Veneto family businesses between the wars

Apart from the market gardeners who began their family businesses in the 1930s in the area that they called Lockleys, several Veneto families started other businesses in Adelaide between the wars. When you think about it, they were brave considering the difficult economic conditions in that period. They took initiative, were enterprising and had a vision for the future of their families in Australia.

The image above shows Emilio Mattiazzo and a worker. Emilio owned a butcher shop on Currie Street from the late 1930s. Photo, courtesy Santin family.

Boarding houses run by Veneto families
In two previous blogs, boarding houses that were owned by Veneto families in the west end of Adelaide were featured.

Boarding houses and the Veneti in Adelaide

Reminiscing/Memories of two West-Enders

Des O’Connor wrote about the boarding houses in a chapter in a book in 2005.* He identified that between 1930 and 1960, the majority of the people who ran boarding houses in the city were from the Veneto region. He named the following Veneto people and their origins: Raymond Ballestrin (Riese), Elena and Luigi Stocco (Castelfranco Veneto), Clorinda Cescato (Altivole), Maria Cecchin (Galleria Veneta), Giuseppe Pasin (Thiene) and Giuseppina Campagnaro (Resana).

Shops owned by Veneto families

Domenico Rosettto in the Rossetto grocery, Hindley Street, Adelaide c mid 1930s. Photo, courtesy: Christine Rebellato.

Domenico Rossetto arrived in Adelaide from Bigolino in June 1926. Carmela (nee Buffon) arrived with their daughter, Anna in 1929 and their son, Modesto was born in Adelaide. Domenico and Carmela ran a grocery shop in Hindley Street which was an important place for many Italian families between the wars because they were able to buy ‘continental’ foods. The Rossetto grocery also delivered to families in the suburbs – including the Veneto market gardeners in Lockleys.  When Domenico died in 1946 aged 49 years, Carmela carried on running the grocery shop with her daughter and son, nieces and nephews and friends. The shop was a very successful business and well patronised by Italians for many years after the war.

Emilio Mattiazzo from Valdobbiadene had arrived in Adelaide in 1928. He owned a butcher shop which was in Elizabeth Street in the city and about two years after his wife, Livia and children arrived in 1936, the family moved to the corner of Currie Street and North Street where Emilio had his butcher shop for many years. Livia looked after boarders in two rooms of the house above the shop. Their daughter, Anna married Vito Santin, one of the Veneto market gardeners on Frogmore Road.

Veneto mica miners in the Northern Territory

Gelindo Rossetto, Spotted Tiger c 1930s. Photo, courtesy, Maria Rosa Tormena.


Two of the market gardeners, Gelindo Rossetto and Angelo Piovesan, bought shares in mica mines at Harts Ranges and worked at the Spotted Tiger in the 1930s. The mines were about 200 kilometres north east of Alice Springs. Gelindo and Angelo also employed relatives on the mica mines and also on their market gardens which they continued to operate.




Angelo’s son spoke in his interview about the reason that he went to the mica mines:

Dad went up into the mica mines for a short time, to get some money, to earn a little bit better living, because the market garden was only just set up and wasn’t
producing much income.

(Dino Piovesan, OH 82/17, 23 September 2011)

Other Veneto men and families also lived and worked on the mica mines between the wars. These included Attilio and Serafina de Pieri nee Corletto who were at the mines in the 1940s and lived there with their elder two children.  When the family returned to Adelaide, Attilio opened a shoe repair shop  in the City.

Serafina & Attilio De Pieri, Caruso mine, 29 August 1940. Photo, courtesy, Adelina Pavan nee De Pieri.
Serafina & Attilio De Pieri, in front of shop in Gilbert Street, Adelaide, October 1964. Photo, courtesy Adelina Pavan nee De Pieri.









Other Veneto families who had businesses in Adelaide
Giuseppe Bailetti arrived from Brescia in 1934 and within a few years had opened a gun shop and cycle repairs in Hindley Street. He and his wife, Eugenia who was born in Crespano del Grappa in the province of Treviso ran the shop and the family expanded it and sold household goods for many years.

Belsamino Brazzale arrived in 1924 from Caltrano in the province of Vincenza and by about 1930 had set up a factory that dressed mica. He was known as an importer and exporter of mica. Several of the daughters of Veneto families in the market gardener community worked at Brazzale’s which was in Liverpool Street in the west end of the City.

Brazzale mica factory, early 1940s. Photo, courtesy Bruna Rossetto nee Battaglia.

