Accademia della Scocca (O.S.P.jpg
The Collective “Il Fondaco”

Amici della Libreria Ospe.jpg
Art Group :
Accademia della Scocca

1953, Matrimonio.jpg
With Concetta Bille’
on their wedding day

1966, silver medal, Battaglia Letteraria Prize (2).jpg
Receiving the 2nd Prize -
Poetry Competition
Battaglia Letteraria

1968 Partenza per l'Australia.jpg
Boarding the ship
“Galileo Galilei”
on route to Australia

Scuola spiegazione sul giornale.jpg
Educational Tour
Il Globo
Carlton Offices

1971, Incontro con Giuseppe DiStefano.jpg
With the Sicilian Tenor
Giuseppe Di Stefano

1980, Father and Sone Exhibition, Centrepoint_4.jpg 
Exhibition “Father and Son”,
Centrepoint Festival of Arts

1974 Miss Australia Quest .jpg
Recognition from the Chairman
Spastic Children’s Society of Victoria

1982 Famiglia Siciliana.jpg
The "Famiglia Siciliana"

1983 incontro con On.jpg
Meeting the On. Marion Fioret,
Undersecretary Italian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs

1984 Manifesto Fiera Mediterraneo_1.jpg

1984 Targa D 'Argebto ITALUIL.jpg
Presentation of the I.T.A.L.U.I.L
Regione Sicilia Silver Medal 1984.

1985 Moomba procession.jpg
Moomba Parade
Melbourne – March 1985

1987 monumento .jpg

Inagurazione Monumnto.jpg
Sir Ninian Stephen at the
Inauguration of the
Monument to Dante Alighieri
La Trobe University

1988, Incontro con Cossiga.jpg
Meeting of Nino Sanciolo with the
President of the Italian Republic,
President Francesco Cossiga.

1988, Lombardo.jpg
Meeting with On. Turi Lombardo

1989, Primo Premio UIE.jpg

1989, Partecipazione Enasco.jpg
ENASCO meeting in
Taormina - Sicily

Socio onorario nelárma carabinieri.jpg
Presentation of
Honorary Membership to
the Carabinieri Corps – Melbourne.

1990, preconfereza.jpg
Pre–Conference on
Sicilian Migration - Sydney

1990, incontro con Mammalena.jpg
Meeting with Mamma Lena in Sydney.

1990, Congress ANFE.jpg
Presentation of 2nd Prize
Concorso Letterario Internazionale
Regione Toscana

1991 terza consulta regionale per l 'emigrazione.jpg
Nino Sanciolo at the
3rd Conferenza Regionale on Migration

1991 Padre Azara Conferenza Chiesa Siciana.jpg
Sanciolo at the Conference of
Monsignor Garsia - Melbourne



Nino Sanciolo was born on the 2nd July 1921 in Messina - Sicily.  His father, Bartolomeo, was a highly respected Master Tailor (Sarto) and a man of great sensibility who infused in the young Sanciolo a profound love of literature. This gift was deeply acknowledged by Sanciolo who, for a large part of his creative life, added to his name the title “dei Sarti”.

1936 – 1940
At the age of 15 Sanciolo began writing poetry and soon afterwards he commenced writing for the theatre primarily as a result of being involved in a local amateur group where his plays were performed with much local success. During this period he was awarded a Diploma in Accounting from the Istituto Tecnico di Messina and formed, together with a number of young artists, a collective comprising musicians, poets, philosophers and painters. This group, disrupted by WWII and reconstituted in the immediate post war years, played, with its intellectual focus and bohemian character, a major role in the artistic life of the young Sanciolo.

1940 -1945
Conscripted as a Lieutenant in the Italian Army, throughout the period of WWII Sanciolo served primarily in Northern Italy. These were difficult but formative years marked by the search for lasting peace among men of any nation and creed (a recurrent theme in his poems) and by the longing for his family to whom he was deeply attached.

