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Issue XIV

September/November 2017





Interview with


Stranger in paradise



50 years together The story continues.

For over 50 years, we’ve worked alongside Gelato and Pastry chefs who choose the best for their customers.

WANT TO MEET LIKEMINDED ITALIAN-AUSTRALIAN PROFESSIONALS? WE ARE INDEPENDENT AND ASIA-PACIFIC’S LEADER ON THE YOUNG ITALIAN EXECUTIVE GLOBAL COUNCIL (YEX) ALTO is building a strong, active and enduring Italian-Australian Community network based in Melbourne. We run events which showcase the great contributions Italians have been making in Australia for more than 60 years.


THE ALTO LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP IS AVAILABLE FOR PROFESSIONALS AND STUDENTS FOR ONLY $75 ALTO LIFETIME MEMBERS RECEIVE THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS:  Priority invitations to ALTO events  Access to ALTO referrals network  Discounted rates to paid ALTO events  Invitations to future members-only events  Regular newsletters about the ALTO community  Various product/service discounts from ALTO sponsors





WHO ARE “There is nothing more temporary than a permanent immigrant!� WE

What do Italians and Australians have in common? They both love sport, mate!

An immigrant is always looking for a home, the further away they are, the stronger is their quest for a home. Italians always have had their roots deeply planted in their millenarian culture but they become completely oblivious to the fact that they have packed their historic and rich inheritance into their luggage when migrating to Australia. We like to hear their stories, we provide them with a forum to articulate their views, whether they are multinational enterprises, successful business people or young disoriented talents. Segmento aims to be the megaphone of the Italian Australian community. Its objective is to become the vital link between their Italian roots and the new culture of multi ethnicity that prevails in Australia.

OUT NOW! A unique insight into Australian and Italian SPORT as you've never imagined. Sport is the powerful tool able to inspire and mobilize the masses and create a true sense of belonging and shared identity. Even more than simply generating inclusion, it leads to economic developments and significant health benefits. FIND OUT THE STOCKIST TO PICK UP YOUR HARD COPY OR DOWNLOAD THE DIGITAL EDITION FROM SEGMENTO WEBSITE

Daniele Curto Founder and Managing Director



category 5

Jenna Lo Bianco

Founder and Managing Director Daniele Curto

EDITORIAL 041 8891 285

Associate Editor Ivano Ercole

Editor in Chief for Italy and China Elenoire Laudieri Di Biase

Graphic Artist Aurora Delfino

Creative Consultant Imbarani Poonasamy Photographers Paco Matteo Li Calzi, Daniele Curto, Ksenia Belova, Jonathan Di Maggio For features, articles and editorial submissions:

For advertising equires please contact: 041 8891 285

Cover photo credits Daniele Curto Aurora Delfino Translation Support Jenna Lo Bianco Proof Reading Sarah Pradolin


Agata Grimaldi Laura D’Angelo Ilaria Gianfagna Archimede Fusillo Ivano Ercole Elizabeth Wisser Enrico Massei Gerardo Papalia Deirdre MacKenna ­Johnny Di Francesco ­ Elenoire Laudieri Di Biase Omar D’Incecco Daniele Foti-Cuzzola Josie Gagliano Mariantonietta Rasulo Jenna Lo Bianco Bernadette Novembre Ciriana Santo Buccheri Natalie Di Pasquale Elaine Bocchini Raffaele Caputo DISCLAIMER The Editorial-Staff ensures that every details are correct at the time of printing, however the publisher accepts no responsibility for errors and inaccuracies.

Segmento media partner

Global Association of International Artists





n his 1964 masterpiece The Italians, Luigi Barzini, in his infinite wisdom and acute social awareness, states: “In the heart of every man, wherever he is born, whatever his education and tastes, there is one small corner that is Italian”. What else could explain your need to pick up this edition of Segmento? Everyone can connect with, even in the smallest way, the Italian way of life, culture and language. The Italian-Australian story started long before you and I were even conceived by the powers of the universe. Waves of Italian migrants seeking greater opportunities and fortune shaped Australia’s cultural landscape. ‘La dolce vita’ is fundamentally important to our identity as Australians, both past and present, and has shaped who we today are as a nation. Despite the significant number of Italians that docked on our golden shores during the post-WW2 period – the period you always hear about Australia is in the midst of the greatest Italian immigrant boom it has ever experienced.


In the literature it’s often referred to as La Fuga dei Cervelli – the Escape of the Minds, as the majority of young Italians settling in Australia today are the young and educated, seeking prosperous futures elsewhere outside of Italy. Some reference the nepotistic tertiary education system, the economic crisis rendering housing and day-today life a constant struggle; others talk about a loss in faith in the country’s ability to provide employment and growth opportunities. Whatever the reason, the numbers speak for themselves. Both phenomena, the past and contemporary, are widely documented and commented upon, as our human nature draws us to the personal stories of the individuals who took the ultimate leap of faith. It takes courage and determination to leave your homeland behind in search of a future you perhaps wouldn’t have back ‘home’. Ironically, across the generations, the reasons for settling in Australia don’t seem to have changed all that much. In this edition you will meet four intriguing Italians who have come to call Australia home, though each comes with a very unique perspective. Domenico De Marco dared to “try his luck” in Australia arriving as a young chef with enviable skills. He had to face challenges that would have sent many immigrants back to their homeland, though came to value the virtues of hard work and persistence. We meet actor, Fabio Motta, and learn of his immigration to Australia at a young age. Fabio has made a name for himself on the stage and screen, with his most recent endeavours in the world of professional clowning. In the case of Giovanna Alberti, head chef at Woodstock Pizzicheria in East Brunswick, moving to Australia five years ago has paid off. Giovanna was recently crowned ‘pizzaiola’ of the year in the Australian Pizza Championship 2017, and shares her story with Laura D’angelo. And finally, there’s Nonna Paola, post-WW2 immigrant and current Internet sensation with her own Facebook page and legion of followers. Though the experiences between the generations may have changed, in terms of bureaucracy, technological advancements and speedier travel, the goal remains the same. Australia = opportunity. It always has, but will it always?




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36 Features

Cover Story Stranger in Paradise Ivano Ercole



The wonderful paradox behind the Italian Academy of Cuisine Raffaele Caputo

Regulars Hands on Fire


How to keep traditions and stay relevant Johnny Di Francesco

The Granny’s Pearls Chapter 3 Ciriana

Coffee Talk Santo Buccheri

Nina Zilli The Italian queen of soul music

12 13 14

Gerardo Papalia


The noxious facts about trans fats Agata Grimaldi

A Future in their Past Bittersweet memories of a life in Australia Archimede Fusillo

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The Nonna that has conquered the web Mara Rasulo


Bernadette Novembre

The Barber Shop

Elenoire Laudieri Di Biase



The unexpected feats of Italy’s accidental prime minister

Pane & Pizzico restoring true Italian bread making Jenna Lo Bianco


A different language is a different vision of life Natalie Di Pasquale


Babbi, the icon of the gelato making craft Laura D’Angelo


Stefano Costabile A head above the rest Jenna Lo Bianco


Championing the bicycle trade


The Sardinian Cultural Association


The woman who has broken into one of the last male bastions

Elaine Bocchini

Ivano Ercole

Laura D’Angelo



Portrait of an actor as a young man Jenna Lo Bianco

Segmento Magazine September/November 2017


WORDS Raffaele Caputo

The wonderful paradox behind the Italian Academy of Cuisine



by extension likely true of the others - was because they embraced social and cultural trends that broke traditions rather than upheld them.

Vergani was a journalist on the payroll of Milan’s daily newspaper Corriere della Sera for almost 30 years; having written on theatre, literature, politics and sport by the time he founded the Academy in 1953. As a sports writer, he often covered the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France: the story goes it was during one of these events he had something of an epiphany. While stopped at a restaurant in the Veneto region, Vergani was alarmed when the establishment offered him veal cutlets alla Milanese and wine from Tuscany in place of the locally-made food and wine he had requested - luganeghe, home-made pure pork sausages from Treviso, and Piave River wine, both of which are specialties of the Veneto.

There was however, an underlying anxiety and sense of unease, whether formally acknowledged or not; the economic miracle would unleash a runaway train of consumerism, wiping away long-cherished regional customs, habits and attitudes. That is, everything, tangible and intangible, that made one region distinct from another. Hence Vergani’s alarm at being offered veal cutlets alla Milanese in place of luganeghe.

he first thing we should bear in mind when talking about the Italian Academy of Cuisine (Accademia Italiana della Cucina - a gastronomic association that began in Milan more than half a century ago, is the oddity of the name. Why wasn’t it called the Academy of Italian Cuisine? This is not splitting hairs. The difference may seem negligible at first, but it has a raison d'être. We all have some idea of what is meant by ‘Italian cuisine,’ yet it seems that the Academy’s founding fathers - Orio Vergani in particular - were of the belief there was no such thing.

We can only imagine Vergani’s shock given the variety of foods and different types of national cuisines available to us today. For those of us not living in Italy, there’s Italian and that is it when it comes to eating out. There’s no, ‘let’s grab a bite of Perugian!’ Of course, we must remember that as a journalist, especially when having to report on the Giro d’Italia, Vergani travelled extensively around Italy, acutely sensitive to and appreciative of the differences in culture, language and food of Italy’s many regions. He sensed change in the air but not all of it for the better. He then enlisted several notable Milanese to form an ‘academy’ devoted to preserving Italy’s regional cuisines by upholding the tradition of handing over recipes from one generation to the next, along with ingredients and methods specific to each region. Subsequently, it is said about the Italian Academy of Cuisine that not one of its founding fathers was involved in the food or hospitality industries. Unlike today, there was not one providore, food exporter or importer, grower, winemaker or chef, renowned or otherwise, among the early membership. With the exception of a few bankers and industrialists (which included Luchino Visconti’s brother Edoardo), the majority were journalists, writers, painters, architects and publishers. Those most prominent within Italy and whose renown extended beyond Italy were: Arnoldo Mondadori (head of the publishing house of the same name), Gianni Mazzocchi (publisher of the architecture and design monthly Domus), Gio Ponti (architect and also onetime editor of Domus), and Dino Buzzati (journalist, painter, and novelist most famous for Il deserto dei Tartari). When we look closely at why these founders became extremely well known, respected or successful - and this is true of someone including Mondadori or Buzzati, and

To understand the Italian Academy of Cuisine, both as it was founded and as it exists today, we must look at what was happening in Italy at the time, the context of post-war Italy, and the so-called economic miracle. Italy experienced a period of rapid and sustained economic growth from the early 1950’s to the mid-1960’s, during which Italians had more leisure time and money to spend on mass-produced goods - cars, televisions, home appliances, new furniture, and of course, food.

