The GTA Pugliese Community

P.2 Italian

2017/03/13 - Written by Stephanie Grella
The GTA Pugliese Community, Photo by Gal Meridaunia
The GTA Pugliese Community, Photo by Gal Meridaunia
A shared work ethic based on determination and passion unites three members of Toronto’s Pugliese community: Tony Pavia, Rocco Rossi and Andrea Trentadue.

In 1969, Tony Pavia ventured out of his hometown of Faeto, Foggia, to pursue carpentry in Canada. After settling in Toronto, the then-18-year-old Pavia jumped from job to job before realizing that his favourite hobby would ultimately become his most steady line of work: photography. “I didn’t think about doing it full-time. For me, it was more of a passion,” says 66-year-old Pavia, who was honoured with the Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2004 for his contributions to the Italian community.

The Trabucco San Nicola is located in the town of Peschici, which is famous for its seaside resorts. Photo by Vanda Biffani

Since 1980, Pavia has worked for several TorontoItalian newspapers, including Vita Italiana, Corriere Canadese and Lo Specchio. Among his most memorable assignments, Pavia fondly recalls photographing his favourite soccer team, Juventus, at the Exhibition Stadium (now known as BMO Field). In 2007, Pavia published the first volume of his book series called Focus on Community, featuring many photographs taken in Toronto. He’s currently working on the third volume.

“I like to do everything I can for the community,” Pavia says. Similar to Pavia’s dedication to his craft, Rocco Rossi’s talent as a businessman and commitment to his community has led him to his current role as the CEO and president of Prostate Cancer Canada. “I have a tremendous amount of pride for what my parents and grandparents accomplished,” Rossi says of his family, who are from the province of Foggia. “Their work ethic and desire to succeed is really what pushed me.”


“I have a tremendous amount of pride for what my parents and grandparents accomplished”


Although Rossi initially pursued a career in academia, he quickly became interested in commerce after he and his cousins bought one of his father’s two businesses. Soon, Rossi became a professional businessman, working at large corporations like the Boston Consulting Group, Torstar and Labatt. But after his mentor and close friend passed away, Rossi became more conscious of what was truly important to him and decided to try and make more of a difference in his community. In 2004, Rossi became CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A glimpse at the Basilica di San Nicola, located in Bari, the capital city of Puglia. Photo by Franco Cappellari

“If I think that one generation ago, my parents were herding sheep in southern Italy, and I’ve had the chance to lead two incredibly worthwhile charities, I shake my head that all of it was possible,” Rossi says. “I try to leave the community around me a little better than when it was given to me.” Andrea Trentadue shares similar goals and values. Born to a Pugliese father from Bari and a French-Canadian mother, Trentadue was greatly influenced by her paternal grandparents’ traditions and humble lifestyle.

Foggia’s Foresta Umbra is a protected area within Gargano National Park. Photo by Vanda Biffani

“My grandparents had a small home, but it was so full of love,” Trentadue says. “They shaped me to be someone who’s passionate about life and who carries the core values of the Italian culture: perseverance, dedication and loyalty.” As an avid writer, Trentadue studied broadcast journalism at Humber College and realized that her passion grew even more when she was on screen. After gaining experience in writing, producing and hosting shows at Rogers, Trentadue began her career at CHIN in 2000. “After my grandparents had passed away, I kind of lost a little bit of that Italian connection,” Trentadue says. “When I started working at CHIN and immersing myself in that community, I was falling in love with it all over again.”

The Trabucco San Nicola is located in the town of Peschici, which is famous for its seaside resorts. Photo by Vanda Biffani

As the recipient of the Jackie Rosati Media Award in 2012, Trentadue has been an active member of several charitable organizations, including the CIBPA Ladies Auxiliary, SickKids, the Canadian Opera Volunteer Committee and many more. For more than 15 years, Trentadue has interviewed many Italian-Canadian guests who have significantly contributed to their communities, hoping to remind viewers of the sacrifices many immigrants have made as well as how the future generation will carry on their legacies. “I’ve been able to give other people a voice,” Trentadue says. “To have a platform to remind viewers about these incredible people, that’s the ultimate for me.” 



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