ABRUZZESE HERITAGE HONOURED

Earlier this month in Abruzzo, I reconnected with Angela Di Sciascio, teacher in Geelong and author of her gentle and touching book “Finding Valentino”.  We exchanged many tales of each other’s family migration from the tiny villages in Abruzzo to a new life in Australia. As we talked many coincidences emerged about poverty in the family, large families to feed in post war Abruzzo, the need for our father’s to search for more, strive for better in such a sad environment.
So many migrants left on foot to the nearest railway station or if they were lucky there may have been a wealthy villager or landowner with a car to take them to Chieti for example.The most amazing and thrilling coincidence was that Angela’s father Valentino Di Sciascio and my father Sabatino Masci were actually onboard the same boat from Naples! The S.S FLORENTIA arrived safely in Melbourne on April 24, 1952 after 6 long weeks at sea and 1500 tired and anxious young men aboard. This amazing synchronicity and circle of friendship has found its way to Angela and myself to complete the story of 2 Italian/Abruzzese migrants…  What I must find out though is if my father ever met Valentino, who he played the piano accordion on the ship.
Angela and I paid tribute to several migrant statues in bronze that have been created in Abruzzo to honour the sacrifice and hardships the migrants made to leave their homeland and in search of another destiny. We visited these 4 in the Chieti province:
VASTO – it is a modern piece with a family encircled in a globe of the world.
ALTINO – this statue is of a sole migrant saying farewell to Abruzzo and facing the Adriatic coastline salutes it and ponders when it will see it next…
FARA SAN MARTINO – this statue is emotional as a father farewells his child and salutes the Maiella – also wondering in sadness when he may return or see the mother mountain again…
CASOLI – this statue is a large piece and very modern, donated by a Perth migrant Mr Fini to the town of Casoli. It depicts the Abruzzese migrants going to all parts of the globe – to Australia, the Americas and to Northern Europe. Here we are picking up’ a suitcase in Casoli.
Here is an extract from my father’s memoirs “A DIFFICULT HARVEST” (by Sabatino Masci)  which describes this day and his experience on board the FLORENTIA…
page 152 …” After our documents had been checked, some sailors led us along corridors and down flights of stairs to our numbered beds. Mine was one of a triple deck. The beds were all lined up in a very large and high cargo hold. There were 3 cargo holds set up this way, each to accommodate 500 young single men (aged between 17 and 20 years)..
…The sailors started to remove the big mooring ropes that held the ship and I began to feel a deep pain as if something was breaking inside of me. …of leaving Italy and all I knew – hit me like a knife tearing me apart and tears started to roll down my face..

page 154…‘Making the situation worse for the more sensitive ones was the song, “Arrivederci Roma”, playing through the loud speakers all over the ship. …and tears rolled down our cheeks..”
Do you have any migrant statues in Abruzzo or in Italy you would like to share?
For interest in purchasing my father’s book “A DIFFICULT HARVEST” by SABATINO MASCI please contact Sabatino:
+61 7 3395 3929 or email carmen.sam@iinet.net.au
For interest in purchasing a copy of Angela Di Sciascio’s book ” FINDING VALAENTINO” please contact Angela
info@angeladisciascio.com.au