Continuity of family connections

Last month, on 22nd October, a group of Veneto market gardener families and friends gathered at the Mater Christi church hall once again to share stories and enjoy the opportunity to spend time together. The theme was the continuity of family connections to relatives in the Veneto region. We were fortunate that two guest speakers offered their experience of ongoing links and their appreciation of their family history of migration. A group of descendants of the first generation of market gardeners are featured in the photo above.

View of some of the people who attended the Veneto gathering. Photo by Alex Bennett.

Amanda Rossetto and Raoul Pietrobon each spoke about their grandfathers who had made the long sea voyage from Italy to Port Adelaide in 1927.  Both Gelindo Rossetto and Gildo Pietrobon were compelled to find work in the difficult economic and political years of the Depression which was beginning in Australia at that time. As you’ll read from the accounts of Amanda and Raoul, their grandfathers made different choices about their future in Australia. Amanda and Raoul’s connections with their families reflect their experience of the continuity of the history.

First, Amanda told us about her nonno, Gelindo Rossetto who travelled with three younger brothers to join another brother who had migrated in 1926.

Then Raoul spoke about the presence of his grandfather in Adelaide and how his experience influenced three of his children to migrate several decades later.


Amanda Rossetto

Amanda Rossetto, presenting at gathering of Veneto market gardener families & friends, 22 Oct 2022. Photo by Alex Bennett.

I am the eldest granddaughter of Gelindo Rossetto (one of the 1927 market gardeners) and wife, Adelina Bordin. They were married by proxy and she arrived in 1930. Nonna was born in Biadene, one of six children. Two went to France and three sisters came to live in Australian, marry and have families.


The Rossetto family, Bigolino, early 1920s. Gelindo is on far right at the back. Photo: courtesy Maria Rosa Tormena.

Nonno was the eldest of nine children born in Bigolino – eight migrated to Australia … Like others in the family, nonno left because of the political and economic circumstances…



Rossetto family : Lina, Lena, Silvano, Aldo, Gelindo. Adelaide, c 1950.

I stand here with immense pride as a 3rd generation Australian-Italian who feels very connected to my Veneto culture and heritage. I have my nonna to thank for that –– she taught me well about our history, love of family, food and culture.  She encouraged my love of all things from our culture.


She always told me stories, taught me to speak our dialetto, (dialect) took me to visit all our parenti (relatives), took me to the Italian and Veneto clubs whenever she could.

Amanda Rossetto and her nonna, Lina Rossetto. Adelaide, 1968/69.

It was never hard, it was fun, and I took every opportunity to be with her, to go and visit all the Rossetto, Tormena, Rebuli and Bernardi families, to go to the parties and weddings, to visit the Frogmore Road families and her dear friends, the Marchioro’s.  She would get me to always write a few lines at the bottom of her letters to our families back in the Veneto – in Bigolino, Biadene, Valdobiaddene, Montebelluna and Castelfranco.

In 1972 at the age of 12, I went overseas for the first time with my dad Aldo and met them all – we stayed in the house that has always been in the contadino (farmer) Rossetto family on Via Erizzo, Bigolino – the house where nonno and all his siblings were born and grew up…

A view of the area of Bigolino, 2020. Photo by Amanda Rossetto.

I have been over four more times since as an adult – in 2000, 2010, 2015, 2019… With technology changes, social media, the internet, Facebook and Instagram, I’m able to stay in touch with them easily – and we do…  We probably communicate once a week in one way or another.

Aldo Rossetto, Adelaide, 2010.


When Eleonora (Marchioro) interviewed my Dad the year before he died, he and I talked at length about the stories of his childhood and what it was like living in a blended culture – walking in two worlds. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this and to keep the stories alive.


Raoul Pietrobon

Raoul Pietrobon presenting at gathering of Veneto market gardener families & friends, 22 Oct 2022. Photo by Alex Bennett.

My grandfather, Gildo Pietrobon, came to work in Adelaide, South Australia in the years 1927 to 1930. Gildo was born in 1897, the sixth of eight children, in the village of Salvarosa, near the town of Castelfranco Veneto. Together with his brothers, he farmed land the family was leasing, which was typical of the contadini or farmers at the time. In 1926, Gildo decided to work overseas and earn money to assist in the purchase of land.

