Thursday, May 21, 2015

Swiss Italians in Australia

It should be clarified that the proper term is "Swiss Italian," not Italian Swiss. As has been covered here before, an immigration--earlier than that to California--had been to the state of Victoria, Australia. Just like with other smaller Alpine regions, such as Val Camonica or Valtellina, the Swiss Italians/Ticinese have a local type of cuisine. It appears that there were many similarities between the California settlers and the Victoria settlers.

Swiss Italians of Australia

Swiss Italians of Australia, are Italian-speaking Swiss that settled in Australia during the 1850s and 1860s. The Swiss Italians initially settled in the area around Daylesford, Victoria. The Swiss settlers were from the canton of Ticino and the southern part of Graubünden

The influence of the Swiss Italians of Australia—Italian-speaking Swiss from the cantons of Ticino and Grison and the northern Italians is still present in the township of Hepburn Springs—through the names of its residents, the names of its springs (Locarno) and buildings (Savoia Hotel, Parma House, Perinis, Bellinzona) and the annual Swiss-Italian Festa.

The heart of the Italian-speaking community was the area around the Savoia (Spring Creek) Hotel and the Macaroni Factory. The Savoia is named after the royal family of unified Italy. An Italian reading library was located at the hotel and pasta was made opposite in Lucini's Macaroni Factory which was also home to the Democratic Club. Lucini's moved from Lonsdale Street, Melbourne in 1865, where they had set up as the first pasta factory in Australia in 1864. Vanzetta's bakery supplied bread to the community and Crippa, Perini, and the Gervasoni's (Yandoit Creek) produced wine.

In 2007 the Melbourne Immigration Museum featured a display entitled Wine Water and Stone reflecting the Swiss and Italian heritage of the area.

Swiss Italian food and culture

The Swiss Italians loved sport, food, and music. Their influence on local culture is celebrated annually during the Swiss Italian Festa. Swiss Italians of Australia have made their mark in spheres of art, music, literature, journalism, sport, education, science, and engineering.

A local delicacy is bullboar, which is a sausage made from beef, pork, garlic, and spices. Local families jealously guard their recipes. In 2005 Daylesford Secondary College came in second place in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Young Gourmets by making bullboars from the Gervasoni and Sartori recipes, which gained much media attention over the fate of Charlotte the pig, with little concern for the steer involved. The bullboar has been named an endangered recipe by the Slow Food Movement.

The Hepburn Springs Swiss and Italian Festa is an annual  five day celebration in late October of the area's Swiss Italian and Northern Italian heritage, with music, food, art, wine etc. Ticino and Val Camonica are very kindred cultures, both being Lombard-speaking mountain communities. The Lombard cultural relationship doesn't just end because some long ago German king decided to build a fence. This is a part of our culture as well. 

There are local (Bay Area) Swiss Italian events, and in other parts of the state, but they're hard to find as they would usually only pertain to those of that cultural family; and perhaps through the "Pro Ticino" clubs. However, there should basically be no difference between--for example--the Ticinese of west Marin County and the Milanese of east Marin County. Not only does the canton of Ticino border with the province of Milano, but both are from the same "West Lombard" dialect.

I came across an article on the Switzerland information website entitled 'Italian Swiss... or Swiss Italians?' Although interesting, that issue has been covered here before. Still, I wanted to link it for anyone interesting in reading up on it. The Ticino question becomes important to us partly because of the large past immigration in a few areas, and because we should bridge the gap finally with the idea of "Lombard cultural identity."

The "clan" concept is great, but let us not forget the ancient nation of Lumbardia. One "Lumbard" cultural family: Bergamo, Brescia/Val Camonica, Como, Cremona, Lodi, Mantova, Milano, Monza/Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio (Valtellina/Valchiavenna), Süd Graubünden/Val Poschiavo, Ticino, and Varese.


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