In 1972, a handful of individuals whose roots are from lower Lazio and more precisely from La Ciociaria, launched a success story by promoting solidarity and friendship via the founding of the Ciociaro Club. Their purpose was to gather, preserve and protect the identity of the people of La Ciociaria as preserved in public, historic and geographic representations.
The success of the Ciociaro Club was not a casual happening but was the result of main might relatable to the grit of the heirs of a people whose roots are embedded in an existence counted in millennia. Respect is owed to and satisfaction is derived by all Ciociari who succeeded in tasting the full flavour of the fruits earned from the sweat of their brows. The inhere in the ever-present nostalgia which grips them and which reaffirms the worthiness of their past marked by the vicissitudes of pathos, travails and adversity. They are understandably proud and full of dignity and resolve and at the same time, they are moved by the accomplishment of erecting this enormous building which was conceived and then constructed during the period of their acculturation in this part of Canada where they chose to live, and where they prosper – much like the plants in their gardens cultivated with loving hands.
The imprint of their native land is always present and poignant as is evidenced by the many traditional activities which they organize and by the frequency with which they return to visit La Ciociaria; all of which bonds them anew to this dream become reality: the Ciociaro Club. One cannot reasonably omit flagging, in brief compass, a few milestones in the history of this success. From an early meeting in 1972 attended by six individuals, to years of activities of various kinds, including sports, cultural events, and events celebrating tradition, all registering unprecedented attendance-and sometimes with an occasional misstep along the way-today, the result is a success story. While funds were bring collected to erect the building, events of every kind were being organized: dinners, special evenings, lotteries, picnics and tournaments. Various sports groups such as the bocce ball group, anglers and hunters, trap-shooters, were distinguishing themselves in competition with other clubs. The trap-shooting group won the Canadian championship three times. The Ciociaro folklore group carried our traditions of dance and song onto both the Canadian and American stage, and even performed in our homeland. While all of these various phases of the construction of the magnificent edifice with consistency and meticulous care. In the space of a very short time, the Ciociaro, this unknown and sometimes little understood person, succeeded in imprinting his values, his defining qualities developed over millennia, not only earning respect and esteem for his own region of Italy but for the entire Italian community. He acculturated seamlessly and effortlessly into the Canadian multicultural mosaic. The Ciociaro Club has played and active role in various community events such as: The Freedom Festival, The Carousel of Nations, parades and special celebrations and has been one of the largest benefactors in collecting funds for various philanthropic organizations such as the Cancer Society, the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, Muscular Dystrophy, the Spina Bifida Association, Easter Seals, The Italian Handicapped Association, the Windsor Symphony and St. Angela Merici Church. In January of 1999, the club donated fully $50,000 to the Cancer Centre on the strength of on single event.
The Ciociaro Complex is situated on a tract of land measuring 20 hectares. The main building reflects a traditional classical architectural style and is a replica of the Monastery in Montecassino, Italy. This latter monastery will be recognized because of its fate in the last world war. It is the location of this monastery which identifies most easily the provenience of the Ciociari. In constructing the facility, materials were imported from Italy, such as the Vicentine stone, marble from Pignataro Interamma, travertine from Tivoli, and lighting fixtures from the firm of Massimiliano of Colleferro. The complex itself measures 10,000 square meters with an additional 2,000 square meters of external pavilion for summer events.
There are three main halls artistically decorated with moveable walls for multi-use capability. The 2000 square meter main hall can accommodate 2000 people for banquet use. The entire complex can accommodate 3,500, including the outdoor facilities. The built-in-video and acoustic-represent the very latest in technology, and have a wide variety of applications; while the fully equipped kitchen can easily serve the maximum capacity. In addition to an ultra-modern members’ bar – complete with a wood-burning oven – there is a beautiful five-lane “boccedrome” which has a synthetic base imported from a company in Sezze, which is in the Province of Latina. Also within the facility, there are other smaller meeting rooms available for special needs as well as a library dedicated in 1998 by the President of the Provincial Government, Loreto Gentile, who, inter alia, donated a Treccani encyclopedia. In addition to parking for approximately 800 vehicles, the remaining land has 14 outdoor bocce courts, a volleyball court; a playground for children, all of which is ringed by a regulation bicycle track, the only one of its kind in North America.
Over the years, the Ciociaro Club has promoted various cultural and religious activities. Among the religious events may be counted: St. Onorio, St. Arduino. The largest such event in southern Ontario is centered around the celebration of the feast of Madonna of Canneto, to which more than 6,000 persons are drawn from all over, including far-off Chicago, Boston, Toronto, etc. In progress is the construction of a sanctuary in traditional Canadian style but fashioned on the facade of the actual sanctuary in Canneto, designed by the architect Matelluzzi from Frosinone.
On the cultural side, the Youth Group organizes various events, but the jewel of the Ciociaro Club is the annual student exchange in co-operation with a region of Ciociaria based on the place of origin of Miss Ciociaria, with said becoming “region of the year”.
Many festivities punctuate the event and so far five regions have participated: Ceprano; Pofi; S. Elia Fiumerapido; Veroli, and this year Casalvieri. The student exchange takes place precisely with the “region of the year” and a group of students from that region will visit Canada, guests of the Ciociaro Club, while a group of students from the Ciociaro Club will be guests of the selfsame region in Italy.
The Ciociaro Club has had strong relations with the Provincial Government of Frosinone. Following upon the first visit of the President Struffi in 1988, many other presidential visits have followed: Gargani, Testani, and then Gentile. As a sign of ongoing relations, the Provincial Government gifted a crest of the province encrusted in marble, which was inlaid in the floor of the club’s main entrance. Another tangible sign is the Treccani encyclopedia gifted by President Gentile on the occasion of the dedication of the Ciociaro Club’s library in 1998.
Various regional government officials have visited the Ciociaro Club over the years. The Club is officially registered in the Registry Office of the Region of Lazio and Club representatives attended the 3rd immigrants conference in 1992 and representatives will also attend the 4th, being held this year.
The Ciociaro Club is even proactively involved in the use of food products from Lazio and from Italy with a view to educating a large group of consumers concerning these products. A restaurant is in the planning stage – one of a kind – where patrons can savor dishes which are characteristically Ciociari. In process as well, is a program dedicated to educating tourists – especially on the occasion of the Jubilee-re special places of interest in La Ciociaria with a view to promoting tourism which is already ongoing, stimulated by people’s curiosity to visit the places of origin of the founders of the Ciociaro Club.
This, in brief, is the history of The Ciociaro Club of Windsor, the largest Ciociaro complex outside of the homeland, which can serve as a model to increase the number of individuals who may perpetuate our traditions abroad and keep our memory of the homeland ever present: our beloved Ciociaria.
Here you have record of the success based on four cornerstones which have guaranteed and secured a recognizable identity for the Ciociari, a record which has embedded a marker in stone, this time in this far-off land whether as curators of century old traditions, or whether as contributors to the success of this community, by raising to consciousness those qualities which ensure the common good.