These bagpipes, known in Italian as a zampogna were brought from Italy by Michele Trozzolo when he left his native Calabria (in the extreme south-west of the Italian peninsula), to settle in the Toronto area. The bagpipes originally belonged to Mr. Trozzolo's paternal grandfather, who had bought them from a local artisan around the end of the nineteenth century.
In Italy, bagpipes like this were played on various occasions, including religious holidays such as Christmas or Easter and the day of celebration of a village's patron saint. Bagpipes would also be played at carnivals or when friends met together. In Toronto the zampogna is used mainly at community Christmas celebrations and at certain multiethnic musical events that are held in the city.
A curious story lies behind Mr. Trozzolo's interest in this type of instrument. After spending most of his working life as a technician maintaining heating systems in Ontario government buildings, one day he took it into his head to learn how to make zampogne: he would teach himself through books and study of a few instruments brought over from Italy by friends. Mr. Trozzolo made this decision about 15 years ago, when, during a walk in the woods, Mr. Trozzolo chanced to trip over a block of wood. He picked it up, observed how solid it was, and decided that it would be the ideal material with which to make a zampogna. Since that day, Mr. Trozzolo has made bagpipes for himself, for his friends, and for other members of the Italian community. He says he is happy to have contributed to preserving a tradition from his homeland. He has even sold his bagpipes in Calabria, including the village where he was born — where, ironically, no one makes the instruments any longer.