Giacinto Caon who had arrived from Loria, in the province of Treviso, in 1934 had first worked in a quarry and then ran a butcher’s shop in Franklin Street for many years.

Hugh Pozza tailor advertisement. “The News”, 11 June 1937.

Antonio Ugo or Hugh Pozza from Lusiana in the province of Vicenza had arrived in 1927 and ran a very successful tailoring business in Gawler Place, called ‘Parisian Tailor’  from the late 1930s. He became well known over many years for making suits for men and “costumes” for women. and advertised his  tailoring which had “quality, style and value.” He employed about 30 people.

There were other Veneti who took steps to set up their businesses between the wars whose stories are yet to be told. Those families who became business owners in that period created a strong future in Australia.


*Des O’Connor, “Club e Associazioni dei Veneti nel South Australia” in Veneti d’Australia, edited by Luciano Segafreddo and Ilma Martinuzzi O’Brien, 2005.

Madeleine Regan
7 April 2024

A gathering – and family Easter traditions

Gathering of Veneto market gardener families and friends
Yesterday, 23rd March 2024, over 50 people attended a gathering for Veneto market gardener families and friends at the Mater Christi parish hall, Seaton.

The image above is a view of the gathering.  In the foreground is Rinaldo Zamberlan and Dino Piovesan. Photo by Alex Bennett.

Group engaged in conversation at the gathering, 23 March 2024.

It was the first gathering since October 2022. We remembered people who had been involved with the project who had died since then: Mary Piovesan, Guido Rebuli, Johnny Marchioro and Lena Moscheni nee Rossetto and also Anna Maria Lucchesi nee Vettorello.

The focus of the afternoon was the celebration of two milestones that will occur in May this year – the 50th year of the establishment of the Veneto Club in Adelaide and the ten years of the Veneto market gardeners’ website. The significance of language in the Veneto identity was also a feature. Three guest speakers gave presentations.

Madeleine and Alessia in the Q and A session about her family’s involvement in the Veneto Club.



Michael Campbell presents information about the website.

Alessia Basso and Madeleine presented  a Q and A session about Alessia’s nonno, Francesco Battistello who had had a significant role in the establishment of the Veneto Club.




Michael Campbell who manages the website presented information about his role and ways to access the resources that are on the webpages.

Madeleine and Silvano Ballestrin discuss his presentation about language.



Silvano Ballestrin involved everyone in the fun of a language quiz and invited guests to identify the meaning of different words in Italian, Veneto language and Napoletano dialect.

The three different presentations provided an opportunity to share the ongoing story of migration and the history of the Veneto market gardener families at Lockleys and the wider group of Veneti in Adelaide.

Guests contributed plates of delicious food for afternoon tea and the time passed quickly as people renewed contact, exchanged family stories and met new people. All photos of the gathering were taken by Alex Bennett.

Easter traditions in families

 In their oral history interviews, people spoke about the celebration of Easter which was an important occasion and a reason for families to gather and share meals. Although customs might vary in families, the common theme was on the importance of generations spending time together, enjoying hospitality and great food.

The following selections of excerpts from interviews show ways that Easter was an important time in different families.

Oscar Mattiazzo OH 872/13, 13 April 2011

Oscar Mattiazzo, 90th birthday party., December 2013. Photo supplied by Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo.

Oscar, who was born in 1923, reached back to his childhood in Bigolino and remembered a special time when he was given a gift by his godfather and he linked that memory with Easter:

… when a friend of my father, who was my santolo, and he gave me … it’s like a cake, a round cake, you hang it around your neck or something – I can’t remember what they called it – and I thought I was king. [Laughter] I thought I was a king that day because that was during the, oh, it must have been Easter or something, something, some celebration like that, and that’s about the only thing that I remember, like getting the thing.


Santin family: Lui, Johnny, Sandra, Denise, Rosina nee Tonellato, Frogmore Road, 1962. Photo supplied by Sandra Conci nee Santin.

Denise Doyban nee Santin, OH 872/62, 8 December 2021
Denise shared a memory of the food that was made for Easter in her family and the kind of rituals that were involved when her mother used the outside kitchen:

…if you cooked at Easter, they cooked baccalà  … you couldn’t have that in the house and then they’d make their frittole or their crostoli. That was all made outside because there’s a lot of frying when they’re cooked – if they killed the pig and then they had all the meats to be cooked and everything was – And I think it was to alleviate a lot of cleaning inside and also the smell going through the house.


