Levantine Heritage
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Pierino Braggiotti
Iolanda Braggiotti
An interview with Görkem Daşkan to cover the story of 5 generations of Levant residency
Self-introduction and the family members1

Pierino Braggiotti: I was born in 1927, in Izmir-Karşıyaka. My father’s name was Alberto Braggiotti. He was born in Izmir in 1890 and passed away in 1949 at the age of 59. My mother’s maiden name was Agnese Giudici. She was born in 1892, in Izmir-Alsancak and passed away in 1984 at the age of 92. Her father Nicola Giudici was born in Izmir in 1856 and passed away in 1936, at the age of 80 and her mother with the maiden name of Ernestina Daveroni was born in 1853 and passed away in 1942, at the age of 89. My maternal grandfather Nicola’s father was called Constantino Giudici2 and his wife’s maiden name was Maria Armao. My maternal grandmother Ernestina’s father was called Constantino Daveroni3 and his wife’s maiden name was Regina Suggioli. My mother Agnese had three sisters: Marie, Coralie and Eufemia Frida.
My maternal grandfather Nicola Giudici was the commercial agent of a Swiss insurance company called L’Urbaine in Izmir. During the fire, he and his wife Ernestina, their daughters Frida, her then husband Djalma Ricci4, Marie (she was single), Agnese and her husband Alberto Braggiotti had to leave Izmir on an Italian boat to Napoli while their second daughter Coralie had to sail away on a French boat with her French husband Pierre Missir5 and their children Alfred and Yves to Marseilles. Grandfather Nicola decided to return back to Izmir after a while and bought a house in Karşıyaka as soon as he got back and found his former house on Frank Street gone.

My paternal grandfather’s name was Ernesto Braggiotti6 and grandmother’s maiden name was Angele Balladur7. Ernesto and his brother-in-law Lucien Jacquignon had run together a tile factory in Darağacı until the Great Fire of 1922 took place, which is now the Alsancak campus building of the Yaşar University. The partners Ernesto and Lucien’s wives were the Balladur sisters: Angele and Marie. They also had another sister called Anais who married John Goût (brother of Peter Ralph Goût – Iolanda’s maternal grandfather) and a brother Antoine who happens to be our Andrew’s (Simes) paternal grandmother Yvonne’s grandfather. The Balladur siblings’ father’s name was Alexandre Balladur and mother’s maiden name was Apollonia Castelli8. Grandfather Ernesto’s parents were called Michele and Barbara (Balladur) Braggiotti9. When the fire broke out, each consulate had sent out boats to rescue their own citizens. The Jacquignons went to Marseilles and my grandfather Ernesto went to Italy. The Jacquignons used to have their house located on the Quay-Kordon. Now their descendants live in Geneva and Paris. Neither Ernesto nor Lucien returned to Turkey. Ernesto went to Greece and stayed there until his death; however my father Alberto had chosen to return back to Izmir after a year or two in Italy. As soon as he got back, he became partners with a Russian businessman, Rapoport, in importing oil from a foreign oil company ‘Neft Sendikat’, later founded their own company with Rapoport and a Turkish partner Salih Nuri Rona, ‘Ege Petrol’, which was founded to be the agent of SOCONY (Standard Oil Company of New York). My father and Mr. Rona continued on as partners even after Rapoport’s death. The company was getting a certain amount of commission from sale of fuel and mineral oils to agents in the hinterland of Izmir. SOCONY later became ‘Mobil Oil’ and terminated the business of agency with my father’s company as they opened their own office in Izmir around 1958.

Iolanda Braggiotti: I was born in 1925, in Izmir-Alsancak. My father’s name was Abel Russo. He was born in 1883, in Izmir and passed away in 1955. My mother’s maiden name was Gertrude Goût. She was born in 1887, in Izmir and passed away in 1970. The Goûts were a big English family whose members had lived in several places like Alsancak, Bornova and Buca. My mother had six10 and her father Peter Ralph Michael (b. 1858) had eight siblings11. A pretty large family, it was. Peter Ralph M. and their siblings’ parents were called Peter and Mary Blackler (Fisher) Goût. Peter Ralph M. was married to a French lady, Eugenie Roboly, born to parents Louis Napoleon and Regina (Sefercioğlu) Roboly. There is only one person that I know who still lives in Izmir and is connected to the Roboly family. Her name is Marie-Rose Caporal; we call her by her nickname Rosette. She was a Maggiar12 prior to her marriage and her mother Malvine’s maiden name was Roboly before marrying Paul Maggiar. That Malvine Maggiar was relatives with my maternal grandmother Eugenie and she used to live in Alsancak during wintertime and in Buca in the summertime. Her Buca house was located across the former Manolis Pension which is now the retirement home. Rosette still lives in Alsancak.

