Veneto family histories

Many people in the Veneto community are interested in their family history. Sometimes, they have pieced together details and information through researching on the Internet, finding sources in archives, newspapers and talking to relatives who hold stories and information about the forebears. When families migrated, it created more challenges to understand the complete history of previous generations.

In this blog, I’ve gone back to several family stories that were posted in 2020 – which as we all remember was during the Pandemic. Perhaps people had more time to follow up family history. It is interesting to note that two of the guest bloggers were writing from Italy and Canada.

To access the blogs, just click on the image and it will take you to the stories. The featured image is a map of the Veneto region with its seven provinces. (th-1.jpg)

Examples of family histories on the website

In April 2020, not long after the Pandemic became very serious, the Rebuli family was featured in a blog. The story in Australia begins with Brunone Rebuli who arrived in July 1927 with three brothers-in-law – Gelindo, Adeodato and Angelo.

The Rebuli family of Bigolino

Two months later in June, Silvano Ballestrin contributed a blog about the Ballestrin family and their history of migration to Adelaide. He also explained the Veneto tradition of fiò and his family’s experience of visiting other Veneto m.

Narciso Ballestrin and Maria Dotto family

Irene Zampin, who lives in Caselle di Altivole, wrote about her family tree in August. She explains why it is important to her to know more about her parents’ families. Irene explores the family experience of migration and the need to pass on this knowledge.

Zampin family tree

From Canada, in September the same year, Cathy Crenna provided the first part of a blog about how she had embarked on developing a family tree for her nonna who had been born in Caselle di Altivole. The second part iwas posted two weeks later.

Finding nonna

Finding nonna – Part 2

The urge to discover the circumstances of the lives of earlier generations seems to grow more significant as we get older.  Many of us wish we had asked our parents or our grandparents more questions about their experience and memories. Through the blogs about different Veneto families, we gain more knowledge about shared stories of migration and settlement. We also learn about the differences in the experience of what it was like to leave the familiar world of family, village, language and customs and meet the challenge of building a new life in a new country.

Madeleine Regan
16 June 2024

Veneto identity and the website


The blog has become an important way of sharing information about Veneto identity in Australia. The market gardeners who arrived in the 1920s have been a large focus of the blogs. In this blog you’ll have the opportunity to read some of the blogs written since 2019.

The feature photo is a wonderful image of the community of Veneto families who began living and working on the market gardens between the wars in the area they called ‘Lockleys’ and their extended network of family and friends. The photo was taken in the mid 1950s on one of the family market gardens and was supplied by Terry Mazzarolo nee Zampin.

Each of the families have been represented in biographies which you can read on the website where you can also access the oral history interviews and read transcripts of interviews.  I’ve heard recently that it has been a positive experience for some relatives to listen to the interviews recorded with their loved ones who have since died. The photos are a great way to understand the interactions, daily life and special occasions in the lives of families. In this way the blog is an archive.

The National Library

The National Library of Australia, Canberra. th.jpg

In 2015, the National Library of Australia (NLA) added the Veneto market gardeners’ website to their digital collection of websites that have significant cultural value.
The NLA preserves the selected websites  in its web archive called PANDORA – (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) for the future and takes a screenshot each year.

The PANDORA web archive documents the history and culture of Australia and the Australian people.  There is now a record of  views of the Veneto market gardeners’ website taken each year for nine years.

You can see a screenshot that was taken for PANDORA on 12 April 2021:

Click here to access the PANDORA link to the website


In 2019, I wrote a blog about the women who worked and lived on the market gardens -and who were part of the community of the early Veneto migrants  who arrived in Adelaide between 1926 and 1928.

Pioneer women – Veneto market gardeners

In January 2020, in a blog about the ways that Veneto families in Adelaide celebrated the beginning of a new year, excerpts from several oral history interviews provide insight into different people’s memories of the annual event at St Kilda:

New Year

Many guest bloggers have written about their families and their migration story.

