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Italian community of Melbourne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Italian community of Melbourne is the second largest ethnic group in Greater Melbourne, Australia, second to the Anglo-Celtic Australians ethnic group.[2] The 2011 Census counted that of the 185,402 residents that were born in Italy who live in Australia, 68,823 lived in Melbourne, which was the highest percentage of the country at 37.1%. The same could be said for the total Australian population of Italian ancestry, with 279,112 of the 916,121 (30.4%) listed as Melbournian residents, which is the highest Italian population in Australia and the Oceanic continent per city.[1]

One dot signifies an approximate area of Melbourne where 100 residents were born in Italy
One dot signifies an approximate area of Melbourne where 100 residents were born in Italy


Victorian gold rush era

Inaugural records of the Italian community of Melbourne are debated as official records are obscured. It is known that the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s attracted thousands of Italians and Swiss Italians to Australia. The drain on the labour supply occasioned by the gold rush caused Australia to also seek workmen from Europe for land use and the development of cultivation. It is the approximate number of Italians who joined the Victorian gold mines is obscure, and until 1871 Italians did not receive a special place in any Australian census figures. By 1881, the first year of census figures on Italian migrants in all Australian states, not just in Victoria, there were 947 (0.10%) in Victoria, of whom one-third were in Melbourne.

World wars' migration

Following Italy's involvement in world war I, many Italians particularly from the southern regions of Calabria and Sicily and descended into both, the south eastern and northern suburbs of Melbourne. Following World War II, Australia saw a huge influx of Italian migrants settling all throughout Melbourne. The northern inner-suburbs saw the highest population densities of Italian migration between the 1940s-60's. These suburbs consisted of Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Carlton, Carlton North, Fitzroy, Fitzroy North, Parkville and Princes Hill. Of all the listed suburbs, the highest concentration in Carlton, saw the eventual establishment of Melbourne's current Little Italy, on Lygon Street, between the intersections of Elgin & Queensberry streets.

Post global financial crisis migration

In the recent years, Australia has been witnessing a new wave of migration from Italy in numbers not seen in half a century, as thousands flee the economic hardship in Europe, with the Financial crisis of 2007–08 playing a large role, many Italians migrated from Italy to Australia in large numbers. The explosion of numbers saw more than 20,000 Italians arrive in Australia in 2012-13 on temporary visas, exceeding the number of Italians that arrived in 1950-51 during the previous migration boom following World War II.[3]


Today, the city of Melbourne is a sister city to Milan, Italy,[4] with the city's population consisting of 68,823 residents by birth, and 279,112 residents by heritage, as of 2011.[1] Recent restaurant expansion on Lygon street has seen many new Italian restaurants open in the Brunswick East side and also seen the re location of Mondo Music (50 Lygon Street Brunswick East) - the iconic retail store specialising in Italian DVD's, CD's and other Italian merchandise. The recently redeveloped Abruzzo club opened 377 on Lygon in late 2015,[5] and the international award-winning 400 gradi restaurant, that was declared to have the 'world's best pizza' in 2014.[6]

Lygon Street - Melbourne's Little Italy

Alfresco dining along Lygon Street
Alfresco dining along Lygon Street
The street at night, the particular block of the street was the site of celebration when Italy defeated Germany 2-1 in the 2012 Euro Cup
The street at night, the particular block of the street was the site of celebration when Italy defeated Germany 2-1 in the 2012 Euro Cup

The Italian restaurant district synonymous with Lygon Street district occupies a number of blocks between Queensberry Street in the South, along Lygon Street, to Elgin Street in the North. Restaurants can also be found along the streets intersecting Lygon Street, towards the Carlton Gardens in the East and the University of Melbourne in the West. The Lygon Street Festa is an annual celebration that is one of Australia's largest outdoor street festivals, celebrating the Italian culture and cuisine of Melbourne which is held in the district in November.

The La Mama Theatre and Courthouse Theatre are also in this area, as is the heritage-listed neon sign at Borsari's Corner, named after Italian cyclist Nino Borsari, on the corner of Grattan Street. Toto's Pizza House, the first pizzeria established in Australia, has been located at the southern end of Lygon Street continuously since its opening in 1961.[7]

Towards the centre of the district, on the corner of Lygon Street and Argyle Place, there is a small Italian-inspired piazza namedPiazza Italia, which is a joint-redevelopment by Melbourne and its sister city, Milan, in Italy.

The block between Cardigan street and Arglye Place South, are synonymous for the site of celebrations of Italian sport. During the annual Australian Grand Prix, the restaurant district, particularly the stated block, is bathed in red and yellow banners in support of the Ferrari Formula One racing team and, in 1982 and 2006, it was also a major site of Australian celebrations when Italy's national football team won the 1982 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. In 2012, the block, where Notturno Cafe is situated, was the most popular site during the 2012 Euro Cup. In the early hours of 28 June, Lygon street was brought to a stand still following Italy's 2-1 victory over Germany in the semi-finals, advancing to the grand final against eventual winners Spain, where supporters celebrated on the street for hours, blocking traffic in all directions.[8]


Melbourne's Italian community has played influential roles in many sports throughout Melbourne. Association Football (soccer) and Australian rules football have been the most popular sports the community has engaged in, at professional levels. There has been influence in the sports of bocce, tennis, and basketball in the community.

