Ambassador Phillips' homecoming to Frisanco and Poffabro

Oct 06, 2014 2938

In 1902, Luigi Colussi moved his family from the tiny mountain village of Poffabro, in the Friuli region of Italy, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They came via Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, part of a massive wave of Italian immigrants seeking better lives in America. Luigi's daughter Lucy was eight when they made the voyage.

It so happened that Lucy's future husband, Angelo Filippi, grew up in the neighboring village of Frisanco. Orphaned and abandoned, he eventually was raised by Luigi Colussi's brother Pietro's family. Like Luigi, Pietro also led his family to America when he had the chance, and the teenaged Angelo Filippi followed them. Before long, Angelo became a border in Luigi Colussi's house. Angelo and Lucy were married before they were out of their teens.

When Angelo and Lucy's first son, Louie, started school he somehow became Louie Phillips. The Phillips family was born; the Filippis were a thing of the past. Louie's kid brother grew up, got married and had kids of his own. One of these kids, Angelo and Lucy's grandson, grew up to be the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, John R. Phillips.


On October 2-3, Ambassador Phillips and his wife Linda Douglass; his two brothers, Bill and Ernie; his first cousin Dante Colussy; and other family members and friends made a homecoming to Frisanco and Poffabro. At a ceremony presided over by Frisanco Mayor Sandro Rovedo, and attended by Friuli Regional President Debora Serracchiani among other dignitaries, the Ambassador was presented with the Filippi family tree, met relatives from both the Filippi and Colussi families still in the area, and made an honorary citizen of Frisanco. The group enjoyed local food and music and roasted chestnuts in a 400-year-old house, not far from where Angelo Filippi once lived.

Source: American Consulate in Milan

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