This sense of unease over something disappearing, and the desire to preservation, was not limited to one part of Italian culture as opposed to another. It could not have been a coincidence that during this time Italo Calvino published Fiabe italiane (Italian Folktales, 1956), a collection of folktales translated from the regional dialects they were recorded. As Calvino wrote in the introduction, “there was no readable master collection of Italian folktales which would be popular in every sense of the word. Could such a book be assembled now?” Nor could it be coincidental that Cesare Zavattini - a stalwart of neo-realism who penned Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves, 1948), Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan, 1951), and Umberto D (1953) among other films between 1951 and ’53 - was developing an idea for a film titled Italia Mia, which he eventually had to abandon. Italia Mia was proposed as a documentary which would have had De Sica and Zavattini take a three-month trip recording the different family traditions, customs, hopes, joys, and faults of people all around Italy. Part of a new cultural trend during Italy’s post-war economic boom, was for the Italian Academy of Cuisine to uphold or safeguard the regional culinary traditions. Herein lies the paradox of its birth, for embedded in the root meaning of tradition as ‘handing over’ or ‘handing on’ is ‘to betray.’ The authenticity of Italy’s regional cuisines, are not dependent upon time and place - and because of this - cuisines must change. The Academy could not have lasted for so long and continued to grow had it not been imbued by this wonderful paradox. The Italian Academy of Cuisine has branches (called delegations) in all Australian State capitals (except Tasmania’s) and in Canberra.


words ELENOIRE LAUDIERI DI BIASE (our correspondent in Italy)

The unexpected feats of Italy’s accidental Prime Minister


ince becoming a republic in 1946, Italy has had 28 Prime Ministers which is by far the largest number recorded by any Western democracy in the same period. It is politics Italian-style, which means never letting anyone become established at the helm of government. Many suggest this is due to Italians having suffered the dreadful consequences of Fascism when Mussolini was allowed to settle in as Prime Minister, and given time to entrench himself in power. This theory however is contradicted by the fact that before Fascism, the trend was the same. From its birth as a unified nation in 1861 to 1922 when Mussolini became prime minister - the same lapse of time (sixty-one years) from the proclamation of the Italian Republic until today - Italy had an even greater number of Prime Ministers, thirty to be precise. Apart from the animosity and factionalism of Italian politics, there is a contributing factor for this frequent turnover. In Italy, political power has traditionally been used to bestow favours on one’s supporters, relatives and friends as opposed to carrying the load of a responsible government. As a result, this has generated a constant rivalry for the Prime Ministership. The problem though is that such positions tend to be inherently vulnerable because it creates more enemies than friends, hence the long sequence of prime ministers in the relatively short history of Italy as a nation. There have of course been exceptions to this rule with the case of the recently appointed Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who got the coveted job by accident, so to speak. Despite his long-standing public career, he has never shown any inclination or ambition to rise to a position of great power. He is a reserved, low-key, six-


ty-three year old politician who has always preferred working backstage rather than in the spotlight of politics. Commenting on his Prime Ministerial appointment on 12 December last year, a BBC reporter described him as: “reminiscent of the butler in the novel Remains of the Day, whose greatest ambition was to be in a room without anyone noticing he was there.” He is a descendant of an aristocratic family from Tolentino in the central eastern Italian region of Marche. One of his ancestors, Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni, was the originator of the so-called “Patto Gentiloni,” which in 1913 put an end to the Vatican policy sanctioning the abstention of Italian Catholics from voting in parliamentary elections. Paolo Gentiloni is a journalist by trade who ran a Green magazine in the 1980’s before becoming press secretary to then Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli in 1993, and later communications minister in Romano Prodi's centre-left 2006-2008 government. When Renzi eventually worked his way up from leader of the Democratic Party to Italian prime minister in 2014, Gentiloni was called to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after his short-lived predecessor, Federica Mogherini, became the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. On account of his lack of international experience, many political analysts argued that his designation was a reward of sorts for being a reliable and unthreatening supporter of Renzi. But he soon proved them wrong by effectively handling, both with firmness and diplomacy, highly sensitive cases including two Italian marines forcibly kept in India under the unsubstantiated accusation of intentionally killing two Indian fishermen, and the brutal murder in Cairo of the student Giulio Regeni deceitfully accounted for by the Egyptian police as a road accident. Without him aiming for it, he was recruited for the role of Prime Minister, after the constitutional referendum defeat

TOP Paolo Gentiloni at the Quirinale Palace on the day of his appointment as Prime Minister by the president of the Italian Republic ABOVE Paolo Gentiloni and his wife Eleonora Mauro posing for a photo with China’s president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the opening ceremony of the “Belt and Road Forum”

words Johnny Di Francesco

HANDS ON FIRE How to keep traditions and stay relevant


that forced Matteo Renzi to resign in early December last year. The opposition parties attacked his appointment saying he was hand-picked to keep warm the place until Renzi’s return. The populist Five Star Movement mocked him as “Renzi’s puppet.” Eight months later, Paolo Gentiloni appears to have been the right choice, particularly in Italy’s current political climate inflamed by the economic malaise of many of its people, and the endless arrival of large numbers of genuine or self-proclaimed refugees. He might eventually succumb to the severity of these circumstances but judging from his performance so far, it looks to be seen that at the end of his tenure, he will be regarded as a Prime Minister who could keep Italy afloat and steer it through stormy waters. Paolo Gentiloni is a capable and refined negotiator both in domestic and international affairs. Examples of this can be drawn by the way he convinced his party to temporarily withdraw an untimely bill amending the law on citizenship, and from his success in bolstering Italy’s relations with China. As foreign affairs minister, he chose one of the best Italian diplomat, Ettore Sequi, as ambassador to China. As Prime Minister he could reap the benefits of that choice by having Italy ranked by China as a favoured western economic partner. This endorsement was sealed when ambassador Sequi successfully gained Mr Gentiloni and his wife the privilege of sitting next to President Xi Jinping and his wife, at the opening ceremony of the “international “Belt & Road Forum” recently held in Beijing. Italy and China are today closer than ever: Italian ports will have a major role as European terminals of the new maritime Silk Road. Not bad at all for an accidental Prime Minister.

ne of the beauties of Italian culture, is it is so deeply steeped in history. Thousands of years of tradition have made Italy what it is today, and it is this history and tradition that serves as the backbone for the food that I make today. Using techniques that have stood the test of time and ingredients that our ancestors would have used, the art of modern Italian cooking is a balancing act between staying true to tradition whilst also staying relevant. When I look at my family’s home of Naples, the ability of restaurateurs to continually blend the tradition and history of the region’s food with modern day influences is nothing short of inspirational. The commitment of the entire area and its people to preserving the heritage is one that I share, and strive to pass on through my own cooking. I try to bring the blend of new and old into my food. I work hard to keep tradition sacred, but just like they are doing in the kitchens of Naples, I experiment with new flavours and ways to keep those traditions relevant. One of the main principles I stick to when creating Italian food is the idea of keeping it simple. Looking back on history and what my family has been making for decades, they have kept their flavours simple and fresh. Although I’m

sure there was temptation to over-complicate things, they never did, and with that their food never faltered from being delicious. For that reason, this is a principle that I stay true to: it has allowed me to stick to tradition whilst experimenting with new flavour and ingredient combinations. Another principle I insist on is the process at Gradi we create and work with the pizza dough by hand, as generations have done before us. While it could be simple to use newly created machines to do it, we stick to the traditional processes. Whilst tradition will always be at the heart of what I do, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that modern technology and foods have helped me significantly. From our pizza to our pasta and gelato, we cook using a combination of traditional and modern techniques, and we combine traditional ingredients with new tastes. Regardless of what food you make, or how you make it, it is paramount you stay relevant to those who will eat it if you want to remain successful. It is important to remember what makes your food unforgettable, but it is equally important that you don’t become forgettable because you are not keeping up with demand or competition.

Send your questions to Johnny at: REGULARS 13

WORDS CIRIANA • PHOTOS Stefano Micchia AND Marco Girolami

The Granny’s Pearls

© Marco Girolami

Chapter 3 - The two previous chapters were published in Segmento March-May & June-August editions.

© Marco Girolami

Petunia Ciriana is an attractive and highly educated woman in her late thirties who works as a managing partner of a Rome subsidiary of a blue chip American consultancy. Fifteen years ago she had a beautiful love story with Maurizio - they met while they were studying at the University of Florence. After graduating, they both got a scholarship at New York University and moved to New York together. Their love bloomed in the Big Apple: they were looking forward to being married and having a happy life together until something happened that set them apart. Dalia © Stefano Micchia

Fiocco, a short fit and flare dress with a long cuffed sleeves and a contrasting neckline finished with a bow tie. A smart afternoon outfit. The photo taken at Piazza del Popolo, Rome. Photographer Stefano Micchia

Vento 14 FASHION

© Alessandro Baldetti

Ciriana has long recovered from her heartbreak, though she still wears the scar of it. She has since remained single, devoting herself to her career. One day she receives an email that shatters her peace of mind: it’s from Maurizio. She refrains from reading it but she cannot help from reading the subject line: “I dream to see you in your granny’s pearls again.” These words have the effect of re-opening the wound which she tries to sooth by visiting her family and talking about the email with the only person whose judgement she can fully trust, her mother. This new chapter reveals what made Maurizio disappear from Ciriana’s life.

