A journey back to origins: the lives of Italian immigrants through the eyes of their grandchildren

After nearly four years of hard work, members of the Associazione i Nonni organisation finally published their masterpiece, titled, ‘A Journey Back to Origins’. This stunning bilingual anthology contains 44 stories of Italian migrants that moved overseas to Australia, written through the eyes of their grandchildren. This authentic and vibrant collection of tales depicts the triumphs and hardships experienced by the grandparents of young Italian Australians and the many obstacles they have faced to become Australian citizens.

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“A journey back to origins – Viaggio di ritorno alle origini” – photo source antoniocappiello.it


Upon first glance, the stories of Australian migrants look the same, but the tales in this book represent the complexity and individuality of each of its narrators’ experiences. Despite their unique stories, Italian Australians from all over the country have a shared experience that only they can truly understand. In this book, their descendants, in search of their roots, attempt to retrace their grandparents’ steps to discover how the destiny of their families was set in stone by the lives of their elderly relatives.

‘A Journey Back to Origins’ is an archive of evolving identities, shaped by discovery, curiosity, courage, gratitude and love. The book was published with the help of Mr. Joe Commisso (Ambassador NSW Grandparents Day) and Mr. Antonio Bamonte (OAM), respectively president and vice-president of the Association Grandparents. Along with dozens of young Italian Australians, the book’s editor, Prof.ssa Concetta Cirigliano Perna, helped to bring their vision to life with her passion, guidance and expertise.

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Prof.ssa Concetta Cirigliano Perna – photo source Agostino Sibona


About Associazione i Nonni

Associazione i Nonni is an organisation that was established in 2005 to raise the profile of grandparents within Australia’s Italian-Australian community, and to strengthen the bonds between Italian grandparents and their grandchildren. The founder of Associazione i Nonni, Mr Antonio Bamonte, believes that grandchildren and grandparents add value to each other’s lives in unique ways. Grandchildren bring energy, vibrancy, optimism, purpose and fun into the lives of their grandparents, while grandparents offer guidance, wisdom and boundaries to their grandchildren.

Bamonte believes that the Italian-Australian community has a responsibility to make sure that grandparents have a role to play in their local community to shape the future of younger generations. By acting as a bridge of communication between grandparents and their grandchildren, Associazione i Nonni aims to help strengthen the bonds between families through the sharing of stories.

About the book Editor

concetta pernaConcetta Cirigliano Perna, from San Giorgio Lucano (Matera), holds an honors degree in Political Science (Bari University). She lives in Sydney where she taught Italian Language and Literature at Macquarie University. She authored several textbooks and teaching material for students of Italian. She published Non soltanto un Baule, Storie di emigranti italiani (Edizioni Farinelli, 2005); Uffa! (Edizioni Farinelli, 2007) and co-authored with Giancarla Minuti Guareschi Fuori dalla Nebbia, due vite all’ombra di Giovannino Guareschi (Falco Editore, 2015). She is president of the National Italian Australian Women’s Association, vice-president of Dante Alighieri Society of Sydney and the Lucanian Association.

The “Filippo Maria Tripolone” Diaristic Prize

Since the publication of ‘A Journey Back to Origins’, it has received an astounding response from literary enthusiasts and Italian-Australians alike, coming in second place in the “Filippo Maria Tripolone” Diaristic Prize. For the past nineteen years, the competition has been held by the socio-cultural association known as ‘White Lantern’, in memory of Filippo Maria Tripolone.

White Lantern is an organisation founded to raise public awareness of mental illnesses and the way they affect our families and loved ones. The organisation founded the “Filippo Maria Tripolone” Diaristic Prize after finding the poems and diaries that Filippo Maria Tripolone left behind after he took his own life. The prize was founded in order to encourage people to use the written word in order to express themselves freely in the form of diaries if they feel that they have something to communicate.

‘A Journey Back to Origins’ claimed the second prize in a small ceremony this year, due to the coronavirus crisis, but the recognition was equally as special.

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“Filippo Maria Tripolone” Diaristic Prize, the speakers’ table – photo source siciliafelix.it


The creation of ‘A Journey Back to Origins’

The idea for ‘A Journey Back to Origins’ first began after Associazione i Nonni held a writing competition in 2016. The competition was for young Italian Australians to write about the memories that their Italian grandparents had of being immigrants. The purpose of the competition was simply to give grandchildren and their grandparents the opportunity to connect by sharing stories, as the grandchildren would be required to ask their grandparents insightful questions and listen to their responses carefully in order to write a compelling story.

After receiving an overwhelming response by the Italian-Australian community, the stories that were gathered depicted a powerful portrait of the past based on authentic, first-hand experiences. It soon became apparent to the members of Associazione i Nonni that the stories that had been collected served as an important resource for Australia’s diverse history, and so after the winners had been chosen, the organisation decided to put rest of the most engaging stories into an anthology, which became ‘A Journey Back to Origins’.

With the addition of vintage photographs, it has become a masterpiece for Italian-Australians of every generation to cherish.

a journey back to origins book
“A journey back to origins – Viaggio di ritorno alle origini” – photo source antoniocappiello.it


Associazione i Nonni and Beloka Water

Beloka Water has proudly sponsored the Associazione i Nonni organisation for many years now, as Beloka Water’s CEO, Mr Joe Commisso, is an Ambassador of NSW Grandparents’ Day. In 1953, Joe himself arrived in Australia from Calabria with his nine siblings and his parents, and so he is committed to celebrating the familial bonds between Italians of every generation.

Beloka distributes mineral-rich, balanced water, sourced from the east of Kosciuszko National Park. For more information about our products, take a look at our online shop today.