Nothing is as important to an Italian as their family, “La Famiglia”. We Italians define our family not only in the traditional sense, but also extend it to the community which encompasses our daily lives. In San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, there is a little known group of Italian expatriates from the northern Italian region of Trentino who found a second home and family in the Circolo Trentino of San Francisco. This Circolo was originally founded in 1980 by the President of the Association Trentini nel Mondo Bruno Fronza, during a visit to the Bay Area. He then sowed the seeds of what is now an active, lively, and committed club of almost 200 affiliates. The members of this special Circolo are spread out in many areas of Northern California: Sonoma, San Francisco, Stockton, Richmond, Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz to name but a few. They meet three times a year to celebrate their origins and traditions, while also promoting social participation among fellow countrymen and migrants from the Trentino region. On December 3rd they will all gather at the Italian Athletic Club in Stockton for their traditional Christmas party which will be dedicated to a very special compatriot: Consul General Mauro Battocchi. The annual event will be a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the bond among the Trentini in the Bay.
2015 is an exceptional year for them: it marks the 35th anniversary of the Circolo Trentino of San Francisco. Last May, to celebrate this important milestone, they organized a Cruise on the San Francisco Bay leaving from Alameda which attracted close to one hundred attendees, and welcomed some of the newest members.
Not only has the Circolo Trentino reached this significant goal, but at the beginning of the year they congratulated their own Luca Dorigatti, Trustee of the Circolo, as the new U.S. Representative (consultore) to the Province of Trento and local coordinator to the Association Trentini nel Mondo. Luca shared with us his exciting experience as a Trentino immigrant.
Luca, when did you move to the Bay Area from your home in Trentino?
I moved to the Bay Area at the end of 1991, so that will make it already 24 years that I have been living in California!
What was your first experience with the Circolo Trentino of San Francisco?
One of the founders of the Circolo was Father Efrem Trettel, originally from Predazzo, but later based with his family in Caldonazzo before entering a Franciscan Friar Convent in Tione at a young age. Father Efrem, as he is known, was a mainstay in San Francisco for many generations of Italian immigrants thanks to his radio and television broadcast. One of his programs was also broadcast in Trento via radio; my mom used to listen to it every Sunday while preparing to go to Church. Once I moved to the Bay Area she asked me many times to visit Father Efrem, which I finally did thanks to some visiting friends in the spring of 1993. Since then, not only have we become close friends, he officiated at my wedding, and even baptized both of my children. Naturally, I got involved with the Circolo Trentino of San Francisco that used to meet at his place several times a year. So all in all, I have been associated with the Circolo for close to 23 years. I have served as General Secretary for 6 years during which we hosted a Convention of all the North American, Canadian, and Mexican Trentino Clubs, and now I am part of the Board of Directors.
What are the main goals of the Circolo?
The Circolo strives to preserve, promote, and enjoy our culture and heritage. We are all from a region of Italy which was invaded by foreigners many times, yet we have a very strong identity and bond with our native land that is hard to explain, unless you are familiar with it. Our core group and many founders of the Circolo are retired, so now we are working hard trying to attract second and third generations to join the Club by promoting different programs and various activities. Living in such a busy area does not make it easy for us with all the different choices available nowadays, yet we find it extremely important to keep the connection with our native land alive.
You have been appointed U.S. representative to the Province of Trento and local coordinator to the Associazione Trentini nel Mondo. What specific tasks does it entail?
U.S. Consultore for the Autonomous Province of Trento is a bit of an institutional, formal title. I basically represent Trentino just like an Ambassador would do for a Country, except Trentino is only an Autonomous Province. I promote all programs decided by the emigration office, such youth exchange, scholarships, meetings and online language studies (we have an online Italian study class promoted by the Province!) and, when necessary, I formally represent Trentino in official ceremonies.
As for Coordinator for the Association Trentini nel Mondo, it is a new position that has been created to better connect their offices with the Circolo Trentino all over the U.S. There are currently 21 coordinators who operate statewide, mostly on the East. Some are located in fairly remote areas that had immigrants from Trentino looking for work quite some time ago. By creating such a role, Trentini nel Mondo is really trying to stay connected to the people who left our land long ago and are now well established in their new environment. I would define this position as a bit more operational and less formal than Consultore, yet very stimulating and challenging.