Over the past few months, we’ve been fortunate that a number of guest bloggers have contributed to the website. This time, Anna Baronian nee Carniello, writes about the continuing connections with her relatives who came from Caselle di Altivole.
My husband and I have recently returned from a trip to Italy and I would like to share with you some reflections about my family connections in the Veneto region where my father came from.
My parents were Giovanni and Luisa Carniello and we lived at 63 Garden Tce, Lockleys. Dad was from Caselle d’Altivole and he migrated to Australia in 1952 together with his cousins, Primo and Secondo Carniello.
After mum and dad met and married, they had boarders from the Veneto region for several years in the early 1960s. They were Elio Bin, who later became my godfather, Tarcisio Carniello, (Baffo) who was my uncle, Germano whose surname I can’t recall, and Bruno Fantinelli, who later returned to Italy and opened an osteria in the Veneto.
In 1970 we left Adelaide to go and live with my grandparents Attilio and Maria Carniello in Caselle. Their sopranome or nickname was Bortolon and they lived at number 1 Via Capitello della Fiera, in a two storey farmhouse.
They were typical contadini with their campi, (fields), the stalla, (barn) the donkey, 2 cows, chickens, turkeys and the pig which would be fattened to make the mussetto, (a kind of sausage made from pork) salami and salsiccie or sausages. My nonno Attilio didn’t drive a car because everything was witin walking distance. But he would use his cart and donkey for errands such as collecting the feed for the animals and I would get to ride along with him which was such a special treat. Using the cow’s unpasteurised milk, nonna Maria would make butter. She would pour the milk into a pottery shaped bottle and churn it for several days. We would then smear the fresh creamy butter onto crusty bread, sprinkle it with sugar and gobble it up.
I was 9 years old at the time but my first sister and I didn’t go to school as the Italian school year didn’t align with the one in Australia. However, my youngest sister who was four years old, attended the local kindy which was managed by the nuns. So our days were carefree and I have fond memories of picking hazelnuts and cherries and playing with my 2 sisters in the water channel which was used to irrigate the campi. Going to the local bottega (shop) which was just in front of my grandparent’s house to buy lollies was a treat, but only if we managed to coax 100 lire out of my nonno. I also remember riding my nonna’s bike down the unsealed road past all the wild red poppies which bloomed in the campi. I actually learnt to ride a bike in their front yard. This was the first time meeting my grandparents and after 10 months, we returned to Australia to resettle.
Other relatives in the Veneto were my aunt and uncle, Bertilla and Egidio Antonini or ‘Egidio Mondo’ which was his nickname, and my cousins, Gabriella, Adriana and Jonny. They lived at 318 Findon Rd Kidman Park before their family returned to Italy in 1966, settling in Riese Pio X then later moving to Caselle. On the land where their house and family business once stood in Riese, there is now a supermarket and other retail shops.
It wasn’t until 1985 that I saw them all again. In that year I was there for 5 months studying and travelling so during this time, I was able to build relationships with my extended family as an adult.
On our recent trip my husband and I spent a week visiting my cousins who now live in Moriago della Battaglia which is about 22km NE of Caselle. I understand that the town has this name because of a battle which took place there in WW1 along the Piave River.
When we were picked up at Cornuda train station by my cousins, it was as if I saw them all the time when in fact, I had last seen them in 2014. We had lots to catch up on. A bonus was that my husband who has been learning Italian for the past 3 years was able to get involved in our conversations and he was even able to talk about politics and current affairs with them. Given that they were about to vote for a new government, this was a good skill to have because the Italians talk politics all the time.
I used this occasion to meet my godmother Irene Zampin (who is the sister of Terry Mazzarolo who lives in Adelaide) and her husband Giuliano who live in Caselle. I came to know about Terry and her sister Irene, thanks to my godfather Elio Bin whose family is from San Vito. The last time she saw me, I was a baby! This was a special gathering and we shared laughter, stories and a lovely meal together which my cousin had prepared. We even got to try Giuliano’s must which I learnt is a young wine made from freshly pressed grapes and seeds. In fact, the must was still fermenting in the bottle so during our meal, the top kept popping off.
In addition to this, we were lucky to be in Moriago for my cousin’s granddaughter’s first birthday. This celebration was another opportunity to share joy and build family connections.
My Zio Egidio died in 2019 but my Zia Bertilla is a resident at the San Gregorio nursing home in Valdobbiadene and during our visit we were able to have lunch together at the nursing home on the terrace. It was emotional saying goodbye to my zia.
During our week we visited towns such as Asolo, Montebelluna and Valdobbiadene and got to meet friends of my cousins.
We had a day trip to Caselle to revisit experiences like walking along Via della Fiera past my grandparents’ home, past the campi and up to the capitello.
Lots of development has occurred along this road including the installation of solar panels on houses but the water channel along the side of the road is still there. We also visited the church and the cemetery.
Being able to spend time with my cousins and their families bonded us further and in addition to this, a new relationship was established between them and my husband. We had so many wonderful chats, laughs and moments of reminiscing and through this, we were able to learn about each other’s lives in more intimate detail.
Thanks to technology, our ties will continue to strengthen and we will be able to stay connected in real time.
Anna Baronian nee Carniello. Photos provided by Anna.
20 November, 2022.