OUR social groups were immersed in all that is Italian during the week of the Italian National Day Celebrations. Celebrating the 76th National Day of the Republic of Italy on 2nd June this year, clients and staff danced in traditional folk costumes to their favourite music and songs of their youth. Both Casa Serena and Casa Aurelia activity centres were decorated to homage to Italian culture. They not only celebrated the heritage of those who have immigrated here, but also introduced and included the worldly clients who participate in centre activities, native Australians and beyond. Following a delicious spread of Italian staple foods like Antipasto, Farfalle in pesto and Tortellini in Sugo, the day turned to embrace another culinary staple; wine.
A winemaking demonstration took place at the centres as this plays a signification role in their culture, economy and health and it is something that many Italian immigrants themselves have brought with them to Australia. To honour this aspect of Italian heritage, centres participated in the classic foot-stomping methods of winemaking. Along with winemaking, clients were invited to dance along to traditional Italian music, making this an event that was sensory as much as it was fun. At Casa Serena, seeing the act of the grapes being crushed underfoot made one client emotional as it evoked a memory of her childhood back home in Spain.
Clients expressed their gratitude for the experience that not only reminded them of Italy, but of family as well. Upon experiencing the festivities, one client shared her story of immigrating to Australia from Italy by boat in 1959. She came with three small children, the youngest being only 9 months at the time to join her husband who was working here, “I joined him with three small children to help him work on the houses.”
While some revisited memories of home and others explored cultural traditions that were completely new to them, it seems that everyone was able to take away something meaningful from the experience and overindulging in Italian food. One way Casa Aurelia honored Italian heritage while also including other cultures was through song. The group sang one ballad completely in Italian, “Romagna Mia”, and another in English, “Che Serà Serà.” The experience of singing “Romagna Mia” was poignant in its theme, as it tells the story of a man’s nostalgia for his homeland in Italy, but also as a bilingual challenge in memory. Not only were the Italian Week events successful in evoking memories and blending cultures, they also encouraged clients to participate in activities that stimulate balance, movement, cognition and more.