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230 years of the foundation of Guatemala City

Neighborhood Ciudad Vieja, zone 10

Pride of my neighborhood: The Italian Club of Guatemala

 

House of the Italian Club

Guatemala City, November 2006/ In the late 20th century, many Italians arrived from across the ocean looking for greener pastures in Guatemala.



Among the immigrants there were businessmen that started up businesses in the country.  Some of the enterprises were pasta factories;  construction companies; movie theaters –in those days, most pictures had to be translated from English–; agricultural enterprises, such as San Jerónimo in Patulul; salt evaporators in the Pacific coast; the very important Novella cement factory, which later became Cementos Progreso, S.A.; the Amatitlán textile company; the Capuano textile company in Quetzaltenango; the thread and textile factories owned by the Zimeri family of Italian descent; the Lorenesi candy, chocolate, and ice cream factory, and a couple of timber yards.

 

Those Italians that traveled from “the Apenins to the Andes” –in the words of author Edmundo De Amicis’ “Heart”, compulsory school reading– thought that they needed to come together to protect their interests and help each other.  The esteemed lady Blanquita de Capuano tells us about the planned association.

 

The Italian Beneficence was funded thanks to an inheritance bequeath by Dr. Doctor Francesco Segrini from the City of Macerata, in the year 1895.  The purpose of the association was to help out impoverished Italians.  Segrini’s inheritance, besides money, included some real estate among which was the building that today we know as the Italian Club.  The cash was deposited in a bank under the name of Mr. Carlos F. Novella (who represented the Italian government).  Mr. Novella, wisely, took out and hid the money when the war begun; otherwise, the funds would have been lost forever.  The real estate had many problems due to trespassing.  Mr. Pablo Capuano was able to recuperate some of the real estate thanks to his connections with the Government of Dr. Juan José Arévalo.  The intervention of Esq. Miguel Prado also helped out immensely.  Mr. Capuano would meet with a group of good Italians at his house at 6th Avenue 14-75, Zone 1, to chat and exchange information.  Among the participants in the meetings were Pedro Bratti, Rafael Passarelli, César Brezan, Renato Lorenessi, Silvio Olivotto, and Atilio Mencarelli.

When the war came to an end, most of the property was recuperated.  The first Board of Directors appointed Mr. Capuano as their President.  When diplomatic relations were reinstated, Santorio Marino and Guillermo Guglielmi, from the Italian Embassy staff, and a handful of Guatemalans, among them Juan Olivero and José Fortuna, also became members of the club.  The first line of business was to build a bocce ball court and, later, the first blueprints of the Italian Club came to light.  Engineer Armando Braun Valle was appointed as the person in charge of the building and of the coat of arms that embellishes the main hall; painter Rina Lazo created the mural for that same hall.  That is how today’s Italian Beneficence began.”  

 

The Italian Club includes the “Trieste” Bar in the garden, a swimming pool with a slide, a bocce ball court, and the “Terraza” restaurant, which caters Italian fare.  The club also has four ballrooms: “Europa”, the most spacious, “Italia”, “Vitral”, and “Punto d´Incontro”, as well as the Caffé Piemonte.  The Italian Club is located at 10th Street 2-11, Zone 10, in the “Ciudad Vieja” neighborhood.

 

Beloved Neighborhood Program
Dra.  Frieda Liliana Morales Barco

Lecturas: 4221