Anyway, the Goût family’s roots go back to Vaud, a canton in Switzerland, from where they had to leave first for Grenoble, France and secondly for England during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, and finally migrated to Turkey. Some of the family members lived in Iran and Algeria because of their works. As far as is known, my mother’s brother in Iran, William Peter Goût and her spouse Julie (Missir) Goût had moved back to England after having encountered an attempt on their daughter’s kidnapping there. One of my mother’s sisters, Mary Francis had to leave Algeria around November 1964, where she lived with her husband Alfred Yanovitz, due to the political instability there, and finally settled down in France. Rest of the Goût siblings left Izmir on boats along with their parents during the Great Fire, sailed first to Malta and then to England and Canada in time, and never returned. We know that my uncle William Peter’s daughter and her grandchildren live in London today and my aunt Mary’s children and their families live in Paris, whereas there are several other Goûts in Canada who live under different names like Gould and Galt in Toronto and in Vancouver. We lost our contact with the latter ones.

My father Abel was in the export business. He used to export figs. My paternal grandmother’s name was Marie and grandfather’s name was Edmond and they were actually relatives with the same surname. Edmond’s father’s name was Tommaso Russo13 and mother’s maiden name was Elena Say or Sary, and Marie’s mother’s maiden name was Sophie Ballin14 while her father’s name was Michele Russo. My paternal grandfather used to run a family company called “Edmond Russo and Sons”. So, both of his sons: my father (Abel) and his brothers (Marcel and Gabriel) took over the family business after their father’s death in 190815. With the fire, everything had gone. So the two brothers went on to work with the Girauds in their dried frig business. They used to have a production site in the old bazaar. I remember my father and I have passed by their place once after many years, and my father had pointed out the place to me saying “Look, that used to be our place of production”. The place was on a narrow street, somewhere near Sakız Pazarı16 and close to Sadırvanaltı Mosque, on the way to the old wholesale market hall for fish products17. The city plan is different now, I cannot pinpoint it...

Childhood and formative years

Pierino: I was a single child; however I grew up with my cousins like brothers and sisters in our Karşıyaka house. I had three cousins: : Alfred (1921-2000), Roger (b. 1923) and Simone (Missir) Marraccini (1933-2008). They were my aunt Coralie’s children. Her son Yves had died at the age of 1 or 2, in 1923 because of a disease he caught on their voyage back to Izmir from Marseilles. Roger and Simone were born after that tragic event. My mother and father, my aunts and their husbands, their children, our single Aunt Marie and our grandfather Nicola Giudici: we all used to live in the same house.

I first attended the Freres School in Karşıyaka and then St. Joseph School in Alsancak. Later I went to the Saligien School and then to the Italian School (Liceo Italiano) on Tomtom Kaptan Street in Galatasaray, Istanbul. I lived in Istanbul only during the high school years and once graduated, returned to Izmir and have lived here for good.

Iolanda’s parents and mine were friends and both families used to live in the same neighbourhood, on Frank Street. One of my cousins’ spouses was from Buca, so I have started to see my then future wife more and more often as I kept going to my cousin’s place. Iolanda and I have no blood relationship whatsoever.

Well, I did not do military service neither in Turkey nor in Italy. It was not mandatory for the Italian citizens to serve time in military who lived out of Italy.

Iolanda: I was born in a house across St. Joseph School in Alsancak. We moved to Karşıyaka when I was three years old and lived in a house which was later occupied by the Erdem College. A few years later we moved back to Alsancak because my older sister and I had to go to the Italian School ‘La Centrale’ there, as a law has been enacted in Italy at the time that said that all Italians around the world should go to Italian schools18. La Centrale was built in 1904. It was a huge one and had survived the Great Fire. Only its chapel had been burnt down then, otherwise the main building was in good shape19. I spent eleven years in Alsancak in my youth, then moved to Buca in 1948. After getting married to Pierino, we lived there for twelve years. Lastly we moved to our Karşıyaka house and lived there ever since.

I remember at the French school that Italian and Jewish students were the majority in the class and there were not many French students around. I do not remember how it was in Notre Dame de Sion as I was 5 or 6 years old then, that school was more like a kindergarten. Wearing religious clothes at schools got banned in the country at the time and the school got permanently closed. Turkish kids of Karşıyaka also used to go to the Dame de Sion. What other schools were there, let me think... There was a school called Soeurs de Charite in Bornova. It was run by a different Catholic order. The sisters in that school used to wear a butterfly-looking special bonnet called cornette. The Levantine families of Bornova were mostly English; however there were a few French families as well such as the Girauds and the Pagys. The French mainly lived in Buca e.g. the Balladurs, as well as in Alsancak, e.g. the Daumas20. Some of the families became Turkish however remained Christians e.g. the Calomeni21. We remained Italians; did not want to change nationality after a certain age. We see that the more of younger generations in our community own Turkish passports now. It is a new thing; this has not been the case some fifteen years ago. Italy did not accept dual citizenship back then. Once you married as a woman an Italian man, then you would automatically become Italian and lose your French or other citizenship. It was always the husband’s nationality that was decisive in determining the wife’s national status.