For example, Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo wrote about her family’s Christmas customs in December 2021:

Christmas thoughts – il presepio and more

In her blog in May 2022, Aida Innocente reflected on her visit to her parents’ village, Caselle di Altivole:

A child discovering Italy

In September 2023, Diana Panazzolo nee Santin wrote about her family’s food traditions:

Veneto family food traditions

The blogs open up the experiences of different families and the ways that they reflect on their Veneto heritage. In the next few months more guests will contribute stories about their families and their history of migration to Australia. Please let me know if you would like to add your family story to the archive on this website.

Madeleine Regan
2 June 2024

Celebrating 10 years of the website

Later this month, the Veneto market gardeners’ website will be 10 years old. The website was an opportunity to create an archive for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project which had begun in 2007.  I was fortunate that the City of Charles Sturt gave me a small grant for the design which was created by Dave Smids.

The image above shows a section of the participants who were present for the launch.
Pam and Guido Rebuli in the foreground.

Launch – 24 May 2014
The launch of the website was held in the City of Charles Sturt library at Woodville and was a memorable occasion. Nearly all the 30 people who had been interviewed up to that date were present and many other guests who celebrated the achievement of the website.

Terry Judd nee Tonellato, Dino Piovesan and Armida Mattiazzo nee Biasetto.

Aida Innocente gave a speech and she spoke in Veneto for the first part. You’ll see parts of her speech are included in this blog. Aida had introduced me to Johnny and Eleonora Marchioro – the first people interviewed for the project in 2007 – and who generously helped to guide the project from then.


Aida reads her speech at the launch.

Aida’s speeches
In her speech in Veneto, Aida speaks about the benefits of the website to hear the family histories, read the transcripts and view the photos. She remembers her father, Angelo who used to speak about the older generations in Italy and she pointed out that the website contains the stories of the Veneto families who migrated and made their lives as market gardeners. The oral histories are a way of honouring the first generation who arrived in the 1920s. Aida suggested that these people are now in a museum, present in our hearts and in technology on the Internet that keeps them close to us.

Bon di.

Son qua tuti quanti oncò perchè Madaena Regan a me ga invidà. A vol mostrar el frutto del lavoro che la ga impegnada per ‘sti ultimi dodese mesi. Le storie che ghe gavemo contà, e fotografie che ghe gavemo da adesso podemo vedarle, scoltarle, ledarle su internet. E podemo dar l’indirisso del sito che Madaena la ga fato ai nostri familiari e amighi in tutto el mondo. Che bel no ve par?

Angelo, nonna Teresa and Aida Innocente, Caselle di Altivole, 1964. Photo courtesy, Adelaide Valentini.

Me ricordo che me popà parlava sempre dee storie dei nostri veci. Adesso, podemo dir che tutte e storie che Madaena a ga ciapà, e xè storie dei nostri veci. Me popà el xè deventà anca lu adess un nostro vecio.

Son tuti fortunai che a storia dei nostri veci – i veci australiani e i novi australiani – a nostra storia de Veneti di Lockleys, no a sarà mai persa.  Non a xè sol che a storia che tegnemo a ment dea nostra fameja, ma stà storia a sarà là par tanti altri su internet. A nostra storia de migranti, a storia dei fioi e dei nevodi de questi migranti veneti a sarà recordada e onorada. Ancò son qua par farghe festa!

Adess, son anca noantri in un museo. Ma sto museo el xè pien de vita, pien dee vose nostre, de nostre fotografie, piene dei nostri veci – quei che i xè qua oncò co noantri e i nostri veci che i no ghe xè pì.  Con sto progeto dei market gardeners del Frogmore Road i nostri veci non i sarà sol che nel nostro cor, ma i sarà visti e conosui da tanti, par medo de sta nova tecnologia, l’internet.

Mary Tonellato nee Zoanetti, Alex Bennett, Madeleine Regan.

