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            When I was a little kid, i used to get confused everytime i heard that my grandmother is from Karaagaç/Edirne. I was asking myself  'She is Italian, why she was born in Edirne?’. But the stories she told and the researches that we made taught us the reason. Here in this article we would like to share with you all the details about Sanzoni Family that we know until now. The Sanzoni: From Palermo to Karaagaç…

            The story of Sanzoni Family starts with Giovanni Marco Sanzoni, as we’ve learnt from our researches until now. Marco was born in Corleone, Palermo in 1843. After years he migrated from his hometown to Karaagac, Edirne. But what was the reason behind that? Giuseppina (Cusepina) Sanzoni – the granddaughter of Marco – always mentioned in her memories that her family had a relation with the train station. So we focused on Karaagac Train Station. Karaagac Train Station was built in 1873 and according to some sources and the memories of the citizens of Karaagac, Italians were also worked on the building of this station. By this information and with the told stories in family we can say that Marco migrated to Karaagac to work here. Maybe his company in Palermo sent him there or maybe he applied for this job. Here in Karaagac, Giovanni Marco Sanzoni married with Anna Catharina Zundo in 1880s and they had ten children. Unfortunately most of their children died when they were babies. From their children only Liborio Sanzoni (born in 1881) and Vincenzo Maria Pietro Sanzoni (born in 1893) lived. The wife of Marco, Anna Catharina Zundo died in 11.01.1903 when she was only 42 years old.

             There are not more stories about Marco Sanzoni that comes from the memories of our family, but we found his details on archives. His name has been found on The Italian Birth Records and Turkish Governmental Archives. The document on Turkish Governmental Archives is quite interesting, as we can see there that during Balkan Wars in 1913 the land of Marco was damaged and he asked government to solve this problem. Here we share with you a very small part of this letter.

Letter Giovanni Sanzoni

1913, A part from the letter of Giovanni Sanzoni

Liborio Sanzoni & His Children

Liborio Mektup imza.JPG

             Giovanni Marco's son, Liborio Sanzoni was born in 1881 in Karaagac, Edirne. According to told stories in family, he also worked in the train station of Karaagac as an officer but then - maybe after his retirement - he opened a grocery store. As we've found information on Turkish Governmental Archives about his father Marco, we also found a letter that belongs to Liborio, which is hand-written and signed by him, in 1914.

1914, A part from the letter of Liborio Sanzoni

             Liborio was married with Aspasia Stamatyadis in 1919, and they had five children: Luisa, Vincenzo, Marietta, Giuseppina and Benito. Here on this photo you see the wedding photo of Liborio and Aspasia.

1910s Liborio & Aspasia Sanzoni - Let’s

1919, Wedding Photo of

Liborio Sanzoni & Aspasia Stamatyadis

            As we have mentioned her name, let's share the details of Aspasia Stamatyadis. Aspasia was born in 1900, her father Aristogitonos was a Greek man and her mother was Luisa Bink and she was a German lady. Aspasia died in 1997, and i was lucky that i could see her. Here on this photo you see Aspasia, together with her children and mother Luisa. The photo has been taken in early 1920s. Luisa is sitting in the middle, Aspasia is on right, his brother Yorgo on left, and the children are Luisa, Marietta and Vincenzo. 


1920s, Aspasia and her family

School Days in The Italian Catholic School in Karaagac

            The children of Liborio and Aspasia grew up in Karaagaç, Edirne. The biggest three children, Luisa, Vincenzo and Marietta, were also educated here in an Italian Catholic School. This school unfortunately is not standing anymore. But thanks to old locals of Karaagaç and researches it has been identified and we learnt that it was just across of Yeni Camii in Karaagac.

1920s, Sanzoni Siblings in Karaagac Italian Catholic School

            On this photograph, the boy on right just in front of the nun is Vincenzo Sanzoni, and we can see his siblings, Luisa and Marietta here.


