Building the future of her dreams

THERE’S nothing like tucking into an authentic slice of Italian pizza, especially when it’s made by an authentic nonna and has just come out of the oven as part of the Nonna Project, which recognises their importance to WA’s history. Seven-year-old Beth George from Hamilton Hill got to taste the real deal last week at the WA Maritime Museum when she met Nonna Adele Forlani and her family. Grandma Julie says she brought all the grandkids down because their great-grandmother who lives in Adelaide was Italian and it was important that the family kept that connection. 

“WHEN in Rome, do as the Romans do!” – this was Adele’s motto upon arriving in Australia in 1960 and became the driving force in her quest to build the future of her dreams during the early years of her new life in Australia.

From the time she disembarked onto Australian soil, her fierce determination ensured she accomplished the many goals she had envisioned as a young woman in Italy. 

Back in Italy, Adele’s mother Rosa and father Luigi owned a small piece of land and struggled in the bleak years after World War II.

Luigi was a commercial cattle trader and would travel to fairs to purchase cattle to on-sell to livestock buyers. 

Adele and her mother were very close, and Rosa encouraged Adele to attend school to obtain a solid education. Luigi’s view on life meant that he continually discouraged Adele from having an education, however, her mother’s steadfast stance ensured Adele’s thirst for learning continued. 

Adele met her future husband Angelo in Casoli and 18 months after their engagement, she encouraged him to travel to Perth to set up a home for them. Angelo was not keen to leave their homeland, however, driven by Adele’s firm resolve to create a future in Australia, he departed Italy. Within a short time, Adele left her childhood home to join Angelo, with only one suitcase in hand. 

• Adele at the pizza making with her daughter Lorena Rebeiro and grandson Louis.

Her voyage was a time of wonderful discovery, with many new and exciting experiences to be had, including partaking in her first alcoholic beverage in the ship’s bar and learning to swim – things she had never dared to dream of in Italy. Adele was very shy but her newfound friends on board the ship encouraged her to have fun and be open to adventures.

When the Roma berthed in Fremantle on December 8, 1960, she said to herself: “It is now my life, and I have to accept it and make a success of it”. 

In 1961, Adele and and Angelo were married in St Brigid’s Church in Northbridge. There was no wedding reception and as soon as the ceremony was completed, the couple went home and started their life together. 

Adele focused on creating a great future for her and Angelo and within several years they were blessed with three children John, Robert, and Lorena. The family moved to Port Hedland in 1978, and although Adele did not know what lay ahead, she embraced her life in her new community and built up very successful businesses, including a small shopping centre and various hospitality venues. 

Her daughter Lorena worked alongside her, and even though Angelo did not want Adele to have a career, she became very accomplished and ran the businesses on her own while he worked as a foreman for BHP. 

• Adele (centre) aboard the Roma on the way to Australia.

In 1992, after 17 years in Port Hedland, the family returned to Perth and settled in Noranda. 

Sadly, Angelo passed away unexpectedly in 1995 and Adele had to gather her strength to provide for her family. 

These were difficult years however she resolved to ensure her family did not suffer and worked hard to keep their family’s home. She purchased an IGA supermarket and built it into a thriving business which ran for 12 years. 

Great friendships were formed whilst running the store and many have endured to this day, which is a testament to Adele’s friendly and caring nature. 

Throughout her life, Adele’s passion has been cooking. Every morning at 7am, she begins creating the most beautiful food, with her woodfired oven and stove always at the ready to feed anyone who enters her home – one which is filled with genuine warmth, love, and hospitality. Giant slabs of freshly made pizza, pasta, bread, a torta, and biscuits are baked almost daily in case someone visits unexpectedly, and all guests are treated with an espresso caffe or a little liquor to finish off the hearty repast. 

Adele’s love of cooking is an extension of her heart and soul, which encompasses not only her cooking but the nurturing and love of family and friends. 

Adele celebrates in the joy that her children and grandchildren give her, and they are the centre of her being as she is theirs. Adele continues to be an inspiration to all who are fortunate to know her and blessed are all who come into her fold.


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