Pino and Cosimo have lived opposite each other in Elsternwick for 16 years and have bonded over food, a shared sense of humour and their Italian backgrounds.
I came here from Italy in 1965, from a town south of Napoli. I’ve been in this house for 48 years. Before I came here, I was in Germany for two years – near Stuttgart. I was working in a factory there.
I came to Australia because my sister-in-law came here, and I helped concrete a lot of the buildings on St Kilda Road.
Pino’s house used to be two houses – there was a taxi driver living in one of them and a carpenter in the other.
There are two other people who have been in the street a long time – an Italian woman who lives opposite me and has been here longer than me and another lady around the corner. Everyone else is new-generation.
One of Pino’s daughters is shy, and when she needs the key she comes to the front door. The other one is different. She always comes to the back door.
No way will I ever sell my house. I worked very hard on that house. Even if you gave me millions of dollars. I will sell my house only when Pino goes kaput!
We’ve lived here since 2000. I used to own a restaurant on Glen Huntly Road and Cosimo’s son-in-law bought it, and then we discovered that Cosimo and his wife were living across the road from us.
When I opened a new restaurant, he helped me lacquer the floor. He also mows my lawn. I entertain him in exchange! Cosimo has a key to my house. He always knows when I’ve been around. He says, ‘Someone’s been here.’ He knows everything – anything that’s moved, anything that’s new in the street.
We’re like a comedy show, the two of us. He’s so funny – sometimes we go for a coffee and we’re in the car, and we’re talking Italian, and then I’ll come up with a word and he’ll say, ‘That’s dialect’, and I’ll say, ‘No, it’s Italian!’. So we call up my sister-in-law and ask her, and 90 per cent of the time he’s right, and 10 per cent of the time I’m right.
Cosimo is really welcoming and I always invite him over when I have people here.
He grows his own tomatoes, and he gives me a bottle of homemade tomato sauce. My girls love the pasta Cosimo and his wife make.
They’re really good friends. I couldn’t ask for better neighbours.