Italian feast to help fund monument

Members of the Italian community who met recently to discuss ideas for an Italian monument in Lismore (front l-r) Tricia Sanotti, Ida Ros, Rene Perin and Eni Perin with (rear l-r) Silvina Bravin, Ellie Gava, Luciana Trojer, Severino Da Roit, John Barnes, Angelo Borin, Giovanni Foltran and John Perin. A working party has been formed to turn the vision into a reality.

When Ellie Gava saw an ABC documentary on the history of Italians in Lismore, the words of the presenter stuck in her mind: Italians have lived in Lismore for most of this century. Today, there is no evidence of their presence.

That got me going, Ellie said. I thought Its true, there isnt any evidence, and yet theres thousands of us here.

A working party has now been formed to explore options for a monument in Lismore that pays tribute to the Italian migrants who have helped farm the land and shape the culture of the region since the early 1920s.

I want to cement our heritage for future generations and remind them of their forefathers, who travelled halfway across the world to settle here, Ellie said. It was a brave thing to do, to leave their families and travel all that way with no money and no knowledge of the language, in the hope they could make a better life for themselves. They often ended up farming land that other people deemed useless, but they persevered and once they saved enough to own their own land, it had the power to hold them here, and they made Australia home. I think a monument would give young Italians a sense of pride in what their pioneering ancestors did.

Planning for an Italian piazza near the Transit Centre in Molesworth Street had to be put on hold last year due to the instability of the riverbank, so the Italian community is keen to see a monument erected in a prominent location in the meantime.

Ellie says the working party is now exploring options for the monument, with ideas including a statue showing an Italian family at work or a mural depicting early life along with landscaping featuring plants close to Italian hearts, such as olives and rosemary.

The group has also started looking into obtaining government grants and plans to hold numerous fundraising events, the first of which is an Italian dinner next Sunday, May 25, at the Lismore City Bowling Club.

The event, to celebrate the 62nd year of the Republic of Italy, will feature a traditional Italian feast as well as an Italian opera singer and other entertainment. Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for children at the Bowling Club or Councils CBD office in Magellan Street.

For more information or to get involved in the project, phone Ellie on 6624 1077 during business hours.

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