Aida’s speech in English
I remember the people who lived on the parcel of land at the centre of these oral histories, with a lot of joy and sadness and nostalgia as these market gardeners were closely connected to my parents, Angelo and Elsa Innocente. Not just because Mum and Dad were half-case manufacturers – Dad would have called himself simply a box-maker, I’d say – but because several of the families – the Santins, the Tonellatos – came from our hometown, Caselle di Altivole. One of the families, Vittorio and Angelina Marchioro lived in our street White Avenue and were my godparents, my santoli and my parents’ compari.

Mirella, Elsa, Aida Innocente, Lockleys, c 1959. Photo supplied by the family.

These oral interviews recorded and collected with such constancy, diligence and love by Madeleine Regan – working from time to time with others like Eleonora Marchioro and Anna Mechis – tell in microcosm the history of migration of people mainly from the Veneto region in Italy. These stories begin with the migration in 1927 of many of the patriarchs of the families featured and continue with the post-war migration of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Members of the Zampin, Marchioro, Ballestrin, Innocente families, Morialta, mid 1950s. Photo supplied by Johnny Marchioro.

Now because of this work, all of us gathered here today – first, second, third, maybe fourth generation descendants of these migrants – have the privilege of knowing that over 64 hours of these oral histories – our history – are safely deposited at the State Library of South Australia. And now with this website we are able to share freely and easily much of our history with family and friends far and wide and with the world!

Why is this so valuable?

Because these stories tell our story; they offer first-hand knowledge and insight into the migrant journey; they ensure that these particular experiences are preserved and shared; they formalise this history and they ensure that the contribution of this particular migrant community to their local area and to the building of this state, is recognised. The story of migration is a big part of the story of nation-building.

These local oral histories affirm the lives and identity of all those who so generously contributed their stories and in so doing affirm the lives everyone connected to them.

Anna Santin nee Mattiazzo, Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo, Lino and Rosanna Tonellato.

There are so many stories and memories recorded in the 64 hours, many of which you can now access through the website. I hope you will all visit the website – log on, explore it, play with it, share it with your family and friends, engage with it. It promises to be a rich and revealing journey!

Aida Innocente
Giuliano Berdusco – edited the Veneto speech

Other speakers at the launch

Johnny Marchioro at the microphone.
Lina Campagnaro nee Ballestrin at the microphone.
  • Johnny Marchioro, son of Angelina and Vittorio Marchioro
  • Lina Campagnaro, daughter of Maria and Narciso Ballestrin and niece of Isidoro Ballestrin.
  • Ray Tonellato, son of Mary and Albert, launched the website.

    Ray Tonellato at the microphone.
  • Linda Lacey, Cultural Heritage Officer at the City of Charles Sturt, who had supported the project for several years spoke about the local history featured in the stories of the families on the website.
  • The Mayor of the City of Charles Sturt, Kirsten Alexander, also acknowledged the importance of the website.


A decade of the website
The website continues to attract new readers and subscribers who are interested in the history of the Veneto market gardener community in the western suburbs of Adelaide in the area the families called ‘Lockleys.’  The blogs generate the memories of second and third generations  – and others in Adelaide and in Italy and Canada – who share the family experience of migration and settlement that is usually not recorded in history books. The website is a living archive of the lives of the Veneto market gardeners who settled with their families at Lockleys between the wars. It shares their legacy.

Connie Legovich nee Marchioro, Angelo Giovaninni, Assunta Giovannini nee Tonellato.

Thank you to Michael Campbell for his generous ongoing commitment to managing the website. I was grateful to Linda De Marchi nee Cescato and Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo who edited the family biographies on the website in time for the launch. Thank you to the Veneto Club for supporting the website in the past few years and covering some of the annual costs.

Denise Doyban nee Santin, Sarah, granddaughter of Anna Santin nee Mattiazzo.
Guests at the launch testing out the website.

Thank you to those people who have written blogs and shared their family stories in the last 10 years. Finally, thanks to all the readers for your interest and support.

All photos of the launch taken by Michael Campbell.

Madeleine Regan
19 May 2024

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