U3A Batemans Bay organises a range of activities for the over 50’s. They include language classes, fitness groups, book groups and art, craft and lifestyle courses. It has more than 550 members, from all walks of life, who love to keep learning, enjoy companionship and have fun. Each month we will highlight one of those members.
What made you the person that you are?
I was born in Milan in northern Italy in 1932. My parents met in Paris, my father an Italian engineer, my mother an Australian Arts graduate. He encouraged my brother, Andrea, and me to study science and Italian literature. She introduced us to English literature, classical music, opera, theatre and Renaissance art.
I grew up speaking and thinking in Italian, picking up English by listening to my parents’ conversations. When they realised we understood they switched to French so that was how we learnt that language. Growing up with three languages certainly influenced and coloured my life.
The Mussolini era also had its effect on me. At the age of seven I had to join my school’s Balilla regiment, Il Duce’s version of Hitler’s youth. During this interesting time in European history I was learning much from my parents’ ethics and values though I didn’t realise the extent of their passive resistance to the Fascist regime. My opinions and beliefs were also fashioned by the Christian Brothers whose school I attended and by my parents’ insistence that tasks, indeed life, should be undertaken in the spirit of “pazienza, costanza e buon volere” (patience, perseverance and good will.)
In 1948, we immigrated to Melbourne, my mother’s hometown. Here I finished high school and attended university, graduating in Engineering. It was at university that I met my delightful wife, Jill. We were married in Milan in 1958 then immigrated to the USA, where I joined IBM. Our three sons were born in America where we lived for 10 years. IBM postings took us to Belgium and then in 1973, to Canberra.
What brought you to the Bay area?
My job in Canberra was managing the computer installation of Gough Whitlam’s brainchild, the Medibank project. It was my decision to accept this job which led to our discovery of Batemans Bay. At the October Long Weekend in 1973 we all camped at Corrigans Beach and our sons had their first encounter with bull ants, marauding seagulls and kangaroos.
From around that time we began to consider Batemans Bay to be “Canberra’s beachside suburb”. I mentioned this term recently to a local friend, Ron, who had an interesting response: “This is where it’s at,” he said, “a little to the west of us is our large suburb. It’s called Canberra!”
A personal anecdote
In 1944 we moved to a village north of Milan to escape Allied air raids. Nearby was the Macchi aircraft factory which had been closed for two years. Allied intelligence was not up to date however and the RAF decided to carry out a raid on the factory during which our house was hit. My parents, Andrea and I emerged from the rubble traumatised but with only minor injuries.
Three years later my mother, travelling north of Milan, got into conversation with an Englishman who had been a RAF bomber pilot during the war. It turned out he had been on the particular raid that had targeted the Macchi factory. He became embarrassed when told that the raid had demolished houses and threatened lives in our village.
What is your involvement with U3A?
Jill and I joined U3A in its early days, encouraged by Paul and Trish Eccles. What an eye opener the programs were for those of us who thought we had retired to the coast just to enjoy bushwalking and beach life. Coming to live in the Bay has allowed us to live other sides of ourselves. We have enjoyed attending a variety of courses. In 2004 Jill founded the U3A Writers and I have become a tutor in order to share with others my passion for Italian literature.
Activities for semester 1 in 2017 will commence in February. If you would like to have more information, come to one of the registration days: January 19, 9.30-12.30, Batemans Bay Community Centre; January 20 January, 10-12, Moruya Library.
You can check out the activities on offer, talk to the tutors (Batemans Bay only) and join U3A. The fee for the whole year is $40.
Unable to come to the registration days? For more information visit the website: bbay.u3anet.org.au or phone 8250 5262.
You can also join U3A and get further information about the activities at the U3A Shopfront which will be open each Thursday morning from 9.30 until 11.30, from February 2, 2017 to March 9, 2017 in the Batemans Bay Community Centre, Museum Place, Batemans Bay.
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