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Jacquigon and Braggiotti family members in Greece, 1953
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A 1953 Carnival crowd in Izmir
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Pierino Braggiotti and Iolanda Russo as newly weds

My siblings... I had an older brother, Marcello, who passed away three years ago at the age of 9122, an older sister called Pola23, another brother named Riccardo who had perished when he was only 21 months old because of a contagious disease that had spread in town after the fire, and a younger sister Imelda who passed away again at the age of 5 because of a disease that was seen in one in a million.

When I was a kid I was crazy about travelling. The older people around me would tell me: “Why do you like travelling this much? You are just a little girl.” I travelled abroad first in 1937 and then in 1939 and in 1940. We had spent four months in Italy in my last trip to the place as a kid, when the war suddenly broke out in 1940. The then Italian government used to send away on an authorised ship to many spots in the world to pick Italian kids there and take them to Italy to have them see and learn more of their fatherland. A ship used to come to Izmir to pick up the kids and then sail to Istanbul, do the same, then go further to Athens, take the new batch of kids and head to Italy. The war suddenly broke out in 1940. I remember the ships went out of use due to the war, so we had to turn back by train in my last visit to Italy as a kid. The train was full of kids. It was a big responsibility to take to deliver those kids back their homes. We had stopped in Romania, Greece and Bulgaria on our way to Istanbul. We stayed for two days in Istanbul and then took the train in Bandırma that headed down to Izmir.

I learned Turkish in the Italian elementary school. Our teacher’s name was Neriman Hanım. She was a very old woman and I cannot say that I liked her much. There was another one who used to impose on us, the pupils, the duty of knitting this and that for a stranger’s newborn baby all the time. However we managed to learn Turkish somehow (smiles). Even back then, at places that we went for shopping, people used to speak in Greek. You would never hear Turkish at such places as much as you do now. I never had a professional career so I never needed to learn how to speak Turkish perfectly. I am a housewife, but I can also speak Turkish as you see.

The family life: Environment, neighbours and others

Pierino: It was my maternal grandfather Nicola Giudici who had bought our Karşıyaka house. It used to be a villa with a garden of 2.000 square meters built in the late 1800s by an English family called the Werrers before it was demolished in 1963, following the deaths of my father Alberto Braggiotti and my uncle-in-law Pierre Missir, and later an apartment block rose on its land called ‘Mısır’. Our old house was surrounded by Villa Irene -where Matteo ‘Bebe’ Vitale, Alfredo-Edo Braggiotti and the Moralizade family lived, in chronological order-, Evliyazade family’s (to be sold later to Dr. Fikret Tahsin) Villa Quisisana24 with the famous four-seasons statues in its garden on the west, houses of Lütfi Krom [advert], Sadi İplikçizade -both families and their relatives still live in the same houses today-, and the Penetti Mansion to the east... Villa Alliotti which is located a few blocks ahead was owned by Selçuk Yaşar’s father of Durmus Yaşar. The twin villas just before Hasan İkbal’s house (now Gökdelen Apartment), used to be the School for the Deaf and Mute. An apartment block called Çağlayan now stands in its place.

Being born in Karşıyaka and lived there through all my childhood years, my wife and I lived in Buca for twelve years. We used to have an old house there; then sold it and moved to Mısır Apartment in Karşıyaka (built on Nicola Giudici’s villa) in 1966.

Well, we are friends with the French Missir family from Beirut. In fact they used to live in Izmir until the Fire, but with the Fire, they had to leave for Marseilles and then rest of the family went to Beirut except Pierre Missir who had returned back to Izmir25. He was my mother’s brother-in-law, but I used to call him uncle. There were the Morettis and the Caporals too that I remember we used to be good friends with.

Iolanda: There was a florist called Schlosser who was either Austrian or German. His sons were called Achille, Fefo and Pepe (Giuseppe). Pepe had migrated to Australia and was very young when he passed away there... We used to live in an Alsancak house that belonged to the Abajoli family, many members of which had migrated to France.

I remember the Icards, a French family from Buca26. I remember the Pariente, Pennetti, Kopri, Lochner, Pallamari, Missich, Filinesi and Marraccini families from Karşıyaka.

There was a greengrocer in Alsancak; Charles Barolier who used to speak French. There was a butcher named Hasan and a grocery man called Mehmet both of whom always spoke in Greek to their customers. I remember Mehmet Efendi telling my mum “Madam, buy sugar. Buy flour and pasta too, as they will not be in the market anymore for some time,” every single day during the WWII days.

