#KXNToronto: @AhmedAlkoka and Caroline Di Giovanni on Corso Italia

CORSO ITALIA

Photos of Corso Italia by @AhmedAlkoka, text by Caroline Di Giovanni

1. Old Memories

Corso Italia, St. Clair and Dufferin,

Listen to the voices

that claimed this location

for a good many years

in the post-World War Two
immigration:

We came here for the streets of gold

in America, Canada, wherever we could get in.

We were mostly kids, young men with strong arms,

leaving our villages ruined by warfare.

We came here to work,

our only intention,

to sweat and to save and send money to Mamma

then maybe our brothers and sisters would join us

after that would be time for a sweetheart, and family.

The joke was on us,

streets were not paved with gold

they were not paved at all!

That would be our first labour

With plenty to do, long hours, tough bosses.

But on Sunday morning, ah,

no work on Sunday morning.

That’s the time we go to church

a la chiesa di Santa Chiara

We dress up, we walk with our friends.

this is St. Clair, our street in Toronto.

2. The Veranda Angel

Nonna has an angel! Nonna has an angel!

Oh Ma, do you still have that old thing?

Eh, that’s my angel. She takes good care of my house.

Ma, you know we’ll have to move it when we put the house for sale.

No way you move my angel while I still live here.

But Ma, the real estate says—

No! That’s my angel. She stays right there. She protects the family. You know that.

Okay, okay, Ma, we leave the angel – for now.

3. Summer on the Veranda

White rattan table,

two comfortable chairs

waiting for the first warm days

to go outside, to sit outside

and watch the neighbours

up and down the street.

Buongiorno. Come stai? How are you?

Maria, how’s your son? Still in school?

Your daughter get married yet?

We’re okay, we’re okay.

My son, he moved to Maple.

Looks like everybody moves there now.

Hello. We’re your new next door.

This is Anita, she’s three.

Say hi to the lady, Anita.

Hi, lady. She’s a little shy today.

We just moved in a week ago,

such a friendly neighbourhood.

4. Good House, Prime Location

Detached single-family house,

Four bedrooms, three baths,

Finished basement, renovated kitchen

Walk-out deck with barbeque

Well-kept lawn

Set back from sidewalk,

Parking available

Steps from the St. Clair 512 streetcar.

Offers to be submitted,

Friday next week.

5. Fire Escape

Who lives here will be ready for

a quick escape from danger

a fire in the kitchen, or

a strange intruder. This place

has seen its share of trouble

in the past. That’s over now,

there’s safety

in the brickwork.

When this house was new

three families fit inside, with

room for the latest newcomer

looking to sacrifice comfort, save,

and send the money back home

to the wife waiting in the village.

A house this big makes history

coming and going,

surviving the various stories

told to the walls and the corners.

6. Fruit for Sale

Always fruit, plenty of fruit!

Buy my fresh oranges, juicy and big.

Come get your mangoes, fresh from the tropics,

blueberries, strawberries, raspberries,

in from Mexico and California!

Anything local, grown in Canada?

Inside we got apples and potatoes,

turnips, carrots, hothouse tomatoes.

For all the rest you’ll have to wait

and hurry back when the peach season comes.

7. Consiglio’s on St. Clair

This is the place to buy espresso makers

stovetop, every size, from 12 cups down to single

and the fancy automatic, too.

This is the kind of pasta maker you learn on,

from your mother and your zia, when you’re 10.

You can find everything here-

But wait. It’s starting to look empty.

What’s going on?

Yeah, there’s a big sale now,

we’re moving to Etobicoke

to a warehouse big enough

to serve the downtown clients and

the families in Woodbridge.

Don’t worry –

there will always be Consiglio’s.

Come and find us when it’s time

to can tomato sauce and roasted peppers.

8. Say Cheese

This is the greatest place ever!

I drove in from Brampton

-from Barrie

-from Scarborough

-from Forest Hill.

This is where I get my gorgonzola

-mozzarella

– ricotta

-asiago

You can have a panino

at a table in the back,

then buy 300 grams

of good prosciutto

to savor at home

And did you notice the photo of Cher?

a souvenir of Moonstruck, on location.

9. Ciao!

The banners fly from lamp posts all along

Corso Italia, Dufferin and St. Clair.

Ciao!

They greet pedestrians on the sidewalk

Ciao!

Welcome to the street that hosted

The huge celebration of Italy’s World Cup win

in 1982, spontaneous outpouring

of joy and pride and victory and arrival

Hurrah! We are here now, here for the long run.

Come and join the tricolor party,

All are welcome! Ciao!

Corso Italia carries on the name

and the tricolors red, white, and green

appear in store windows of every type.

The times are changing.

Ciao!

means Hello and also means

Farewell, So long, Good bye

See you later, Come again.

Ciao!

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