The story of a community
I was born in 1930 Tabriz in Iran where my father Andrea Aliotti (Smyrna 1896 - Istanbul 1957) was the regional manager between 1921 and 1938 of the OCM (Oriental Carpet Manufacturers) concern. So right from the start carpets the company played a role in my life. My mother Denise (née Mignot - Istanbul 1901 - Istanbul 1957) is buried together with my father at the Catholic Cemetery of Feriköy, Istanbul. In this cemetery there is also a historical monument and tombs of the buried French and Italian / Piemontese soldiers who fought as allies of the Ottoman army against the Russians during the Crimean War (1853-1856).
I managed a family company belonging to the Giraud and Aliotti families and we were distributors of Fiat cars and trucks. During this period, from 1965 to 1968, I participated in the negotiations for the foundation of the Fiat car assembly plant in Bursa (Tofaş); this was extremely motivating. The joke around these negotiations was: “Who will win? The sheep or the ram?” - Angelli meaning sheep in Italian and Koç meaning ram in Turkish [the surnames of the two financing families].
My father lived in Karşıyaka as a child, studied in Bedford, England, worked in Iran for 17 years, was transferred to Istanbul in 1938 to manage the Istanbul OCM office after death of the former manager, Mr. Maguin. My mother lived in Izmir as a child, attended Notre-Dame de Sion French School in Izmir. During the 1922 fire, my mother (21 years old at the time) being a French citizen was rescued with all her family by a French warship and brought to Nice. Years later my grandmother settled in Nice where she died and is buried. My mother moved to Iran after her wedding and she followed her husband to Istanbul in 1938. The got married on 5-9-1925 at the Sant’Elena church of Cordelio (Karşıyaka). This church was built on land donated by Niccolò Aliotti.
Alberto Aliotti was one of the founding partner of the giant carpet concern of Oriental Carpet Manufacturers based in Smyrna, with offices in all the important capitals in the world. Alberto was the brother of my grandfather Baron Enrico Aliotti. Since Alberto didn’t have any children his nephews, that is my father and uncles were brought into the key points of responsibilities of this company based in Moscow, Milan, New York and Tabriz.
I was born in 1930 Tabriz in Iran where my father Andrea Aliotti was the regional manager of the OCM concern. So right from the start carpets the company played a role in my life. When my father was taking me on touring villages in Persia on horseback, delivering the paper designs and the dyed yarns, inspecting the carpets on the looms and paying out the advances. I remember the girls signing out the colours of the pattern as they wove.
In the summer we used to spend 4 months in Yeşilköy, where I remember very well Hüseyin Bey, the baker, whose bread loaves were so good, that half of it was missing by the time I brought it home. The Greek Mr. Hristo was the butcher, Mr. Mike was the barber, a fat Greek guy, who was a chain smoker, lighting each cigarette with the remaining butt of the previous one.
In those days main family entertainment were excursions and cinema. I still remember during the 40’s the film Mrs. Miniver played by Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson that impressed me a lot.
Robert College, class of 1951, commencement - I am the one standing with a bow-tie.
Every single day I am grateful to my father who insisted in registering me to Robert College in Bebek, Istanbul. About my classmates I have been a very lucky person because most of us have been quite successful after college. Here are some names: Rahmi Koç, Oktay Yenal (as an economist has been a manager for the World Bank), Teoman Onat (professor in paediatrics), Türkkaya Ataöv (well known journalist, editor of the Turkish Daily News), Mehmet Baler (son of Bal Mahmut and manager for the Eczacıbaşı Group), Burhan Silahdaroğlu (owner of Silkar group, authority in tourism), Arman Manukyan (Prof. at Koç University), Talat Halman (Culture Minister and professor at Columbia University). Some of our teachers at this institution were: Prof. Francis Potts, Dr. Seelye, David Garwood, Charles MacNeal, Muzaffer Yeşim.
During my work I had to regularly visit my dealers which gave me the opportunity to travel around Turkey. Coming to the military service, the Italian law exonerates from military service all citizens born outside Italy still resident abroad.
Although I do not play any musical instruments my father and his brothers used to play various instruments (violin, cello, piano etc.) and would give concerts in the front garden of the house in Cordelio. Those strolling nearby on the quay would stop and listen to these young boys. My uncle Antonio Aliotti composed a few songs.