There was also Jean Julier, the pharmacist. His store was on what is now Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street, shortly before coming to the St. Rosario Church. Every time I pass that building these days, I say to myself “This used be our pharmacy”. All the cupboards in the store were glass fronted and full of jars of drugs. Whenever we got sick, the doctor would write us a prescription and we would go to Jean Julien to buy the medicine which he used to make himself. He would say to us “Come back in two hours’ time to take it”. That was how the pharmacists used to work then. They were not only selling the medicines but most importantly making it. It was a great coincidence that our Frida -Pierino’s small aunt- had married Jean Julien after the two marriages she did with Djalma Ricci and later Nino Rossi, the latter of whom was accidentally shot dead during the WWII days. A stray bullet from outside hit and killed him, while he was sitting in the living room of his house. Jean Jullien was actually one of Frida’s early dates. In the days of Fire, he had left for Marseilles and Frida had travelled first to Italy and then settled down in Athens with her then-husband. Later the two managed to get in touch with one another and got married in Marseilles. They both passed away there.

There was also Felice Capadona, the building contractor. This Italian used to own a small dry-goods store which was quite a busy place all the time. Later he bought himself a bigger place and started to sell a wider range of things including fabrics and dishware. It had turned into a huge place in the likes of a drapery and a glassware shop. Then he started building apartments with his business partners. Many of the nice houses in Alsancak were built by his company. The house located right across the old NATO Headquarters Building where Felice’s daughter Elena Capadona lives today, for example. That apartment block used to be De Portu Villa. After the house got demolished, Capadona took away its marbles to Çeşme to use them in one of the new houses he did in Ardıç27. Again, another house was located at the last corner on Plevne Boulevard toward Lozan Square and many others on Gül Street; the old Italian Consulate Building which was later to be demolished... Some other houses on Kordon abreast the German and Greek Consulate Buildings, all were built by Capadona. Those houses on the Kordon were beautiful. They were all in marble and worth seeing. Now most of them are gone and replaced with concrete blocks. Pierino’s uncle John Braggiotti used to live next to St. Rosario Church and Lucien Jacquignon -Pierino’s great uncle-in-law- used to live in a house on the Kordon. His house found its way to be printed onto a Turkish stamp in the 1930s.

We used to be in very good relations with our neighbours - not only with the Christians but with the Turks as well. We did not have any Jewish neighbours, but they were also nice people.

Who else... There was Ferdinando Stano, Italian. His wife Yvette Leroix was -Pierino’s cousin- Alfred Missir’s first fiancée. Alfred later married Jeanne Missir and Yvette married Ferdinando Stano. We are friends with Mr. Stano’s daughter Anna-Maria. The Stanos were three girls and two boys. One of the boys, Oscar Stano, used to run the old Hachette bookstore below the Izmir Palace Hotel.

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Alberto & Agnese Braggiotti in their Karşıyaka mansion
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Nicola Giudici
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The wedding party of Iolanda Russo & Pierino Braggiotti
Being a Levantine in the old and new Izmir

Pierino: Well, Levant means “the land where the sun rises”, therefore the orient, in French. Le levant, as they say. The word Levantine is derived from that root. The Genoese and the Venetians were in trade relations with the Aegean islands more than two hundred years ago. That way they had discovered Smyrna and settled down there. The weather was nice and the women were nice, so they gave it a go (smiles). There is a certain hanky-panky element to trade business, so the word Levantine has somewhat a pejorative connotation in some Western circles... Our ancestors were the Levantines. In these two hundred years, easier said than done, we had bad times as well but after all, we chose to stay. Some left for good and some came back after six or seven months or more abroad, looking for a job and not enjoying much the places they had been. Traditions and customs were different from theirs, starting from scratch with not much wealth was not easy and life in general was never easy for many of them. In Italy many of them were accommodated in dorms but they could not stay there much longer. So, they said “Let’s go back to our good old Izmir and try again” and they did. Before sailing abroad, many of them had agreed with mutual acquaintances of theirs as a medium through whom they could correspond with one another in due time. It worked. That way many of them found one another and got married even after years far away from Turkey. There used to be many Levantine families residing not only in Izmir but also in all the major port cities of countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, and in the rest of Turkey. Well, a great deal of them have left their two hundred years old homelands and went separate ways in the world...

Well, national status is a little bit problematic among the Levantines. Take the Missir family for instance: there are the French Missirs, Italian, Greek, German, American and Turkish Missirs. All of them are Missirs in the end. This is also the case with many other Levantine families around.

Of course I remember the “Compatriot, speak Turkish!” campaign. It was the İnönü years. You could feel the pressure in the air. I remember we used to cross the bay by boat every other day to get to Freres School in Alsancak, when we were school kids. Anyone on the boat who heard us speak Italian or French in our friend’s group would all of a sudden yell out “Speak Turkish!” The thing is, I took Turkish lessons in the elementary school all the way through the high school level: Turkish grammar and the Turkish literature lessons, respectively.

Iolanda: I remember having heard that around 13.000 thousand Italian men living in Turkey who were at the appropriate age for fighting were left with no choice by the Ottoman state but to leave the country during the Italo-Turkish War in Libya in 1911-2. Otherwise they were going to be counted as prisoners of war. It was feared that they would take side with Italy against the Ottomans. Women, elders and infants stayed on while the men went to various destinations like Cyprus and Tunisia. My father had gone to Tunisia. Those men returned to their former homes only after the war had ended. Perhaps some never returned, who knows?

