Submitted by: Denny Pizzini
Ancestor / Family Name: Umberto Pizzini
Ancestral Town: Riva del Garda, TN, TRE
Umberto Pizzini was born in 1896, in Riva del Garda, Austria, After the Treaty of Versailles in 1917, his town became a part of Italy. He was the third child in the family and spoke German and Italian.
At 13, Umberto hid under a train and ran away to Paris, France. Soon he spoke French as well. As a young boy in a strange country, his aptitude with languages served him well. He quickly formed friendships with the French police, running errands and learned to survive on his own. To ensure good meals, Umberto began working in the food industry in Paris hotels, working his way up to the Ritz of Paris. I have a photograph of my father serving the King and Queen of Spain.
Umberto’s job at the Ritz allowed him to travel to cities such as Madrid and Rome, where he served Mussolini twice a week. In Spain, he met 16-year-old Angelita, the youngest of 19 children. He proposed to the beautiful girl before returning to the Ritz where he was promoted to manager of the first floor. Umberto and Angelita remained engaged for ten years because of Angelita’s devotion to caring for her invalid mother.
Umberto continued to make friends and contacts in Paris including the owner of Iberia Lines. Having assisted the owner in a personal matter, he was offered a favor in return. Umberto requested passage to America.
With six dollars in his pocket, he traveled first class, bypassing Ellis Island. The year was 1925. By 1932 he made arrangements for his beloved Angelita to join him following the death of her mother.
By then Umberto had overstayed his Visa and had to arrange a mock wedding for Angelita and his friend to bring Angelita to America via Cuba. Once the two were united in 1932, a real wedding took place.
Their first son Denny was born in 1935. Jose followed in 1940 and Pierre in 1945. By 1945, Angelita became an American citizen. Grateful for having fled Madrid as communists began burning churches and persecuting nuns and priest. Her country’s Spanish Civil War in 1936-37, cost the lives of two sisters and three brothers.
Umberto Pizzini went into the printing business and was very successful despite the Great Depression and WW II. He was able to purchase homes in Brooklyn and in the country and provide opportunities for his sons to go into business as well. His cleverness, aptitude for language and intelligence made him an American success story.