PREVIOUS PAGE Vinnie, a pearl grey office and afternoon dress with accentuated cuffs, collar and belt. Fit and flare cut with narrow long sleeves LEFT Vilone, a cobalt blue cocktail dress with a wrap bodice, V-neck and 3/4 sleeves. Flared skirt and material bow-tie belt. BELOW Vito, a formal navy blue shirt dress with long sleeves finished with cuffs. Body fitting form, ideal for office with a sober dress code.

Libra, a fit and flare dress with a V-neck and a white marine-type collar. Ideal for spring garden parties. The photo taken on the bridge in front of Castel Sant’ Angelo, Rome.Photographer Stefano Micchia

All images shot by Alessandro Baldetti in Rome at Piazza Mincio.

THIS PAGE Begonia, a flared cocktail dress with a wrap top and a stand-up collar, ideal for elegant afternoon occassions. Photo taken by Marco Girolami in Villa Borghese in Rome


iriana and Maurizio’s December 2002 was meant to be the first and the last Christmas time spent away from Florence. They were about to graduate from the law faculty at New York University in merely two months, with the plan to return home for good. Their families talked about investing money in a common venture - a small law firm - where the young couple would start their jobs. But first they should get married! The plan however, failed. Wham’s “Last Christmas” video evokes an understanding for and Maurizio’s desire to spend at least one last season’s holidays having fun with friends at the snow, rather than at the table with parents and cousins. With the young couple’s enthusiasm awakened, Ciriana and her boyfriend invited a massive group of friends to an amazing ski resort in the Catskills Mountains. Young and beautiful, clad in branded ski wear, exploring unbelievably well-prepared hills, experiencing cross-country skiing and backcountry tours, they were spending the last days of the year enjoying their freedom. Ending up each day enjoyably tired in one of the aprè ski bars and clubs, they were engaging themselves in playful uncommitted flirting, dancing, drinking and lazy conversations about professional dreams. It was in one of those moments when Ciriana noticed an uncommon interest of one of the girls in her own boyfriend. Diana, was new to the circle of friends.

She had just appeared at the NYU campus moving from the west coast. Her parents who lived in California, were allegedly getting divorced and

they had sent their daughter away to earn some space and “put things in order.” Diana seemed a spoiled daddy’s girl with her year-round tan and a constant need to focus other people’s attention on herself. It appeared that this time the toy she was aiming to get was a handsome foreigner, Maurizio. Diana was different from Italian girls. She looked tacky for Ciriana’s taste with her multi-coloured skin tight clothes and heavy make-up that she wore at all times, even on the slopes. Her style was completely different from how Italian girls used moderate colour shades and tonalities; how they preferred exposing natural rather than fake attributes. Diana’s looks were bringing associations with a colourful exotic bird attracting everybody’s glances. Ciriana was used to other women around her boyfriend, likewise with Italian boys flirting just to pump up their egos. She was there, however, side by side, guarding attentively her territory, not a bit less attractive than her partner or any of the young girls around. Until the day of an accident that changed everything. It happened when craving the excitement of exploring the backcountry. With untouched white powder the group decided to go for off-site skiing. One improper decision based on misjudged situation and Maurizio was lying flat on the hill, his eyes shut, the helmet thrown apart and the crimson stain growing on the white from behind his head. It looked terrible, but Maurizio was alive, rescued immediately by energetic friends, supported later by their mighty parents and by Ciriana herself, scared to death.

© Marco Girolami

LEFT PAGE Petunia, a little black dress of a pencil line with a V-back in a contrasting colour. A universal all-day outfit (office-afternoon-evening). Dalia, a pencil dress with long chiffon sleeves made of exquisite textiles. Its cobalt blue colour makes you stand out. Photos taken by Marco Girolami in Villa Borghese in Rome Vento, a summer shoulder-strap dress made of exquisite soft lace for hot summer parties. The photo taken in front of the Colosseum, Rome.

Bergonia The boy spent nearly two weeks in a state of coma and then long weeks and months in a hospital looked after by his girlfriend, his soccer team fellows, boys and girls visiting him less and less frequently. The good news were that he was slowly but consistently recovering, unfortunately his head damage did not allow him to be transported back to Italy. Ciriana’s university term was coming to an end; she was no longer able to stay in the US. She came back to Florence but instead of celebrating her new degree she was exhausted and clueless about the future. The two families were doing all they could to ensure that Maurizio had the best medical assistance money could buy. Weeks and months were passing by and everybody expected that he would finally return home. Instead, to the family’s bewilderment, they got his phone call with a statement that he was staying in New York and getting married to Diana, the only person who stood by him in this difficult time. FASHION 15

words Mara Rasulo • PHOTO DANIELE CURTO

The Nonna that has conquered the web


er Facebook page has nearly 300,000 followers from all over the world; her videos on Youtube are widely clicked: she is known as the web's best ever Nonna. She's a little over a metre tall and 80 years old but her smile and charisma are explosive. So is her attitude to certain things; tattoos is one, she hates them. She speaks English with a strong Italian-Calabrian accent that has charmed so many followers. The way she deals with the new technology or how she argues with her son Greg that people ought to go to the Festa della Madonna rather than to a rock concert, beguile her followers who wait with great anticipation for her next video post. She is a star on the web and has become the Nonna of everyone. Paola, better known as Nonna Paola, was born in Calabria in a small town called Bianco. She was very young when her mum passed away. She grew up with her strict and austere father, her three brothers and her lovely Nonna who taught her to sew. When she was nineteem, after a hard childhood spent in the farm helping the family, she decided to join her brother in Australia, the land of opportunities, where she became a dressmaker. “I came here by ship, the big one,” says Nonna Paola sitting in her living room with a cup of coffee. “My brother had promised me to his friend. In those days that was the way people got married but I didn't agree and after a few months I met my love.”

“It was love at first sight,” she tells me looking at her husband's picture. “He sat next to me on the tram and he looked at me and said ‘I like you’. After a few months, we got married 16 PEOPLE

and we left for our honeymoon in a taxi that drove us to St. Kilda because we didn't have money to go any further at that time. We had three children and the last one, Greg, drives me crazy and he makes me sick with these tatoos,” says Nonna Paola, putting her hands on her face. Yet it's thanks to her son Greg that she has become so popular. In fact, he is the creator of the many videos that have attracted so many Internet followers. Nonna Paola doesn't understand what social media and Internet are, she doesn't even have a mobile phone but, as she says, “sometimes I just walk up the street and people stop me and ask me ‘Are you Nonna Paola?’” “Seeing these happy people when they meet me fills me with joy,” she tells me. Not many people know that Nonna Paola's life was not all a bed of roses. “I lost my husband in 1990 to an illness and after only three months my son in law was killed in a tragic accident in Maribyrnong. My family was devastated but I tried to go on with a smile, this is my strength.” “I have entrusted myself to the Lord and I believe I have a mission, that is of making people happy. That's why I've been going to nursing home for eighteen years to keep company with the elderly people living there, singing with them, dancing with them, no matter their nationality. Every time I say to the nurse: bring all in. I love to make them happy and when I go home I am happy as well.” Nonna Paola has been a guest on numerous TV and radio shows but what she really likes doing is appearing at charity events as an ambassador to help raise funds for cancer patients.

WORDS Santo Buccheri


here is a lot of talk about (Australian) values right now. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was about coffee values? I think we would have a much better conversation and find something everyone agrees on, while sharing a beautiful coffee and enjoying ourselves. Making and sharing coffee is part of cherishing your people and bonding with your community. As a migrant, I think a lot about the meaning and value of this, more than I ever did back in Italy. Coffee makes me remember what’s important in life. Coffee links all the precious senses and

they’d relax and gossip. That’s the way coffee is promoted in the Italian community. From my grandmother with the caffettiera to the local bar, it’s about happiness and relaxing. When it comes to that morning coffee, the regulars always want the same things. Of course, that’s something people do everywhere, it’s not an especially Italian thing. When the barista wants to be charismatic with you and they want you to love them, that’s really Italian - the ruffiano way. If you’re looking for an English definition of ‘ruffiano’, you’ll probably get ‘sucking up to someone’, but that misses the point. Yes, you’re purchasing something but there’s a genuine connection in that exchange. You can understand ruffiano by what’s it’s not. If you get attitude or indifference, that doesn’t make your day or keep you coming back! Back in my hometown, you pop into the local bar every single day so they know exactly what you want. ‘Mr Buccheri!’ they would call out. ‘Welcome today! Here is your coffee.’ When I was just a kid, having a coffee made me feel like an adult! It made my day. Every espresso you take in Italy reflects the colours, ancient landscapes, heat and intensity of my homeland. The dark colour of the cream reflects the colour of the soils where we grow mandarins, lemons and oranges: fruits the whole world loves. That is the perfume of our land, the scent of the white jasmine. Every espresso brings you the same power and intensity. In Sicily and across Italy, people drink well, but there’s very little money. People live for these few little things: the intensity of their coffee is life distilled into small daily moments. It’s human relationships themselves, so intense: life is an espresso. It’s very difficult to recreate those exact experiences. In a way, I wouldn’t want to, they belong to their own place. So how do we, migrants and Australian born, make our steps and link them with a smile?

memories of my life, moments that take me back to my home town and back again to Melbourne, to my family and community. If I pause a moment, I can bring to mind the little local bar in my hometown Floridia in the province of Siracusa, and that sensory rush you get when you open the door. You’re immediately plunged in the aroma of the caffetteria: the rush, people shouting and smiling toward one another, and the gratitude you feel when you go to the cashier and someone has already paid for your coffee, putting a great big smile on your face as you walk out the door. Hours may have passed you by as you talk away; you don’t remember what you talked about in that time but it doesn’t matter: Il dolce far niente. From the moment you woke up, all the steps in the day were linked with a smile, with a coffee. Your aunties and your cousins would come in with all their stresses and