The political side of the Fire was not a subject matter that was discussed broadly in the family. I do not remember my parents talk about it really; at least they did not when we were around. I mostly remember them talk about how calm and lively life in Smyrna used to be before the days of fire. People living in peace, going to theatres and balls and having good time is what I mostly heard from them actually. However we had our own fire story too in the family. My father and his brother had to walk on foot from Izmir (Alsancak) to Karşıyaka. They have put their mother, two sisters, wives and four kids -one being a baby- on a single coach that was prepared to go to Bornova. My older brother was born on May 19 and the fire had broken out on September 13! I have just told you about this brother of mine, Riccardo. He died when he was only twenty-one months old because of a virus probably the fire had caused. Anyway, my mother and my sisters and brothers travelled on that coach to the Pasquale House28 in Bornova. It was a large villa situated at the entrance to Bornova across Jacques ‘Jacquot’ Topuz’s house29. According to my mother’s memory, they stayed there for a couple of days, and then felt obliged to leave the house as the householders started to complain about the crowd in there. Thereupon, my mother walks up to the Catholic Church30 in central Bornova and asks the priest if there is enough space in the church to accommodate them all. He says “Take your kids and come over” and gives them an empty room. All the family members stay in the same room for days. I remember my cousin Edmond who was nine years old then, telling me that he liked lentil soup ever since he had to eat it there at every meal and did not used to really like it before. I do not remember how my father and Uncle Marcel found one another after those days.

There was a large and beautiful house across the old police station in Alsancak, close to the Port of Punta. Uncle Marcel’s wife Marie (Maggiar) Russo’s uncle, Ernest Magnifico, used to live there before he got appointed as the American Consul for Greece and left Izmir31 [document pertaining to this property]. It was a three-storey house. It was told in the family that they watched the fire from its roof terrace. We used to go to that house to visit my uncle’s family every Sunday when I was a little kid. Then they sold it to Capadona after my uncle’s death. Once it was a lovely house, now it is an office block32. My parents’ house was burnt down during the Fire. So they moved into a house of Joseph Abajoli.33 He has lent the house to my father saying “Move in if you like. If we ever turn back from France, then you move out”. Like he said, he decided to return back to Izmir one day and my father Abel looked for another house for us. He rent one of the five adjacent houses named the ‘Homsi Houses’34 built on a vacant plot in Kordon behind the Italian Consulate Building.

Well, not much has remained from the period pre-1922 really. Only the letters of the brothers remain who had to leave Izmir with the Fire. The house, the dowry, two goats, two dogs, all went up in smoke with the flames. Presumably, my father had thought that they could put out the fire, and that is why he had left the house taking nothing with him. Something I very recently learned is the story of a Greek woman leaving her Singer sewing machine to my mother while she was leaving. That machine is now in Milan.

How can I forget 6-7 September 1955? Our daughter Maria was born on 7 September 1955. There was a national curfew those days. However I was pregnant and had to give birth! There was a maternity clinic close to Alsancak Railway Station’s clock tower [archive postcard views] called ‘Adil Bir’ where a famous obstetrician called Dr. Karali35 used to work. He delivered my baby like he delivered the babies of many other Levantine ladies and their daughters. Anyway we had to live under martial law for a while then. Karaali had told me “You have to cut your fingernails so that you will not scratch the baby’s skin.” I did not have a clipper with me, so my sister and another relative headed off to my aunt’s house in the neighbourhood to get me a clipper. There were soldiers around but they did not say anything to those women. It was a state of urgency after all... And Cinzia was born on December 24 at ten to midnight. My daughters chose special dates to be born (smiles). We also have a son, Alberto, born between our two daughters.

We speak French in the house although we are Italians because our parents have gone to French schools and used to speak French at home. So, this is a habit that we took up from our parents I guess. This was the case for many Levantine families in Izmir in our day. We had to learn Greek in order to communicate with the shopkeepers better. With Greek, I mean a dialect of Greek that was special to Izmir, called Frango-Chiotika. Whenever we were to visit Athens, people there would ask us, “You are speaking a different type of Greek, are you from Chios?”

Leisure and food

Pierino: As for our hobbies, I used to have a great interest in sailing when I was younger and now am into philately36 and Iolanda enjoys knitting. She now knits things for our grandchildren. When we were living in Buca, the gentlemen there used to have a habit of meeting at church before dinner to play a game similar to bowling. Iolanda used to bring us a jug of ice tea at 5 o’clock...

