When a business opportunity arose for Port Pirie-born Nella Tonon (nee Pasculli) and her husband Sebastiano to leave their country to travel 15,500km to the city of Milan in Italy, the decision wasn’t taken lightly.
Nella, the third child of Domenico and Catherina Pasculli, left Australia in 1970 aboard a ship at the age of 31 with Sebastiano and their four children aged between nine years and six months.
It was an exciting venture for the whole family, but daunting with the impending long sea trip with four young children.
Nella has lived in Milan for the past 47 years and has returned to Australia five times.
Her latest visit was probably the most emotional as quite a few relatives have since passed on.
Nella’s Adelaide-based brother John Pasculli, a well-known Port footballer in the 1960-70s, escorted her and her daughter Celestina to Port Pirie on December 19 for a few days with their visit starting at the cemetery. A large family gathering was organised at the John Pirie Motor Inn restaurant on their first evening to welcome them back to Port Pirie.
“Everyone has been wonderful and I didn’t expect such kindness and an overwhelming reception of relatives to meet us for dinner on our first night in Port Pirie at such short notice,” Nella said.
During the three-day visit, a lunch date was organised by an old school friend at Ellen Hotel.
The ladies had so many memories and stories to talk about the good old days at school and growing up in Port Pirie. “We were very close friends and spent so much time together. I feel very privileged and excited to be back in the country where I was born and to spend quality time with many wonderful relatives and friends,” Nella said.
“My brother John drove us past the two houses where we grew up in Simpson Street and Three Chain Road. It was very emotional and brought back many memories.
“I was amazed to see how Port Pirie has changed so much. I will never forget what I have seen. I couldn’t imagine that Port Pirie could be transformed into what it is today. It is marvellous.”
I was amazed to see how Port Pirie has changed so much.Nella Tonon, visitor from Italy
Milan may be the fashion capital of the world, but Port Pirie is definitely the City of Friendly People.