When you look around, everywhere, we are recreating our own meaning and value out of living in the moment. Around the caffettiera - or the teapot, this is what connects you to your family traditions, the steaming tea, the smiles over the teacup, the slower pace. Every time someone pulls away from the computer, they get a smile on their face. They’re taking a moment, getting their coffee. That’s the happiness right there. You can do it with the kids, your friends, with anyone on a Sunday. Go camping, have a picnic, and pack the caffettiera with you. In Australia we concern ourselves about doing coffee ‘correctly’ and doing coffee ‘ethically’. The experience of migration taught me to see these through the lens of bonding and cherishing life and each other through creating and drinking coffee. Otherwise, they’re empty gestures. The coffee machine is a symbol of relaxing. It’s a break. That’s something we should always remember: work hard and work well - yes - but take that time to enjoy the moment.



words Jenna Lo Bianco

The bakery that has restored true Italian bread making


ive years ago I was diagnosed with an allergy to wheat: this was heartbreaking news. In a very short amount of time I had to retrain my brain to overlook the yeasty, crusty temptation, and seek guilty starchy pleasures in other forms; needless to say it took its toll. How ridiculous! – you might say. Take bread away from an Italian, however, and the situation gets serious. Bread: it has nourished generations and civilisations for many thousands of years. I’ve come to appreciate, however, that there’s ‘bread’ and then there’s ‘bread’. Bread is ingrained (no pun intended) in the Italian food psyche. Bread is on the table at meals - it’s sweet, it’s savoury, it’s sliced, it’s broken… and even deep-fried. Bread, even old bread, is cherished and never wasted. It truly is a representation of what the Italians call la convivialità, togetherness. Like an old friend, bread is always there. For those not familiar with the term ‘artisan’ or artigiano, it means using traditional methods, by way of ingredients and technique, to achieve a product of exceptional quality. Standing as a beacon of hope in today’s society, a society which is concerned with mass production and commercial enterprise, is a bakery of a different kind: Pane e Pizzico, in Essendon. On the counter sits a large glass urn: ‘Il Lievito Madre di Pane e Pizzico’ the sign reads. Contained within is forty year-old mother yeast, or ‘starter’. Like a member of the family it is fed daily, nurtured and treasured, on display for the world to see. This urn represents the attention to detail and care paid to the products made within this bakery.

LEFT PAGE ABOVE Pane della Salute baked by Pane & Pizzico is rich in protein and low in carbs BELOW Pane & Pizzico’S Workmanship of Panettone is produced over three days, creating the traditional cake enjoyed by italians during Christmas festivities THIS PAGE Pane & Pizzico Laboratory Bakery

Making artisanal quality bread is a lengthy 3-day process. The bakers start at 10pm, working through the night. They prepare what’s known as the ‘biga’, which starts the pre-fermentation process and ensures nutritional value of the final product. The following day the flour blends are added, the dough is kneaded to perfection and then left to rest. On the third day the yeasty parcels are baked, ensuring quality bread that speaks for itself. What sets Pane e Pizzico apart from other bakeries is its heart and soul. The business is community oriented, supporting and supplying local businesses and chains with delicious breads and baked goods of the highest quality. Simone, the Floor Manager, assures me the focus is on quality,

not quantity. “The bread in Melbourne is usually French and Vietnamese, but ours is very Italian,” he assures me. The difference comes down to the ingredients. Pane e Pizzico use very little to no butter in their dough and pastry, which respects traditional Italian flavours and baking techniques. Similarly, they use a blend of 60% imported Italian flour, 30% Australian flour and 10% imported German flour. “We are very happy and very proud of what we’re doing; it’s something very unique in Melbourne.” Born from descendants of the Angele family who brought us the Brunetti Cafe, Pane e Pizzico is intimately Italian. “Everyone speaks Italian. There’s Italian music. Everyone is greeted with ‘Buongiorno!’ It’s something unique. People really love this kind of atmosphere. Some people come here just to read the paper, that’s the most rewarding thing.” It doesn’t stop there, boasts Simone, as the bakers are either Italian born, or are of Italian heritage. “We are a big family, we are all Italian,” he laughs. Testament to their success, Pane e Pizzico clearly has the right balance in check. So, what is the winning ticket that

people come through the door for? Despite the Italian banter and cheeky spirit, it’s the ‘pane della salute’ - the healthy bread. “The flavour, smell, and consistency are very special,” Simone explains. “It’s rich in protein and low in carbs. It’s a very unique product.” Worthy of attention is the panettone produced by Pane e Pizzico, made following traditional recipes and techniques. “Our artisan pasticceri take three days from start to end to produce our panettone, using all the patience in the world, with love and respect for the product”, says Managing Director, Robert Angele. “The panettone for Pane e Pizzico is not just another cake; it’s a symbol of our Italian heritage, as our own skilled bakers continue the traditions of the Italian master bakers of the past!” In a market of frozen, imported and mass produced products, isn’t it heart-warming to know that gems like Pane e Pizzico still churn out the goods in a way that respects time honoured traditions? Bread will continue to grace the tables of many generations to come… made the artigiano way, with a pizzico (pinch) of Italian heart. FOOD&WINE 19

WORDS Ivano ercole

Stranger in Paradise E

very day at dawn, thirty-two year old Domenico De Marco gets on his racing bike and rides it through the beautiful parkland surrounding Hepburn Springs, a lovely country town famous for its mineral springs, 128 km north-west of Melbourne. He is as happy as a young man can be. The wonderful scenery, the exhilarating scent of nature, the sun rising on the horizon makes him feel he is living in the Garden of Eden. How did he get there? Metaphorically speaking, the angel with a flaming sword guarding its entrance must have turned a blind eye. A reality check, of course, tells


another story. He worked his way through a number of challenges, the most daring was when he decided to leave Italy and try his luck in Australia. In the last few years, many young Italians have pursued the same dream but it is hard these days starting a career and becoming a permanent resident in this country. Most of them, even those with a very good education, end up working as waiters and eventually resign themselves to go back to their homeland. Domenico instead came as a qualified chef and, despite his young age, with a background to make the best Aussie chefs envious.

Photo by Daniele Curto

He had worked in some of the best restaurants in Italy and had lived in superb locations across the Italian peninsula but none conquered his heart as Hepburn Springs

Domenico De Marco COVER STORY 21

THIS PAGE Domenico De Marco, Head Chef and Co-Owner of “Locale” at The Grande Hotel in Hepburn Springs

Photo by Daniele Curto

NEXT PAGE LEFT Domenico in the kitchen RIGHT Domenico with his business partner Ian Hawkins

Photo by Daniele Curto

Born in Milan from Calabrian parents and raised in Imola− the town in northern Italy that once used to host a Formula One Grand Prix−he studied at a hospitality college in Bologna getting a diploma in professional cookery. After a short experience in a Rome restaurant, he worked under some of the most accomplished Italian chefs including Luca Marchini at ristorante “L’Erba del Re” in Modena, and Piergiorgio Parini at the “Osteria Del Povero Diavolo” in Torriana, a hill town of Romagna from whose ancient tower one can have a breathtaking view on the coast of Rimini. He completed his professional training in three of the most acclaimed restaurants in Southern Italy: the 5-star Hotel San Pietro in Positano, the “Pappacarbone” in Cava de’ Tirreni, and the “S’apposentu” in the charming Sardinian village of Siddi, at the centre of the archeologically-renowned area of Marmilla. He then worked at two other top restaurants, one in Florence and Prague: both linked to the Four Seasons Hotels chain and made famous by the Italian master chef Andrea Accordi. Notable in his career are the restaurants where he worked before coming to Australia, all star-rated in the prestigious Michelin Guide. An impressive professional pedigree allowed him to be immediately hired after arriving in Sydney six years ago, first by the Hilton Hotel Glass Brasserie, followed by the Sardinian cuisine restaurant “Pilu” in the Sydney northern suburb of Freshwater. A favourable opportunity of starting his own business brought him to Melbourne where he became head chef and owner of the restaurant “L’altro mondo” in Albert Park. Nonetheless destiny had something else in store for him, something that would take him to another dimension of life, still requiring his culinary knowledge and skills but in a unique environment. It came about after an enterprising man called Ian Hawkins and his wife Jodie bought an old guest house in Hepburn Springs called the Grande Hotel. Ian has an extraordinary story of his own that goes beyond the scope of this feature. Suffice to say, well into his adulthood he learned that he had been adopted shortly after he was born in Perth to an Australian woman and an Italian man. They were both very young and broke their relationship when his mother became pregnant. Unable to take care of him, she gave him away for adoption. Some time later, his natural parents got back together, married and had other

children. Ian was able to trace them back and reunite with them in Perth. He also visited his father’s birthplace in Italy near Como. Possibly the discovery of having some Italian blood in his veins had some influence in Ian’s idea of involving Domenico in his Hepburn Springs business venture. He had been looking for somebody able to develop a good reputation for his guest house restaurant. When he met Domenico he was sure he had found the right person. He had to wait a short time, Domenico had recently bought the restaurant in Albert Park and couldn’t adhere immediately to Ian’s proposal. He was definitely attracted to it especially after seeing the guest house, its exclusive location and its development potential. Domenico eventually sold his restaurant, signed a partnership agreement with Ian and moved to Hepburn Springs. He couldn’t resist the temptation of applying his skills to a life in a place he had been dreaming of since finishing his studies. He had worked in some of the best restaurants in Italy and had lived in superb locations across the Italian peninsula but none conquered his heart as Hepburn Springs. The Grande Hotel has ten guest rooms with ensuites that have been newly refurbished in a warm and homely style. Breakfast is served on request in the large hotel balcony overlooking a lush forest. The restaurant – called “Locale” – is Domenico’s domain and whatever is offered in the menu is made by him, from bread to pasta, deli meats, gelato and cakes. During his early morning cycling tours, he makes a few stops to order raw ingredients from local farmers and traders. By midmorning he is back at the hotel, takes off his cycling attire, has a shower and gets into his creative mode. The hotel staff including Ian know that he must not be distracted when he is at work in the kitchen. He can often be heard singing aloud an Italian opera aria or a Neapolitan song while he is busy with cooking. It’s his way of releasing the pressure from his job. He should add to his repertoire a once famous song from an American musical. The melody was taken from music written by the Russian composer Alexander Borodin. It’s titled “Stranger in Paradise” and the lyrics have a striking resemblance with Domenico’s experience in Hepburn Springs. COVER STORY 23