We used to go abroad and spend at least one month travelling once every year. We would stop off in Greece, later again in Yugoslavia en route to Italy by car and then go on either by car or take the ferry through the Adriatic Sea after Yugoslavia. Iolanda’s older brother Marcello was living in Italy and we used to go to Italy mainly to visit him. Her sister Pola was in France. We used to visit her too, and the other countries like Germany and Austria. A couple of times we have taken the ship from the islands across Çeşme. We travelled across Turkey to beautiful and historical places like Cappadocia, Antalya, Alanya etc.

I do not play any musical instruments but we enjoy listening to music, especially the lyrical music like Verdi and Puccini. I remember the Corsican singer Tino Rossi being quite popular.

We used to go to the movies once every week. To Tayyare and Elhamra on the other shore and to the Melek Movie Theatre here in Karşıyaka, we would often go. I used to like the comedy films with Fernandel and Totò. Iolanda used to have a thing for Clark Gable (smiles). She used to go to the women’s matinees on Tuesdays. For a couple of times we went to the Elhamra to see the French theatre troupes. Oh, I forgot to say how much I used to enjoy Tarzan films! So much so that I could run to any movie house in the city that showed a Tarzan film. In İkiçeşmelik, Tepecik, it would not matter. My nickname was Tarzan (laughs). I used to climb over the trees in our garden and hop from one to another. My female cousin Flavia (Pennetti) Reggio would be Jane of course, and Jacky Filippucci would be Cheeta the chimpanzee.

Iolanda: Well, food... On Christmas Eve we used to have only fish for dinner after fasting all day. Maybe a little water or a cup of coffee was allowed. We would have fish, vegetables and salads -no place for red meat- for dinner and then walk up to the church toward midnight for the Christmas service. Santa Claus would show up too for the kids. Later the priests thought of another way to make it easier for the elders to attend the service and moved it to an earlier time. It was really painful for the old people to go to church at that time on cold winter nights. Now they start at 7 pm at the St. Rosario Church. We attended the service this year like we did every other year in the past. After the service we go to Cinzia’s house in Bornova to have hot chocolate. At Christmas dinner we have turkey of course. We also cook a special Christmas sweet called finigia or ladinia. It is a kind of kalburabasti. After you bake the oval pieces of dough, you dip them into hot syrup sweetened with honey and serve it when it cools off, with sprinkled cinnamon powder and chopped walnuts over the top. It is a delicious dessert. Another one is nougat. We put many kinds of dry fruit in it: almonds, walnuts, orange peels, cinnamon etc. and honey. Also adding a pinch of ground coriander would give it a richer flavour and aroma. Then you pour this mix onto a sheet of baklava dough laid out on an oven tray and cover its top with another layer of dough. And lastly you put another tray on top of it and place a heavy thing like a gas cylinder on the very top so that the paste will stick well. It had to wait like that for two days to harden. Then you take it out of the tray and serve it by cutting into pieces. Well, while giving the recipe I realised that we do not make it any longer. We used to have a piece of that nougat before leaving the house for church on the night of December 24th. On New Year’s Eve we had a sweet called la pita. It is a large cookie with a coin in it. We bake as many cookies as the number of the household, and an extra one to bless the house. The family members would be very happy as soon as they found the coin in their cookies. During Easter we bake a special cookie called zurekia. All these recipes are handed down from the Greeks. There were many Greeks living in Izmir, then.

I used to cook flamboyant dishes from Greek and Turkish cuisines when I was younger. Now I cook more Italian dishes than ever: spaghetti, ravioli etc., using mostly the ready-made stuff that we order from Italy.

Our carnivals... We used to play games during the Carnival. Men used to wear women’s clothes and vice versa. We do not need any bizarre clothes now because we already look like mummies! (laughs) When we were younger, we used to wear extraordinary clothes. Looking funny was the motive. Masquerade. Women did not used to wear trousers in daily life, so, for a woman to wear a man’s trousers was considered funny at the time. We used to come together in houses for the Carnival, not outside like our ancestors did in the distant past. We are not in good health condition to go to the carnivals anymore...

At the seaside in Karşıyaka, there used to be several sea baths [wooden bathing cubicles] at the end of the piers. Maria (b. 1955) is from the last generation who had the chance to enjoy those enclosed baths. The sea was beautiful, all clean and clear then. You could see the fishes in the sea while you were fishing. Pierino spent much of his youth sailing on his boat Cusio -hover- in the bay. He often used to bring to the house the huge black mussels he took out from the sea, wishing to find a pearl in them, but none of them had turned out to have one as far as I remember (smiles).

For breakfast we used to have (and still do have) tea or coffee with milk, butter, cheese, olives and jam. There were bakeries that used to sell brick-oven bread, then. It was a marvellous thing, the brick-oven bread. During the WWII, the bread was sold on condition of having an official card to buy it. I remember I used to go to the bakery only once at the end of every month with a card in my hand to buy plenty of bread at a time. Pierino’s father was a diabetic, so we had to buy rye bread for him. I remember I had a lot of lentil meal in my youth. So, when I finally became a housewife myself, I started to cook diverse foods like chicken, vegetable meals with ground meat, roast beef, etc. In our Buca house we used to a have a big garden and many chickens, rabbits and pigeons strolling around. My father used to buy the fowls from live markets. He was the one who was in charge of getting them ready to be cooked. After his death I only had Pierino to do the job but he was not very talented in that (smiles). Killing a rabbit or a pigeon had its own unique method. You have to put your finger on the poor little bird’s heart and thumb-press it gently to kill the pigeon without causing it pain. Roasted rabbit, rarely wild boar meat but no snails, no, I do not remember that I cooked any snails.

