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  • Writer's pictureLinda De Angelis

Migration, the mightiest travel tale of all ~ Pt1

Travel is like a seasonal migration, for many of us. We love to chase the sun for fun & adventure.  So we travellers are a lot like the animal kingdom - where a species migrate from one region to another to follow the sun. This, however, is a story about permanent migration, which I imagine takes a lot of fortitude & a person to have the desire to make a better life for themselves & their family.  I am humbled when I travel and hear the heroic travel migration stories of people needing to flee their mother land because it becomes a place of hopelessness due to war, tyranny or extreme hardship, in recent & ancient times too!

Unsplashed image of a fox in the remote mountains of Abruzzo by Federico Di Dio photography


This migration story is a very personal one for me as it is about my father, Pericles, who came to Australia as one of the many migrants of the mid-20th century.  His story might well resonate with you & your own family history.  Pericles, like so many migrants, contributed to make Australia the wonderful diverse nation it is today.  It was the mid-1950s, many migrants in those days just made their way to a chaotic port to leave their homeland. My father use to recount they didn’t even know the destination of the ship, they just knew they would end up half way round the world in a new land like America, Canada or Australia.  


So, let us go back to the beginning of Pericles story that starts the day after Christmas in 1932 in a small, picturesque hilltop town about 3 hours east of Rome, called Castel di Ieri, meaning the “Castle of Yesterday”.  The early 1900s Abruzzo was a very poor region in Italy, it was during the chaos of the 2nd world war when my father was born.


My grandfather, Salvatore, decided to name his first-born son a unique name that no one else would have, Pericles Antonio Giovanni De Angelis. I always thought it was funny my dad was Italian, but he had an ancient Greek Christian name, and our family name means Angel messenger; how beautiful is that! Later he was known simply as Perry in Australia!


Abruzzo is a beautiful rustic region, in the heart of Italy. It is a diverse picturesque region reaching from the snowcapped Apennines mountains out to the beaches of the Adriatic Sea.  My father comes from the remote mountainous part of this region, that to this day in the nearby Abruzzo national park still has wild bears, wolves, foxes and golden eagles watching over the ancient rock relics. This part of the region is famous for its medieval hilltop towns, remote mountainous landscapes, delicious rustic food, agriculture, fortified castles & homeland to “strong and gentle" people.


Perry had a tough start in life.  His mother Elvira died of Tuberculosis when he was two years old.  This was during World War 2 when the German soldiers occupied the town. Losing his mother so young, it did not help growing up in the trauma of war. The nuns of the village helped bring Perry up. He never talked much about this, but I know being young & brought up in a war left deep emotional scars. I imagine this is the same for all children brought up in a war, their childhood experiences will echo into their adulthood.  A few years later Perry’s father Salvatore remarried a lady called Linda, who I was named after. Perry said she was a lovely lady, a good mother for him & he a good son to her. She was an exceptional cook & Perry learned his cooking skills from her, he cooked wonderful Italian food all the days of his life.  To this day when I smell traditional Italian food being cooked in a restaurant or rustic trattoria it reminds me of his beautiful home cooked meals I enjoyed whilst growing up, my father was an amazing cook!  I will share below his pasta sauce recipe for you.


Perry had one full brother called Fernando and a stepbrother Adelco, stepsisters Elvira & Marie Alanna.  His stepmother Linda would always go to the markets in Sulmona to trade & buy the family’s food.

 Unsplashed image of the 12th century aqueduct of the Sulmona by Nick 83i


Sulmona is a city in the province of L'Aquila in Abruzzo on the Valle Peligna.  The city predates Roman times, & has been affected by time, history & earthquakes. Much was rebuilt in the Baroque era.  There is a market there that was established long ago.  The first time I visited these markets was at the age of ten. I was mesmerised by the sight of the colourful market umbrellas in the sunshine with product & produce in the square with the 12th century gothic aqueducts & the dramatic backdrop of the mountains.  I was overwhelmed by the smell of the delicious & pungent produce, everything from farm fresh strawberries, every orchard fruit you could imagine including apples, peaches, cherries, & apricots - all sorts of strange exotic treats and robust cheese too.  The seafood part of the market was challenging for me as a naive ten year old city kid. I had never seen creatures of the sea like this before, such as swordfish, sardines, live trout in a tub, red mullet, eels, clams & many I couldn’t even identify. As a child it was a little scary to see the stunned bright eyes of the fresh caught fish! This market had everything you could think to buy from mundane copper pots to toys, fresh flowers, to exquisite hand embroidered linen.  The theatrical vibrancy of the buyers & sellers was utterly charming. Sulmona is also a town famous for its Italian confectionery “Confetti” which are sugar coated almonds, traditionally given to relatives and friends at weddings, christenings and other special occasions; the sugared almonds are made into delightful bombonarie, celebration gifts.

