one is a tip top singer.
On the 2/1/44 heard La Boheme at 10am & orchestral concert including Pruistonoff playing Tchaikovsky’s Opus 23 for orchestra pianoforte. Really fine performance. The night before, 1/1/44, whilst awaiting the gharry, after ‘Lucia’ heard part of Pouishnoff’s concert- He played B’s “moonlight” grandly- & also started the New Year well for music, Eh?
After La Boheme in the morning, a lot of the chorus- men & women, came into the same restaurant as the one (Giacomini- nearly opposite S. Carlos) we were patronising & were all with make up on- vivacious, as we would expect- looked 2nd rate house type. Wonder if cold area is short of facilities at Theatre owing to who was in, or if this is usual practice. Wonder!