Italian Family History Group Report

August 28 2013

This month’s meeting turned out to be a history session, as our guest speaker Gianfranco Cresciani gave a detailed talk on the events that took place in the border town of Trieste.

Fabian Lo Schiavo, our Vice President, acted as presenter: thirty five people were in attendance, with nine apologies received.

Fabian spoke briefly of the continued effort required by our group in obtaining access to Italian research data, and of the hope that one day we would find an Italian researcher in Italy who might come to Australia, and speak to us.

He also spoke of the excellent numbers who turned up for our annual July bus trip last month, who visited the Dr Fiaschi’s vineyard at Ebeneezer, followed by lunch at Biviano’s at Windsor.

Pina Leyland, Co.As.It. Aged Care Community Services, was introduced. She will be acting as liaison officer to our group, due to her particular interest in family research.

This evening’s guest speaker is recognised as one of Australia’s leading Italian/Australian historians and authors. Being from Trentino himself, he spoke of the early history of the city of Trieste and to events that took place following end of WW 2.

The city is located 5 kilometres from the Yugoslavian border. Its inhabitants became insecure due to political concerns that the city could be annexed to communist Yugoslavia. Between 1945 and 1954 Trieste was ruled by an Anglo-American Military Government. Following this 90% of the Triestini population came to Australia. An electronic presentation depicted scenes of the events of the time.

Gianfranco’s book Trieste goes to Australia, detailing the events over this period, includes images of actual documents of how the new immigrants arrived in Australia, and their integration into the Australian way of life.

To quote a few: Sisto Lucin, wanted to set up a fish shop, and instead found sapphires and became a millionaire. Enrico Cobau came to Australia full of hope and died of exposure, destitute in Adelaide, Lou Klepac established one of Australia’s great art houses. Fiorella de Boos-Smith created one of the world’s most important collections of Venetian glass.

Gianfranco came to Australia in 1962. He attended Sydney University, and worked with EPT on the Snowy Mountains project. He later worked with the Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Ministry for the Arts of NSW. He is the author of many books including: Fascism, Anti-fascism Italians in Australia, Migrants or Mates, The Italians in Australia and Transfield, The first FiftyYears: besides articles, exhibitions, radio and Television programmes, all of course relating to the history of Italians in Australia.

His talk prompted many questions from the audience who were indeed satisfied by hearing this man speak of his birthplace. The applause he received was tremendous.

Copies of his book were available, which Gianfranco willingly autographed.

The meeting closed at 8.45 for supper at La Giara restaurant.

Dominic Arrivolo – Chairman