Patrizia Guarnieri

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy.

Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons

©2019-Author(s) Published by Firenze University Press
e-ISBN: 978-88-6453-872-3 | DOI: 10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy

Roberto Funaro (1883-1955)

Other headings: Robert Funaro

Livorno 11 November 1883 - New York 11 March 1955

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Piera Racah Funaro (Livorno 12 September 1890 – Rome 17 January 1974), wife: sculptor, she had been a nurse during the First World War. The couple had married in Livorno on 17 April 1910. She emigrated to New York with her husband and daughter on 6 September 1939 and was received by her son Bruno. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Corinna Ortensia (Ninna, Nancy) Funaro Spies (Livorno 18 September 1921 – Mamaroneck, Westchester County, NY 1 January 2017), daughter: emigrated when she was 18 years old with her family to New York from Livorno on 6 September 1939. On 10 October 1943, when she was 22, she married Gerhard (Gerald) Spies, who had also recently arrived in New York, whom she had met thanks to her brothers. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Gerhard (Gerald) Spies (Worms, Germany 31 December 1916 - Mamaroneck, Westchester County, NY 15 September 2007), son-in-law: emigrated to Paris and, in August 1939, arrived in New York as a student, welcomed by his brother Henry, who lived in the same street as Bruno Funaro. He married Bruno’s sister, Ninna. He never returned to Europe permanently.
  • Bruno Funaro (Livorno 6 June 1911 – New York 1957), son: a student of architecture at La Sapienza (Rome), came to the USA for the first time on 12 September 1935 as an exchange student. Two years later, he emigrated to New York on 14 September 1937, leaving from Boulogne sur Mer (France). He married the pianist Viola Peters (New York 11 April 1900 – New York 30 November 1999) on 20 May 1938 in New York. He published several books on architecture in the USA. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Giorgio (George) Funaro (Livorno 20 August 1914 – Larchmont, New York 28 November 1985), son: emigrated to New York on 21 October 1938, leaving from Southampton (UK). He married Anna Maria Fubini in Manhattan on 29 January 1942; the couple had three children: Frances, Julius, and Elaine. He graduated as a certified public accountant and opened his firm, George R. Funaro & Co. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Anna Maria Fubini Funaro (Turin 4 November 1920 – Sarasota, Florida 24 September 2018), daughter-in-law: emigrated with her family to the USA on 16 August 1940, leaving from Lisbon. In January 1940, she married Giorgio Funaro. They had three children: Frances (1943 -, later Ardito), Julius (1946-), and Elaine (1952-, later Love); they all stayed in the USA. During her youth, she worked at the radio Voice of America and later taught Italian at Manhattanville College in Purchase (NY). She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Giulio Marco Fubini (Turin 4 March 1882 - New York 28 February 1946), his son’s Giorgio father-in-law, Anna Maria’s father: arrived in New York on 16 August 1940 with his wife Valeria Bassani and their daughters; he declared he was joining his cousin, Giuseppe Calabi, an anti-fascist lawyer who had arrived one year before with his wife and his children, Enzo, Ornella, Tullia (later Zevi). He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Valeria Bassani Fubini (Milan 8 September 1889 - Larchmont, New York, December 1973), his son’s Giorgio mother-in-law: emigrated in August 1940 with her husband Giulio Fubini and their daughters: Anna Mari, who was 20, and Silvana (? 11 December 1922 - ?), who was18. She was widowed in 1946 and lived in Larchmont, close to Anna Maria. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Racah (Livorno 28 February 1909 – Oakland, California 28 May 1995), brother-in-law: emigrated to the USA on 8 May 1939, when he was 30, leaving from Southampton (UK) with his brother Luigi, who was 40 at the time. They were both welcomed by their nephew, Bruno Funaro, son of Piera, who already lived in New York. He worked as a bookseller and, in the summer of 1941, married Manya Goren in New York. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Manya Goren Racah (Obodovka, Russia, now Ukraine 25 September 1907 – Palm Springs, California 9 February 1983), sister-in-law: tailor. emigrated from Costanza (Romania) and arrived in New York on 7 July 1922 with her father Eli, her mother Hanna, her brothers Haim (5) and Oucher (12), and her sisters Esther (17) and Tzyra (19). With them, there were also her uncles (Itzack and Broucha) and cousins (Moische, 9, Pinhass, 13, Oucher 16). They were received by Manya’s sister, Rebecca Goren, who had already emigrated to the USA. In New York, she met Guido Racah and the two married in the summer of 1941. She never returned to Europe permanently.
  • Luigi Racah (Racca) (Italy 1899 – Rome 27 July 1975), brother-in-law: emigrated to the USA with his brother Guido. In the United States, he worked and became a manager in the import sector. His wife, (Virginia) Gina Gabrielli, whom he married on 8 June 1932, joined him in New York on 10 August 1939.
