Language and Legacy: Grazia Ceravolo and Domenica Rocca

Mother – Grazia Ceravolo

Born in Sant’Eufemia d’Aspromonte (Reggio Calabria province) in 1932, Grazia arrived in Australia in 1954. Both her parents were Italian born. Now a widow, she has three daughters, a son, and seven grand children. In the first years after arrival, Italian and Calabrese were spoken in the home, now also English. Grazia has maintained the Italian language and Calabrian dialect so her children and grandchildren can know and understand the culture of their parents and maintain a connection with relatives in Italy. She wants her children and grandchildren to be able to read her husband’s poetry, written in Italian, to better understand their origins and cultural heritage and so strengthen the bonds between generations. This she has sought to accomplish, not only through the spoken word and her husband’s writing, but also through the traditional dishes that she has always prepared for her family and through the dance school Gruppo Danza d’Aspromonte that she and her husband founded, where for many years they taught traditional dances like La tarantella to their own and many other children.


Daughter – Domenica Rocca

Domie was born in Adelaide in 1955. Both her parents were born in Italy. She is married with two daughters and one son. In her family of origin, she spoke Italian and Calabrian. Now she speaks English within her own family, a mixture of Calabrian and Italian with her parents. It is important for Domie to maintain the Italian language, even if not spoken correctly, as a way for her children to honour their grandparents who took care of them while she and her husband established and worked in their many Italian restaurants. Doubly important so her children can access their grandfather’s poetry and writing in which he reflected on his life in Italy, on his everlasting love for Calabria, and on his beloved traditions, which he never forgot throughout his long lifetime. Domie and her husband value the culinary legacy of Grazia’s store of recipes from which they draw for the menus of their restaurants and through which they hope their children will maintain a connection with their culture of origin.


Interviewer – Vera Ubaldi


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