Gildo Pietrobon in his orchard, Castelfranco Veneto, Treviso, 1950.

He was 29 years, married with two children. He was accompanied by his 17-year-old nephew, Erminio Guidolin, the son of his eldest sister. Both went to reside at 211 Franklin St, Adelaide on their arrival. This was a boarding house at the time run by Orazio Bonin.

Former Italian boarding house on Franklin Street, city of Adelaide. Photo by Raoul Pietrobon, 2022.
Relaxing on a Sunday afternoon outside their boarding house – Erminio Guidolin (far left) & Gildo Pietrobon (far right) with 2 acquaintances.






Both men must have enjoyed their time in Australia as Gildo had many stories to tell his children and friends in the village of Salvarosa which must have made an impact because three of Gildo’s children emigrated in the 1950’s to Australia.

I was always curious about how my grandfather would have traversed Adelaide. He worked in several places, including Port Adelaide. He had told stories of meeting Veneti at the Tower Hotel located on Magill Road and which is still there. And since reading ‘the Veneto Market Gardeners 1927’ blog pages, I wondered if he also went to the suburbs of Lockleys and Findon. Bicycle and bus routes seem obvious but were they the only ones?

Currie Street looking west from King William Street, Adelaide, February 1927. Reproduced from ‘The Observer,’ Feb 19, 1927. State Library of SA, B3982.

I found an image in the State Library archives which gave me another answer. In the 1920’s Adelaide had a much larger network of trams than it does in the 2020’s. Trams went to Port Adelaide via the center of Port Road and they even went to the foothill along The Parade and Magill Road. [The slide is an image of Currie St in 1927 and shows on the name-board that the destination is Lockleys.]


When one of the participants commented on the poverty that motivated migrants to leave the Veneto in the 1920s, Raoul reflected on the experience of his father’s situation in the 1940s. “Effectively three families [were] living under the same roof and the majority of them reliant on the farmland they were running. My father applied to migrate in 1952 and was successful.”

A group at the gathering, 22nd October 2022. Photo by Alex Bennett.

Migration causes fragmentation in families but today – even with the passage of time, it is possible to keep connections alive. The close links between families in Adelaide and the Veneto region create a transnational relationship that is so much easier to maintain now than it was for the first generation. It seems that many of the market gardener families want to preserve the links with relatives in the Veneto region.

Madeleine Regan
6 November 2022

A history of the Rebellato family

Some years ago, I felt an urgent need to put together a brief history of our family before age dimmed what I had heard and what I remembered so that future generations would know something of their Veneto roots.  With the help of three other members of the family we compiled a pictorial family book with some information of our family tree.  The following is a short summary of what I wrote in our family book.

My two brothers and I are the last of the Rebellato family, of our branch at least, to have been born in Castelfranco Veneto.  We have researched our family origins and were able to go back as far as 1720 with records showing that our ancestors were born in or around the Castelfranco Veneto area. My father Rino was born in 1913 and my mother Livia Guidolin (born in Salvarosa of Castelfranco) in 1919.

Engagement, Livia Guidolin and Rino Rebellato, Castelfranco Veneto, 1939.

Although the fields they worked were adjoining, divided by a small creek only, our parents did not know each other until my father met my mother after a church service in her town.  The war prolonged their engagement, which lasted 11 years, and they were able to marry at last in 1946.

Their wedding was a quiet and sad affair as the Rebellato family had lost 2 members in the war and one other returned home with a debilitating illness.

I was born in 1948, closely followed by two brothers – Ferruccio in 1950 and Pietro (Peter) in 1951. My place of birth was in the farmhouse in what has to be one of the most beautiful estates in the area – the Villa Bolasco Revedin.

Casa Rebellato (Strepiti) Villa Revedin – Bolasco

Our house, which was only a few hundred metres from the piazza Giorgione of the moated city of Castelfranco, was old with no running water, inside toilet, bathroom, indeed any comfort. But as our place was part of the estate owned by the Conte Bolasco we children had free rein to enjoy the the gardens and surrounding woods of the Villa.

Fiorita in the garden, Villa Bolasco.

