Aeolian culture on display at the City of Canada Bay

A new exhibition, From Volcanoes We Sailed: Connecting Aeolian Generations, will be opening Friday, 19 August at Five Dock Library.

  • Exhibition launch: 18 August at the Five Dock Library, 6-8pm
    From Volcanoes We Sailed: Connecting Aeolian Generations. Register here.

  • History talk: 23 August at the Five Dock Library, 6pm-7:30pm
    Earliest Migration and Circolo Isole Eolie. Register

Nestled in the cradle of the Tyrrhenian Sea between Naples and Sicily, the Aeolian islands of Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi were forged by the clashing of tectonic plates.

Ongoing seismic activity and the decimation of Malvasia vineyards lead to a mass migration in the early 20th century to countries like Australia, where today some of these families span four generations.

“In sharing our family history with the wider community, we ensure that the link to our Aeolian heritage is passed on,” says Fausto Biviano, Vice President of the Associazione Isole Eolie AIE (Association of the Aeolian Islands).

Known in Sydney for their Italian fruit shops, Aeolians established a vast number of independent businesses in their newly adopted home – some becoming household names such as Mezzapica Cakes and Gelato and the Mediterranean House reception venue.

They have also become leaders in the community with prominent Aeolian figures including co-founder of AIE and former councillor and Mayor of Drummoyne, the late Rossario (Ross) Maniaci.

By 1921, Aeolians were the largest regional group to become naturalized Australians and by the 1950s the community swelled to 30,000.

With a desire to support newly arrived relatives, the first regional Italian society, the Circolo Isole Eolie was founded in 1903 and operated until WWII. Reborn in 1971, the Associazione Isole Eolie continues to host events focused on culture, food, and family.

From the 1950s, many Aeolians who disembarked in Sydney set up homes and families in the City of Canada Bay and surrounds.

In 1997, the City of Canada Bay Council and the Municipality of Lipari, representing the Aeolian archipelago, formalised a Sister City partnership to foster cultural and educational links. To celebrate 25 years of this relationship, a monument was erected in Piazza Eolie at Fred Kelly Place in 2013.

From Volcanoes We Sailed: Connecting Aeolian Generations was developed in collaboration with the Aeolian community of Sydney to celebrate Aeolian Italians in New South Wales. Curated by Cristina Neri, the exhibition From Volcanoes We Sailed was first developed in collaboration with the Aeolian community of Melbourne and the Immigration Museum of Victoria in 2016.

“We have an incredible history. We were adventurers of the high seas and our community has been integral in shaping Italo-Australian culture as we know it,” says Cristina Neri, author and curator. 

This exhibition is supported by the City of Canada Bay and will also be on display at the FerraCinema stage during Ferragosto.


Fausto Biviano and Kathy Giuffre from the Aeolian Island Association
Fausto Biviano, Vice President Associazione Isole Eolie, and Kathy Giuffre, Secretary Associazione Isole Eolie. 


Online Storytime goes bilingual

City of Canada Bay Libraries are producing a series of bilingual Online Storytime videos for children.

This comes after receiving a $2,000 grant from the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).

“The City of Canada Bay is a culturally rich and diverse community, so we are proud to be able to offer Online Storytime recordings in English-Korean, English-Chinese, and English-Italian,” City of Canada Bay Deputy Mayor Stephanie Di Pasqua said.

The first Storytime video is available on the City of Canada Bay Libraries YouTube channel now, and videos will continue to be posted until September.

The ALIA Online Storytime Grant program was offered to libraries taking part in the Online Storytime program pilot, to support Australian creators and improve access for socially isolated groups such as children living with a disability or children who speak a language other than English.

In the City of Canada Bay more than 40 per cent of the population speak a language other than English at home, with the most common being Chinese, Italian and Korean (Census 2016). Bilingual Online Storytime creates cultural sensitivity and awareness, as well as providing an opportunity to engage with culturally and linguistically diverse families that may not be familiar with our library services.

City of Canada Bay Libraries introduced Online Storytime in April 2021 and have been regularly posting new videos online ever since. The Libraries team has worked to make the videos more inclusive, adding captions and key words from stories demonstrated in Auslan. Creating bilingual recordings further builds on the accessibility of the series for non-English speakers and for those wanting to explore another language.

Julie and Liz holding a picture book