Francesca Solano, far left, and daughter Soccorsa, far right, with workers at harvest time.
Francesca Solano, far left, and daughter Soccorsa, far right, with workers at harvest time. Contributed

History of family kept inside book

IF one person knows the importance of preserving family history, it is Zoe Boccabella.

She first came to Stanthorpe as a child to visit grandparents Annibale Boccabella and Francesca Solano's farms in Applethorpe and Cottonvale.

"I remember visiting the family farm on Ellwood Rd, which was owned by another Italian family by then, and walking through the apple and pear orchards that my great-grandfather had planted decades earlier,” she said.

"Years later I returned and found them all gone. I began to realise that one day the stories would be gone too, and so I began to write them down.”

Ms Boccabella preserved her family's history in non-fiction books Mezza Italiana and Joe's Fruit Shop and Milk Bar, set in Stanthorpe and Italy.

"There are so many stories to uncover in the Stanthorpe area,” she said.

"How Applethorpe was called Roessler before the German family name was changed during World WarI and how it must have been for those First World War soldier settlers grappling with trauma as they tried to work farms in areas named after places they had possibly witnessed intense battle.”

When researching and interviewing people for her books, Ms Boccabella learned her family's story was a common one.

"My family's experiences are one modest migrant story, unique in its own ways but also similar to many migrant stories,” she said.

"I hoped to preserve this little bit of history so it wasn't lost.”

Although both of MsBoccabella's books are non-fiction, she also plans to write a novel based in the area.

"While that would likely be fiction, therefore a novel, it would be inspired by true stories.”

Mezza Italiana and Joe's Fruit Shop and Milk Bar are available at major book stores or online at zoeboccabella.com/books.

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