by Pia Francesca Dwyer
My great-grandparents came to Australia in approximately 1905 - Ernesto Molina from Turino and Francesca Bo (Petazzi) from Rochetta Tanero (near Asti). Ernesto's sisters also came over to Australia and settled in country Victoria.
Ernesto and Francesca set up Italian restaurants in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, which have been noted in many historic records as contributing considerably to the great restaurant cosmopolitan centre that Melbourne is today. They made a good living and many photos from the 1920's show them visiting relatives in Rochetta Tanero.
When we visited in 1998, Francesca's very elderly cousins, Pina and Antinella, still had her Bombolla doll (it was 100 yrs old) and spoke with great pride that Francesca had come home with money and had toilets installed in all her relatives' homes in Rochetta (approximately 5 homes!!).
Ernesto and Francesca had three children, Yolanda (my nonna), Giuseppe(Jo Molina), and Luciano (Lou Molina). Yolanda married Pio Maquignaz (born in Val d'Aosta) in 1940 and they had The Ritz restaurant in Lonsdale Street during the 1940's-1960's. Jo and Lou also ran restaurants and became Australian legends through their great social contributions to Melbourne's restaurant culture.
Ernesto and Francesca have 12 great-grandchildren: Pia, Celia, Fiona, Renee, Peter, Nicolas, Christie, Alexis, Simon, Ben, Ernest and Lou, and 7 great-great-grandchildren: Sierra, Jacomo, Luca, Lola, Mila and Ted, and all of us have been brought up as Italian-Australians with an enthusiastic and proud appreciation of our Italian culture ...