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EXCLUSIVE: Maria Venuti’s joy at finally becoming a nonna after surviving a devastating stroke

It’s a dream come true for the flamboyant entertainer.
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There’s a heartwarming reason Maria Venuti can’t stop smiling.

The larger-than-life showbiz sensation’s decades-long desire to become a grandmother has finally been realised.

“Mum is bursting with so much pride and love. It’s the most beautiful thing to see her radiant with such happiness every time she sees her grandchild.

It’s a miracle and blessing rolled into one,” reveals Maria’s devoted daughter, carer and glowing new mother, Bianca, 41.

Proud nonna Maria with Gary, Bianca and little Allegra

(Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“For as long as I can remember, Mum has been fixated on me (her only child) meeting Mr Right and bringing a baby into the world.

“To become a doting nonna has always been top of her wish list,” says Bianca, who gave birth to Allegra Maria Jardim Venuti-Freitas in Sydney’s Royal North Shore Private Hospital on September 22.

“When my fiance, Gary Freitas, and I brought Allegra home, Mum’s eyes lit up with such immense joy, she almost leaped out of her wheelchair with excitement.”

The singer and actress has been living with the aftermath of a catastrophic stroke in 2016, which led to her spending 48 hours in an induced coma.

“It’s taken most of her speech but, miraculously, she’s slowly regaining her ability to sing… and as soon as Mum caught her first glimpse of beautiful Allegra Maria, she burst into tears and started singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

“The show-list Mum rehearses with her music therapist is now brimming with lullabies.

“I remember when I was a little girl, Mum used to sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow to me. Mum couldn’t be happier to have a new number-one fan.”

In a touching revelation, Bianca says she’d made a pact with Maria as she lay in the intensive care unit bed desperately battling for her life.

“I held her hand, realising what mattered most in life, and made an emotional pledge that if she were able to wake up and know who I was – and if she would be able to know if she had a grandchild – then I would do everything in my power to make her nonna dream come true.

“This was a huge stretch at the time, as I hadn’t yet met my true love,” Bianca smiles.

The proud parents are so happy

(Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“Within a week of that promise, incredibly, Mum opened her eyes and began the long road to recovery, eventually remembering me.

“As fate would have it, I then met a very special person, my now-fiance Gary. We recently celebrated three fabulous years together,” says Bianca.

“I feel Mum mustered every last bit of strength she could to see this magic moment come true.

“To see her face light up every time she sees Allegra brings us all to tears.

“After I gave birth to Allegra – which ended up being via caesarian given that she was running late, I was over 40 and she was estimated to be a large baby – we would FaceTime Mum from my hospital bed, as COVID restrictions meant I couldn’t have any visitors.”

Baby Allegra is helping her nonna Maria to heal

(Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“Mum would sing You Are My Sunshine over the phone, but nothing compares to the thrill of seeing Mum cradling Allegra in her arms at home.

“Finally having a granddaughter has brought a whole new energy to her… and I can’t wait to see them share many precious times together.

“Mum’s 80 now, and she waited a long time for this special moment. As for Allegra, she’s a dream. A perfect little angel – cheerful, happy and calm.

“The name Allegra is a musical term meaning ‘joyous’ and ‘cheerful’ in Italian and Portuguese.

“Her middle name, Maria, carries on the name of both of her grandmothers, and Jardim is a Freitas family name meaning ‘garden’.

“On her first night, Allegra smiled as I sang Baby Mine to her and we gently listened to some Nina Simone and Madonna favourites.

“A month on, I’m already sensing Allegra has musical vibes. She loves listening to jazz, her nonna’s favourite genre,” Bianca laughs.

“Next on the agenda will be having us all together for our wedding.

The little granddaughter is bringing the family so much joy

(Phillip Castleton/Are Media)

“We were to have married in Europe last year, but the pandemic derailed those plans.

“We’ve been more than happy to focus on our family in the meantime, and are still hoping for a European wedding – either in Italy (my family’s side) or Portugal (Gary’s) when it’s safe and we can travel.

“As for Gary’s parents Albertina and Norberto, they are equally as excited about our new bundle of joy. The upside to our delayed marriage is it gives Mum more time to regain her strength as my dream is to have her walk me down the aisle and play wedding singer.

“To have fallen pregnant and now to be a mum to gorgeous Allegra, I know for sure that dreams do come true,” beams Bianca.

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