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History > Archive/Research > The film, Dall'Italia All'Australia (From Italy To Australia).

History > Archive/Research

submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 06.04.2009

The film, Dall'Italia All'Australia (From Italy To Australia).

Rare footage of 1920s Melbourne has finally surfaced.

In 1924, the steamship Regina D'Italia set sail from the Italian port of Genoa. Its seven-week journey took it through the Mediterranean Sea to the Suez Canal, on to Sri Lanka and Australia.

The film, Dall'Italia All'Australia (From Italy To Australia). - S.S Regina D'Italia

*More than 100 Greek immigrants travelled on this ship - many of them Kytherians.

As was often the case in those days, a cameraman, Angelo Drovetti in the employ of the Pittaluga Film Company, was on board to capture the journey for people back home.

Travelogues were a cornerstone of film exhibition then. Travel was the province of the well-heeled, and travelogues, along with books and postcards, were a window to the unknown world.

Drovetti's footage, to which a florid commentary was added after the Regina D'Italia returned to Italy from Brisbane, takes in Egyptian boats in the Suez and the markets of Colombo, as well as Flinders Street station's facade, downtown Swanston Street and Sydney's harbour.

But there's another, compelling human story contained in Dall'Italia All'Australia (From Italy To Australia). The majority of the ship's passengers were Italians on their way to make a new life in Australia. Giacomo Silvagni, the father and grandfather of Carlton footballers Sergio and Stephen Silvagni respectively, is one of the 85 names in the ship's manifest.

The existence of this 60-minute film, which has never been seen in Australia, was uncovered by Melbourne journalist Tony De Bolfo when he undertook research for his book, In Search of Kings, which details what became of 108 passengers who travelled to Australia on the Regina D'Italia in 1927, among them De Bolfo's grandfather and his brothers.

For De Bolfo, the film is intriguing not only for its rare glimpses of early Melbourne and other ports of call. It is a record of the journey that tens of thousands of European migrants made between the two World Wars and immediately after World War II.

"The ship's voyage to Australia is significant in its timing," explains De Bolfo, "because in 1922 the United States imposed a quota on Italian migration and Ellis Island closed its doors. My grandfather and his three brothers all came to Australia in 1927. In later years one of the brothers told me that they were faced with the choice of either Australia or Canada and he chose Australia because he remembered how nicely the country was portrayed in a book he read as a schoolboy."

De Bolfo says he was struck the first time he saw the film's images of Melbourne - about one-third of the film is set in Australia - by the frenetic pace of Melbourne in the 1920s. "Mind you, Melbourne was still home to the Australian federal government back then and as Drovetti himself put it, 'the city presents all the traits of a metropolis'.

What also took my eye in seeing this precious footage of the city's central streets was how uncluttered it was overhead, given that the trams at that time were powered by underground steam-driven cables."

Travelogues, says Ken Berryman, manager of the Melbourne office of the National Film and Sound Archive, were precursors to home movies, which became popular later with the advent of affordable, small-gauge cameras. Though cityscape films are well represented in the archive's collection, Berryman laments that people didn't spend more time in their own backyards.

Below is a description of the Regina d'Italia

The Regina d'Italia was a 6,560 gross ton ship, built by Sir J Laing & Sons Ltd. Sunderland (engines by G.Clark Ltd, Sunderland) in 1907.

Her details were - length 430 ft.x beam 52.7 ft, two funnels, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 14 knots.

There was accommodation for 120 1st and 1900 3rd class passengers. Originally laid down as the "Sardinian Prince" for the British owned Prince Line, she was purchased on the stocks by Lloyd Sabaudo and launched on 20th Jan. 1907 as the "Regina d'Italia".

She sailed her maiden voyage from Genoa to Naples, Palermo and New York on the 15th May 1907, made two Genoa - South American voyages the same year and in Dec. 1908 she was used as a hospital ship after the Messina earthquake.

She continued New York sailings during the Great War up until the end of 1916 when regular passenger voyages on this route were discontinued by the company.

On 10th April 1907, she resumed N. Atlantic sailings when she left Genoa for Marseilles and New York and in 1920 she was refitted to carry second & third class passengers only. On 20th Jan.

1920 she arrived at New York from Constanza, Constantinople, Smyma, Piraeus and Messina and started her last Genoa-Naples-Boston-New York voyage on 14th Mar. 1922.

In April 1922 she transferred to the Genoa-South America service, except for a single round voyage between Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Halifax and New York commencing 22nd May 1924.

In October 1928 she was scrapped in Italy.

(North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, vol. 3, p.1361 -1367) (South Atlantic

Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, p.385) - (Posted to The ShipsList by Ted)

The Sydney Passengers from the Regina d’Italia, 1924

Is your family name here?

The following is a list of "Greek-sounding" names abstracted from the Full List, drawn from Italian, Greek, Albanian, Polish, Yugoslav, Palestinian, Arabic and Indian passengers who disembarked the Regina d’Italia in Sydney via Melbourne on the voyage filmed by Angelo Drovetti for Dall’Italia All’Australia in late 1924.

As most of the passengers’ names were written in freehand rather than typed onto the manifest, spelling inaccuracies are likely.

Lathauros Wangelos
Simon Nitsos
Andonus Verdaukas
Efstratia Christofaron
George Yokaris
Leiciamus Stathatis
George Yokaris
Spiros Vlaridis
Nicolas Arghiris
Elefterios Sfidonias
Stavroulo Nicolaisas
Stamataulo Gerakitis
Sophia Veneri
Spiro Marinic
Elia N. Pantazis
Denetre Christakis
Lyourge Christakis
Costantin Kontakis
Spiros Protoposalti
George Thiodoropaulos
Panayoti Veneris
Demetri Cassimatis
George Zaglanikis
Nicolas Fatseas
Costo E. Segri
Eleni Hagi Arghisi
Polina Arnaldo
Yulios Fatseas
Giovanni Cotsas
Erini Cotsas
Maria Condos
Aleferis Zacaria
Dimitri Dragomis
Panayoti Kokodis
Christoforos Caminis
Cristos Cristoclulca
Alessandro Caligaris
Miskel Stamaulis
Nikola Asinari

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1 Comment

submitted by
Peter Makarthis
on 20.04.2009

157 passengers- mostly Greek - arrived 24 Sep 1924 at Fremantle Western Australia. These passengers disembarked variously at Fremantle WA, Adelaide SA, Melbourne VIC, Sydney NSW and Brisbane QLD. A significant porportion of names appear to be Kytherian with a generous mix Smyrniots refugees. Peter M Inverell