Let’s finish our talk with sweets again... We used to have a nice variety of dessert recipes, you name them. One day I opened my mother’s cookbook and read a recipe with the ingredients of eighteen eggs, almost a kilo and a half of chestnut (laughs). Well, that makes a huge baking tray of pastry! Families were big then, that is why the amounts were large like that. Those trays could not fit in any of today’s house ovens. We would take them to the bakery in our day as well. There were times especially when it was Easter or Christmas that the people would get confused in the bakery about which tray was whose and finally pick up the wrong one, because all of the trays were the same! Perhaps they were taking the incorrect one on purpose for the best baked turkey (laughs)...

1 Special thanks to Maria and Cinzia Braggiotti for their help during and after the interview. return to main text

2 The Giudici family, as well as the Castellis and the Reggios were noble families of the Genoese descent. They had first moved to Chios in the 1400s and later to various spots in Anatolia. (Willy Sperco, Les Anciennes familles Italiennes de Turquie, 1937, Istanbul:Zelic.). return to main text

3 The Daveroni family originates from Venice. They moved first to Tinos in the Aegean Sea like many other Venetian families did in the 1500s, during the Venetian reign of the island that lasted from 1207 to 1715. And after the Ottomans captured the island, such families sought to live in further places like Izmir and Istanbul. (Sperco, ibid.) - company invoice. return to main text

4 He was either a Duke or Marquis in Italy but not from Izmir. return to main text

5 He was born to Herman (1855-1914) and Eugenie Fanny (Karaman) Missir and had three siblings: Adeline (b. 1887) and the twins Jules and Julie (b. 1890). return to main text

6 Locals from the Venetian aristocracy, the Braggiottis, settled down in several locations before they arrived in Izmir and Istanbul in the 1800s: The first destination was Milan where the Braggiottis who live in Izmir today are registered in (info courtesy of Cinzia Braggiotti), then Corfu, thirdly Chios, and finally Izmir and Istanbul. (Sperco, ibid.). return to main text

7 Other than their son Alberto, Ernesto and Angele Braggiotti had two daughters: Anna-Maria Zoe (1886-1965) who married Peter Goût and had two children named Vivien and Cecil, and Evelina Barbara (1892-1970) who married Ernesto Policarpo Mainetti (1889-1943) - to view the detailed Goûts of Smyrna descendancy tree pdf | image versionreturn to main text

8 The Castellis were originally a Genoese family. The maiden name of the mother of the first Aliotti ever in Izmir, Niccolo, was Castelli (Sperco, ibid.). return to main text

9 Ernesto had four siblings: Guglielmo (b. 1851), Matilde (b. 1857), Alessandro (b. 1863) and Angele. return to main text

10 Mary Frances (b. 1889) who married Alfred Yanovitz; William Peter (b. 1891) who married Julie Missir; Richard Luis (b. 1892); Charles Anthony (b. 1895); Frank (b. 1898) and Albert Joseph (b.1902). return to main text

11 Helen Mary Rose (b. 1851) who married François Dracopoli; Mary Elizabeth Louise (b. 1852) who married Albert Perkins; David ‘de Veluz’ Arthur (b. 1853) who married the daughter of the then American Consul in Izmir, Helen Offley - their son Peter Goût was going to work at the British Consulate in Izmir; John Albert Abraham (b. 1854) who married Anais Balladur; Amy Laura Amelia who married Joseph Xenopoulo; Frances Mary Ann Coralie (b. 1860) - she was single; Frederic Charles Adolphus (b. 1864) who married Julia Fisher and Charles Ernest James (b. 1869) who died when he was only three months old. return to main text

12 Her family had probably arrived from Hungary. return to main text

13 His father was a tailor. return to main text

14 Her family was originally from Nantes, France. return to main text

15 Abel, Marcel and Gabriel had one other brother, Elysée, and two sisters: Marthe and Marie-Jeanne. return to main text

16 A popular bazaar in Kemeraltı district. return to main text

17 Konak Pier, a shopping mall today. return to main text

18 The accuracy of this assertion is being investigated. return to main text

19 The school was demolished in 1944, and in its place now stands the Presidency building of Dokuz Eylül University. return to main text