words Natalie Di Pasquale

Federico Fellini was right:

a different language is a different vision of life


uon appetito, buongiorno, grazie, nonna, nonno, Pasqua, Natale… If you are born into an Italian family in Australia, these words become part of your vocabulary. They were so imbedded in mine as a child, I didn't realise there was an English equivalent. It would feel odd to even think about calling my nonno, ‘grandfather’; I share this experience with many other Italo-Australians of my generation. It was only when I started school that I realised the correct English terminology, and the appropriate times to use my Italian vocabulary. One can trace the continuation and growth of our generation’s interaction with the Italian language through programs at school. For many primary schools, Italian language was compulsory. I remember counting to ten, learning about Carnevale and how to say “il gatto mangia il topo.” During high school, language was compulsory until Year 9. Automatically I chose to continue Italian, firstly because it is in my cultural background and second because I discovered the importance of a second language after travelling overseas at the age of ten. Language in general became an option for VCE and, after a brilliant Italian teacher in Year 9, (Grazie Signora Masciangioli - your name taught me the sound of ‘sci’), I was confident of taking it up further (a big thanks to Signora Pina Dunne throughout VCE who saw the potential in me). Fortunately, after another family trip to Italy I was certain the Italian language was locked in and Saturday mornings spent at COASIT (Grazie Manuela) in Carlton, helped me maintain the motivation as if I were still there. Naturally in university, eager to become fluent and learn more, I willingly choice Italian as a Diploma of Language alongside my degree. It would add another year but I thought it was worth my extra effort. It came as no surprise for me that most of the people who attended the Saturday morning class were Italo-Australians. As a matter of fact,


I found it odd that a non-Italian would want to study Italian. At La Trobe University I was even more dumbfounded, when I saw that the head of the Italian Section of the Arts and Humanities Faculty was a non-Italian. This completely changed the scenario of my pursuit of fluency in Italian. I was used to the comfort of been taught by a quasi- zia/nonna in an almost family circle, singing songs and writing letters to imaginary friends in Italy. It was fun, then it became hard work. I had to apply myself to following each lecture in order not to lag behind the study program. I admit that I benefited from it and found a non-Italian teacher has some special tips on how to learn the language. Yet, speaking for the majority of Italian students at La Trobe, I say there is a missing link in the Italian education in Australia. We have recently formed the “Italiani di La Trobe Social Club” to nourish our desire to be immersed in Italian culture in and out. In my own free time, I speak with my nonni and amici at work, watch Italian news for breakfast and listen to classic and contemporary Italian music. I do it because I love it - learning and maintaining a language needs nurturing and care, just as a relationship does. Unfortunately for non-Italian students such as Barbara Solisko, secretary of our sociial club, it’s hard to learn outside the classroom. She was not exposed to Italian speakers as much as she would have liked, and it’s difficult for her to find the motivation to continue. However, Barbara is a passionate member of the club and whenever possible she seeks to absorb the culture in any mode she can.

First year student Romina Alessi, born to two Italian migrant parents had a cultural shock as she expected a professoressa Maria or Lucia of some sort. Needless to say, her strong Italian roots and enormous exposure to the language outside the classroom, will see her through and possibly become a teacher herself. The challenge ahead to ensuring a future for Italian language studies in Australian universities requires the current and upcoming generations of students to open their minds. The rewards for personal development and cultural enrichment offered by studying and learning Italian are endless. As far as I am concerned, I can ‘see’ more and communicate at a deeper level with those who know or value the knowledge of Italian or another language. After all, as Federico Fellini once said: “A different language is a different vision of life.”

Melbourne Italian university group (VITA: Victorian Italian Tertiary Association) with consulate general Marco Cerbo, Adrian D’Aprano (ALTO), Steven Perri (ALTO)


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THE BARBER SHOP Under scrutiny on a hillside village in Calabria


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t was my usual Christmas escape from the misty northern winter: a hillside village in Calabria. I took my customary opportunity to get an inexpensive haircut. The tiny barber shop overlooked a curve above a valley of abandoned terraces. Its sign said “Cecè U barba” - “Here Frank the Barber” in black letters on white plastic with the distant promise of illumination. The shop was just wide enough to accommodate a row of wooden chairs behind two barber’s chairs in luxuriant red upholstery. Their reluctant shine brought me back to the years of my awkward Australian childhood under my barber Vincenzo’s censorious eyebrows. The chairs intoned well with the black and red flags and pictures of the Milan soccer team that festooned the mirrors. Cecè was an emigrant in northern Italy and often told of his youth spent in a sewing machine factory with its swarms of blue clad workers streaming in and out of the factory gates. I took my place among the old men with lowered cloth caps, carefully trimmed white moustaches, sun beaten skins, deep set eyes as black and small as olives. What would ever squeeze out the precious narratives they held? The mill stone that could do that would be beyond the capacity of the earth to hold it. Not even god’s own love and sacrifice could overcome their reticence. Flocks of such men gathered at the end of migrating, lives spent frost-bound on the high seas of Newfoundland, powdered with anthracite in the mines of Pennsylvania, sweating in the backstreet sweatshops of Buenos Aires or tormented by dust in the orange orchards of Mildura. Some had accumulated untold and legendary riches others nothing. Now they had come ‘home’, modest and unremarked, to meditate and observe the passing of days on which each rising sun revealed no novelty. I took a seat. A rumble emerged from beneath a cap bent over two large worn and gnarled hands

supported by an equally worn and gnarled walking stick. It became a question: “E voi… da dove venite?” (And you...Where are you from?) The old man had evidently spoken for the collective of elders gathered there to pass the time and had addressed me in the plural form, a sign of respect and a conferral of equality. It was an inevitable question, but my composure began to break. Desperately I fumbled and mustered ideas for a worthy response. I wanted to make sense but not go into detailed explanations. I was obviously not a local, but my physiognomy betrayed me. I knew a certain reserve is advisable in these matters, so I felt obliged to reply by justifying my presence in that village with the customary recourse to genealogy. I remembered my first arrival at my parent’s village on the Aspromonte: I asked where such and such a street was of a woman putting out the washing from the balcony. I got no reply except a quick retreat and the closing of her window. It was only by hailing a passer-by and telling him my genealogy that I could find my grandfather’s house not fifty metres away. So here I went: “I am married to the daughter of the lawyer ...” The barber Cecè confirmed with a scintillating flourish of his swiftly clicking scissors. But another old man, shrugging his shoulders to imply “We all know that”, he insisted, “but where are YOU from?” This time all my defences crumbled and I replied in uncertain tones, betraying my Australian accent, my cultivated Italian and legions of other traits and characteristics. I was a mere innocent standing naked before these men of the world. “My parents migrated to Australia … I was born there,” I trailed off. I had been casting about for some way to explain the whole of my life history with a semblance of logic. Perceptively, the elder who had spoken first put an end to my discomfort. He cut my garbled tale short: “You are still one of us.” Embarrassed, I glanced at him briefly. In quiet agitation, I looked out through the narrow glass pane of the door steamed with our words. Outside, an epiphany alighted on the rain polished streets. REGULARS 27

LEFT “Minerva”, goddess of wisdom and art, it’s the first artifact of the 2017 Mythology series of Steven’s Hats RIGHT Stefano’s creation process, the modeling of Sinamay, a material woven from the processed stalks of the Abaca tree, a banana palm native to the Philippines. Abaca fibre is three times stronger than cotton or silk, and a fabric made from 100% Abaca can last for over 100 BOTTOM Stefano Costabile with some of his creations inspired by the scenic Antelope Canyon, a narrow canyon located in Navajo’s land - a native territory in the American Southwest. For further information on Steven’s Hats Millinery Artisan please call 0410 860 036.

words Jenna Lo Bianco • PHOTOS Anselmo De Filippis

Stefano Costabile A head above the rest 28 FASHION

To have one of Stefano’s masterpieces sit atop your head is to engage in an intimate experience with wearable art.


o know Stefano Costabile’s work is to know a mastermind in action. Likened to the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s imaginative world of Alice in Wonderland, Stefano is indeed mad about hats. With a career spanning decades, and with work gracing various industries and fields, Stefano has proven that he has what it takes to lead the millinery industry and set a new standard in functional Italian fashion. As it goes, there is certainly more to hats than meets the eye: medium, design, artisan technique and styling. Stefano has been the face and brilliant mind behind ‘Steven’s Hats’ in Cosenza, Calabria since 2006. Don’t let the date fool you, his journey in the world of millinery and design began much earlier. The atelier, or ‘laboratory’ where Stefano creates his wonderful designs, is where his madness impregnates genius with a delicious mix of colour, cut and craftsmanship. ‘Steven’s Hats’ is indeed a high-pressure culmination of what has been a fascinating career to date. Stefano’s work fuses artisan quality and attention with a playful love of texture and mediums. Nothing is impossible and everything has potential for beauty and

originality. Stefano works with Italian felt, leather, straw, cashmere, parasisal and sinamay - just to name a few. Stefano’s creations are all unique: each one tells a whimsical tale. Custom designed and made to measure, it’s truly possible to achieve a one of a kind piece in Stefano’s laboratory. Each creation has a personality and story. Flicking through a catalogue of Stefano’s work you are immediately transported to a different time and place. I found myself overwhelmed by the beauty found in the art of millinery; taking for granted the aesthetic and artisanal value of headwear beyond the usual fashion statements of the common-day. Some hats are dainty and intricate, while others are of eye-wateringly epic proportions. To have one of Stefano’s masterpieces sit atop your head is to engage in an intimate experience with wearable art. After all, that’s what his work is: art. There is curiosity on what brings about such passion for Stefano to be consumed by the love for millenery. He

draws upon his other creative disciplines; performance, costume design and textile arts. Having studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Bologna, Stefano’s multi-disciplinary skill set brings a balanced and considered approach to his work. No stranger to challenging deeds, he has a long-attested relationship with performance and costume design, both from the perspective of an artist on and off the stage. He has lead creative teams and projects, and has taught newly emerging artists how to thrive in this incredible industry. His name is synonymous with excellence and his style is ever-evolving and mesmerising. It is not difficult to understand why so many people and industries for that matter, look to his work for inspiration and pleasure. As you can imagine, Stefano’s work has been met with great adoration and a strong following. It has taken him around the globe, competing in competitions and showcasing his work at exhibitions the world over. Similarly, Stefano’s hats have graced the heads of some of Italy’s most famous celebrities, as well as numerous boutiques and catwalks. Theatre, film and television: he has con-

quered them all. What of a place in Australian culture? Where does the fine art of millinery fit in today’s society? Stefano will be gracing our fair shores from September to November, touring his work and love of hats during this year’s Spring Racing Carnival. It is during this time that we, lovers of a good day out at the races, turn our attention to accessories and fashion; dressing to impress, seeking out the perfect ensemble. Stefano will be showcasing his work at various exhibits, demonstrations, and during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. This is a very unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the work of this fashion icon, to better understand not only the curious world of hat making, but to come to appreciate the mastery of Italian artisan craftsmanship. So, if you find yourself in the presence of a jaw-dropping beauty perched precariously on someone’s immaculately coiffed locks - there’s every chance is one of Stefano’s. FASHION 29

