Francesco Sofo’s warm invitation to join the choir got me past my reservations about my lack of a singing voice. I’ve been bumbling along with the altos off and on since the year after the choir started, with a long sabbatical whilst living on the south coast for some years.
I keep going to choir when I can because I love singing in Italian, and because the other choir members are so welcoming. At the coast, I was briefly a member of the Montague Choristers and I also spent many years with an a cappella group called That Bunch of Singers.
I studied classical piano for many years as a schoolgirl, but my heart has always been with popular music and musical theatre. Nowadays I really enjoy playing the piano and I’m trying to learn by heart some of the pieces I’ve been thumping out for 50 years. It’s amazing how hard it is as one’s memory fades! I’ve also taught myself the piano accordion in recent years, and spent some years in a ukulele group at the coast.
My family on both sides is from a small town called Grosotto in the Alta Valtellina in northern Italy.
My mother was born in the hills out of Perth, the first of her siblings to be born Aussie. She’s a real bushie at heart, and can still recite bush poetry, verse after verse, at the age of 92.
Oddly enough it’s through her that I have inherited my Italian citizenship, not through my dad who migrated from Italy as a young man in 1938. It’s pretty clear he was dodging the draft as everyone knew a war was coming. I grew up in a militantly anti-militaristic family! Dad had done his military training in the early ’30s and knew it was not for him.
My parents only spoke Italian when they didn’t want us to understand, or with Italian friends, so we grew up only knowing English. When I turned 50 and my kids pushed me to register as an Italian so that they could be EU citizens too, I decided it was time to stop being an imposter and learn the language.
Then followed a decade of teaching myself Italian from texts, CDs and visits to language schools in Italy at every opportunity. I’ve found the 2-3 weeks I’ve spent in a variety of Italian cities studying Italian to be some of the best holidays I’ve ever had.
Since retiring I’ve been able to travel quite a bit, especially in Europe. I love walking (and cycling) holidays. The natural world really is a beautiful place and walking takes you into it. But my favourite landscape is farming country where people have enhanced rather than destroyed the natural place.
My other hobbies revolve around food and gardening. I like to grow summer vegies, make passata and pesto, dig up my garlic and cook when the family is around. I planted an “orchard” at the coast but it’s a battle between me and the birds to retrieve the fruit. I’m very proud of the single mango my tree produced last season, but not so proud of the single olive on my olive tree.