|1600-2015 FAMIGLIA GOTUZZO HISTORY
by Astrid Marina Gotuzzo
1600-2015 - "La Famiglia Gotuzzo" migrated from Italy to Peru, from Peru to California, back to Italy... and now to the South of France.
The Gotuzzo family originates from the Italian Riviera, from three sea-villages along the Mediterranean Sea: Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure and Chiavari. Town records show that we were ship builders from 1652 to 1935. Towards the end of the 1700’s the Gotuzzo’s constructed ferryboats to sail the Mediterranean Coast, Greece, Turkey and into the Black Sea towards Russia trafficking oils, barley and wheat.
Around 1870’s, three Gotuzzo Brothers: Bartolomeo, Luigi and Domizio (my Great Grandfather), set-sail to the Americas seeking opportunity. They sailed across the Mediterranean Sea, traversing the Atlantic Ocean, towards Brazil, sailing around the tip of South America at Terra Del Fuego, entering into the Pacific Ocean, up the Chilean Coast and landing in Peru. At that time, that trip must have taken about two to three months depending on the weather and the waters.
Once in Peru, the three brothers decided to continue the family business of import & export and opened-up Bodegas (stores). From Italy they brought olive oil, wines, salami, parmigiano, cheeses, textiles and many other Italian products. The Bodegas had all the comfort and elegance that was possible at that time. Part of the Gotuzzo’s from Italy migrated to Peru to help with the family business, and the rest stayed, building ships.
In 1888, my Great-Grandfather Domizio Gotuzzo Roisecco (born September 30, 1857 in SML) returned to Italy to marry an Italian girl named Eugenia Rosa Rainuzzo Prato (born May 3, 1868 in SML). After their wedding they sailed back to Peru bringing with them their dowry filled with beautiful linens and precious household items. As they attempted the perilous passage at the Terra del Fuego, the ship hit bottom and sank. Domizio and Eugenia swam to shore loosing all their belongings. They waited for another ship to pass to continue their journey. Once back in Peru, business was so good that Domizio opened four Bodegas, for his four sons: Giuseppe Alberto Gotuzzo (my grandfather), Bartolomeo Gotuzzo, Manuel Luigi Gotuzzo and Roberto Sebastiano Gotuzzo (married Sabina Canzio, had a son Giuliano Gotuzzo). The four brothers also had a little sister, Teresa Margherita Gotuzzo. They became prosperous merchants in Peru for about 40 years.
Then in 1929, the world depression hit so badly the import business was forced into bankruptcy, and a few months later Domizio died. Immediately after his death, Eugenia his wife went to all their Bodegas, took all the money, and set-sail back to Italy. My father, Tomasso Aldo Gotuzzo and his family followed their grandmother Eugenia back to Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy. Eugenia was taking care of Tomasso, his brother Gabriel and sister Teresa since their mother died at Tomasso’s birth and their father needed help raising his children.
After some time in Italy, my father’s family returned to Peru. Soon afterwards, Tomasso’s father was not well and needed to sail back to Italy to obtain better medical treatment for his aliments, promising the kids to return within 4-months. Then, World War II started and Tomasso’s father was stuck in Italy for 12 years leaving the kids to be raised by their uncle Manuel Luigi Gotuzzo and aunt Otilia Clotilde Moscoso Canales until they were adults. They were raised together with their cousins: Manuel, Roberto, Donisio and Margarita who were the children of Manuel and Otilia.
During this time, around 1935, the Gotuzzo shipbuilding business collapsed due to the World Depression and World War II. Almost 300 years of Shipping-Building ended in Italy.
In 1959, my father married my mother, Ada Alexandra Agripina Segura in Peru. Soon after, in 1960 the military “revolutione” in Peru by Generale Velasques Alvarado was the motivating force to seek a life elsewhere for his young family. In May 1961, my father set-sail to The United States of America seeking opportunity. He landed in New Orleans and traveled to Los Angeles to meet his cousin, Donisio. Three months later my mother and my one-year-old brother Marco flew to Los Angeles to join my father. My mother was six months pregnant with me, Astrid Marina Gotuzzo.
After five years in California, my mother was extremely homesick and wanted to go back to Peru to be with her family. My father sold everything to return to Peru to start a new life with his young family. He worked for an American Company, Grace Company. By this time, my parents had four children: Marco, Astrid, Bea.triz and Thomas. In Peru, the kids were having a hard time adjusting to the environment, our immune-systems were not prepared for third-world living. My parent where forced to sell everything, migrate again, and return to California.
Ada and Tomasso - 25th Anniversary
We spent most of our childhood in Southern California. We studied at St. Joachim School, Newport Harbor High School and we all graduated with University Degrees. After University I wanted to fulfill my dream of studying in Italy, and went to the University of Florence. I traveled all of Western Europe and especially loved everything about Italy.