             According to thesis study of M. Serhan Yücel, in Karaagac between the years 1925-1926, there were two catholic schools: Karaagac French St.Basil School and Karaagac Italian School. Karaagac Italian School was a former French School which started to function in 1906.  On 09 June 1907 it was converted to an Italian School completely.  Between the years 1925-1926 there were 44 students and 4 teachers here.

            There is also another photo from school days and has been taken together with the manager of school: Padre Polani. On the photo below, you see Padre Polani in the middle, the tallest girl is Luisa Sanzoni and Vincenzo is on left. We know the name 'Padre Polani' from the memories of Sanzoni siblings and not sure if this one also was located in Karaagac.

1930s, Sanzoni Siblings with Padre Polani in Karaagac

World War II & Sanzoni Family

                 Even though Turkey didn't participate in WWII, Sanzoni Family effected by it in another way and they had an interesting memory about the war. When Vincenzo Sanzoni grew up, his family send him to Italy for High School education. At that time World War 2 started, and he joined to army with his friend, or they had to join. You can read his story with details on 'People to Remember', under the article Vincenzo Sanzoni : An internee in WWII...

                 Let us tell you the story briefly. When he joined WWII, he always sent letters to his family. But one day, the letters stopped and Sanzoni family thought that he was dead. They also had the funeral rites for him. But one day the postman in Karaagac, named Cemil, knocked the door with a new letter. The family was so happy as they learnt that their son was alive.

Giuseppina Sanzoni & The Next Years

yayam öğrenciyken.jpg

1940s, Giuseppina Sanzoni 

       Giuseppina Sanzoni was the fourth child of Sanzoni family. She was born in 1931 and grew up in Karaagaç. As like her siblings, she didn't go Italian Catholic School in Edirne, instead she was sent to Istanbul to Italian College next to Italian Consulate in Istanbul. As she told us, it was a boarding school and on weekends and holidays she turned back to Karaagac with the train. On the photo you see her in his school uniform, in early 1940s. 

        The childhood of Giuseppina passed in Karaagac and here she had many Turkish, Italian and Greek friends. She could also speak all those three languages and additionaly knew German. 

            On the photo below, you see Giuseppina Sanzoni together with her close friend Celesta. This photo has been taken in 1955, in the famous studio of Armenian photographer Maryam Şahinyan in her studio, Foto Galatasaray.

1950s Friends in Foto Galatasaray - We c

1955, Celesta & Giuseppina, Foto Galatasaray / Istanbul

             Years after, in 1955 she married with Aleko Vafiadis and came to Istanbul permanently. Here she had three children: Stavros, Grigoris & Haris. As the Sanzoni siblings were married and moved to other cities and after the death of Liborio Sanzoni, all family members left Karaagaç.  But they kept the relations with their friends, and visited regularly.

             The fifth son of Liborio Sanzoni was Benito. Benito worked here in the grocery store of his father until 1950s. The grocery store of Liborio & Benito is still known by old locals of Karaagac. Also some of them told that they worked here as a grocery boy. Unfortunately the building of this grocery has been demolished by municipality in 2018 as we read on an article in one of the local newspapers of Edirne. In 1960s Benito came to Istanbul and after migrated to Athens. There he opened a famous delicatessen with the experience he had before in Edirne. An interview with Benito about his delicatessen has been made by Meri Cevik Simyonidis for her book 'Bir varmıs bir yokmus : Istanbul'um tadım tuzum' and also Ayhan Sicimoglu visited Benito for his gastronomy series on TV.


1960s, Sanzoni Family with Vafiadis & Mıgirdician Families

             Finally we would like to share with you this family photo which you can see the members of Sanzoni family together with Vafiadis and Mıgirdician families from 1960s. Here you can see Vincenzo, Benito, Giuseppina at back and their mother Aspasia on the left side of photo.

             The journey of Sanzoni family, which started in Palermo reached to Edirne then İstanbul and Athens...Maybe this journey will be extend with the steps of next Sanzoni generation...

Written by: 2mi3, August 2020







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