  • Gina (Virginia) Gabrielli Racah (Racca) (Rome 3 September 1900 – Rome 27 July 1975), sister-in-law: translator. She had a degree in literature and was a polyglot, as she spoke English, German, and French. She married in 1932, and, after the Racial Laws, she joined her husband in the United Kingdom and then in New York, where she worked many different jobs and changed her surname to Racca.
  • Guido Raffaello (Lello) Soria (Livorno 14 July 1867 – New York 4 July 1941), acquired uncle: a banker, emigrated to the United States with his wife Amelia, daughter Paola, and grandchildren (Giorgio and Mario, Paola’s sons) when he was 72. They left Livorno on 21 August 1939, on the same ship as his niece Piera and her husband and daughter (Roberto Funaro and Corinna). They arrived on 6 September 1939 in New York, welcomed by their son Dario. With him and Giovanni Buitoni, he opened a restaurant in New York and a sauce factory in New Jersey. He died less than two years later. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Giuseppina Elisabetta Amelia Padoa Soria (Venice 5 October 1876 – Venice 3 August 1958), acquired aunt: painter, married Lello Soria on 28 July 1907 in Venice. She emigrated to the United States on 6 September 1939, leaving from Livorno with Lello, their daughter Paola, their nephews, Paola and Roberto Funaro, and their daughter Corinna. They were received by their son Dario, who had already emigrated to New York. She returned to Italy probably after the end of the war.
  • Paola Rita Soria Sereni (Piombino 30 April 1908 – New York 12 May 1993), cousin: painter, she had married in 1933. She emigrated on 6 September 1939 with her children, Giorgio (5) and Mario (2), her parents Lello and Amelia, and her cousins (the Funaros). She joined her husband Angelo Sereni in New York, but they eventually divorced. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Angelo Piero Sereni (Rome 18 December 1908 – Rome 3 April 1967), acquired cousin, Paola Soria’s husband: he was professore straordinario of international la wat the University of Ferrara and was expelled as a Jew. He emigrated to the USA, leaving from Genoa with his brother-in-law Dario Soria. They arrived in New York on 8 March 1939, welcomed by Viola Peters Funaro, Bruno’s wife, who was Dario’s cousin. In New York, he worked as a lawyer, was co-founder of the Herzfeld & Rubin law firm, and taught at Columbia University. He was a prolific scholar and was reintegrated at the University of Ferrara. He became a full professor in 1944 and returned permanently to Italy in 1954 when he was appointed at the University of Bologna.
  • Giorgio (George) Sereni (Rome 27 July 1934 – New York 18 November 1980), second cousin: emigrated as a child when he was five with his mother Paola and his grandparents to join his father Angelo Sereni, a university professor expelled from Italy because he was Jewish. He became vice-president of Today's Displays, a design society in Long Island City. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Mario Sereni (Rome 15 August 1937 – New York 6 November 1971), second cousin: emigrated as a child when he was only two with his family to join his father, Angelo Sereni, in New York. He became a banker and was killed in New York during a shootout between the police and some robbers when he was 34. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Dario Pellegrino Soria (Rome 21 May 1912 – New York 28 March 1980), cousin: after graduating in economics, he emigrated to New York on 8 March 1939, when he was 27, with his brother-in-law Angelo Sereni. They left from Genoa and declared they were joining Viola Peters, his cousin Bruno Funaro’s wife. He founded an import-export firm (the Raxor Trading Co) trading with South America, dabbled in the food service business with his father and Giovanni Buitoni, and worked at the Voice of America and CBS as assistant director and director of program. On 26 July 1942, he married Dorle Jarmel (Jarmulowsky), a journalist with a degree from Columbia University. After the war, he started importing the Cetra records in the USA with Cetra-Soria and sold the firm in 1953 to Capital Records. He became a music producer with Angel Records label for the American EMI and RCA. In 1970, he became manager of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He often travelled to Italy but did not return permanently.

Aid organisations

  • American Jewish Congress, New York (Roberto was a member of the organisation).



Birth and education


University student

  • University of Pisa, faculty of medicine; graduated in 1906
  • Student

Resident paediatrician

  • Istituto di Studi Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento di Firenze
  • Student

Research trip

  • Student


  • Student,Freelance job
  • Doctor / Dentist

Libero docente of paediatrics

  • He lived in Livorno
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Doctor / Dentist,Libero docente

First World War

  • 203th Infantry Regiment

Paediatrician and academic

  • Aiuto materno della Congregazione di carità; 1923 brefotrofio; 1934 director of the IPPAI; 1920 libero docente in Pisa; 1939 disbarred
  • Freelance job,Stable employment
  • Doctor / Dentist,Libero docente
1939New York

Emigration to the United States

  • Work as a paediatrician
  • Freelance job
  • Doctor / Dentist

Trip to Italy

  • Summer trip to Italy, it became a yearly tradition since 1948
1955New York