In the immediate post –war years Sanciolo entered his works in a number of National Literary Competitions winning prizes and honourable mentions. Also, “overwhelmed by the magic of painting” as he himself writes in his notes, Sanciolo began to paint, encouraged by favourable critiques and the acceptance of his work in a number of regional exhibitions.

1950 -1953
In 1950 Sanciolo won the 3rd Prize at the Poetry Competition “Il Cenacolo” and in 1951, he exhibited for the first time at a National Painting exhibition in his home town of Messina.  Also in 1951, he joined the cultural collective “Il Fondaco” . The group, led  by Ntoni Saitta, comprised poets, academics, musicians, artists, editors and critics and included DeChirico, Guttuso, Levi and Vann’Anto’

1952 marked an important milestone in the creative life of Nino Sanciolo. This was the year that saw him become a member of the Art Group “Accademia della Scocca” and exhibit at their “Mostra d’ Arte – Citta’ di Messina”. The exhibition also included ceramics by Picasso. 

In the same year Sanciolo exhibited at the “Second National Painting Exhibition – Messina”, at the “Premio Terni” and at the regional touring exhibition “Giro d’Arte”. On the literary front, his collection of poems Richiami was published to critics’ acclaim.  In 1953, Sanciolo’s paintings were selected to participate in the “Mostra D’Arte nella Vita del Mezzogiorno d’ Italia” and appeared alongside works by Guttuso, Levi and DeChirico. He also exhibited at the First International Exhibition- City of Messina (at which he was also awarded an Honorary Membership) organized by the Sicilian Ministry for Art and Tourism, the “Mostra d ‘Arte, Gioia Tauro” organised by the Ministry of Education and the art exhibition organised by the Circolo U.N.V.C.I  Palmi (Calabria) with the collaboration of the Gallery “Il Fondaco” of Messina. On the 24th of May of the same year Sanciolo married Concetta Bille’.

These years continued to see Sanciolo’s paintings being exhibited in a number of important regional exhibitions such as the Mostra Regionale “Il Fiore nell’Arte” 1954  (sponsored by the Messina Chamber of Commerce and organised by the Artists’ Union- Provincia di Messina) and in 1955 prominent art exhibitions in the cities of  Milazzo, and Naxos as well as the “Exhibition of Figurative Arts” – Palermo. In 1960 he also exhibited at the “Quinta Collettiva - Artisti Messinesi.

As a recognised figure in the art community of Sicily, Sanciolo was invited in 1961 to exhibit in the “Sesta Collettiva - Artisti Messinesi” and in 1963 in an exhibition which toured to Taormina, Milazzo, Barcellona, Patti, Palmi and Taurianova. In 1964  Sanciolo’s poems received a honourable mention at the First Poetry Competition “Vann’Antó” (Presided by the Nobel Prize Winner Salvatore Quasimodo) while in 1966 he won the 8th Prize at the Poetry competion “ Citta di Roma – Uva e Vino nella Poesia” and the 2nd Prize’s Silver medal at the  Poetry Competition organized by the literary Journal “Battaglia Letteraria”.

In 1968 Nino Sanciolo and his family (wife Concetta and their four children) left Sicily to live in Melbourne – Australia, where Sanciolo began a successful career as a journalist at the “Il Globo”, then the largest Italian Language daily newspaper published outside of Italy.

At the “Il Globo” Sanciolo progressed to the role of Editor in Chief before being offered the position of Director of the Melbourne edition of the bi-weekly paper La Fiamma. Sanciolo generously promoted educational tours of the Il Globo/La Fiamma offices in an endeavour to educate young people about journalism and engender in them an interest in the italian language and culture.

