GIOVENTU » Growing Up Italian in the UK Facebook Group

Growing Up Italian in the UK Facebook Group

If you are Italian or have Italian origins you might find it interesting to share your experience with the Facebook group “Growing up Italian in the UK”.

The group has more than 5000 members, multiple posts an hour and some people have taken up the challenge of introducing themselves with a short video.


I talked with Franca Bongiorno Roberts, founder of the group, in order to know more about this interactive community which recently had a meeting point for “Growing up Italian in the Uk” at Villa Scalabrini, called “classics at the villa”.   


Can you tell us something about the story of the Facebook group?


“I first started this group around my 40th birthday, November 2013. I was reminiscing about my parents. I’d gone to Sicily in the summer that year and took my daughter and husband for the first time. I went to see the houses my parents were born in. Seeing relatives and just living the Italian cultural way. I guess I missed the Italian way of living we had as a typical Sicilian family living in the UK. That’s what made me start this.


I invited people in the group at first. Being a group, Italians asked to join and it just grew from there. I’d always be the one posting pictures and things that happened in our childhood. It just progressed from that. Once it got to about 3000 likes I asked my cousin Roberto D’urso to help with the admin.


Do you speak Italian?

“Yes, I speak Italian but growing up was more Sicilian dialect”.


 Have you ever perceived yourself as different from British kids

 because of your Italian origins? If yes, in which ways?


“Definitely different from the British friends. I wasn't allowed to go out or have a boyfriend. While my friends were out, I was home doing housework. I had to lie to friends as I found it so embarrassing. Luckily my Italian friends understood as they had the same upbringing”.


Which values and experiences do you think people share in this group

 and how do they relate to your Italian origins?


“Most of the group had the same upbringing. Putting this group together has given us all some sort of counselling. Very very strict parents we had. The main reason it was so strict was because people would talk. For example, if you're seen talking to a boy, you're engaged. We had many things in common such as food, family get togethers, and the old wife tales. We have every respect for our families. Love and compassion. We look after our parents, family and friends. This was the way it was. We all laugh, cry and lots of Italian tempers can flare up. We're passionate people! And this group rocks!”


Have you planned some events for the future? 

“No events, but planning a Christmas get together. We have now over 5000 members. The group members are really great and very supportive of each other. We recently had a meeting point for “Growing up Italian in the UK” at Villa Scalabrini called “classics at the villa” hosted by Paolo Arrigo and friends. I met some wonderful people from the group. I’m looking forward to more meetings that we are planning for the future”.


What are your aims and objectives?


“My immediate aim is for this group to continue to grow, and embrace the Anglo-Italian culture that has evolved. In the long term, I would like to preserve the rich Italian heritage of our parents and for this to continue for our children.

We have multiple posts an hour. As you are in the group, you can see how the banter of fun and laughter takes presidents. We’ve all become friends and it feels like a proper interactive community”.

Giulia Lombardo

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