New routes open for Italian pilgrims
In 2012 the Italian pilgrims will have quick access to Medjugorje from five airports after Bergamo and Bari were added on Friday. It makes for alternatives to the otherwise popular buses, and further strengthens Mostar International Airport after years of recession.
From Bergamo, Milan and Turin in the north, over central Pescara to Bari in the south: Before long, five Italian airports are operating flights to Mostar close to Medjugorje. The development comes as Italian touring and pilgrimage companies respond to a Medjugorje boom that shows no signs of having yet peaked.
Bergamo and Bari were added as take-off points on Friday when travel arranger Rusconi Viaggio announced the routes Bari-Mostar from April 20 until November 1, and the airport in Bergamo followed troop without yet announcing dates. Planes from Turin will depart from April 27 through September 10 except for high season weeks while a Medjugorje season of 52 departures will begin on April 1 in Pescara.
Rusconi Viaggio intends to fly to Mostar once a week except for high season weeks when the frequency will go down to one departure every second week, the company further announced. From Milan, there will be one-day trips to Medjugorje on April 25, May 1, May 6 and October 20.
Interest of Medjugorje in Italy began as early as the first weeks of the apparitions when Italian pilgrims were the first to arrive from outside the then-Yugoslavia. The current boom took off in 2009 when journalist and talkshow host Paolo Brosio replaced a publically notorious life as a playboy with a life of prayer, and started writing and lecturing about his Medjugorje experience.
The boom caught further wind as Brosio started inviting other public figures from his circle of friends, only to see his own conversion experience repeated in the lives of actress Claudio Koll, model Ania Goledzinowska and ex-football stars Abel Balbo and Sinisa Mihajlovic, among a number of others.
Four of the six visionaries are fluent in Italian, and two are married to Italians, among them Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti who spends half of the year in Milan, the other half in Medjugorje, and who has testified to having received the gift of speaking fluent Italian overnight in the late 1980s.