Sfogliando le pagine di questo romanzo, è come se aprissimo una porta e
facessimo un salto nel passato. Siamo nel periodo a cavallo della
Seconda guerra mondiale e la vita in un piccolo paese della Sicilia
scorre lenta e monotona come da sempre, poco toccata dagli eventi
bellici. Il paese di pescatori si chiama Villaggio Pace, proprio lungo
la costa nord della città di Messina, e qui il tempo scorre lento e
monotono e quel poco che accade è fortemente regolato da usi, costumi e
tradizioni che condizionano il vivere e il convivere dei suoi abitanti.
Il protagonista, Giovanni, descrive quella vita attraverso le vicende
della sua famiglia. I cambiamenti tuttavia arrivano, sia pure
lentamente, sconvolgendo l’esistenza e le abitudini dei suoi abitanti.
Giovanni ci descrive con minuzia di particolari quale era la vita prima
della guerra, come è cambiata dopo e gli effetti che ha avuto sulla
gioventù di allora, quella gioventù che negli anni Cinquanta si è
incamminata verso il Nord, portandosi dietro solo una valigia piena di
speranze e di paure. E per la generazione dei figli, e ancor più per
quella dei nipoti, è difficile, se non impossibile, immaginare come si
viveva allora, ma solo conoscendo il passato si può capire il presente.
acquista il libro su
Pino Ferrara è nato nel 1936 a Messina. Prima come bancario e poi come
uomo di teatro e di lettere, ha passato gli ultimi quarant’anni della
sua vita all’estero, vivendo tra gli Stati Uniti, Hong Kong e Londra.
Come dirigente bancario ha lavorato all’estero per diverse banche
italiane e straniere, collaborando nel contempo con riviste finanziarie
asiatiche. Nel ruolo di regista teatrale, a Londra ha messo in scena
molte commedie di commediografi contemporanei italiani e ha insegnato
recitazione in alcuni College inglesi dove si studia la lingua italiana.
Alcune sue poesie sono state presentate in una manifestazione letteraria
per la promozione della lingua italiana organizzata a Londra con il
patrocinio del Ministero dei beni culturali e altre sono state premiate
in vari concorsi letterari in Italia e incluse in alcune antologie. Il
suo romanzo Il foglio di Aziza ha vinto il “Premio della Giuria” del
Premio letterario Città di Pontremoli 2014. Rotariano fin dal 1974, è
stato Presidente del Rotary Club della City di Londra e nel 2004 gli è
stata riconosciuta la Paul Harris Fellowship per il suo contributo a
sostegno di studenti bisognosi. I proventi del suo lavoro nel campo
teatrale e letterario sono interamente devoluti a beneficenza.
Attualmente vive e lavora tra Milano e Londra.
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Il Maestro Lorenzo
Castello, autore delle locandine di Escape in Art
Maestro Lorenzo Castello, genovese di nascita, lavora dal 1983 fra Londra e
ritrattista di chiara fama, é ricordato per i molti personaggi che hanno
deciso di affidare la propria immagine alle sue tele, da Sua Altezza Reale
la Principessa Anna d'inghilterra, a Lord Charles Forte, da Sir Eddie
George, ex-Governatore della Banca d'Inghilterra, a Sir Denis Mahon, storico
sue figure ci trasmettono la sua interpretazione di un mondo di magico
musei hanno accolto le sue opere: fra questi la National Portrait Gallery di
Londra, la National Gallery di Dublino, il Museo Villa Tempra a La Valletta
(Malta), il Museo Nazionale del Cairo.
A Genova ha
realizzato la pala d'altare della chiesa di San Marco al Molo.
maggiori informazioni sulle opere del Maestro Castello potete visitare il
Castello - Gallery
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Il Figlio di Aziza
Vincitore del "Premio
Speciale della Giuria"del Premio Letterario Città di Pontremoli
acquista il libro su
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informazioni sulle attivitá del Gruppo Escape in
Art, offrire collaborazione o proporre nuove idee,
disegnato e mantenuto da
Italians in Clerkenwell From The 1800s To The 1960s
For the past year Verusca Calabria has been collecting an oral history of
Italians in London. Here she tells us the story of the Italian community that
settled in the Clerkenwell area of London from the 1800s onward.
19th century Beginnings
The 1880s was a time of mass migration from countries such as Italy, Spain and
Austria-Hungary. Italians chose to migrate predominantly to the Americas, and to
countries like France, Belgium, Germany and the UK. The reasons for migration
centred around the agrarian crisis in the kingdom of Italy and the increased
demographic growth coupled with the lowering of the death rate in the European
continent as a whole.
The settlement of Italians in any sizable numbers in London, Manchester (Ancoats
Little Italy), Scotland and Wales, started in the 1800s with the arrival of
skilled craftsmen from the north of Italy. In London, they settled in and around
Clerkenwell; they were quickly followed by a wave of poorer migrants from the
Apennines. Further communities settled in Manchester, Scotland and Wales.
The Italian ‘colony’ in Clerkenwell was mainly employed in trades such as organ
grinding, knife grinding, mosaic and terrazzo craftsmenship. As organ grinding
declined, it was replaced by the selling of food, often in the streets, which
gave rise to the import of chestnuts from the north of Italy and the migration
of Italian boys who sold them during the winter months.
Many changes were also taking place in the fabric of British society at this
time which had a direct influence on the new comers. Paid holidays were
introduced, creating leisure time that provided Italians with a market to sell
their ice cream by seaside resorts. Ice cream was the trade that helped Italian
migrants’ economic and demographic growth in the UK and was responsible for
tripling their numbers in Britain between 1880s and 1901. Carlo Gatti’s ice
company, which was situated where the
Canal Boat museum
is today, was also a large employer of Italians who would transport ice from
Norway to London for refrigeration use up to 1950s.
