In part two of our Day One series, Silvia Colloca tells how a chance meeting on a film set led the Italian actor and opera singer to a new home, and career, in Australia.
- Day One: Australian migrants tell their stories of arrival
- Adam Liaw recounts his childhood in Adelaide
- Silvia Colloca's journey of love
- Tell us your story: What was your first impression of Australia?
She was a successful actor and opera singer in Europe and the US, but it was a chance meeting on a film set that would lead Silvia Colloca to a new home, and career, in Australia.
When Silvia Colloca accepted the role of Dracula’s bride in the 2004 film Van Helsing, she had no idea it would be the start of her Australian journey. It was at the film’s first script reading that she would meet now-husband Richard Roxburgh, who was playing Dracula.
As the Italian actress tells it, Roxburgh was initially reluctant to take the role – until a final meeting with the director.
“[The director] said to him, ‘OK Richard, this is my last meeting with you. This time I’m going to try to convince you by saying I have just cast the three brides of Dracula – one is Italian, one is Spanish and one is from California – come on, you must do it!’” Silvia recalls.
“And the first thing I ever said to him at the read through was ‘hi, I’m Silvia – I’m your Italian bride’.”
The words turned out to be prophetic. The pair became a couple, and before too long the Milan native found herself on a plane bound for Sydney.
“I was so excited,” she says.
“We were madly in love, and I was in this country far, far away that I had only dreamt about when I was growing up in Italy."
“Richard and I had been dating for about five months so we were madly in love, and I was in this country far, far away that I had only dreamt about when I was growing up in Italy.
“And when I first landed I just looked around and the thing that hit my attention was the sky. The sky looked so much bigger in Australia!
“From a European point of view it feels almost like you can touch it. In Europe it feels like it's far away.”
It didn’t take long for Silvia to feel at home on Sydney’s northern beaches – a far cry from the bustling streets of Milan, where she grew up.
“People are so friendly,” she says.
“You walk into a store and they greet you with a hello, and if you walk in there five times they’ll know your name by the sixth time and you become a local.
“It’s like a little village and I love that feeling of community.”
"There's this really big part of me that has embraced being Australian and loves it thoroughly.”
A wedding and two sons later, Silvia became motivated to dig deeper into her Italian heritage and pass on the legacy to her children. She says it was only after moving to Australia that she began to truly appreciate her cultural background – particularly when it came to food.
“I think being Italian you can't really escape it,” she says.
“You grow up cooking food or sharing food and everything happens around the kitchen in Italy - whether you're arguing or having fun or having a laugh, it always starts and ends in the kitchen.”
Childhood memories in her grandmother’s kitchen inspired Silvia to launch her culinary career, which now comprises two cookbooks, SBS cooking series Made in Italy and successful blog Silvia’s Cucina.
Wandering through her vegetable garden at the family home in Sydney’s north, Silvia feels at ease.
“It's a dream to be able to stay in this country and to call it home,” she says.
“I haven't renounced Italy… my heart is Italian.
“But there's this really big part of me that has embraced being Australian and loves it thoroughly.”
Were you born overseas? We’d like to hear about your first impression of Australia as a new migrant.
Whatever your background, tell us your story in words, pictures or tweets.
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