Association Football (Soccer)

Football (soccer) has been a fundamental characteristic of sport in Melbourne's Italian community. Many clubs in the past seventy years, competing competitively or defunct, have been in suburbs all over Melbourne, with two clubs participating in the former National Soccer League, being Brunswick Zebras FC (formerly Brunswick Juventus) and Carlton SC. There are currently at least thirteen active clubs based in Melbourne who are competing in various divisions throughout Victoria.

National team players

Player Years Appearances Goals
Andrew Zinni 1986-1991 17 3
Danny Tiatto 1995-2005 23 1
Marco Bresciano 2001-2015 84 13
Simon Colosimo 1998-2010 26 3
Patrick Kisnorbo 2002-2009 18 1
Paul Trimboli 1988-2002 46 16
Vince Grella 2003-2010 46 0
As of 8 June 2016


In Melbourne, there are numerous social and sports clubs founded by and/or have a strong Italian following, or have official Italian recognitions.

Active clubs as of the 2019 Victorian football season

Club Founded Location League (Men's)
Avondale FC 1984 Parkville NPL
Boroondara-Carey Eagles FC 2015 Bulleen VSL 2 South-East
Brimbank Stallions FC 1986 Sunshine VSL 1 North-West
Brunswick Zebras FC 1948 Brunswick East VSL 4 North
FC Bulleen Lions 1974 Bulleen NPL 2 East
Carlton Azzuri SSC 1979 Carlton North Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association League 2 Metro
Croydon City Arrows FC 1957 Croydon VSL 4 East
Epping City FC 1997 Epping VSL 2 North-West
Essendon Royals SC 1959 Essendon VSL 1 North-West
Fawkner SC 1965 Fawkner VSL 3 North-West
Juventus Old Boys SC 2001 Doncaster Men's Metropolitan Masters East
Knox United SC 2003 Rowville VSL 5 South
Manningham United FC 1965 Doncaster NPL 2 East
Moreland Zebras FC 1997 Fawkner NPL 2 West
Northern Falcons FC 1986 Thornbury VSL 4 North
Old Xaverians SC 2002 Kew East VSL 4 North
Thornbury Athletic FC 2014 Reservoir VSL 4 North
Thornbury United FC[9] 1983 Thornbury VicSoccer Premier League
Werribee City FC 1969 Werribee NPL 2 West
Whittlesea Ranges FC 1971 Epping NPL 2 West

Australian Rules Football

In June 2007 the Victorian Football League-Australian Football League announced a (VFL/AFL) Italian Team of the Century, in recognition of the role of Italian Australian players have had in the sport.[10] The vast majority of the official players were born &/or raised in Melbourne. These players consist of:

Player Position Club(s)
Alan Martello Half Forward Hawthorn (1970-1980)
Richmond (1981-1983)
Anthony Koutoufides Half Back Carlton (1992-2007)
Brendan Fevola Full Forward Carlton (1999-2009)
Brisbane Lions (2010)
Frank Curcio Full Back Fitzroy (1932-1948)
John Kennedy Jr. Half Back Hawthorn (1979-1991)
Mark Mercuri Half Forward Essendon (1992-2004)
Len Incigneri Full Back South Melbourne (1903, 1905)
Richmond (1907-1911)
Melbourne (1913–1914)
Robert Di Pierdomenico Center Hawthorn (1975-1991)
Ron Barassi as Coach as a coach:
Carlton (1965-1971)
North Melbourne (1973-1980)
Melbourne (1964, 1981-1985)
Sydney (1993-1995)
Sav Rocca Forward Collingwood (1992-2000)
North Melbourne (1958-1971)
Sergio Silvagni as Interchange
Carlton (1985-2001)
Stephen Silvagni Full Back Carlton (1985-2001)
Steven Alessio Follower Essendon (1992-2003)
Tony Liberatore as Interchange
Western Bulldogs (1986-2002)
née Footscray

Notable people

The following list contains notable Italian Australians who were born and/or raised in Melbourne. The list is structured in alphabetical order by surname, and the resident's listed occupation is what he/she was known for. (Incomplete List)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "2011 Australian Census". Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  2. ^ Italians in Australia
  3. ^ Economic devastation in Europe prompts new wave of Italian migration to Australia
  4. ^ "International Relations - Milan". City of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 21 September 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ John Beveridge (2007), "Toto's fame set to spread worldwide", Herald Sun, 14 June, page 72.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Italian Team of the Century Archived 23 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^
This page was last edited on 23 January 2021, at 11:21
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