A society of mutual assistance was also formed, the Mazzini Garibaldi’s club, it
was first situated in Laystall Street and then moved to Red Lion Street. The
club is still running today for entertainment purposes only.
in Clerkenwell Road was also established in 1883 and became a central focus for
Italians in London, becoming a place for ‘labour exchange’ on Sundays, after
mass. St. Peter’s school was opened in Back Hill, around the corner from the
church, as a day time English school for Italian and Irish children and after
school as an Italian language school for children of Italian migrants.
It became necessary to open the Italian hospital 1884 in Queen Square (WC1) to
cater for the growing number of Italians in London; this institution closed down
in 1980s. Furthermore, the Italian chamber of commerce opened in London in 1886
and in 1887 the first congregation of the missionary fathers to the migrants was
established, The Scalabrini Fathers, that settled in London. They are still here
today, in Kennington, London.
A growing moral panic ensued amongst the British middle classes; Italians were
seen as immoral, illiterate, and vicious by a select committee on emigration in
parliament in 1888. There was a problem with overcrowding in central London due
to the lack of housing coupled with the growing number of newcomers to the city
where manual labour could be found. Italians were recorded as living in
overcrowded conditions, and the British authorities feared epidemics would
spread. Slum clearance took place to a certain extent, but not enough houses
were built to meet the growing demand.
The growing fear about migrants led parliament to approve the first immigration
legislation to restrict entry to the UK, the Alien’s Act 1905. Predominantly
designed to stop Eastern European Jews, it was directed to a lesser extent at
Italians and Chinese. They had come to be seen as a national threat, even as an
‘alien invasion’. The Act required aliens to be vouched for by someone already
residing in the UK who could provide them with lodgings and a job. So one effect
of the Act was to reinforce the chain migration between the settled Italian
community in UK and their villages of origin.
During WW1 Italians fought alongside the British. With the advent of fascism
from 1920s onwards, the Italian government was keen to gain support from
Italians living abroad. Fascist party offices were set up wherever Italians
could be found on the continent and Italians were ‘forced’ to sign up to the
party’s membership lured by the prospects of free holidays to their ‘mother
country’ and as the only way to receive citizenship services by the Italian
The outbreak of WW2 brought general immigration to a halt in Britain
dramatically increased government control over aliens. When Benito Mussolini
declared war against Britain on 10th May 1940, angry mobs attacked Italian
restaurants and ice-cream parlours in Britain. What ensued is captured by the
expression: ‘Collar the Lot’. This phrase is often quoted by Italians that had
been interned who are still alive to tell the tale (the expression has been
credited to Winston Churchill). All men between the ages of 16 and 60 were
interned in the Isle of Man, which had the effect of crippling the catering
trades for lack of manpower.
A decision was taken at the War Cabinet to export these internees to Canada and
Australia. In July 1940, around 800 Italians were sent on the boat ‘Arandora
Star’ that was to deport them to internment camps in Canada. However it was
torpedoed by a German submarine and 471 Italian men lost their lives. The
remaining survivors were sent to internment camps in Australia. It is to be
noted that many of these men had been born in Britain or lived and contributed
to British society for many years. They lost their lives tragically; a monument
to them has been erected outside the Italian Roman Catholic church in
From 1950s to 1970s new waves of Italians came into Britain to fill the
employment gaps in industry and agriculture and to a lesser extent in the
catering industry. Many people from Emilia Romagna came to London in the 1950s
through ‘chain migration’ - that is they were connected through family ties to
the 19th century Italian colony of Clerkenwell. This colony had established
itself in the catering industry, running the classic fish and chips shops and
workmen’s cafes. They provided a support network to people from Emilia Romagna
by guaranteeing them a place to live and a job so that they could be issued with
a 4 year work permit from the Home Office.
By 1960s, many Italians were able to afford their own cafes and restaurants that
had the classic Formica counters, symbol of consumer culture in Britain. They
worked very long hours for decades in order to afford their own homes and their
children’s education. They were responsible for introducing Italian cuisine to
Britain, from spaghetti Bolognese in the early 1960s to the introduction of
ciabatta bread in the early 1980s.
Gradually the first generation left the catering trade. The rising cost of
leases coupled with the increasing commercial values of cafés’ buildings in
central London signalled the end of the affordable cafes and restaurant culture
for workmen. Italians had become socially mobile and started to move out of
‘Little Italy’ in Clerkenwell towards more prosperous areas such as the boroughs
of Finchley and Southgate, although the Italian church of St. Peter’s in
Clerkenwell still remains a focus in the community, particularly the procession
of St. Mary of Carmel that has been taken place around the church on the third
Sunday of July since 1883.
An advertisment for Gennaro's
Restaurant, Old Compton Street, Soho in 1930 - "the restaurant
where you are greeted with a Smile and a Flower"
Exterior of St Peter's - the
Italian church in Clerkenwell, showing the names of all those
who drowned on the Arandora Star
Survivors of the Arandora Star
were brought to an internment camp in Australia in 1941
An Italian family in London in
Italian ice carters for the Gatti
Ice Company, King's Cross, London 1890s. Gatti himself was an
Italian-speaker from Switzerland.
Icecream barrow, London, 1920s
Italian chefs at the Savoy Hotel
in the Strand, London, 1929
Italian 'Scampagnata' day out
organised by the Mazzini Garibalidi club, England, 1930s