Sanciolo’s artistic activity continued in Australia and in 1969 he participated in the First Art Exhibition – Circolo Cavour, inaugurated by the Consul General of Italy Dott. Mario Ferrari. Early in 1970,  Sanciolo launched and coordinated the Premio Italia Exhibition at Princess Park, Carlton, in support of  the Co.As.It. (Committee for the Assistance of Italian Migrants).  Through this week-long, outdoor exhibition Sanciolo wanted to set a precedent for others to follow so that Italian artists and culture  would be promoted in the wider Australian community. This exhibition was followed by his collaboration and participation in the Italian Exhibition - Australia and New Zealand. Sanciolo’s love for the arts extended also to music and opera and in 1971 he had the pleasure to meet and play host to the internationally acclaimed Sicilian Tenor, Giuseppe Di Stefano on tour in Australia; Sanciolo had immense admiration for Di Stefano’s voice and its expressive qualities and this meeting remained a highlight of his life.

In 1972 Sanciolo became a Committee Member of ANFE (Association of Migrant Families) and in 1974 he wrote Una Storia per i Grandi the first of a number of writings for the theatre based on the social experience of Italian migrants in Australia.  The same year he was formally recognised by the Chairman of the Miss Australia Quest for his role, and that of the Italian Community, in the fundraising effort for the Miss Australia Charity Contest.

1975- 1981
These years were marked by continuous creative output, a deepening commitment to the Italian Community of Victoria and the beginning of the major art project “Monument to Dante Alighieri”  conceived by Sanciolo as a gift by the Italian migrants of Victoria to Australia.

In 1975 Sanciolo’s critical essay “Shakespeare” was published in the “Quaderni” of the Istituto Italiano Di Cultura Melbourne while in 1980 his Novella Vito Quattara won the Literary Prize Premio McCormick. This work was later published in the book “Italian Written in Australia”.  In the same year, as a key event of the Centrepoint Festival of Arts, Nino Sanciolo exhibited his paintings alongside the drawings by his son Bartolomeo.

In 1981, inspired by the desire to promote Italian language in Australia, Sanciolo formally launched the project “Monument to Dante Alighieri” and formed a fundraising committee representative of the Italian community in Victoria.

1982 - 1987
During these years, while focusing his journalistic work on the politics of migration, and especially legislative deliberations affecting Sicilian migrants in Australia, Sanciolo continued to dedicate time to painting and the writing of essays, poetry and works of fiction.

In 1982 Sanciolo met in Melbourne Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, the inspirational former Archbishop of Palermo famous for his campaign against the Mafia. The same year, on the occasion of the arrival in Melbourne of the new Consul General of Italy, the Sicilian-born, Dott. Provenzano, Sanciolo co-founded (together with his colleague Nino Randazzo, now Senator Randazzo) the Melbourne based Association of Sicilian clubs “Famiglia Siciliana” .

In 1982 he also participated in the literary competition organised by the Melbourne University Department of European Languages with the Novella “Capelli Grigi” and an essay on his first impressions of Australia.  In 1983, on the occasion of his meeting with the Onorevole Marion Fioret, Undersecretary to the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs,  Sanciolo spoke fervently about the need of Sicily to acknowledge the life, culture and status of Sicilian migrants in Australia.

During this period Sanciolo wrote his first play in Sicilian dialect, the “La Passione di Gesú’’ which integrated the storytelling tradition of the cantastorie with the classical Mystery plays. “La Passione di Gesú’’ was performed at the National Theatre in Melbourne over the Easter week of 1983.
1984 is a significant year in the advocacy work conducted by Sanciolo for the welfare of Sicilian migrants in Australia; advocacy that defined itself in Sanciolo’s participation in the 39th “Fiera del Mediterranio” in Palermo. On this occasion Sanciolo presented, in conjunction with the Association Famiglia Siciliana, a large billboard the aim of which was to sensitize political authorities in Sicily to the needs of Sicilian migrants living in Australia. 
Still in 1984 The I.T.A.L.-UIL – Regione Sicilia awarded to Nino Sanciolo the Silver Medal of the Sicilian Government acknowledging his “precious collaboration and professional commitment in favour of migrant workers”.

