Italian Family History Group Report

June 26 2013

Our June meeting turned out to be a fascinating event, as there were two guest speakers, which made it a night of variety.

Notwithstanding, fifty people braved the cold wet weather, while ten apologies came to hand.

Vice chairman Fabian Lo Schiavo acted as presenter.

Fabian introduced two new committee members, who were both present, Art Phillips (Arturo De Filippo) and Robert Giunta. In the past the latter has been involved in recording the evening presentations on DVD. He will continue to do so in that capacity from time to time.

There remains accommodation for ten more people on the annual Sunday bus trip, which is scheduled for July 7. This year the day will be spent visiting the Tizzana winery on the Hawkesbury River followed by lunch at Biviano’s Italian restaurant at Windsor. It is anticipated that the outing will have us all back before 5 pm.

Over 400 People attended the showing of the silent film “Dall’Italia All’Australia” at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville. The film depicts the whole journey of the Regina d’Italia from Italy to Australia in 1925. There was beautiful background music supplied by the musical group “i Viaggiatori”.

Guest speaker Andrew Giunta surprised us by showing a number of beautiful pictures of Saltlake city. This was followed by photographs of where the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is located, and actual pictures taken inside the building where millions of microfilm reels are stored. People come here from all over the world to carry out family history research.

Andrew also spoke of current developments in digitising the reels and precisely how the work is currently being conducted.

Our main Guest Speaker, Len Destro, gave an excellent detailed talk on the events of the life of Dr Tommaso Fiaschi. This man was involved in so many activities during his lifetime.

Firstly he was a student doctor in Italy, gold miner in Queensland, and did military service in South Africa and Abyssinia for both the Australian and Italian Armies. In NSW he became a vigneron at Sackville and Mudgee. He was a foundation member of the Sydney Dante Alighieri Society, a founder of the College of Surgeons, and later became president of the Australian Winegrowers Association.

His family originated in a town close to Florence; the family were non-Catholic. The eldest of four children, his father was Italian, his mother English. He was the eldest of four children. He did not complete the final year study as a doctor, but rather elected to come to Australia to seek his fortune. He completed his doctorate in London after completing his army duties. He brought back to Australia the latest advances in medicine and surgery as practiced in Europe, and was appointed Honorary Surgeon at Sydney Hospital. He carried out charity work both in Windsor and Sydney.

In 1876 he fell in love, eloped, and married a Sister of Charity named Catherine Reynolds, in a Protestant church. They had two sons, Carlo and Piero: both became doctors. Carlo committed suicide in 1910, following a failed operation on a female patient.

In 1899 he purchased 230 acres of land at Sackville and established a 55 acre vineyard from Italian and French cuttings. His winery TIZZANA is at Ebeneezer.

It is to TIZZANA that our bus trip is taking us on July 7.

It was wonderful to see the numbers of questions and comments made to both speakers from those who came along for the evening.

The meeting concluded at 8.45; we all retired for coffee and socialised at La Giara.

Dominic Arrivolo

Chairman