What year did you move to Australia?
I migrated to Australia in June 1972 after marrying Annemarie in Milan on 8th November 1971. We went back to Italy in early 1979 and we returned to Australia on a permanent basis in 2006.
Had you visited Australia previously?
Why did you come?
First of all because I wanted to meet the rest of Annemarie’s large family. When Annemarie and I decided to get married, which was a decision we took fairly quickly after only one year of knowing each other, only one of Annemarie’s brothers could be present at our wedding. Secondly because I was driven by a sense of adventure. I had always loved travelling primarily within Europe to improve my learning of French, German and English and in 1966 I visited also the US where I spent two months on an exchange program. When I met Annemarie, Australia sounded very exotic and unexplored and that was one reason for me to decide to come here.
How did you meet your wife Annemarie?
I met Annemarie at a private party in Milan in October 1970. At that time, I had an Italian girlfriend with whom I went to this party. By the end of the evening, I was dancing more with Annemarie than with my girlfriend. Annemarie gave me her phone number but it took me almost three weeks to get in touch with her and ask her out. But after that first time we kept going out more and more often and I broke up with my Italian girlfriend.
What was the best part of your life like in Italy?
There were a lot of happy and interesting periods in the life Annemarie and I spent together in Italy, but if I have to choose one in particular, I would say the six years we spent in Florence from 1979 to 1985. I got a job as Product / Area Manager with the Italian branch of the American company Mobil Plastics looking after the export of personalised plastic bags for supermarkets and department stores in Great Britain, France and Scandinavia and Annemarie started teaching English to the company’s Italian executives. She became a buyer assistant with the Anforti buying office to look after foreign buyers who were searching for Italian products to buy. Because we lived in Florence for such a long time, we became very popular with all our Australian friends who frequently paid us a visit there. We rented a small apartment within a big villa owned by an elderly couple, with whom we got along so well that we even spent some holidays at various Club Meds together. We took advantage of the long time spent in Florence to get to know the city of Florence and the rest of Tuscany in depth. I will never forget this memorable experience.
Were you born in Milan?
My family lived in Milan, but because I was born in the middle of the second world war in December 1943, when Northern Italy was siding with Germany while Southern Italy was siding with the allied forces and Milan was frequently bombed by the Allied Airforce, my father, Angelo, decided that it would have been safer to move the family to the countryside. Therefore, I was born In Clusone, a small town 87 km northeast of Milan, in the Region of Lombardy. We returned to Milan when the war ended in northern Italy and the allied forces together with the Italian partisans entered Milan on 25th April 1945.
What courses are you enrolled in in U3APP?
I am enrolled in a couple of Yoga courses, a relaxation course, a course on using android phones and I play Mahjong.
What does U3APP mean to you?
Before joining U3APP, I belonged to U3A City of Melbourne. When I realised how many interesting courses U3APP offered for a fraction of the price I was paying but above all the friendlier and more relaxed atmosphere experienced at U3APP, there was no hesitation in me to join U3APP and I have never regretted my decision.
Any other thoughts?
When your loved one, your best friend, your confidant with whom you have spent 51 years together all of the sudden disappears from your life, you need some time to readjust your focus on life and U3APP is helping me in doing exactly that. Once I have reorganised my affairs, I am more relaxed and have more time available, I would be happy to become more involved in U3APP activities both as a volunteer and a tutor.
Photography and interview by Margaret Smith.