I do remember growing up and playing in the adjoining park, rolling down the verdant arena surrounded by many statues, dabbling with sticks in the small man-made lake, hiding in the boathouse, waltzing among the flowers in the fiorita (the beds of blooming flowers) and tip toeing through the classical conservatory of the villa.  In spring, the park was a carpet of perfumed violets and our family was the one that carefully lifted and then loaded baskets of moss in December to take to the church of S. Maria della Pieve, for the base of the presepio, which was very grand, the whole town of Bethlehem in fact was set up, all lit with tiny lights and with moving figures etc and we children were wide-eyed with wonder.

My parents were share farmers and worked so very hard for very little.  Nevertheless, they were content with their lot as they later learnt how to grow the most beautiful, prizewinning radicchio castellano (which was transported and even served in the finest restaurants of Vienna) and thus boost their income considerably. Unfortunately, no sooner were they able to lift their heads and agree that they were on to a good thing, the owner of the land sold the portion worked by my parents to the Comune of Castelfranco to build the new hospital.

We had to leave.

My father wanted to move to Lombardy, a hot spot for the industrialisation of post war Italy, and where some relatives of my mother had recently settled (and later became quite successful in the fields they had chosen).  However, my mother was encouraged by her siblings, her eldest brother who had come to Australia in 1926, the second brother in 1939 and lastly her sister who had arrived in 1955, to migrate to Adelaide.  They told us there was plenty of work here and the possibility of a good future for the children

Livia with Anna, Peter, Ferruccio. Passport photo, 1955.

We left a very cold, snow covered Castelfranco on the 9.00 pm train bound for Genoa on 24th February 1956.  What a sad parting!  My beloved grandmother was distraught as were our other relatives.  We never saw some of them again.

We sailed on the Fairsea and after an uneventful journey (despite the seasickness) arrived at Port Melbourne on Friday 23rd March and left by train the following night.

We were welcomed at the Adelaide railway Station on 25th March 1956 by my mother’s two brothers and sister and their families.

My parents’ first impression of Adelaide was that it was much smaller than they had envisaged and everything low lying and plain.  Life was easier for them here with food plentiful and oh, the abundance and cheapness of sugar!  This had been a luxury in Italy.  We had as much as we wanted and it is a wonder we have reached our senior years with our own teeth!

The Rebellato family: Anna, Livia, Enio, Ferruccio, Rino, Peter, Mile End, 1959.


We lived for a year at Norwood in the home of my mother’s younger brother, then my parents bought a maisonette at Mile End in which we lived for 5 years and where we welcomed the last born child, another boy, Enio, in 1957.


A large, comfortable home was bought in 1962 in Rose Street, Mile End to accommodate the now six-person family.  We lived many happy, laughter filled years there. We attended the local Catholic schools and my father worked for the Adelaide City Council as a gardener.  We grew, joined the workforce and made many friends.  Our parents joined the Trevisani Association and our father played bocce at the Veneto Club every Sunday afternoon.  They also enjoyed two wonderful trips back “home” to meet up with their dear ones.

Rebellato family: Ferruccio, Enio, Livia, Rino, Anna, Peter, Mile End, 1972.

Although they never regretted their move, in their last years of life both our father and mother agreed that if they had their time over again they would not have left their country and kin.  Indeed, conditions had improved so much in their homeland that there was no need to move elsewhere.  As they aged and because they both had never mastered the English language, they sometimes felt excluded and in their infirmities, anxious, when unable to understand their medical providers.

Livia, proudly showing her radicchio castellano, Seaton, c 1986.

It was after we all married and left home that the parents made their final move – to Airdrie Avenue, Seaton “to be near the church and the Italian priests”.

Good health did not follow our dear father to this last residence.  After 4 years of being practically bed-ridden he died in 1988.

Our mother, however, saw all her 9 grandchildren and the first two great-grandchildren and for the most part enjoyed good health.  She died in 2012.


My brothers and I all live in the western suburbs with our spouses.  Most of our children are married and so far, we have a combined total of 8 grandchildren.



Anna Maria Rebellato. All photos supplied by Anna.
23 October 2022

Back and forth

Berno brothers, (Alberto, Fedele, Pietro) Riese Pio X, Province of Treviso, early 1980s.

 My father, Pietro Berno, migrated to Adelaide in 1927 at the age of 18. At that time, he was underage. He followed his two elder brothers, Fedele, who arrived in 1925 and Alberto, in 1926.

