Giovanni Casorzo arrived in Kelowna in 1883, accompanying Father Pandosy who was returning from New Westminster on a spring supply trip. Several years later, Giovanni bought his own farm and enlisted fellow countrymen to come here and work for him. Enrico Biagioni, born 1851, was one of those. Another Biagioni, Alfredo Oreste Alberto, wanted to see more of the world, so he too made the journey to Kelowna, arriving here in 1909.
Alfredo Biagioni was born on April 25, 1884 in Filicaia, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. He was one of nine brothers born to merchant parents, Francesco Biagioni and Maria Domenica Guidi. By 1900, after a few years of teaching from a local priest, he was offered a return fare to Scotland where he would be boarded and be give $100 for three years of work. He worked in a confectionary shop selling ice cream, coffee and fish and chips. At age 20, he returned to Italy where he spent nearly three years doing his military service. He was discharged from the army in 1908.
Alfredo’s first job was at the Kelowna Brickyard. Later the same year he moved on to Summerland and started a job with John Robertson, building the St Stephen’s church. In 1910 he married Domenica Lunardi, his deceased brother, Ulisse’s widow. Alfredo helped with the construction of many Summerland buildings including the old high school and the Bank of Montreal. Fellow Tuscany, Angelo Pioli, came up from the Black Diamond Mine in Washighton State and stayed with the Biagioni’s. During this time they built a stone house on Rosedale Avenue for Alfredo, which now is Zia’s Stone House restaurant.
Alfredo’s contracted projects also included heightening the Garnett Valley dam three different times. After his many years of masonry and construction work he bought 27 acres of uncultivated land to the north of Summerland. He terraced the gulley side, installed irrigation and began its cultivation. Alfredo was an active member of the lawn bowling club and enjoyed growing grapes. He loved to travel but was regularly heard to say “Summerland, That’s my place.” Domenica passed away in 1955 and Alfredo in 1974. They had seven children: Oliviero, Ortenzia, Marino, Arietta, Adorno, Maria and Rocco.
Story basis was an article in the Summerland Review, March 15, 1951. Photo is from Alfredo Biagioni’s house, now Zia’s Restaurant in Summerland.