Lygon Street - Si Parla Italiano (DVD)

Shannon Swan, Angelo Pricolo

Lygon Street - Si Parla Italiano (DVD)
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Lygon Street - Si Parla Italiano (DVD)

Shannon Swan, Angelo Pricolo

After the disaster of WW2, a wave of Italian immigrants found their way to Melbourne - a strange place, suspicious of outsiders and completely devoid of a good cup of espresso. Congregating in a then run-down stretch of Carlton known as Lygon St, these irrepressible restaurateurs, enterpeneurs and sometimes mafiosi would come to define not only a street, but an entire city. Now in Lygon St, documentarians Shannon Swan and Angelo Pricolo tell the history of this famous cultural epicentre.

Combining archival footage, one-on-one interviews and a roundtable of Lygon Street’s most prominent figures, Swan and Pricolo bring to life the people, places, and of course, pastas that have made up one of Melbourne’s most remarkable communities.

Review

Surely everyone loves Italy and the Italians; the country has given us pasta, pizza, coffee, and, of course, Lygon Street in Melbourne. Lygon Street – Si Parla Italiano is a delightful homage to the Italians who helped to change the way Australians thought about food, and about the way they lived. In the wake of World War II, many young Italians fled their impoverished home country to seek a better life. Australia was a favoured destination, and by 1978, over 1 million Australians had either been born in Italy or had parents born in Italy. In Melbourne, the old Jewish suburb of Carlton became a magnet for young Italians who could find safe accommodation in the neighbourhood’s boarding houses. Gradually, entrepreneurial Italians started businesses on Lygon Street to cater for the growing Italian community. Mamma Varrenti’s food store sold salami, cheese and pasta, and the Milani family took over an old cafe, renaming it the University Cafe, serving home-style Italian cooking to homesick young Italians.

Directors Angelo Pricolo and Shannon Swan have gathered together a group of old Italian hands to reminisce about the early days of Carlton, including Salvatore Della Bruna, the founder of Australia’s first pizzeria, Toto’s Pizza House, Giancarlo Giusti of Grinders Coffee, and Giancarlo Caprioli of the University Cafe. Combine this group’s narrative with warm-hearted interviews with other Lygon Street players, fascinating archival footage and Anthony La Paglia’s narration and the result is a compelling and fascinating film.


Mark Rubbo is the Managing Director of Readings

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