#YourItalianRoots – The Stories of the Romanelli-Buttarello Family

Perhaps you have seen our “Your Italian Roots” campaign, which gives children and grandchildren of Italian emigrants the opportunity to take advantage of a discount at our school, to allow anyone to return to explore their native language and make a journey into the past of one’s family.

One of our very young students, Vanessa, accompanied her application for registration along with two beautiful stories, which talk about her grandparents Mandor and Davide, both of whom emigrated to Venezuela in the last century.

Her parents wrote these stories, with a passion that has greatly involved and moved us.

Mandor Buttarello Gallo was originally from Vicenza, a “cat-eating with the hero name” who emigrated to Venezuela after the Second World War (“cat-eater” according to the goliardic tradition – but not false – so when there was hunger in Veneto it was the custom to eat cats as well; but don’t worry, now it’s illegal to eat cats in Italy!).

Davide Romanelli Romani instead emigrated from the province of Ancona, to establish himself as one of the most important names in Venezuelan fashion.

We report these stories in full below, because they really deserve to be told.

They can inspire other people with the same background (and convince them to tell their own stories :)), but also all of us, because it is always touching to read these real life courageous stories.

Mandor, the “mangiagatti” with the name of a hero

“Padovani … gran dottori,
Veneziani … gran signori,
Vicentini … mangia gatti,
Veronesi … tutti matti”

(“Padovani … great doctors,
Venetians … great gentlemen,
Vicentini … eat cats,
Veronesi … all crazy”)

The maternal grandfather of Vanessa Romanelli Buttarello (our young student) was a “Mangia-Gatti” from Vicenza, who arrived in Venezuela in 1953, settling in Caracas and then in the city of Valencia.

Since leaving home, he has never been able to return to Italy, which he regretted all his life and, eventually due to health problems, he was unable to go.

Mandor Buttarello Gallo, was born in Vicenza (Italy) on July 10, 1928 and died in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 10, 2004, just one month before Vanessa was born, whom she unfortunately could not meet, but who inherited his genes, his gestures, his face and his eyes.

Mandor was the son of Letizia Gallo and Antonio Buttarello and had two sisters, Loredana and Tatiana who were always in Vicenza. Loredana died and had a daughter Alessandra, who currently lives in San Michele (Venezia) and has a daughter named Alice, while Tatiana continues to live in Vicenza.

As a young man, Vanessa’s grandfather worked at the Caffe de Zia Pia and Zia Teresa, whom he always helped to serve customers, especially during the war. He said that during World War II, he was the one who rang the bell of the church to alert people when the planes flew over.

There are not many stories of his youth, only that one day he decided to leave his home for Brazil (South America). For this, he traveled to Paris and from there he took a ship that brought him to America.

Later he traveled to Caracas and fell in love with the city, where he settled and began to work in the area of industrial engineering.

In Venezuela he married Paula Lavarte and they had Letizia, their only daughter, and Vanessa’s mother.

Due to work issues, he moved to Valencia (in Venezuela), where he carried out many projects and developed hydraulic machines and presses, being an expert in this type of work.

Still young, he began to have physical limitations because he became ill Parkinson’s disease, which forced him to retire and live his last years resting at home, and although he died of cardiac arrest, his mind was always very lucid and clear.


…Fortunately, Vanessa was able to travel to Venezia and meet the family when she was 5 years old, and we toured the city, walked around and ate.

In Vanessa’s face, everyone sees Mandor, since she has the same expressions, look and features that she inherited from the Buttarello.

With hope, Vanessa and we as parents, would like her to learn and know the culture, heritage and roots of her family, so we think that the best gift in her 15 years is to give her the opportunity to visit Italy, to learn more about the country, its language and traditions.

Vanessa like her grandfather, likes art, painting, reading and is very curious about life and has thought about the possibility of studying in a university in Italy, a career related to art, architecture or design.

We hope that this trip to Firenze will help her discover alternatives that will lead her to decide her future

As a curious fact, Mandor always said that his name had been taken by his mother from a character from a comic strip of the time, who apparently was a hero, hence nonna Letizia falling in love with him and naming him with particular and unique first name.

Venessa’s paternal grandparents are also from Italy. David Romanelli from the Province of Ancona and Fernanda Tini from Le Marche. Both came to Venezuela and also settled in Caracas. Here we will narrate another story of the Romanelli immigrants, …

By Letizia Buttarello (mum of Vanessa Romanelli)
Journalist and Chief central editor of  La Voce D’Italia journal (Venezuela)

Romanelli, a fashion name of Venezuela

My father, Davide Romanelli Romani, wrote his name in the fashion world in Venezuela. His story began in 1950 when he arrived in Caracas, along with my mother Fernanda Tini, after they both returned from their small village of Morello, in Sassoferrato (province of Ancona).

Since he was a child, at the age of about 12-14, Davide learned the trade of tailor, going after school on foot or by bicycle to the Monterosso station, three kilometers away from Morello. Then he went to work in a tailor’s shop in Rome where he began to dress “for priests and fascists”, as he told the newspaper “La Voce d’Italia” in Caracas.

After the war he married Fernanda, who was the teacher of the town, at the Morello, and then they left for Venezuela.

Here he worked in a shirt factory, where he was head of department and he had his first brand of shirt “RED” (Romanelli Ernesto and Davide) together with my uncle Ernesto. Later he produced Romanelli shirts and t-shirts, which were very popular for more than twenty years in the country, as was the “Dress” clothing store.

His success in the field of local fashion, where he also made fabrics, clothes, jackets and women’s sweaters, was recognized by the ‘Venezolan Association of Fashion’ which awarded him as an Entrepreneur of the year.

For her part, my mother went to study very young in Perugia, from an aunt, to becoming a teacher, a profession she carried out in her small town and then in the school “Agustín Codazzi” and above all in the “Nostra signora di Pompei” in Caracas, where she remained…

As many other immigrants, both my parents left their sign, and reminded them of their work and family worlds for their honesty and skill.

After my father’s death and the economic crisis that’s hit Venezuela in the last few years, the company was managed by his son Sergio and brought back to the branch of rental clothing with the brand name “David of Ancona”, in honor of my father, and the “DucaD´Este” store.

My daughter Vanessa Romanelli has inherited the taste for drawing from her grandfather Davide and her other grandfather, the “mangiagatti” Mandor, the pleasure of art and desire to learn Italian, which unfortunately has not been spoken at home for a while – laziness and a little out of habit.

We hope that this holiday and the Italian course in Florence can be valuable in learning the language and to discover and gain some ideas for studying and working in the future.


Roberto Romanelli, father of Vanessa Romanelli
Caracas, 23 April 2019


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