I often wonder what it was like for a young lad that left a small country town in Italy, Riese Pio X, where he was born and had lived all his youth.  Travelling in 1927 was an adventure. The ship, ‘Palermo,’ that took him to Port Adelaide offered very little luxury, if any.

My mother Antonietta Pastro, married Pietro in 1948 in their hometown, Riese Pio X and then she followed Dad back to Adelaide. Her voyage was a little more comfortable, and she could count on her husband to provide for necessities, guidance, and help. Bearing this in mind, I would like to compare my experience as an immigrant many years later, to theirs.

All our family migrated to Italy in March 1969, after my parents’ decision to return to their homeland and retire. This trip on the ship ‘Marconi,’ was very comfortable and as a 15-year-old, I had a ball. It wasn’t like Dad’s trip in 1927 in third class that lasted almost 6 weeks. He was on his own, whilst I was surrounded by family comfort.

Passengers from the ‘Marconi’ in a Zulu village, April 1969.

The voyage in 1969 from Adelaide to Genova (Italy) took 27 days, and it was a one-month family holiday. We enjoyed the wonderful services that you receive on modern day cruises. When the ship docked in the intermediate ports, we would take the excursions for sightseeing. In Durban, we were taken to a Zulu village.



Bus tour to Pompei for passengers of the ‘Marconi.’ April 1969.

In Naples (Italy) we visited the famous Pompei ruins. All for me was extremely exciting. In Naples we also received a surprise visit from my brother Robert, who then was already living in Italy, attending University in Venice. He came with six relatives from Veneto, and they travelled with us on the “Marconi” from Naples to the final destination Genova.

Once in Riese Pio X, everything was very new to me. Suddenly, I could spend time with many relatives I barely knew and had never met.  I was quite happy to settle down in this small country town and I got acquainted to my new life. When Dad first arrived in Adelaide, he did not speak English and had very few friends. Most of his time in those early years was spent working. Shortly after their arrival in Adelaide, Dad and his brother Alberto, worked on market gardens in and around Lockleys. First, they were employees under the farmer and later, as market gardeners on their property.

Pietro & Alberto Berno, Valetta Road, mid-1960s

Due to circumstances such as World War 2, Dad and Uncle lived together from 1927 to 1947 without any family except for themselves. Finally, after 20 years of hard work, first Dad, and then Uncle Alberto, returned to their small town, Riese Pio X, to marry a local girl.


In my new life in Italy, I had it much easier. I was on holidays until October 1969 when school started. In a car accident my mother suffered severe spinal damage. Life was no longer as pleasant. Because of my poor Italian language and literature, I was relegated to 2nd year high school even though I had been promoted to Year 11 in Adelaide. It was a family decision to send me back to Adelaide to finish the last two years of secondary school, after which I enrolled at University in Padova (Italy). In this manner I gained two years.

Relatives – Diana Pastro, Remo Berno, Carolina and Berto Pastro, Adelaide, 1970.

In January 1970, I flew back to Adelaide on my own, to begin Year 11 at St Michael’s College, Henley Beach. I stayed with very good family friends, Antonietta and Aldo Baldan in Flinders Park. They were my santoli (or godparents) and so once again my life was very comfortable. I was back in my birthplace with people I knew, going to my school and with all my schoolmates. However, there was a similarity to my parents’ experience as migrants.

At a young age, I was separated from the rest of my family for 2 years. As it was for them, I had to communicate with my family via letters. Telephone calls were a costly luxury, rarely used. I wrote a letter almost every week to Mum, Dad, my brother, and my sister, sharing with them my thoughts and my feelings, my joys and my sorrows. In the same way, my parents would send letters to their families in Italy during their years of life in Adelaide. This fact made me appreciate more fully the meaning of being an immigrant on your own. Even though I lived my time away from my family in a much more comfortable way as compared to Mum and Dad’s years, I still experienced being homesick, as often as it probably was for them.

L-R Remo, Diana, Roberto Berno, Valla’, July 2017.

I am very grateful for those years because they taught me many things about my father and my mother. I understood how it was for them in Adelaide their new home. They had to adapt to a completely different environment and make it as comfortable as possible for the family they were bringing up. I could see why they were so close to the other Veneto families that lived in the Lockleys area. It was like creating their small hometowns in the new country.  I will never thank my parents enough for all the good they did for us their children.


Remo Berno
9 October 2022

Photos supplied by the Berno family.

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