Tag Archives: family stories

Four generations…

I have this one treasured photo with three generations of the Boccabella men in my life – Dad, Nonno Anni, Bisnonno Vitale (and my zio).

When I was born, I was the first girl in centuries of generations in my Boccabella line and very fortunate to have these older men around me. Men who showed me kindness, love, respect and generosity, who never hit or yelled, worked very hard and who could also be infuriatingly stubborn at times! Am very proud to share their name and their stories.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and tight hugs to those missing Dads (and also Grandpas and Great-Granddads as I do too). With much love, Zoë xx

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Sempre avanti…

My Bisnonna, Granny Maddalena’s birthday was today and by complete coincidence, this morning I was talking to one of her relatives in Italy of her stories that I’m writing about. Like many of her era, Maddalena’s life was shaped by hard-earned experience as she lived through two wars, an earthquake, a pandemic, the depression and bringing up her sons single-handedly before she could join her husband in Australia.

I guess it’s no surprise there’s a saying among Italian Nonnas – ‘Sempre avanti’ – no matter what happens, keep looking ahead, keep going. The strength and braveness of these older women is remarkable. (Granny Maddalena still cheerful and cheeky in her late 80s.)
Sempre avanti! xxx

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From one hand to another…

I’m so thrilled that, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar has now been translated and published in braille. In a way, the story is completing a lovely circle in travelling from my mind to be written by hand then to be read by hand and to another mind.

Thank you to all those at Braille House who made this possible. It really feels very special! 💙 Zoe xx

[Image descriptions: Image 1: blue book cover with braille along the spine and a black and white photo of Joe and Francesca and their little boy, Remo in front of their 1950s milk bar.
Image 2: a braille alphabet.]

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sunshine and shadow…

About twenty years ago, my mother gave me a little sapling that had sprung up beneath a big, spreading tree in her backyard. She’s been gone for a long while now but that sapling is now a big, spreading tree in my backyard and to sit under it and look up to the sunlight trickling through the leaves is just magic.

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Carnations, kindness and minestrone…

Thank you to great-granny Maddalena who showed me about forbearance, cheekiness, growing vegetables and cooking minestrone and great-grandma Charlotte for her work ethic, kindness, growing gerberas and carnations and baking scones.

I’m forever grateful to have had two great-grandmothers in my childhood from two of my ancestral cultures and many older women who’ve guided me with their wisdoms and care throughout my life so far.

To all those kind, strong, gentle women out there and the men who support them – happy International Women’s Day. Zoë xx

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Milk Bar… open 7 days

Thinking of all those volunteering and working over this time when many get to take a break. It still amazes me how my grandparents opened their milk bar and fruit shop 7 days a week from early morning ‘til late at night with only two days a year off – for 20 years straight! And then ‘scaled back’ to 5 days a week for the following years.

Nonno Anni worked for 36 years before his first holiday and Nanna Francesca wasn’t far behind. It makes me feel blessed and so grateful to write for a living, something I dreamed of from when I was 7 and found out the stories that I loved writing could actually be a job.

Thank you for your lovely comments and messages throughout the year. It is always wonderful to hear from you. Fingers crossed I have some book news I can share with you in 2020! In the meantime, whether you are working, volunteering or taking time out over this time, please stay safe and all the very best for the coming year. Tante belle cose! Zoë xx

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Tanti auguri a zio Vincenzo… ottant’anni

Happy 80th Birthday to my great uncle, Vince. Lovely to celebrate this milestone with him on the weekend. To me, he’s always been a gentle soul and am so glad we’ve stayed close.

A wonderful ballroom dancer, loves local history and photography, was born and grew up on the family’s Applethorpe farm and I also have great memories of him working hard on tomato day bottling the passata, making Italian biscuits with Nanna Francesca and looking like an Italian Elvis with that wonderful hair slicked back.

Older members of a family are so important and I never tire of sitting listening to the old stories and memories. Buon Compleanno Vincenzo! Tante belle cose. xx

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Saluti a Nonno Anni…

It’s Nonno Anni’s birthday in a few days so there was once a time when all the family would be getting together this weekend at my grandparents’ house. Several tables would be pushed together, Nanna Francesca would cook huge bowls of pasta and either polpette or cotolette, and of course there’d be cake, champagne and maybe Franjelico, or Sambuca with a coffee bean lit on top.

Although Nonno Anni has been gone some while now, I still miss him terribly but I’m so grateful for the times we had and so on October 21st will raise a glass, or a polpette, to Annibale (Joe) who continues to inspire me. xxx

(For the record, that air-conditioner behind Nonno Anni in this photo is the one I wrote about that Nanna Francesca refused to let me turn on even on the hottest days because it created a ‘cold draught’!!) 😊

Buon compleanno, Nonno, con amore sempre. Tante cose belle. Zoë xx

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Keeping the past…

Came across this in an old, cardboard box of photographs of my grandmother’s:

Fossa, 1975 – Nonno Anni looking melancholy (his first time there again since 1939), and Nanna Francesca, sleeves rolled, her usual harried look when about to get back to a pot on the stove or the washing or something. So very them.

Have kept it in a frame on my wall and whenever I wish I could seek their advice or miss just having a chat, it’s a comfort to remember how they were at times. (I think Nanna Francesca had almost this same look peering from the doorway when I arrived in Fossa for the first time 20 years later!!) xx

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New year harvest…

Buon anno a tutti and warmest wishes!

The new year was generally start of harvest time at my family’s Applethorpe farm, with various fruit and vegetable picking over the first four months or so. Seeing photographs of that time, I’m taken by the generous camaraderie that comes across among the hard work and summer heat, especially knowing family and friends came from near and far to help my great-grandmother, Cesca and her youngest two left alone on their farm after her husband Mico’s sudden death at fifty-three.

At my desk again for the first time this year, while I await the next step on book three I am making a start to some research, a bit like ‘harvesting’ snippets and stories, that I hope (and I can’t believe I am writing this) will become book four!! Again, best wishes for the year and tante belle cose. xx

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Dancing with my great-grandmothers…

Dancing with my great-grandmothers, Maddalena and Charlotte when I was two. They were of such different Italian and English backgrounds yet had much in common in their day-to-day lives really. This is my only picture of the three of us. Apparently, from when I was very little I loved to dance and often got people up to join me!

Most of all, I love the joy in this old photograph and am so touched by the generosity of two women in their eighties in getting up to dance for their great-granddaughter. Wishing you much joy. xx

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