This recognition was further enhanced by the nomination of Sanciolo as Australian Delegate and Co-ordinator of ANFE (National Association of Italian Families) and participation as Speaker at the Conference for Multiculturalism in Australia, held the same year. As a believer of the arts as expressions of culture, in the spring of 1984 Sanciolo presented “Primavera sullo Yarra” a music event in which numerous folk groups from Sicily, Sardinia, Campania and Basilicata participated. The event also featured well known cantastorie such as Tony Cucchiara (from Sicily), Otello Profazio (from Calabria) e Antonello Rondi (from Naples).

In  1985 Sanciolo won the 2nd Prize “Cesare Pogliano” at the International Poetry Competition held by Amnesty International in Empoli. The Selection committee on this occasion comprised, amongst others, Norberto Bobbio - the outstanding Italian political philosopher whose vigilance and clarity helped guide his country's post-war democracy - and the poet Mario Luzzi, who was later to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Sanciolo worked tirelessly to integrate Sicily’s cultural heritage into the mainstream cultural landscape of Australia; an expression of this was the inclusion in Melbourne’s popular and much loved Moomba Parade of a group representing Sicily. The attentive curatorship of the group (that featured representatives of over 20 Sicilian clubs and associations), the beauty and decorations of the original Sicilian cart (brought from Sicily for this purpose), the outstanding costumes (some of which were detailed reproductions of traditional attire worn in Sicily in the 18th and 19th centuries) and the authenticity of the music were much praised by the crowd and lauded by the Australian press.

In 1987, after 10 years of intensive lobbying and fundraising, the project Monument to Dante Alighieri was completed. The 11m high bronze Monument, by the Sculptor Bart Sanciolo (who had donated his time and talent to the project) was installed in the forecourt of the University of La Trobe – Melbourne.

His Excellency The Rt. Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen AK GCMG GCVO KBE QC, Governor General of Australia inaugurated the Monument accepting it as a gift of the Italian Community of Victoria to the people of Australia. The Monument has, since then, received Heritage status by the National Trust of Australia.

Still in 1987, Sanciolo organized and presided over the 1st Convegno ANFE Pensionati e Famiglie Siciliane del Victoria.


The last years of Sanciolo’s life are marked by strong advocacy efforts, personal life acknowledgements, both in Australia and in Sicily, and continuous recognition in the field of the creative arts. This period opens, in 1988 with Sanciolo meeting Francesco Cossiga - President of the Italian Republic – in Australia on the occasion of the Australian Bicentenary Celebrations. The meeting took place in Melbourne on the Italian ship Caio Duilio, one of two ironclad battleships built in Italy for the Regia Marina in the 1870s and sailed to Australia to participate in the Bicentenary Regatta in Sydney Harbour.

The same year, on the occasion of the Melbourne Exhibition of Sicilian Ceramics, Sanciolo met the Minister Turi Lombardo representative of the Regione Sicilia.

In 1989 Sanciolo won the 1st Prize at the Essay Competition organized by U.I.E. His critical essay Radici d’Italia discussed the problematics related to the teaching of Italian in Australia.

In the same year he attended the Regione Sicilia “Enasco” meeting on the “Studi ed Aggiornamento sulla Legislazione dell’Emigrazione” (Studies and updates pertaining to Migration Law).

Also in 1989 Sanciolo proposed a plan to re- direct educational funding from the Italian and the Australian governments towards the establishment in Victoria of a registered bilingual Institute (Italian/English) for the teaching of curricula at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

In 1990 Sanciolo was appointed “Consultore della Regione Siciliana per Emigrazione e Immigrazione” (Consultant to the Sicilian Parliament on issues related to Emigration and Immigration). The nomination is endorsed by the Minister for Labour Relations- Regione Sicilia, Francesco Giuliano. In this role Sanciolo participated in the 2nd Consulta Regionale dell’Emigrazione. The same year Sanciolo was awarded the “Targa della Regione Siciliana, Assessorato Lavoro ed Emigrazione, ANFE, Delegazione Regionale, commune di Salemi”. The Award recognised his efforts in advocacy related to migrants’ welfare.