The Aliotti family originally from Tuscany, Italy, were present there in the 1300’s. They had administrative and ecclesiastic positions in the city. One of them was bishop and is buried in Santa Maria Novella. The family left Tuscany, and after a short period in Sicily, moved to Chios. Two of them; Giuseppe (b. Chios 1769) married Apollonia Giustiniani and his brother Angelo Pietro (b. Chios 1766) married Geneviève Giustiniani. They were partners in the famous Maona controlled by the Giustiniani family. They left Chios after the events of 1822 and settled in Izmir. The family had many branches and 4 branches lived in 4 neighbourhoods of the city: Punta [Alsancak], Cordelio [Karşıyaka], Bornova and Buca. The family were prominent enough for a street to be named after them the present 1462 Street in Alsancak used to be called Boulevard Aliotti.
The land for the Alsancak Italian Primary School and the plot for the Karşıyaka Catholic Church were both donated by the Aliotti family for this use. The mansion now lived by Durmuş Yaşar used to be the Aliotti house.
The Great Fire of 1922 was devastating for my family as well as for many others. Our 6 storehouses and one Han [multi-storied work building] by the sea-front were all reduced to ashes.
My grandfather was Baron Enrico Aliotti (1852-1912) whose wife was Baroness Adrienne Aliotti (née de Lochner, 1860-1944). On my mother’s side, my grandparents were Gabriel Mignot (1857-1915) whose wife was Emile Mélanie Mignot (née Talou, 1867-1955).
My wife’s grand-parents were Joseph Summa (1865-1937) and his wife Zoé Summa (née Carrer, 1865-1937) and on the maternal side: Antoine Matcovitch (1867-1922) and wife Lucie Matcovitch (née Farra, 1879-1964). The earlier generation on my wife’s side are: Pierre Summa (1833-1914) & Annette Summa (née Yernich, 1830-1910); Constantin Carrer (1815-1899) & Laura Carrer (née Borell, 1826-1898); Adolphe Matcovich & Annette Matcovich (née Chelli); Antoine Farra (1845-1921) & Virginie Farra (née Skotakis, 1848-1932).
My great grand-father Antonio Aliotti born in 1814 in Chios was the Consul of Florence in Smyrna, this being before the Italian unification in 1860. His son Enrico Aliotti, (1852-1912) was the partner of the ‘Aliotti Freres’ partnership that exported in dried figs and raisins. In addition he was a board member of the ‘Smyrna Quai Company’ and was the first president of the Smyrna Italian Chamber of Commerce that was founded in 1900. His wife was Baroness Victoria Aliotti (née Denotovich, ?-1885). The other great-grandparents were Lieutenant Colonel Gustave de Lochner (1812-1877) and his wife Sophie de Lochner (née de Terrats); Antoine Mignot and wife Marie Mignot (née Jouberton); Pierre Talou (1829-?) and wife Félicité Talou (née Saffroy, 1833-1900).
The amazing coincidence is exactly 100 years later, his grandson, that is me, became like him the head of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Turkey in Istanbul!
In 1911, during the Libyan war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, my two uncles (brothers of my father) Baron Edoardo Aliotti (1891-1967) and Enrico Aliotti (1893-1939) had been jailed in Smyrna as they were Italian citizens and considered enemies. At that time my aunt Georgette Aliotti (born D’andria), who had a very nice voice was performing, for welfare in a theatre in Izmir. By coincidence that day among the audience was present the German General Von Sanders (in Turkey training the Ottoman Army) who was impressed by my aunt’s voice and asked to meet her in order to congratulate her. When they met, the General asked if he could do anything to thank her for the nice performance. The answer was: “Sir, there are two Italian brothers in the Izmir jails and the one called Edoardo Aliotti is my fiancé could you free him”. “Sure” answered the General, “tonight he will be at home.” And that is what happened!
Before closing, I would like to mention my research concerning the first trade agreement between Italy and Turkey which was signed on 2nd of June 1453, amazingly just three days after the conquest of Constantinople. The document shows a firman of Mehmet the Conqueror, which I obtained from the British Museum, London. It is written in Byzantine Greek. The Patriarchate of Constantinople could not translate it for me, but I found a translation in Italian and a translation in Turkish done by the History Department of Istanbul University. This has been published in a book of the Italian Trade Commission in Istanbul.
Notes: 1- To read an article penned by Enrico Aliotti on the ‘Influenza della linua Italiana sulla lingua Turca e viceversa’ [The influence on the Italian language on Turkish and vice-versa] written in 2006.
submission date 2011