Unsplashed image Sulmona confetti shop by Sterlinglanier Lanier


Back to my father’s story, one of the days my step grandma (Nonna) was coming back from the market in the early 1950s, when Perry was 18 years old, his stepmother was travelling the treacherous hills & hairpin turns of this district in a truck going home from the markets she was tragically killed in a road accident.  This devastating loss saddened everyone in the village & threw the whole family into turmoil once again.  The younger children were sent to Rome to be brought up by family & the nuns.  My grandfather went to live in Nairobi, Kenya for 35 years, where he worked as a master tiler to earn good money for the family.  Perry stayed in the village to prepare the harvest, he filled the cantina with barrels of wine, sacks of wheat and other provisions from the harvest so the family could sell the produce to earn an income. Then he went off to do his national service in Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region.  My father would always talk about how much he loved his time in this beautiful city of archers in the north of Italy. 

Unsplashed image by Petr Slováček


Bologna is a metropolitan university city located between the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the heart of the Po Valley, well-known for manufacturing including the famous Lamborghini, Ferrari, prosciutto & parmesan cheese.  Its 40km of arcades are a UNESCO world heritage sight & Bologna is also a “UNESCO creative City of Music”.  The city has one of the largest, most well-preserved medieval historical centres.  Bologna features the famous Neptune Fountain by Giambologna, and its medieval towers, in particular the Two Towers: Asinelli tower and its twin Garisenda!  The city is full of shops, boutiques, restaurants, trattoria & theatres.


Once my father finished his national service, in this university city he must have felt with his basic elementary school there was no future in the Italy he was in at that time, post WW2.  So he decided to take a ship to start a new life in Australia.  His first stops were Alexandria, Egypt; Colombo, Sri Lanka and then Fremantle, Western Australia. 

Unsplashed image of Alexandria by George Youssef


My father landed in Australia 18 December 1955.  He loved to tell the story when he and the other immigrants arrived, they all went to the pub, the patrons all said, “hey - here are the new Australians” and everyone bought them a round of beers to welcome them. Perry thought this was a wonderful welcome to his new country.  He only had a few pounds to his name and bought bananas with the last of his money!  Incredibly Perry with his strong work ethic & hard labour made himself a successful amazing trail blazing life in Australia, the rest of the story you guessed it, will be on Part 2!

 

Perry’s Abruzzo pasta sauce recipe

 

These family recipes have no measurements - just a method!


In a cold pan put a lug of extra virgin olive oil.  Turn on the heat.

 

Once pan is hot place an economy cut of meat, you can use lamb, pork or beef.  My father used chuck steak. Make sure there is a nice bone in the steak to add flavour!

 

Fry till golden & fragrant. Take out of the pan & set aside.

 

Add a find chopped brown onion, let it get a lovely colour & fragrance - don’t burn otherwise your sauce will be bitter! Put the cooked meat back into the pan.

 

Add a bottle of tomato passata, a generous amount of stock & season with good quality salt.  Add a hand full of basil (preferably homegrown). Put 3 whole spice cloves - this was my father's secret ingredient that makes the sauce really pop with flavour!

 

Add water, as the sauces reduces down add more water, the bottom of the pan must never burn, otherwise your sauce will spoil & become bitter!  This process intensifies the flavour of the sauce.  

 

Simmer for at least 3 hours; I promise by this time your kitchen will smell like a beautiful Italian trattoria! Remove the bones, add your favourite pasta - our family favourite is tagliatelle. Enjoy your meal!

Unsplashed image by Stefano Vigorelli

 

Perry’s Abruzzo vegetarian pasta sauce for Jasmine, a vegetarian option


Dice onion, carrot and celery.

In a cold pan put a lug of extra virgin olive oil 

Put the diced vegetables in the pan & then turn on the heat!

 

Fry till fragrant & onion light golden. 

Optional add in sliced mushrooms cook till soft & fragrant.

Optional add half a glass of red wine.  Add bottle of passata, add a hand full of basil (preferably homegrown), simmer until all the flavours are together.


Reflection :

Growing up with an immigrant father in many cases I found people prejudged him & even looked down at him. My mother use to remind me of a line from our favourite book & movie - To Kill a Mockingbird!  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  Atticus giving Scout the crucial piece of moral advice that I think is so applicable in this migration story!


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Welcome to Destination Serendipity for inspired travel journeys. I’m Linda De Angelis and I have travelled all over the world as a professional travel advisor. Remember to sign up for my inspired travel blogs. Just click on the button below.

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