“A Day in the Life” with Toronto-based Urban Designer and Storyteller Rocco Maragna

Rocco Maragna and I often sit under the wisteria canopy in our garden. I look at him and ask myself: “What made me fall in love with this man?” Amongst the countless reasons, there isn’t a definite one.

Rocco hails from a village in central Italy. At the age of eleven with his mother he migrated to Canada, to be reunited with his father. In Toronto, he discovered the profound connection between his humble upbringing and the intellectual world of academia. With a distinguished education in architecture and urban design from the universities of Toronto, Venice, and Harvard, he embarked on designing buildings and settlements on four continents.

His travels reinforced the human trait of wanting to be elsewhere. This awoke in him the travails of his first journey and the exhilaration of overcoming the many challenges. As the new millennium was approaching Rocco shifted his energy from design to migration and how the latter transforms societies, resulting in the creation of the Gallery of Human Migration.

Rocco’s story took an unexpected turn, a few years ago, during his trip to Firenze where he received a poetry prize, at the historical literary cafe’ Giubbe Rosse, for his poem “An imaginary love”. Rather than return to Toronto as planned, he decided to visit his birthplace. Unexpectedly, we saw each other, and the imaginary became real. As I pen this, I think: “… I fell in love with Rocco because of our common roots; or for his account of the power of migration; perhaps for his passion for design or at his unwavering human spirit… tomorrow I know I will find other wonderful reasons”.

-Written by Nancy Perin, loving partner

Rocco Maragna
Rocco’s childhood was influenced by the changing seasons in the static, yet mystical mediaeval village, and by his immigrant parents, Antonia and Sabatino.
Rocco Maragna
Achieving an education became for Rocco a primary goal in his new world. This was followed by a year in Venice, where he not only exchanged his billiardino’s skills with Louis Khan’s poetics, but also proposed a controversial, yet sensitive solution to the phenomenon of Acqua Alta.
The Italian returns with three Canadians to the mnemonic stones of the medieval village.
Rocco’s studio is located in the garden amidst trees each with a story. He sits on the rock under the pine grove as he conceives another anecdote.
Every year Rocco plants his vegetable patch paying homage to his roots and maintaining respect for the earth.
Rocco explores the art of Intaglio in the studio of artist Colleen Corradi Brannigan near Pescara, Italy.
Rocco Maragna
A few years ago, Rocco received a poetry prize for his poem An Imaginary Love, at the historical literary cafe’ Giubbe Rosse, in Firenze. Rather than fly back to Toronto as planned, on an impulse he returned to his birthplace. Unexpectedly, we saw each other, and the imaginary became real.
Rocco Maragna
The architecture of the project Libri, a residence for bibliophiles, adopts the language of bookmaking, but more importantly, it recognizes the meaning conveyed by books, their stories and legends. Model by Steve Verrelli; Rendering: Francisco H. Landeros Villa


Where do you live?

I live in the area of Lytton Park. When not promenading along the treed streets of this neighbourhood, I am enjoying a cafe’ with Nancy and/or friends under the wisteria canopy adjacent to the garden studio. In the fall I can be found trekking in the Apennines of Abruzzo, or along the shores of Lake Superior.

What do you do?

I am at a stage of my life where doing has evolved into living without working.

What are you currently doing?

I’m gathering strands and twists of anecdotes, encounters and reminiscences into a narrative that will serve as a point of impact whose ripples, like those of a stone dropped in water, may propagate albeit feebly, into the reader’s soul.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work on my website and on Gallery of Human Migration



About Demian Vernieri 637 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.