Italian descendants celebrate rescue
TRICKED into buying land in a phantom Pacific paradise, 340 people from the Veneto region of northern Italy left Barcelona on the Marquis de Rays expedition in 1880.
After months of struggle and starvation, NSW Premier Sir Henry Parkes heard of their plight and arranged for their rescue. On April 7, 1881, the 217 survivors were greeted in Sydney.
Eventually they were granted some land at what is now called New Italy and every year their descendents celebrate the day that was once referred to as Deliverance Day.
The Italian community that sprung up and spread through the Northern Rivers continues to celebrate the day and this year's Carnivale Italiano will be held on Sunday at the New Italy Museum site.
President of the museum (and descendent of the Spinaze family) John Barnes said the day would "celebrate Italian food, vino and very good music".
That includes "the golden voice of Italy" Tony Pantano and performer Fortunato Isgro. Plus, there will be bocce, horse and cart rides, market stalls and more music.
The event is open to the public and last year attracted about 1500 people.
"We've become a victim of our own success," Mr Barnes said. "Because of the number of vehicles, we have been forced by authorities to have traffic control measures on the highway this year."
As a result there will be a $5 entry fee for adults, free for children.
The event is a fundraiser for the ongoing maintenance of facilities at New Italy.
The day begins with a mass at 10am and runs until 4pm.