20 The Daumas’ were a large family. The head of the family was Antoine Daumas. The names of his four sons and six daughters from the oldest to the youngest were: Mable, Germaine, Pierre, Yvette, Raymond, Noellie, Charles, Julie, Norbert and Mireille. To Iolanda Braggiotti’s knowledge, two of Antoine Daumas’ nephew Honoré’s sons, namely Roger and Jean, live in Izmir and Istanbul today while the rest of the family is residing mainly in France. She cannot remember when and from where the Daumas’ came to Izmir, and states that Antoine Daumas was quite old (at least three generations older than her) when she was a little girl. return to main text

21 They were from either of Italian or Greek descent. return to main text

22 He was married to Adelmina (Salati) Russo (1920-2005). He was held prisoner by the Germans during World War II. After the war ended he was released and returned to Italy with the other Italian soldiers and settled down in Rome. return to main text

23 She was married to Charles Missir (1911-1993) and they had a son called Claude. return to main text

24 Quisisana means “Here we heal” or “Here one is healed” in Italian. return to main text

25 For more information on Missir Family, see the books by Livio Missir Reggio Mamachi di Lusignano. A list of his publications can be found here. return to main text

26 The Icards are known to have come to Izmir from La Ciotat, Marseille in the 1700s. Some of the descendants of Jean Icard still live in Izmir and Istanbul today. He is said to have owned a drugstore in Izmir where he sold herbal teas, spices and drug related items. Among the descendants of the family were Jean-Pierre and Marguerite ‘Guiguitte’ Icard who were born to René and Wanda (Pagy) Icard. Marcel Icard and his wife Gisella Rossi had a son named Guy, and a daughter named Lorraine. Lorraine lives in Alsancak and Jean-Pierre lives in Bornova at present. return to main text

27 Special thanks to Ingrid Braggiotti for this information. return to main text

28 The house is also known as the Barry House and the Lawson House. The house was expropriated in 1948 and now used as the clubhouse of Ege University. return to main text

29 The house is located across the train station in Bornova and faces the Pasquale House. It had belonged to the Aliotti Family before it was initially owned by Michel and Ninette Topuz and then by his son Jacques Topuz and his wife Leyla Hanım. (Information by courtesy of Hülya Soyşekerci in Bornova’dan Gün Rengi Sayfalar [Sun-coloured Pages from Bornova], p. 69, 2011, Istanbul: Heyamola.) It is ironically known as “the house into which a municipal bus has crashed" by the local people. The house was in ruins for a long time and is now restored and being used as a private dental hospital. return to main text

30 The Santa Maria Church. return to main text

31 As he had no children of his own, he had given the house to his sister’s daughter Marie prior to his leave. Marie’s father Paul Maggiar was going to marry Malvine Roboly after his wife passed away (see above). return to main text

32 The name of the office block is Dalyan. return to main text

33 Joseph Abajoli is known to have run one of the most popular glassware stores in Izmir of its time where people shopped for wedding trousseaus and presents. It is common even today to find in the Levantine houses, crystal or porcelain vases, tableware and services once bought from his shop. Joseph Abajoli’s cousin Marius Abajoli’s two sons Pol and George still live in Izmir today and are in the printing business. return to main text

34 These houses are known to have built by the ceramic tile manufacturing company Homsi. Braggiottis note that on the façade of one of the houses was written Archeveche meaning ‘the Archbishop’s’. Among the other inhabitants of those houses were the Louis and Adeline (Missir) Lochner couple, and their daughter(s). When Pierre (Adeline’s brother) and his wife Coralie (Giudici) Missir turned back from Marseille, they had stayed at Adeline’s house and even their son Yves had passed away there. After Nicola Giudici turned back from Italy and moved in a house in Karsiyaka, Pierre and Coralie, along with their son Alfred (Missir) joined him in the house. return to main text

35 Real name: Ali Karal. He received medical education in Switzerland. He was known to be a charitable figure for having delivered poor families’ babies in addition to his full-time paid job. return to main text

36 Stamp-collecting. return to main text

(Interview conducted by Pelin Böke and Görkem Daşkan on the 5th February 2011 in Karşıyaka. Translation into English and editing by Daşkan.)

image courtesy of Görkem Daşkan
From left to right: Görkem Daşkan, Cinzia Braggiotti, Pierino & Iolanda Braggiotti, Pelin Böke

 Notes: 1- Click here to view a simplified family tree of the overall Braggiotti family courtesy of Michele Valleri and here for the immeditate ancestors of Pierino and Iolanda.
2- A fellow contributor to this project, Jeffrey Tucker, was able to give information on a possible distant relation of the Braggiotti family: ‘There is my possession this case with initials of George Bragiotti where the priest dress, gun and some Vatican sealed religious relics were. Priest dress and gun is now under Bosphorus, these were dangerous things to keep in past times!! I have also papers related to him as well. He was also a business man I suppose. It was him who sold my great grandfather the American central railway bonds. I contacted once a member of that family who is a bank owner in Monte Carlo but he was not that interested.’
3- Unfortunately Pierino Braggiotti died peacefully on the 13th of May 2014, may he rest in peace...

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