An emblematic story of indefatigable spirit shown by the italian people in the post-war years

words Laura D’Angelo • PHOTOS DANIELE CURTO

The company that has become an icon of the gelato making craft


t was in 1945 - the year that marked the end of World War II - when, in a small town of Romagna, a thirty-nine year old man called Attilio Babbi made a bet on himself. Italy was in ruins and, against all odds, he set to make cones for ice cream. He had become familiar with the product as a distributor for a Rome-based factory forced to shut down during the war. Like many Italians of his generation, he found himself without a job, reduced to a life of hardships. When the war ended, he could try to resume one of the trades he had learned in his youth such as farrier, electrician, carpenter, barista and grocer but he decided to follow the advice he had received from the manager of the ice cream cones factory when the factory had ceased production: “You know the product very well. Make it yourself.” Starting from scratch, Attilio gave birth to a business that was to become an icon of the gelato making craft. Today Babbi Confectionery is one of the most creative and successful European producers of cones, wafers and ingredients for gelato makers. A crucial role in making Attilio win his bet was played by his son Giulio who is today approaching his 90th birthday. His contribution to the success of his father’s endeavour is emblematic of the indefatigable spirit shown by the Italian people in the post-war years as they undertook the task of rebuilding their country and its economy.


ABOVE Babbi’s factory in Bertinoro, Forlí Italy LEFT Renowned Babbi’s gelato cones BELOW AND NEXT PAGE Hand made ice creams by Babbi BOTTOM Every year Babbi organizes and hosts a week long gelato training for ice cream makers from all over the world RIGHT Giulio Babbi, Owner of Babbi

Every year from March to September, Giulio was constantly on the road with his van distributing Babbi cones to the slowly but steadily growing number of gelaterie. It was not enough for the company to thrive; the sharp decline of gelato consumption during the cold season obstructed any further progress until Attilio came up with the idea of opening another line of production. This is how the delicious Viennesi and Waferini were born, followed over time by other refined delicacies whose unique taste and quality made them highly marketable in Italy and around the world. The new line enabled Babbi Confectionery to operate all year round and its turnover to grow until Giulio’s three sons—Piero, Gianni, and Carlo—came into play, bringing about yet another production line. Top quality ice-cream mixes were added to the company’s product range and the business boomed even more. Today Babbi products are distributed in 72 countries including Australia. If you happened to enjoy a luscious gelato in one of the best Australian ice cream parlours, you can guarantee it was made with Babbi ingredients.



The noxious facts about trans fats


rtificial trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are vegetable oils converted into solid fats at room temperature through a chemical process called hydrogenation, which consists of adding hydrogen. Hydrogenation was introduced over a century ago for several reasons: it was an inexpensive substitute for butter and lard, and it helped to preserve and make food tastier. Artificial trans fat is found in packaged and processed food including bread, margarine, crackers, cookies, and granola. When the vegetable oil is completely hydrogenated, almost no trans fats remains and the solid becomes even more consistent and waxy. For this reason, fully hydrogenated oils are called trans fat free oil. However, they still contain, even if minimal, quantities of trans fats, precisely 0.5% per serving: even small quantities can be harmful. Packaging labels, until stricter labelling laws were enforced in 2016, simply stated “hydrogenated oils”, without specifying if the chemical process was partially or fully conducted. That left consumers clueless about the presence or not of trans fats. The wise thing to do is to stick with healthy, non-processed or raw fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, seeds, raw nuts, eggs (with yolks raw or lightly cooked, overcooked eggs contains oxidized cholesterol), and organic grass-fed meats. Trans fats have been removed from the American table. Scientists agreed unanimously that not only do they not add any nutritional value, but are detrimental for both the body and brain. In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) stated they should not be considered safe for consumption and the food industry will have to remove them completely from production by 2018. The consumption of trans fat is associated with: an increase of “bad” LDL


Cholesterol, which builds plaque in the arteries, and a reduction of “good” HDL Cholesterol, which helps flush out the bad one thus reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. Cholesterolemia, the presence of enhanced quantities of cholesterols in the blood, has been blamed over the last twenty years for all sorts of cardiovascular diseases. Our body naturally increases cholesterol at least in part to respond to an increase in inflammation on our brain and body. Inflammation has become a buzzword in the scientific field as it’s the source of so many diseases. Cholesterol is our response to patch out the damages from inflammations. Ingested trans fats for instance, inflame the arteries, and cholesterol intervenes to support the damaged cells. The bad cholesterol is an indicator of potential risks of a cascade of diseases including heart attack, diabetes, cancer, mental fog, mood and even Alzheimer’s. A study was conducted to assess the impact of trans fats consumption on memory. Middle aged and young people were asked to undertake a test of word recall. The study quantified the link between the number of words recalled and the amount of trans fat consumed. The higher the consumption of trans fats, the worse the words recall. People who did not consume trans fats at all, performed the best. Another study confirmed the reduced production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with happy feeling and the consumption of trans fats. Another study indicates that there is a link between high cholesterol and the risk of developing dementia. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s show the presence of plaques in critical areas of their brain. It seems cholesterol accelerates the process of building these plaques.

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WORDS Elaine Bocchini

Championing the bicycle trade


n 1934, Nino Borsari landed for the first time in Australia to compete in the Centenary 1000: a cycle race that was part of the Centenary of Victoria celebrations. He didn’t know he was shaping his future and the history of the bicycle trade in Melbourne. Several other European and international cycling champions came to race over the seven stages, covering 1,773 km, but none of them stood out from the others. Borsari won two sprints in Ararat and Ballarat and finished 5th overall. During a return trip to compete again in Australia in 1939, war broke out in Europe and Borsari found himself stuck in Sydney. He sold his gold watch and cycle, hitchhiked to Melbourne and found a job promoting rollers for indoor cycling at the Myer department store. Unlike many Italian immigrants, he was not interned and in 1942 opened a bicycle shop on the corner of Lygon and Grattan Streets. He passed away in 1996, aged 84 eighty-four. Borsari Cycles is no longer in the family but his name has become a synonym for bicycle lovers and Borsari’s corner a Melbourne landmark. Gianni suggests this decline is mostly due to the lack of infrastructure and has a huge impact on the health budget. A recent survey done by Australia Bicycle Council as part of the evaluation of the 2011-2016 National Cycling Strategy, shows that the physical inactivity of the population costs Australia more than $13 billion each year. The same survey has found 14 million of Australian would be ready to ride a bike regularly, but they are concerned about their safety. If riding is clearly healthier, it is also believed to be more dangerous, but is it really so? Presumably cycling is more dangerous than walking. “Not so”, says Gianni. “According to surveys, cyclists die at a rate which is nearly half the rate of pedestrians. And the more people cycle, the better other road users adjust to it and the safer it is.” In recent times, another Italian opened a bicycle shop in Carlton which he later relocated in the suburb of Ivanhoe. Called Dolomiti, the shop specialises in electric pedal assist bikes that make cycling accessible to people of all ages: young and old, fit and less fit. Giancarlo Zanol from Trento, (Gianni as he likes to be called) is a smiley, middle-aged man who moved to Australia several years ago with a past as successful corporate manager looking for change in his life. He never rode a bike before the electric ones he started to import from Frisbee a company based in Bolzano.

