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Memories of Markwood run deep for Vescio

Blues News | Round 19 Grace Phillips brings you all the news from Ikon Park as the Blues prepare for Saturday night's clash against Geelong.

The sights and smells of the family property in Markwood mean as much now as they did then for Darcy Vescio – maybe even moreso. 

For it was here, at the foot of the Stanley Range halfway between Myrtleford and Wangaratta, that the old world of Vescio’s paternal grandparents met head-on with the new – and with profound consequence for the vibrant Carlton footballer.

“As you get older you start to think a little more about how you came to be here,” said Vescio, in the lead-up to the AFL’s Multicultural Round.

“You look back and think about your grandparents and what they went through, and you think about all their struggles in coming to Australia.”

Vescio’s maternal grandparents Cheong Lip Louey and Annette Louey are Cantonese, her paternal grandparents Frank and Lina Vescio Calabrian. Like so many of their ilk, they saw opportunity in Australia in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

“Mum’s parents settled in Melbourne and my Mum’s mother died before I was born, but I grew up with my folks about 100 metres across the paddock from Nonna and Nonno. They are still around on the farm, while Goong (Vescio’s maternal grandfather) is 91 and living in Melbourne.

Darcy with her paternal grandparents Lina and Frank. (Photo: Supplied)

For Frank and Lina, the lure of northern Victoria was tobacco cultivation which, with changing standards, has all but disappeared.

“Growing up there were still tobacco fields and kilns,” she recalled. “Even now I can remember the smells of the tobacco plants drying out.

“I’ve got two brothers and we were pretty close to Nonna and Nonno. We used to go there every night after school and Nonna would look after us. There was always stuff cooking slowly on the stove – pasta and peppers  – and while I’ve since tried to cook I can’t cook as well as Nonna.”

“I remember always being out with her and the garden, or helping her collect eggs from the hen house – and once a year we’d be there for the salami-making.

“I also remember that we’d get home from school, walk into the shed and see a pig cut right down the middle. Nonna would be there cleaning out the intestines, while Nonno would blow up a bladder and tie it to a tree so that we could speed-box with it. That’s a vegetarian’s nightmare.”

I was asked by @SpecialKAustralia to write piece on a strong woman in my life and gladly accepted. I'm lucky to be surrounded by truckloads of great women, I've decided to dedicate this post to one of the most inspiring women in my life, my Nonna. (Pictured above flippin' a frittata back in 2012, she still flips them just as good to this very day) . Growing up, myself and my brothers spent a lot of time at Nonna and Nonno's house eating all their biscuits and chasing chooks around the farm. I used to help Nonna collect eggs and chuck them in my back pockets. I'd then sit down for a well earned drink and crush them. I was a good worker. She always appreciated my efforts. . Around the dinner table, Nonna spent a lot of time telling us tales of her life in Italy. At times she'd get overly excited and revert back to full blown Italian meaning that we'd miss the best part of the story. Her passion makes me grin. Her and Nonno moved to Australia in the 50s to give their kids a better opportunity at life. It's difficult to imagine what it would be like coming here without knowing a word of English. My Nonna and Nonno both taught themselves over time, but to this day Nonna can't read, write or drive. I find it pretty amazing that she's given us grandkids and her own kids so much without some basic skills that many of us couldn't go a day without. It's incredible the life lessons she's taught us too. My personal fave was when she taught us about drug safety back in high school - "if a boy gives you a bag of lollies, you no eat". Fair to say she'd watched a lot of Today Tonight's 'War On Drugs' Specials, nobody's perfect. . Nonna is the type of woman who puts everyone before herself and isn't content until she's fed every mouth in the room. It's one of the many ways she brings people happiness. We're really lucky that we've got someone like her in our family, she creates so much with what she has. I think she's an incredibly strong woman and it instills me with strength thinking about everything she's done in her lifetime. Thanks Nonna. . Also, she's more of a cornflake gal but certainly doesn't mind a bit of #SpecialK. . #BecauseYoureStrong #OwnIt

A post shared by Darcy Vescio (@darcyvee) on

Reflecting on these enriching times at Markwood, Vescio knows she’s been truly blessed. It is why she continues to draw inspiration from those who came before.

A few months ago, at the request of an organisation for promotional purposes, Vescio articulated her thoughts in writing about a woman who most inspires her.

Not surprisingly, she wrote about her Nonna.

“Thinking about it now, Nonna came to Australia with two kids under five. She didn’t have a word of English, she couldn’t drive, and out of all of that she somehow built a life. It’s incredible really,” Vescio said.

“Of all the grandparents, Nonna is the one who’s probably talked the most about values, of working hard and of setting yourself up right. I do think of what she and them have all been through and why they did what they did, which was to create these opportunities for their kids and grandkids.”

Though she is yet to have frequented the old villages her grandparents left forever, Vescio will soon realise that dream . . . and her life will have come full circle.