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Gianni Fassio
(January 2003 -- San Francisco, CA)

From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My Father Piero (Pierino) Fassio was born in Isola d'Asti, which is half way between Asti and Alba and the juncture for Nizza Monferatto and Canelli. He came to San Francisco, California in 1925. He returned in 1933 met my mother, Luigina Giuseppina Cussotto from Asti, was married and returned to San Francisco in 1934.

What led them to their destination (relatives already there, hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
My father's Uncle Giulio Fassio came to San Francisco around 1905. My father's Aunt Pierina Fassio came to San Francisco in 1913. His Aunt Vittoria Rosso Borello with her husband Eugenio and three year-old son Armando came to Oakland, California in 1911. All were from Isola d'Asti. His uncle Giulio was a waiter and my father knew he would be able to find work here. My grandfather's business in Isola was a bakery, butcher shop and general food store and my father was versed in all areas of food preparation. After arriving in San Francisco and working as a sausage maker for a short period of time he decided to switch to the restaurant business as he discovered that waiters made far more money then sausage makers. He started as a bus boy and quickly moved up to waiter and eventually to owning a restaurant with five other Italians (Lombardi, Piemontesi and Liguri) from 1935 to 1947. After an extended vacation in Italy during 1947 and 1948 he returned and became partners with a Veneziano, Mario Mondin in one of the most famous restaurants of the period, The Blue Fox. He operated The Blue Fox from 1948 until he passed away in 1975.

Were they part of a migration chain?
Although a number of people migrated here from Isola d’Asti (maybe as many as 50) I do not believe it was an organized chain but simply following someone known who had had success here.

Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina, France, England, etc.)?

No, they all came directly here.

Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members of a Piemontese society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
My father knew other Piemontesi but associated more with other Northern Italians in the restaurant business. On the other hand he did frequent two clubs that were founded by Piemontesi in Oakland where his Uncle Eugenio Borello was very involved: The Colombo Club and La Fratellanza.


Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
My parents spoke to me in Italian and to each other and friends in Piemontese. They did not encourage me to learn Piemontese as they felt it was not very useful. However, I understand it well from my listening to them and other friends and family both here and in Italy. I was raised as if I were living in Asti with all the traditions, cuisine and culture.

Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
We traveled to Piemonte frequently beginning in 1948 and for the next 14 years would spend at least a month there every other year. We have always maintained close contact with our family in Italy. I had the opportunity in 1978 to work in Europe and from 1978 to 1982 lived in Madrid, Spain and visited Asti regularly. In 1982 until 1984 my wife Jette and I lived in Milano and are visits to Asti were even more frequent.

Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I definitely consider myself first Piemontese then American.

Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was your experience like?
I not only visited my mother and fathers hometown but also recently purchased an abandoned cascina outside of Isola d’Asti and we are nearly finished reconstructing the house and plan to move there in the next two years. Our plan is to live eight months in Isola d’Asti and four here in San Francisco. We have two daughters and a total of five grandchildren. One daughter lives in Vagliagli outside of Siena in Tuscany and the other here in the Bay Area.

Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain why.
I have started to gather information and when we move to Isola d’Asti I will continue my search.

Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or any other organization?

I am a member of the Board of Directors and former President of I Piemontesi nel Mondo of Northern California. In addition, I participated in a presentation in Asti entitled "Gli’Emigrati" put on by the Camera di Commercio di Asti in 2001 and received an award as an Ambassador for Asti in 1999 and the Guido Alciati award for furthering Piemontese food in 2000.

Il testo in italiano


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