There aren’t many Italian clubs and associations in Australia that boast a hundred-year history.
Among the rare few who do is the Italian Club Cavour, which this month celebrates a century since its foundation. In 1917, a group of Italian migrants – relatively small, compared to the wave of migrants who would follow some decades later – united in a small room on La Trobe Street. Among them was the founding president, A. Pellegrini; vice president, G. Fabbri; treasurer, R. Di Gilio; and secretary, A. Vassallo.
The product of that meeting was the foundation of the Circolo Italiano Cadorna, which was later rebaptised the Italian Club Cavour, in honour of a fundamental figure of modern Italian history: Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour.
The club’s first office was housed in an historical building previously known as the Mechanics Hall on Cecil Street, in South Melbourne.
From there, it moved around to several locations and even spent a brief stint in Bulla.
For decades, it was a point of reference for the community, and a place where successive clubs and associations could host events and anniversaries.
Over the years, the club has encountered many challenges, including the hostility towards Italians during the fascist era and the fall of numerous members due to the ageing community.
Despite this fact, it has always managed to bring forward causes and initiatives to support and protect itself as a collective, participating in fundraising events and funding scholarships and awards for teachers and students of Italian.
This year, the club’s social calendar is extra special, and two main events have been organised to commemorate its centenary.
The first took place last Saturday at the Co.As.It. Museo Italiano, in the form of a ceremony in which artefacts from the club’s collection were presented to Co.As.It. President Rhonda Barro.
The donated items will be displayed in a temporary exhibition at Co.As.It. until November 4.
Key items from the collection include a framed limited edition portrait of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour; the club’s Albo d’onore, which includes the names of the members of the 1956 Italian Olympic team; sporting trophies; commemorative medals; invitations and a wide range of photographs, including a rare panoramic view of a club picnic, which took place circa 1935.
The festivities are set to continue on Saturday, October 14, with a gala event at the Veneto Club in Bulleen, organised by the Italian Club Cavour’s second branch, the Circolo Italiano Cavour.
One hundred years is a great achievement, and a toast to longevity and effervescence will be in order.
Cheers to the Italian Club Cavour!