In any case, whatever its safety rate, the bicycle will never become an extinct means of transport. It is an implement that defies time; its permanence sets it apart from all other human inventions. Photo Daniele Curto

TOP The Borsari’s Corner neon sign , erected in 1942 ,features a depiction of Nino Borsari riding a bicycle. Lygon Street, Carlton Melbourne LEFT Borsari bycicle shop at Carlton, Melbourne RIGHT Nino Borsari, 1932 BELOW LEFT Giancarlo Zanol and his bicycle shop Dolomiti at Ivanhoe, Melbourne BELOW RIGHT Electric pedal assist bike

“With the pedal assist bicycle”, he says, “you can ride for longer, get less tired, sweat less (so that you don’t need a shower once you get at work), but most importantly your commuting time is always consistent as it’s not affected by traffic, peak hours, road works or accidents. And if you use it for leisure you can join and share the same experience with better trained friends or explore broader areas.” According to him, the niche market they are dealing in has recently doubled its volume. This is a good sign if we consider that, over the past few years, Australia has recorded a slight decline, literally a drop if we talk about children, in the number of people riding bikes. SPORT 35


The Sardinian Cultural Association celebrates its 30th anniversary


he Sardinian Cultural Association (SCA) of Melbourne has just turned 30 years old and is set to achieve further goals in fostering the cultural well-being of the Sardinian immigrants−including their children and grandchildren−and their ties with their original homeland. The anniversary was celebrated with a banquet held at the Abruzzo Club last August 2O. Many SCA members, supporters and friends attended the event in a festive and joyful climate. Paul Lostia, who has played a leading role for many years as president, hashed over the history of the association which has been the subject of a major bilingual book titled “Ajo in Australia – Let’s go to Australia” written by Pino Bosi (with substantial contributions from Saverio Minutolo and Sardinian historian Aldo Aledda) and published by the Italian Australian Institute with a financial subsidy that SCA was able to obtain from the Region of Sardinia. The Sardinians represent a small proportion of the over half million people who in the last Australian census identified themselves as ethnically “Italians”. It is estimated that, among them, those from Sardinia are just under 4,000 but whatever their number, they make their presence felt as a lively and creative community group.. As highlighted in their website www., the SCA has a base of around 300 members who are happily settled in Australia and at the same time share a sense of pride for their Sardinian heritage. Community activities include traditional “casalinga” style lunches and picnics, and major events such as gala evenings and the annual Sardinia Day celebration. The SCA promotes its social program not only to the Sardinian community, but also to the mainstream Italian and Australian communities. Notable among its educational initiatives is SCA’s participation in the scholarship grants program next to the Assisi Centre, the Italian Australian Institute and previously Monash University. While not politically or religiously motivated, the SCA supports the positive values of multiculturalism and the moral debt owed to the indigenous people as Australia’s multimillennial inhabitants of this country and their traditional owners.


WORDS Bernadette Novembre


y definition, soul is ‘the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Our souls are intangible but reveal themselves in our thoughts, emotions and feelings, and in a most meaningful way, through our creative activities. Of all art forms, no genre gives vivid expression to our souls more than soul music. This is how Andra Day (an American singer) describes soul music: “Soul music is true to its name. It’s music that connects to your soul, your spirit. When music resonates with people’s spirit like that, when people can emotionally connect with something or it helps to heal them, transform them that never goes out of style. People will always need something to relate to.” Nina Zilli’s songs and singing style are a beautiful example of this. She was born Maria Chiara Fraschetta in 1980 in the northern Italian town of Piacenza. Her music career started when she moved to Ireland where she gave her first live performances. Extraordinarily, she studied opera at the Conservatory from the tender age of thirteen. As she was growing up, she sang with many bands (The Jerks, Chiara e gli Scuri), amongst others. It wasn’t until 2011 that she commanded the attention of the Italian and international audiences - Universal Music released her EP self-titled Nina Zilli (her stage name, a combination of jazz singer Nina Simone’s first name and her mother’s surname). One of the singles on the EP was a cover of The Supremes, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ L’amore verrà (Love will come). Nina Zilli is strongly influenced by American soul music of the 1960’s -the time soul originated. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul music: ‘…arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying.’ It was a way for black Americans to express the suffering trapped in their souls and to expel their distress through songs. Soul music also expresses love found and lost, —all the deep emotions we all experience in our lives - which is why it is so captivating. Nina, as it happens, experienced a tumultuous break up years ago. In her own words: “It started as a fairy tale and soon became a ‘calesse’ (two-wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse). I got to the stage when I felt miserable. We had become incompatible. I knew

The Italian queen of soul music what I wanted and how I felt, he didn’t. When we got to the crucial point of asking each other ‘Do you love me?, I knew the answer, he didn’t. Eventually I realised that I was tilting at windmills.” In 2010, Nina Zilli won the contest Sanremo New Generation allowing her to participate in the newcomers section in the 60th edition of the Sanremo Song Festival with the song L’uomo che amava le donne (The man who loved women). The song made it to the final and got the ‘Gold’ certification for a single record from the Federation of Italian Music Industry. It was later included in her debut album entitled Sempre lontano (Always faraway) which went on to become Platinum. Nina not only sings her songs with passion, she is a songwriter - making the lyrics even more relevant to her performance of a song.

Nina Zilli, judge on Italy’s Got Talent

In 2012, she participated again in the Sanremo Song Festival, this time in the ‘Big Artists’ section with her song Per sempre (Forever). The lyrics are poignant to anyone that has ever been through a relationship break up: “Perché l’orgoglio in amore é un limite che sazia solo per un istante e poi torna la fame” (Cause pride in love is a boundary within which you feel satiated just for an instant and then you feel hungry again). Guileless words which Nina Zilli sings with honeyed vocal tones. As a result of her outstanding performance, she was chosen by a panel to represent Italy in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with the song L’ amore e’ femmina, (Love is female) later becoming the title of her second studio album. In this contest, Italy came number 10 - which wasn’t a bad result at all. These days, Nina Zilli is a judge on Italy’s Got Talent and she has found a new love. Her new boyfriend is Stefano Mancinelli, a basketball player for the Bologna team. This love has perhaps inspired the songs she is currently recording for a new album due for release on the September 1st. She recently released the single Mi hai fatto fare tardi (You made me be late), which has more of a reggae/pop vibe but still has a soul base.

Mi hai fatto fare tardi is available on iTunes and Spotify



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The woman who has finally broken into one of the last male bastions


raditionally in Italy, the craft of pizza making has been the domain of men. No wonder the Italian word pizzaiolo only exists in the masculine form. It’s a language practice that needs to be amended because a woman has finally broken into one of the last male bastions with brilliant results.

Her name is Giovanna Alberti and she is a supreme pizzaiola and head chef at Woodstock Pizzicheria in East Brunswick. She made news by winning the Australian Pizza Championship 2017 in the Dessert Category. She kindly agreed to meet me and satisfy my curiosity of her professional background.

Where do you come from? I come from Massa, Tuscany, a small town strategically located between the sea and the mountain, bordering with the Liguria Region. It is rich in culinary traditions and gastronomical resources. Massa expresses all its beauty during the summer and spring months. One day I will go back there! Being a woman, how has it been for you venturing in the male world of pizza making? After leaving my career as a tennis player, I decided to focus on my family’s business and, together with my brother, I opened a pizzeria in a sports centre owned by my family. We both attended a pizza course in a school where later I became Master Instructor and that helped us to understand the theory and the practical side of pizza making. So, my approach was gradual and I was free to develop my skills without dealing with the prejudice of people. When I moved to Australia my fellow pizza makers were mystified. They told me they had never seen a woman making pizza but, after they saw me in action, they became more reassured. You are the first woman ever to win an Australian Pizza Championship. Can you give us a hint of what winning has been like for you?

Giovanna Alberti, winner of the Australian Pizza Championship 2017 in the Dessert Category

Although the quality of a dish does not depend on the chef being male or female, I am very proud, as a woman, to have won the prize. My secrets for winning were: starting from simple ideas, training daily, studying the characteristics of ingredients, trying and trying again combinations developing the best taste and setting up the best design. You are now living in Australia, having accomplished the dream of your youth. Can you describe to us the most important steps that have brought you here? Five years ago, I arrived in Sydney with the desire to test

myself and get a break from the Italian routine. I started searching for a job when I was still in Italy, sending video-CVs showing my skills while working in a pizzeria. In fact, I was able to schedule some trials for different positions. The second day after my arrival I got a job in a pizzeria. After a few months I was sponsored and thanks to this opportunity I became the head chef of a famous eatery in Sydney; then, with the company we opened a second one. In a short period of time the venue was in the top three best pizzerias in Sydney. Then again, I decided to go back to Italy to attend the Italian Master of Professional Cuisine with the three-star Michelin Chef Niko Romito. After a year and a half of studying and working in Niko Romito's restaurants in Rivisondoli, Rome, Milan and Milan Expo, I took part in the Pizza World Championship 2016 in Parma, and I received the "Heinz Beck Trophy" special jury prize. When I came back to Australia I accepted the offer to start up a pizzeria in Sydney, and here I have considered the idea to compete in Australian Pizza Competition and for that I started experimenting new recipes day by day. At one point you moved from Sydney to Melbourne... why? Although Sydney is my first love, I have seized the occasion of the competition to move in Melbourne with the intention of studying a new market, build new collaborations and enlarge my network. Any plan for the future? I am working on some projects and I am collaborating with a pizzeria chain in Melbourne. I have many ideas in my head and I am trying to realise all of them with the teamwork. Of course I will keep studying and searching for new styles and techniques in order to stay updated. PEOPLE 39

WORDS Jenna Lo Bianco

Portrait of an actor as a young man T

With an impressive dossier spanning the globe, Fabio has ticked all the boxes. He has studied under Phillipe Gaulier in Paris, Larry Moss in Melbourne and New York, not to mention training at HB studio in the US, and the Accademia Teatrale Veneta in Italy. He has worked and studied across three continents, though that fails to scratch the surface of his achievements: film, television, theatre and teaching. What’s interesting, however, is that over time Fabio’s direction and passion become clearer. Fabio is a clown, quite literally. “School was an opportunity for me to play,” he starts, reflecting on his early years growing up in Como, in Italy’s north. Fabio’s passion and love of clowning took shape in his formative years; little did he know how his story would unfold. Migrating to Australia with his family at the tender age of eight, Fabio’s journey of self-discovery wasn’t always smooth sailing. “I had to push. I had to fight. I had to learn English. I wanted to be an equal like everybody else. I felt like I was different. When people made comments about my ethnicity or about my accent it alienated me. I was very Italian and that took a while to make friends with, I think.” Fabio’s love of performance transcended both age and language, and led him to a career in theatre. Guided by a supportive and equally creative family, he has lived his first twenty-nine years rich in experience, driven by a thirst for self-exploration and social awareness. “Theatre is created for the people so that the people can have a voice,” he clarifies. “We need to ask the questions: Who am I? and What is my drive in life?” As his story unravels it becomes clear that both questions underpin not only his professional practice, but personal growth and development. Fabio speaks fondly of his experiences overseas, taking nothing for granted. He is indebted to Gaulier for his attentive hand during his clowning training in Paris, and equally so to Moss in the US. “Working with Larry reawakened me, theatre was always my passion,” he shares. “To be an actor, you’re cultivating selflove. You have to. I have a lot of love for theatre. I love learning about it, and now I’m in the state where I’m starting to teach.” Fabio’s most recent experiences in theatre, more specifically in the world of Commedia dell’Arte, are challenging him with new curiosities and avenues to explore. Fabio’s philosophy on clowning stems from his childhood experience in trying to negotiate the challenges he faced. “The fact that I felt like an outsider, growing up was fundamental in discovering the archetype of the ‘clown’,” Fabio explains. In his book entitled My Thoughts on Theatre, Gaulier states: “The clown comes from very far away, like the Wandering Jew or the Gypsy. He talks with a special accent which has never 40 THEATRE

Photo Daniele Curto

Creative spirit. Realist. Passionate dreamer. Worldly. Open. Driven by experience. Though these might seem counterintuitive and contradictory, as Fabio peels back the layers of his life, the evolution of the person he has become reveals itself to me. Fabio is all of these things. He is, if nothing more, testament to the power of dedication, having clear objectives and understanding one’s own limitations.

