The small corner in all of us that is Italian

In 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?