This is a beautiful story of what it means to be born into a Sicilian family — a young family that left everything they knew and loved to migrate to the other side of the world with nothing more than wooden suitcases and trunks. The stories that Nonno Francisco and others tell Pippo reveal what it was like to be an Italian migrant in Australia. Their experiences detail the hardships they endured, their limited options for work, the language barrier and the discrimination they encountered. That they survived was due purely to their beliefs and values and their strong sense of ‘family’. The family, whether immediate or extended, was not only the centre of their existence; it was also what gave them the strength to succeed in this new world and succeed they did.
The story is about the simple and beautiful relationship between a boy and his grandfather — symbolised by Nonno’s violin. The violin is important not just because of the music it makes and the entertainment it provides, but because it is the means for Pippo’s spiritual connection to his grandfather. Through Nonno’s violin, Pippo learns his family history, experiences and relationships, and about life.
Nonno’s anecdotes display his intelligent insight into the truly important things in life. Pippo, the grandson, has a boyish innocence that can’t but help touch the soul. This boy is the shadow of the author’s life.
Nonno’s Violin is a beautiful tribute to the author’s father and family. Nonno is a simple man who is self-taught in the philosophy of life and lives by a code that says: “I do not need a text book to know how to love.”