Domenico Pacitti

The Russian Pacitti
Domenico Pacitti (1875-1938)

Alfonso Pacitti

updated 29 Mar, 2021

The ‘Russian Pacitti’ emigrated from Italy to St Petersburg, Russia in the 1870s. Nicola Pacitti and Angela Rosa Pelosi were the heads of this part of the family and moved to Russia from their home town of Picinisco. Domenico, was their first born son in 1875 and he was followed by a younger brother Antonio in 1885, who unfortunately died as a teenager in 1902. Domenico, also known locally as Dimitri Nikolayevich, married Albina Cocozza, from San Biagio Saracinisco, at St Petersburg in 1902.

The family initially prospered in St Petersburg where they lived at in the suburbs at Zabalkanskiy Prospekt, Sofiyskaya Ulitsa. St Petersburg was at that time was one of the world’s great cities, before the city was renamed as Petrograd and the Communists imposed their more asture culture. Domenico and Albina had eight children in Russia. However the Russion Revolution heralded much tougher times and they realised that they might not to survive the deprivations of the revolution.

Three of their young children died in the city, simply not strong enough to survive the destitution and disease which followed the Communist uprisings. Fortunately the family was able to participate in an exchange-deal thrashed out between the Communists and the Italian government in 1919. Some 200 Italians from Russia and an equivalent number of Russians exiled in Italy would swap places at the Black Sea port of Odessa. The journey by train would take from February 6 to August 21; at one point local Communists uncoupled their engine and left them waiting in the frozen wastes. Eventually the train arrived at Odessa, where they were able to complete their journey back to their native Picinisco.

After a short time in Italy, the family emigrated once again in 1922 with their five children, this time to Scotland. They settled near their shop in George Street, in the centre of Glasgow, not far from where my own grandparents lived. They were given the name ‘Russian Pacittis’ by the local Italian community, obviously because of their heritage but it also served as a simple differentiation between the two Pacitti families.

The photograph above is taken from Terri Colpi’s book, Italians Forward. It dates from St Petersburg, 1909 and shows Domenico with his wife Albina Cocozza. Alessandro is on his father’s knee and their three girls Antonna, Maria Luisa and Angela Rosa complete the scene.

Alessandro, born in St Petersburg, was one of the few survivors of the Arandora Star tragedy. His reward for surviving the ship’s torpedoing on July 2nd 1940, was to be immediately sent some eight days later on another internee ship (SS Dunera) to Australia. He survived his wartime ordeals and returned to Glasgow where he died at the ripe old age of 82 years.

You can read more about Alessandro here:

Alessandro Pacitti