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Grollo Ruzzene Fndtn

Walk for me, Elsie
The epic of an Italian immigrant to Australia
 

Flavio Lucchesi

THE BOOK:  The story of Giuseppe (Joe) Maffina and his family begins at the beginning of the twentieth century, when emigrants from Italy were setting out for distant lands: America naturally, but also Australia.  They were fearless people, leaving a familiar life, albeit full of restrictions and difficulties, for a totally unknown future; in the case of Joe Maffina, leaving his beloved though harsh mountains of the Valtellina for the wild and unknown expanses of Australia.  Nature, however, was not alone in making it difficult for the emigrants to build themselves a better life.  Other obstacles had to be overcome with steadfastness, courage and tenacity.  One of these was the difficult relationship with the local population which, mainly through cultural differences and lack of understanding, would turn into anti-Italian riots.  The internment of Italians in concentration camps, after Italy entered the Second World War, was another.  The adventures of Joe Maffina are recounted through the memories of his daughter, wanting to preserve and re-organise a record of those difficult years.  Flavio Lucchesi, a passionate researcher and expert on Australia, has turned them into a fascinating book, in which the narrative alternates with chapters recalling the historical events of the time so as to see them in perspective and thus understand their full implications.  In this way, the personal story of the protagonist tells of the lives of many.  From this emerges the still very topical theme of encounter between different cultures, which we must know about so as not to forget a crucial phase of our past.

THE AUTHOR:  Flavio Lucchesi is a professor in Geography at the Department of Geography and Human Environmental Sciences of the Universit degli Studi di Milano [Milan State University].  He has published many works about Australia and is especially interested in descriptions by Italian travellers, both "dilettantes" and "professionals", in Australia's economy and its relationship with that of Italy, and in the development of emigration from Italy.

THE PUBLISHER:  The Italian Australian Institute (I.A.I.) is a non-profit organisation, supported by the co-operation between the Grollo-Ruzzene Foundation and La Trobe University.  Its charter states that its main aim is to research and study every aspect of the Italian presence in Australia.

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