Adelina Mattiazzo, OH 82/58, 2 November 2018
Adelina was 23 years old when she married Pietro Mattiazzo in Ponzano Veneto in 1979. They raised their family there and Adelina’s parents, Armida and Augusto made several visits and Adelina and her family spent time in Adelaide. Adelina recalled the challenge of living so far away from her parents and spoke about the early years when phone calls were so expensive that they were only made on special occasions. In the following excerpt, Adelina outlines the emotional impact of making contact with her parents by phone:

Wedding, Adelina and Piero Mattiazzo with Augusto and Armida Mattiazzo, Ponzano Veneto, 22 September 1979.

Always by phone on Christmas Day and Easter day or else we used to write to each other. There it was it was hard because every time we spoke to each other … you’d hear the phone ring and you had to run to the toilet because you were so nervous, hearing their voice twice a year. And you could only speak a very short time, what? Ten minutes because it cost us, I remember it was like fifteen or sixteen million lire every minute. It was so expensive to talk to somebody on the phone. You’d just say, “Hello, how are you?” “How are the kids and this and that?” And then, you know, put the phone down.


Mel Recchi OH 872/31, 18 June 2014
Mel’s childhood memories of Easter and Christmas were of occasions of large extended family gatherings:

Oh, mainly Easter was very, very important and Christmas time … was always a big family get together. It wasn’t just Mum and Dad, and my sister and myself. It was nephews, nieces, anybody that was involved in the family always used to come around to Mum and Dad’s place because Dad agreed to bring quite a few people out from Italy even from Mum’s town, from San Giorgio La Molara …

Recchi family, Giovanni, Aida, Antonia, Mel, Adelaide c 1947. Photo supplied by Aida Valentin nee Recchi.

Angelo Piovesan, OH 872/66, 28 November 2022
Angelo spoke about a tradition in his family – Easter marked the time to make salami:

Piovesan family Mario. Vittoria, Renzo, Angelo holding John on his baptism day, 1964. Photo supplied by Angelo.

That was the Easter ritual. So, they would either purchase a pig from somebody, generally take it out to somebody’s farm to fatten it and cleaned it or feed it on grain for probably a month or so beforehand. And I can remember going out to Lino Tonellato’s land on Port Wakefield Road, and seeing that they used to keep an eye on it and then you’d go and shoot it and broil it … then you would pour boiling water over it to clean the skin off it. Gut it there, and then bring it home and then you would hang it up in the shed overnight. And then, all the salami makers would arrive at about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.


See also previous blogs about family Easter traditions:

  • Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo –  5 April 2020
  • Linda Zamperin nee Tonellato – 26 March 2023
  • Diana Panazzolo nee Santin – 23 September 2023

You can search for the blogs by entering the names into the ‘Search’ box in the top right-hand section of the web page.

Madeleine Regan
24 March 2024

Autumn activities

Autumn has begun in Adelaide by the calendar. However, with the current heatwave, it feels like the hottest days of summer. The season of autumn was the time of harvesting some crops in market gardens.

In the image above, members of the Santin family and other men wash celery. It was taken in the mid 1940s on Valetta Road. The photo was provided by the family.

Autumn was also time to pick apples, pears and persimmons. The early market gardeners brought customs from the Veneto region and created their own ways of of experiencing autumn. They bought chestnuts and shared the ritual of roasting and eating them. They bought grapes at McLaren Vale or the Barossa Valley each year for making wine. Some picked olives to make olive oil and as the weather cooled found mushrooms in the hills or other rural areas. The families transposed their food and wine traditions and enjoyed the bounty of autumn months in the southern hemisphere.

A delightful sign of autumn is the first flowering of the crocus. Here is a small display in our garden at Flinders Park taken today.

First crocus flowers, Flinders Park, 10 March 2024.

In the oral history interviews, sons and daughters of the first generation of market gardeners spoke about their experience of the Veneto traditions.  In this blog,  you can read just few of the memories of autumn  rituals in families.

Harvesting celery

Louis Ballestrin, OH 872/61

Cutting celery – Giuseppe Tieppo & Cesira Ballestrin, Hartley Road, mid 1950s. Courtesy, Norma Camozzato nee Ballestrin.

Louis spoke about the celery that his parents and aunt and uncle grew on Hartley Road at Flinders Park:
Celery, it was full on, probably nine, nine months a year by the time you start sowing the seed in January and let the seed grow to six inches tall. And then …  you had to pull them all out and then all of them were transplanted … it’s not a very fast-growing vegetable, and by the time they grew up and it was harvested, it took a long time … It started early to late autumn and through to early spring for four or five months. [The celery] was all sent over to Melbourne.

