“Bridge” between Trieste and the USA

“Bridge” between Trieste and the USA

NEW YORK – It is impossible to gather the stories of the many Trieste who emigrated to the United States after the war, but many are linked to a place on the Manhattan waterfront, for decades as a point of reference for the community of Julian exiles and, more generally, for New York’s Italians. This is the “Dal Triestino” shop, founded in the early 1950s by Captain Marcello Luciani in front of Pier 23, the landing place for the transatlantic steamers of the Italian Line, the large ships that connected Italy with the USA before they took on planes more. A paradise for Italians’ hottest brands who come to the US for business and pleasure, from Ray Ban to Samsonite, from Max Factor to Levi’s and Wrangler blue jeans, Pond creams and Canon cameras.

Today, Roberto Max Storaj Lucic, Marcelo’s nephew, tells us the story of a 50-year-old “institution”, intertwined with his and his family, today divided between New York, Trieste and Brasilia, where he lives and teaches Italian and English. Among the various activities that connect him with his country, he heads the local department of Giuliani Nel Mundo. But let’s go in order and take a small step back, more or less a century. The story of an almost Italian-American family saga with an Austro-Hungarian flavor, with a grandfather from Trieste, a grandmother from Rovinj, and a grandmother from Bohemia.

Grandpa Marcello – says Max – arrived in the United States as a young man, in 1924, and created his fortune by importing marble from Italy, which was used to build skyscrapers during the economic boom. Then, before the crisis of 29, he returned to Trieste ”. At this point, history arrives with a capital S to spoil things: “For the family – Lucic continues – everything went smoothly until the bombing of 44. Out of nowhere, on a clear afternoon, these bombs caused casualties and tragedies and destroyed all the economic activities of my family, a pastry shop and a luxury taxi service that took passengers across the Atlantic Ocean from Trieste to Vienna.They lost everything and, in 1948, decided to return to the United States, where Mario’s parents were born because, in order not to lose his American citizenship, it was necessary to bring him back abroad at the age of 21 “. Here, the American authorities forced Mario, who at that time bore the surname Luciani, to change his name to Lucic, as a kind of reaction to the obligation to Italianize names during the fascist regime.

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“At that point, they were trying to rebuild their lives,” Max says, “and they were supported by a Jewish family because they helped many Jewish families escape to America during the dark years. This family had connections in the second-hand clothing business on the New York waterfront. In Italy. After the war, it was forbidden to import used clothes, but Grandpa found a way to get permission for these containers full of used clothes to get to the free port of Trieste, which at that time was not Italy but the free territory of Trieste. In these years, the Dal Triestino emporium was founded, which from 1952 experienced its golden age and worked with travelers and sailors on transatlantic ships, who bought goods for resale in Italy. The shop is staffed entirely by exiled ladies from Istria, and is a meeting point for the large New York community of Trieste. This is thanks to the great management of Max’s parents, Mario Lucic and Norina Storay originally from Tuscany and acquired Trieste.


Unfortunately, the Lucic family is beset by a family tragedy: the eldest son, Marcelo, Mario’s brother, dies in a diving accident at the age of 37, leaving behind three young girls. At this point the family returned to Trieste, where they sold the business in 1960. However, the historic shop continued to grow, after the abandonment of the founding fathers. “We planted the seed,” Max explains, “and then the shop grew on its own. The Jewish family to whom we sold it kept the name, the staff and the Istrian ladies who had worked there as shop assistants for decades. The business continued even when planes replaced ocean lines, Alitalia posted ads on plane seats and was There are shuttle buses that take you from the airport to the store. It all lasted until the year 2000, with the final closure, practically 50 years of activity. Even today in Trieste I meet people who own and use Ray Ban glasses and the same Samsonite bags.”

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Meanwhile, the Lucic family returned to Trieste, reversing the trend of their compatriots who had emigrated in the early 1960s due to the upheaval in the former Yugoslavia. At that time, Max was three years old and began to attend kindergarten (at the Resigned School, on Bendis Scolito Road) and compulsory education: “I became a triplet and never stopped being one.” Then our family returned to the USA, to Philadelphia , but it was a painful experience for me at first. Even today, for me, Trieste is more than just a place to return to, it is a way of life and a kind of Mecca. I go back as fast as I can, while others chase the American dream, I chase the dream of Trieste. Instead of a rinse Clothes in Arno, I need lavar le Straze in the bay.

Max’s story is as fascinating as that of his family, from his studies in Italian Studies and Botany to his first jobs in the fashion sector, to landing in Valentino Garavani’s marketing office and at the Institute of Foreign Trade (ICE), with multiple transfers, from the US to Canada to the Caribbean . “Then, in recent years, my Brazilian wife took me to her country in the future capital Brasilia – he explains – I reinvented myself as a professor at the University of Brasília, where I taught for years. I lead various activities to help Brazilian students discover Italy and I represent Giuliani’s circle in the world in Brasilia I was also elected Vice-President of the Italian-Brazilian community of COMITES (Committee of Italians Abroad) in Brasília, a cooperative network set up by Farnesina.” It seems that in Brasília, Max has found his home and beyond, always in touch with his origins. “The only thing I miss is the sea – it is difficult to live without the sea, because it unites us all,” he concludes.

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