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17 June 2020

Trip down memory lane for Pam on National Italian Day

Narrated by Pam Azzolini and written by Michelle Shields

The festivities started at Arcare Hope Island with an Italian high tea with our special guest client Palmira Azzolini. Clients were treated to cannoli dip, Italian chocolate biscuits and great coffee while we had trivia questions relating to Italy.

The afternoon festivities continued with afternoon tea and armchair travel to Verona and Pam’s hometown of Bussolengo. Pam was very engaged and happy to run the travel commentary as she shared with us the many places she visited and where she grew up.

After the session was over, Pam was so engaged with Lifestyle and Michelle Shields that she wanted to continue sharing precious moments and memories of her life in Italy, her family and their new life in Australia.

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Bussolengo is a small village about 10 kms outside of Verona, Italy where I grew up with my parents, two brothers and a sister. Unfortunately, my sister passed away in her early twenties, just before her wedding date.

They built a large hospital near my home and I remember staff would leave their bikes and mopeds at our house for a fee, as we had a very large portico where they would be safe and off the streets.

I have fond memories of growing up here, from riding my bicycle 10 kms into Verona past the majestic Lake Garda each day to learn how to be a tailor, through the narrow pebble pathed streets, lined with shops and restaurants with apartments downstairs and small quaint balconies above.

I remember being so excited when my mother bought me a new bicycle, even now, this brings a big smile to my face. I was the youngest of four, my brother and I had blonde hair, whereas my other brother and sister had dark hair. My eldest brother was a beautiful man, but when he returned from the war around the age of 30, he was not the same, he became very sad and withdrawn.

My mother tried to encourage him to go out, but he would always refuse. I dragged him out one day to the movies with my friends and boyfriend, I had organised my girlfriend to meet us there and I sat them next to one another. They ended up getting married, unfortunately my brother passed away in his early 40’s.

I look back on my memories of my mother chastising me for being cheeky because I wanted to hang out with the boys instead of the girls. To the young boy who lived on the corner at the end of our street, whenever he walked past our house, I would say to my girlfriend, I’m going to marry him, she would always reply that I was crazy. I ended up engaged to this boy, to my mother’s worry as I was only 17 and she felt I was way too young. We had to wait till I was 21 before we could marry.

I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. It was a small wedding as my sister was married 10 months before me; we were married in a church and friends and family gathered in a room in our house where we had the nice furniture out for special occasions and to greet guests. We had 25 people for lunch and a lady in the village did all the cooking for us.

Later that evening, we had another 30 people and my mother did all the cooking; she was a great cook. My brother who was always in demand at many weddings in the town played the piano accordion and sang while we danced. Both my husband and I were not good dancers, but together we found our feet.

My husband travelled to Australia by ship to look for a house and a job, as it was during the time when many people migrated to other countries in search of a better life. I met up with him several months later, at this time I was 21 and the memory of leaving my mother and how sad this was for her to have her baby move so far away made me sad. It wasn’t until becoming a mother myself did I understand how hard this would have been for my parents. My husband and I travelled back to Italy several times to see my parents and to also see other parts of my home country.

So, I started this new life in Australia with my husband and we went on to have two beautiful boys, who I am so proud of and they spoil me. We also had a veggie garden in the backyard that we enjoyed tending to.

I worked as a tailor for Hugo Boss in Sydney for many years. When I retired, I spent 17 years volunteering at an aged care with many Italian residents and loved spending time with them reminiscing about Italy in our native language.

When I sold my house to move into Arcare, my son told me I had so many overlockers and sewing machines, even one that had a foot pedal.

Sadly, my husband passed away in his early 70’s very suddenly and I have never wanted anyone else as he was the love of my life.

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