Roasting chestnuts

Lina Rismondo nee Marchioro, OH 872/9

Lina and Mary Marchioro, Adelaide, c 1930/31. Photo, courtesy, Connie Legovich nee Marchioro.

Lina, who was born in 1927, remembered gatherings of the first generation of the market gardeners when most of the men were by themselves in Adelaide either waiting for their wives or children to join them or waiting to find wives. As a small child, Lina remembered the small group roasting chestnuts together and singing – a way of linking back to their families in the Veneto region. In the early 1930s, there were only two women, in the group – Lina’s mother, Margherita Marchioro, and Lina Rossetto nee Bordin who had arrived in 1930. She remembered the men singing songs that they would have heard in their families  – “La Montanara” and “Quel Masolin dei Fiori.”

At least twice a week the men would go there of a night time and Mum would be roasting some chestnuts and the men would be singing, and that was lovely. I can still hear them singing … about seven or eight of them, yeah, mostly bachelors, of course. One by one they got their wives from Italy and there was another Mr Atto Rossetto, he used to come from the city to come down and spend the evening with these men, you know, they were all bachelors, and they all knew each other … Oh, the singing was beautiful. I can still hear them singing. I feel as though, you know, I can remember them all standing out with their arms around each other’s shoulders, you know, singing away [laughs].

Sandra Conci nee Santin, OH 872/44
Sandra grew up on Frogmore Road close to her Santin and Tonellato grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Sandra recalled roasting chestnuts as a big family event.

Clara and Romildo Santin roasting chestnuts, Frogmore Road, late 1990s. Photo, courtesy Diana Panazzolo nee Santin.

Oh, that was, that was fun, they used to get together for castagna, one time it was at my zia Clara, other times, not many times at zia Anna’s, more so zia Clara’s place and my mother’s place. And they used to come in and bring their bottle of wine, just sit around, talk, laugh, think about the castagna and they used to cook the castagna … Dad used to bring them from the market, when he used to go to the market and so they use to cook them in like a grill. Zio Romildo … was good at making things so he used to do a lot of things and he used to grill them and Mum [also] used to cook them in the oven

The Trevisani nel Mondo hosts castagna events in Adelaide and they are very popular.

Making wine
Making wine was an important autumn activity in many families. It was important for people like Angelo Innocente to make wine every year. Angelo continued this tradition until he was 89 years of age.

Angelo Innocente – making wine, Lockleys, March 2011. Photo by Madeleine Regan.

Roma Bordignon nee Zampin, OH 872/41
Roma Bordignon nee Zampin remembered the ritual of making the wine in her family. Her father Silvano (known as Gerry) involved his daughters in the process of treading the grapes. This tradition was something that the local policeman appreciated:
We used to get into the big bucket or whatever it was, and we’d go with our feet and we’d dance the Tarantella [laughter] … And [Dad would] say, “Come on girls. Hurry up! We’ve got to make this wine.” So, we’d dance faster.

And the Lockleys policeman at the time, he used to come up to see Gerry, as they called Dad. And he’d say, “How are you going Gerry? Have you made the wine yet?” And he’d say, “Yeah. Would you like a taste?” So, he’d sit down and drink it. He only come up to see him for a drink.

Silvano & Millie Zampin – L-R: Bruna & Milva Adelaide c 1934.
Silvano (Gerry) Zampin, c 1950s. Photo supplied by the Zampin family.









Milva Rebuli nee Zampin, OH 872/36
Milva, Roma’s older sister, spoke about their father storing the wine in a barrel in a cellar at the back of the property their parents leased as market gardens on Henley Beach Road at Lockleys. Milva remembered that her father made a cellar from a dugout that had been made by American soldiers who camped along the southern side of the River Torrens during World War II.
But  Dad always made his own wine. We had a cellar down the back because we had the —- American soldiers at the back of our place at that time. They had dugouts and when they left, we had the dugouts, they more or less filled in most of them but they left one, and Dad used to put all of his wine in the cellar out the back.

The fruit of autumn – persimmons
In Italy, persimmon trees provide a wonderful display of dangling orange fruits that  hang on branches without leaves in autumn. Sometimes they are visible even as winter sets in. It seems that in some villages every garden has a persimmon tree. Here in Adelaide, they are not as popular but many people of Veneto heritage have a tree – or they know where they can get cachi so they can enjoy them while they are in season. They patiently wait until the fruit gets really soft and ripe before savouring them.

Persimmon tree, Spello, Italy, October 2011.

Madeleine Regan
10 March 2024

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