Sanciolo’s upstanding character and professionalism were recognized by the Carabinieri Corps (National gendarmerie of Italy and a branch of the armed forces, policing both military and civilian populations) who award to him the honorary rank of Major. The recognition is presented to him by the retired Marshall of the Italian Secret Police Cav. Felix Prattico.

At the close of the year, Sanciolo presided over the work of the Pre-Conference on issues related to Sicilian migration. The outcomes of the Conference were presented at the 3rd “Conferenza Regionale dell’Emigrazione” held in Palermo.

In 1990 Sanciolo also met the legendary Maria Maddalena Morelli, affectionately known as “Mamma Lena” to discuss problems faced by the Italian migrant community in Australia. Morelli had pioneered, as far back as the late 1950s, the development of foreign language programming on Australian commercial radio broadcasting in New South Wales. Her highly regarded radio work supported by Italian welfare organisations, her social, religious and sporting activities and her charitable and fundraising endeavours had been followed with admiration by Sanciolo.

Throughout this period Sanciolo continued to write poems and short stories. In 1990 one of his works was awarded the 2nd Prize at the “Concorso Letterario Internazionale” organised by the Regione Toscana.

In early 1991 Sanciolo participated in the 3rd “Consulta Siciliana Dell’emingrazione” in Palermo. In his address Sanciolo asked for greater support from the Sicilian Region for its migrants in Australia and criticised the poor management and funding allocation as well as the poor practices related to the administration of regional support to Sicilian migrants living in Australia.  Sanciolo’s intervention proved highly controversial, but in time it was responsible for greater accountability on behalf of funding bodies and increased transparency in administrative practices.

1991 also saw Sanciolo’s active participation at the Conference held in Australia by the Archbishop of Caltanissetta, Monsignor Garsia in his role as Secretary of Migration – Sicilian Catholic Church.  It was here that Sanciolo presented the proposal for the establishment in Melbourne, with the assistance of the Sicilian Region, of the Retirement Home Assisi, and for a Museum in Sicily dedicated to the works of Sicilian Artists throughout the world.  

In 1991, Sanciolo launched the idea to assemble a group of Italian-born artists who could promote italianess as well as develop a platform for the establishment of a formal association of artists who may develop through each other’s support and through Italian and Australian Government grants.  With this initiative Sanciolo had hoped that struggling Italian artists might have access to exhibition spaces and working studios and thus a support structure to develop their artistic careers. In the long term, Sanciolo’s dream encompassed the creation of an Italian Arts Centre which could foster the development of all the arts as well as generate a community interest and participation.

After a series of community consultations, Sanciolo’s initiative was realised when, in early 1992, he organised an exhibition of painting and sculpture by Italian born artists.  The exhibition aptly named, “Art x 10 Italians”, held at Sojourners Gallery – Melbourne, presented works by 10 italo-australian artists.

14th July 1992

Nino Sanciolo died in Melbourne. His sudden passing was heartfelt by the Italian community of Australia and especially the Sicilian community. His funeral, held at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church - West Melbourne was attended by the highest authorities of the State of Victoria. A Guard of Honour was kept during the service by uniformed representatives of the Italian Army, Marine and Airforce, Carabinieri and Police Corps.

His long funeral cortège, escorted by motorcycle police, closed the streets of Melbourne’s CBD.

Nino Sanciolo is buried at the Preston General Cemetery in Bundoora, Victoria.
In a personal note to Sanciolo’s family, Ambassador Antonio Provenzano wrote:

“Nino was, and will remain in our memory, one of the last examples of tenacious, sincere and perhaps desperate attachment to what we once were at our very best; Sicilians and Italians defending their identity, always threatened and overpowered, to whose aid  Nino, with the heart of a poet and the soul of a soldier, had built in far away Australia a barricade at which all our people could and should recognise themselves. With the exit from the stage of people like Nino Sanciolo, a page of Italian immigration in the world has been closed forever; his death has made us all the poorer”



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