Portraits Of The Italian Community At Bristol Records Office

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 17 January 2007
photo of a man in an ice cream van

Angelo Zafutto. Courtesy Bristol Record Office

Bristol Record Office is inviting visitors to discover the world of the Italian community in the city at the end of the 20th century in a small photography exhibition running until February 23 2007.

From portraits of the delicatessen owner, Dino Caidominici, to marble carver Guido Merli, the photos show a cross-section of Italians living in local society.

“With great sadness I left Grotte in 1960,” says Italian emigrant Angelo Zafutto, depicted with his beloved ice cream van in one of the photos.

“First I was a miner, then in 1969 I bought my first ice cream van. I have been an ice cream man ever since,” he explains.

“Of course I miss sunny Sicily, my family, the smell of oranges and lemons. But I love making children happy with my real Italian ice cream, I wouldn’t miss their smiling faces for the world!”

photo of a hairdresser in a waistcoat working on an elderly woman

Giovanni Marsigliese. Courtesy Bristol Record Office

The photos were taken by photographer and illustrator Nina Belluomi and retired architect Robert Huddlestone.

Other characters to be found in the display include hairdresser Giovanni Marsigliese, teacher Anna Fiore, leading cardiac surgeon Professor Gianni Angelini and ice cream maker Betty Verrechia.

“We hope this tribute to the Italian community will prompt other communities in the city to think about recording their lives and work,” says Richard Burley, Senior Archivist at Bristol Record Office. “It is important that the history and development of all our local communities are preserved for future generations.”

“And of course, everyone is welcome to come and make use of the city archives to help them find out more about their past.”

The exhibition was originally compiled as part of the Cabot 500 celebrations in 1997. John Cabot, or Giovanni Caboto, was an Italian explorer who came to Bristol in the 1490s, seeking support of King Henry VII for sailing the north Atlantic. Just as in Cabot’s day, there is a lively Italian community in Bristol.

painting of a Victorian woman with two small children in front of her and two women behind who are using a telephone and a camera

Eras come together in Clare Weiner's paintings. Courtesy Bristol Record Office

Also showing until February 23 is a small exhibition of oil paintings inspired by family history research, by Clare Weiner. The paintings in Past is Present the artist’s family members from different eras meeting one another.

“In the pictures, I try to recreate my family members from 1891 to 2001, taking liberties with time to illustrate that our past is present in our present,” she explains.

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