Ballarat is a city full of rich culture, cultivated from all around the world. One of the cultures which has permeated day to day life is the Italian culture, particularly in the area of food.
One of the people who assisted in spreading the love for Italian food was Eligio Di Girolamo, an active member of the Ballarat Italian Association who unfortunately died last month in Geelong.
The native of Favalanciata first came to Australia in 1952, where he spent time at the Bonegilla Migrant Camp.
During this time, he befriended a German butcher, Herman Broemer, who would employ Mr Di Girolamo in Ballarat at his butchery and smallgoods shop.
From 1954 through to 1982, he would work for a number of other butchers and delis around Ballarat, including at Richies Bridge Street supermarket, where he met his wife Prue McCoy, a Ballarat local with a world of experience in the food industry.
It was also around this time Mr Di Girolamo met Tony Campana, current owner of Campana's Deli.
Mr Campana said he became quick friends with Mr Di Girolamo because of his kind nature.
"I would have known him for at least 50 years," he said.
"He was a beautiful person, very caring. He didn't have a nasty bone in his body, just a very loving man."
In 1982, Mr Di Girolamo and his soon-to-be wife Prue (they were married in 1983) made the decision to open La Cucina Fine Foods, a cafe and deli which only helped grow Italian culture across the city.
Mr Campana added Mr Di Girolamo should be credited with helping to showcase Italian culture and cuisine to the region.
"When he opened La Cucina it was fantastic, people flocked to it. He played a role in growing Italian and European culture in Ballarat.
"People wanted and sourced that type of food and he assisted with that extremely well."
After 18 years operating the shop, the couple sold La Cucina in 2000 to enjoy a much deserved holiday with their family.
Mr Di Girolamo returned to Ballarat as a gardener, working a more relaxed schedule before his passing in April.
He is survived by his wife Prue, daughter Gabriella and sons Alessandro and Sebastian.
The family will look to hold a service for Mr Di Girolamo after COVID-19 restrictions ease.
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