I remember the very first time I went to Portofino to visit my relatives. My father gave me a wrong telephone number, so I couldn’t warn them of my arrival. So from Florence, I took the train up the Mediterranean Coast which is absolutely magical, it took about three hours. I got off the train and walked to the address my father gave me. I was so nervous. I rang the door bell and when the door opened I read from a piece of paper “sono la figlia di Tomasso” (I am the daughter of Tomasso). My aunt Nuccia (married to Giuliano Gotuzzo) didn’t understand me took the paper from my hand, read it, hugged me and yelled for the family to come see me. I met my uncle Giuliano and two cousins Roberto and Michele. I didn’t speak Italian at the time and they didn’t speak English, so we smiled a lot and tried to speak Spanish. Then my aunt took me to every person that spoke English to translate our conversation, it was so funny. The entire town new of my arrival.
The most memorable part of the trip was when my aunt Nuccia Gotuzzo took me for a walk up the hill-top of Portofino where there was a little yellow church. On one-side of San Giorgio Church was the beautiful port and the other-side was the rough sea and behind the church was a cemetery. I found tombstone of my family dating back to the 1600’s and my first thought was I FOUND MY ROOTS, this is where I came from. It was a magical moment and I promised myself that I will always honor my family history and be proud of where I came from.
After that, I knew I wanted to live in Italy, at least for a while to learn more about my Italian family and my culture. After a year of traveling Europe, I returned home to California and soon after got a job that took me for a year to Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. All the while, I was in the Orient I was dreaming of Italy and how I’m going to get back there. After my work-project was over in Hong Kong, I got a job with Warner Bros. in Hollywood.
Two years later, I started working at Warner Bros. in Rome, Italy. I ended-up living in Rome for 12 years. I worked with many American production companies making movies at the Fellini Cinecitta’ Studios and throughout Italy. I loved it. During this time, I spent 6 months working in Katmandu, Nepal; 6 months working on the Island of Malta; and 6 months back in Florence on film projects.
After my daughter Alessandra was born, I continued to travel taking her everywhere, bringing my parents along. I was in the entertainment business for almost 15 years, working both in Hollywood and Italy with famous actors, directors and producers. Deep in my heart I wanted to change paths and slowly transition out of the movie-making business. I wanted to be a mother. I needed something a little more grounded.
I started studying ceramic and taking classes in Rome from a very prominent Roman family who’s been in the ceramic business for over 150 years. And there, I found the joy of storytelling my family traditions onto my ceramic work. I knew clay was my future. I found my passion. I wanted to be an artist and a storyteller.
In 2001, my daughter, Alessandra and I returned to California to be with my family. She started school and I started playing with clay. I entered many art shows and was awarded prizes for my ceramic art and exhibits. The Home & Garden TV Show (HGTV) documented my work on “Storytelling Tiles”; The Los Angeles Times Newspaper did a 2-page cover on “Traditions”; My work was published in Clay Times Magazine; I was invited to speak at Universities and Art Institutions; and the company Duncan Ceramics Enterprise, asked me to create two ceramic pieces (tiles & platter) using their new color paints, Neon and Earth-Tones, to help launch Duncan University classes.
I was passionate in creating Ceramic Heirlooms. I wanted to listen to peoples stories and interpret them onto art-form and compose their stories into poetry. I created many of these Heirlooms for influential individuals as “special gifts”, gifts for people who have everything. It created a sense of legacy by documenting events and their achievements on ceramic, a material that can last thousands of years and a perfect medium to pass down family stories.
All this encouraged me to continue creating in clay. But deep inside I was restless. I wanted to do more, something more profound. I made a vow many years ago that kept running through my mind. I remember volunteering at a orphanage in Rome, I held a little orphaned girl on my lap and saw the profound love in her eyes. At that moment I vowed to one day adopt children. This little girl’s eyes kept appearing in my mind and I knew it was time to do something about it.
I talked to my sister about my intent to adopted and to my happy surprise she wanted to adopt too. We decided to buy a house together, adopt children and raise them together until they entered school. For the next few years we adopted three amazing beautiful little girls through the foster system. My sister has two girls and I now have two girls. My parents, Ada and Tomasso, gave us unconditional love and support during this time. In 2008, my sister and I were awarded Family Heroes of California.
During the time we were adopting babies, my sister and I ventured into Real Estate. We bought homes, remodeled them, re-sold them, and kept some for rentals: www.GotuzzoART.com/GotuzzoHomes
I was aching to get back into the art world, so we created Art Workshops in Italy: www.GotuzzoART.com/GotuzzoWorkshops
In 2009, I felt it was time to return to Italy. We moved into an 800-year-old stone house in a small medieval village in the Italian Riviera Hills. My two daughters (12 and 5 years) entered Italian schools and currently speak Italian fluently. The rest of the family (my sister and her two daughters, and my parents) spend 4-months with us during the summer. Every year we visit our relatives who still live in Santa Margherita Ligure, and we dedicated time to visit the Portofino Cemetery to pay tribute to our ancestors. During these visits I’m reminded of the generations it took to come back to Italy.
From 2009-2013 Astrid lived in the Italian Riviera near SanRemo. She converted an old stone tavern into her studio which is still in use during the family's summer vacations in Italy.
Currently she lives in the South of France near Spain. The family acquired an old church (1640) that was converted into a winemakers house (1780) and now, in the process of becoming the Family Home that includes a wonderful ceramic atelier for Astrid.
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