Photo Adriano Vittorio

he man sat in front of me, coffee in hand, is not the man I have seen in action. Today he is poised, articulate and composed. With grace and unabridged honesty he recounts the ups and downs of his life journey. So far, in all my encounters with him, I have been his audience: I sit gripped, hanging on to every word. I feel as if I am speaking with a wise mystic who has lived many lives. During previous encounters, I have been captivated not by ‘the person’, but by ‘the character.’ Today, however, the real man is mine to unpack and explore: actor, Fabio Motta.

been heard before. He comes from nowhere in particular… He helps us dream because he isn’t from around here… Where does he come from?”(2007, p. 280) “The Clown” Fabio continues, “is the one who makes people laugh because of his simple mind, accidents and failures. He reminds people about imperfections, chaos and even the fragility of life which must end with death, purely from a place of humour. Having had a foreign accent and coming from literally the other side of the world, trying to discover how I could assimilate in the Australian culture was both a difficult and a very humorous experience for those witnessing it.” Was this the beginning of the evolution of Fabio Motta ‘the clown’, simply learning to adapt and ‘fit in’ his new world? “We live in a time where the clown’s voice needs to be heard more than ever, and I believe it is the actor’s role to be brave enough to uncover their humanity in order to give courage for society to do the same.” Fabio links his own philosophy with clowns in the Middle Ages, as it was the clown’s duty to remind the King and court of the importance of the fragility of life and the human condition: “How do we make something, even if it’s exaggerated and over the top, truthful? You can feel it as an audience when someone’s acting, or when they are actually connected to something honest. It could be the sound of their voice, their breath, in the way they hold their body,” he explains. Despite his general love of theatre, clowning is truly his passion in life. “I think clown training is essential for acting training, because we’ve forgotten about that sense of pleasure and joy. Things become quite technical, ‘I have to know my lines’… and we forget why we’re doing it in the first place. That sense of pleasure. That’s what clowning brings.” Seeing Fabio in his element, clowning, is an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience. Masked, in both the literal and figurative senses, when Fabio is at ‘play’ he is at his best. Fabio is able to explore the inner-most depths of his characters, in particular those of the Commedia dell’Arte style, with fervour and conviction. “The mask allows me to do that,” he affirms. Fabio reflects on wise words offered to him by Moss: “find something you are good at, and do it like Hercules.” Excited by what the future holds, Fabio has a big heart and lots of wisdom to share. He dreams of exploring new characters, establishing his own practitioner-centered theatre company, and to further develop his own craft. I don’t doubt that he will achieve all of this with dignity, respect for growth and change, and an acute awareness of the social power of his work.

LEFT Clowns remind the fragility of life and the human condition RIGHT Fabio wearing Arlecchino’s mask

Photo Adriano Vittorio Photo Adriano Vittorio

Fabio Motta trained at the Accademia Teatrale Veneta (Venice, Italy) where he completed a master in Commedia Dell'Arte. He furthered his studies at HB studio in New York, the prestigious 16th Street Actors Studio and with clown master Philippe Gaulier in Paris. He also studied acting under some of the world's most acclaimed acting teachers; Larry Moss, Lindy Davies, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Carol Rosenfeld and Austin Pendleton. He has appeared on stage in New York in The Three Sisters (New York Theatre Workshop),

My Uncle Chekhov directed by Aleksey Burago (West End Theatre) and Pal Joey directed by Robert McQueen (HB Studios). He has toured Australia with Polka Theatre’s ‘Charlie and Lola Best Bestest play’ and Extremely New Play performing at the Sydney Opera House. Currently a conservatory company member at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (Garrison, NY) performing in Measure for Measure, As you like it and the devised clown show So Please You.

Fabio Motta


“Anche i miei figli fanno la loro vita di emigranti ... in Italia stessa,” he says thoughtfully. “Pensa che per Alan l’Italia non è il paese della sua nascita, come l’Australia non lo è per William. È una cosa da pensarci su, questa decisione che abbiamo preso noi genitori.” WORDS and Photo Archimede Fusillo


In Their Past Bittersweet memories of a life in Australia that wasn’t meant to be

I ask him if this inconsistency in the birthright of his sons has ever caused them or him, any angst, if it has impacted on how his sons identify their birthright. Signor De Mase is thoughtful for many long moments, sighs lightly then whispers that he has never really raised the issue with them. As far as he can tell, these are questions others might ask of them rather than they of themselves. Il Signor De Mase is effusive about the benefits of his time in Australia as a young man in his twenties. He speaks fondly of having worked at General Motors Holden in Fishermens Bend, then as a carpenter, and later still as a technician with elevators. “Ho abitato a Carlton, proprio nel centro della città lì a Melbourne. L’Australia era e resta una terra ricca con un ottimo tenore di vita. A parte la difficoltà della lingua, si stava bene.


omenico De Mase has two sons with very English names. Alan, the eldest, was born in Australia just before the earthquake that devastated much of the Basilicata region in 1980. He was barely five months old when the family decided to return to Italy, where second son William was born.

“Eravamo andati in Australia perche volevo fare conoscere i miei famigliari a mia moglie,” Signor De Mase tells me. He adds how proud he felt to give his sons strong English names he had come across during his first stint in Australia as a much younger man in the very early 1960’s. His wife, he assures me, had never wanted to migrate to Australia or elsewhere. Their trip to Australia had been purely an attempt to introduce her to her husband’s brothers, sisters and father, whom he had in turn sponsored out in the same way he had been sponsored out by an older sister back in 1960. Ironically, his wife had four brothers of her own in Australia at the time, her attachment to her native land was such that this family connection was not enough to compel her to want to remain in Australia. “Ho messo un nome inglese al nostro primo figlio anche perché avevo una certa speranza che questo avrebbe convinto mia moglie di cambiare idea e rimanere in Australia,” Signor De Mase grins, then with a slight shrug he adds, “Ma, no, non è stato possibile.” There is both resignation and an underlining sense of sadness in Signor De Mase’s voice as he tells me how much he enjoyed the Australian way of life, the fact that work was readily available, and with effort he believed even the language could be conquered. “Dopo la guerra non c’era niente da queste parti in Italia,” he reminisces. “Mia sorella era partita nel 1957 dopo alcuni miei cugini. Quando sono partito io per l’Australia nel 1960, a vent’anni, c’era soltanto la miseria in Italia. Guarda, ognuno dice la sua, ma c’era la miseria. Non c’era lavoro e quindi neanche futuro. Non avevo che i miei genitori qui a Viggiano a quel tempo. Non avevo nulla da perdere. Sono partito con nessun dubbio che non sarei più tornato in Italia.” Il Signor De Mase pauses and leans slightly forward, as though about to take me into his confidence, then adds, “Caro, si sa dove si nasce, ma purtroppo non dove si muore.” This statement is perhaps meant to help explain the foibles of life, the moments of decision and indecision, the unexpected turn of events that lead one to places and ways of thinking that are often unforeseen, or at least unexpected.

Gli australiani non mi hanno mai fatto sentire a disagio, mai. Io ero fortunato in un certo senso perché avevo famiglia lì, ero in contatto con tanti viggianesi già avviati nella vita nuova, persone che avevano già fatto strada. Avevano iniziato a mettere radici in una terra nuova. Ricevevo consigli da persone che avevano esperienza di vita in Australia più di me.” With most of his family in Australia, il Signor De Mase decided to return to Italy to visit a sister in Udine. While there he got word that one of his brothers, Vincenzo, had died suddenly in Australia. That was back in 1968, and the following year he decided he would return yet again to Italy, this time to find a wife, which he eventually did. At this point his long-term prospects of returning to Australia for good were challenged. “Mia moglie mi disse dal principio che lei non lasciava l’Italia, anche se aveva fratelli in Australia,” he says with a wry grin. “Se fosse per me ci ritornerei volentieri. In Italia purtroppo l’ambiente è sempre quello. Se vuoi trovare qualcosa devi trovare qualcuno. Non si ottiene per merito. Non è cambiato nulla. La mentalità Italiana è sempre quella, anche oggi. In verità sento tanto la mancanza dell’Australia, anche dopo tutti questi anni. Peccato che la salute non mi ha datto la possibilità di tornarci.” Il Signor De Mase pauses a moment before adding, “Ma soppratutto, ci sono i figli da considerare.”

And so it was with Signor De Mase.

In closing, I ask Signor De Mase about any difficulties he thinks his sons faced in having such obviously English names in Italy at a time when it was not perhaps accepted as it is today.

Well spoken, open and amiable, the once carefree young man sits before me as a much more self-aware, deep-thinking patriarch of a family itself now dispersed around Italy as work, love and life have dictated.

He laughs and extends his hand, “Dovresti chiedere a loro,” he says. I get the sense it’s a mute point, for they were names given in homage to a country and way of life still very much held in esteem and admiration.


Domenico De Mase



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13/7/17 1:49 pm

Segmento Magazine Issue XIV  

Segmento embraces the Italian culture in its entirety, whether it is wine, gastronomy, design, philosophy, diplomacy, fashion, economy, art,...