The Piovesan family

The following information about the Piovesan family has been compiled from interviews and family archives.

Angelo Piovesan was one of four sons in a family who emigrated from Ponzano Veneto in the Veneto region. Three sons migrated to Australia: Angelo arrived in Adelaide in 1927, Attilio in 1937and Mario in 1950. The fourth brother, Leono, went to Venezuela in 1949. Two other siblings, Giuseppe and Amelia remained in Ponzano Veneto.

Angelo was one of the Veneto pioneer market gardeners on Frogmore Road at Kidman Park. He also spent time working at the Spotted Tiger mica mine in the Northern Territory with other Veneto men.

Rosalia Zanatta and Angelo Piovesan, wedding photo, Adelaide, 1934

Bruno Piovesan provided details about his father and mother in the interview he recorded for the project in 2008:

My parents were born in a place called Ponzano Veneto, that’s about twenty‑five kilometres from Venice, very close to Treviso, and my father came to Australia at the age of 22 – he was born in 1905, 4th December 1905. He came to Australia in 1927.  After seven years of working in Australia, my mother, [Rosalia Zanatta] which he knew as a fiancée in Italy, could not afford her fare to Australia, so she virtually had to find her own money to come to Australia. She came to Australia in 1934 …

Angelo and Rosalia both came from very poor peasant farming families. Their second son, Dino, interviewed in 2011 explains the poverty:

The family ground, whatever hectares it may have been, was simply for family sustenance from one year … I remember them saying that if they were lucky and they had one or two or three cows in the stable, a cow would have had a calf, and that would have been sold, and that would have been a little bit of extra money for the family. But other than that, it was for the family sustenance from one year to the other, with wheat and maize, and of course the grapes and the wine.

Piovesan and Tonellato families Frogmore Road, c 1938/39 Rosalia and Angelo second & third from left in the back.
Dino Piovesan, Veneto market gardeners event 2013 (holding window from the Tonellato train carriage)

Angelo and Rosalia had three sons, Nillo, Dino and Bruno. Bruno recalls the Piovesan market garden from his childhood and describes how his father worked:

… they used to make a good living out of 12 glasshouses, he used to make a good living just with twelve glasshouses. Had about five acres of land in those years and he used to plant potatoes and other type of beans and things like that – I remember sowing beans and all this business. And you had to dig potatoes virtually with a fork to start with, then they had a plough – all horse-drawn, there was no machinery, just all horse-drawn – and I very vividly remember digging glasshouses by hand fork, you had to dig the glasshouses with a hand fork, till the age of about 16 or 18. 

Bruno Piovesan – Veneto market gardeners exhibition, 2011

Angelo Piovesan died suddenly in 1949, aged 43 years and Rosalia maintained the market gardens with assistance from Attilio, Angelo’s younger brother. The three sons who were then aged 14, 13 and 12 years also worked in the gardens. Parts of the family land were sold in the 1960s and Nillo and Dino developed a market garden at Bolivar for some years. Rosalia died in 1985. Nillo died in 2011, and Bruno, in 2014.

Madeleine Regan
17 May 2020

A causa della situazione di Covid-19, non e’ stato possibile tradurre il blog in italiano.

One thought on “The Piovesan family”

  1. Hi Mad
    Very interesting reading.
    Would you have any information on how Rosalina managed her fare to Australia?

    Thanks Mad

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