elevated 7EOtw November 21, 1926 – June 16, 2021
Diletta Romano, a larger-than-life presence for almost a century, lived a long and fulfilling life. Diletta extended vast love, warmth, wisdom and generosity to the people around her. Family always came first. Oldest daughter of Addolorata and Alfredo Romano, Diletta was widowed at the early age of 33 after being married only 11 years to her first and only true love, Annibale Romano. Together they had 3 children: Tony (m. Shelly, 2 grandchildren: Lauren and Rafael), Mario (m. Glenda, 1 grandchild: Natalie) and Alfredo (m. Moira, 5 grandchildren: Annibale, Adriana, Ottaviano, Max and Isabella). Diletta was immensely proud of her 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Her great grandchildren Alfie (5) and Bobby(4) Valentine (Adriana & Harley); Kaia (7 months) Dzebic (Natalie & Vedran); and Roman (2 months) Brenner (Isabella & Jeff) adore their “Big Nonna”.
Diletta was instinctively inquisitive and not one to miss any opportunity, travelling the world to Europe on many occasions, North Africa, Mexico, the United States and across Canada. She took many cruises including to the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean.
Diletta grew up humbly in Italy in a very small Appenine town near Isernia. Castelpizzuto is an historic mountain village in Molise, dating back to the Roman era. Times were very tough growing up as one of 7 children in this tiny village, where work was hard and consisted of living from the land. There was little left in the village during and after occupation by both the Germans and then Allies. Many suffered hunger, deprivation and abuse. There was little opportunity for higher level education or work that would provide a proper living. After the war, the young men, many of whom served, left the village and their families and sought work overseas in Canada, the United States and South America. The young women, including Diletta and her sisters Eva and Amalia were left to tend to the work and the caring of family.
Annibale Romano left for Toronto, Canada in 1948. Diletta’s older brother, Modesto left for Argentina that same year with two brothers in tow, Gaetano and Domenico. Diletta’s fiancé
Annibale worked extremely hard during the first year in Toronto and saved enough money to send for his childhood sweetheart, Diletta. She had never left her mountain village and now at the age of 23 she would leave everything familiar behind, travel via Naples to Paris and then the French coast bound for Montréal. She was extremely shy and spoke only the Italian dialect particular to Castelpizzuto. She bravely made the journey and finally arrived in Toronto where she would be married within 3 weeks to Annibale. Her Sister-in-law Anna Romano, married to Guerino Romano already established in Toronto, helped organize Diletta’s arrival and was one of her great companions throughout her life. Annibale’s older brother, Ottaviano (m. Carmella) would remain in Castelpizzuto. Annibale’s sister Maria married another Annibale Romano and moved his clan from Castelpizzuto to Verona, Italy. Diletta maintained a strong connection to her in-laws, nieces and nephews in Verona and visited with them on every trip to Europe.
Toronto was not a very sophisticated city in the post war years or very embracing of immigrants or Italians in particular due to their role in the war. These obstacles would be overcome by the powerful determination of people like Diletta Romano. Annibale and his great friend Benny Caranci, saw the potential for construction opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area and worked tirelessly to create a business base. Annibale was a hard worker and a smart businessman and Diletta was right there beside him. In the decade he was given to build something for his family, he created a substantial base. Annibale built Diletta a beautiful new house with a lovely garden. He formed United Contractors, a small and thriving company with several lots for the construction of homes. Sadly this would all end with a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease in early 1960. Annibale would be dead 6 months later, leaving his 3 young son’s Tony 10, Mario 6 and Alfredo 3 for Diletta to raise alone in a country where she could not speak the language and had very little status as an immigrant woman.
Fortunately Diletta and Annibale helped bring the rest of the Romano siblings and their families to Canada, and by 1964 all 6 of her siblings would join her in Toronto and make it their home. Filip was the youngest. He came from Castelpizzuto and lived with Diletta and Annibale and their 3 boys on Hove Street in Toronto. He was barely 22. His young beautiful, true love Lizetta would soon join him and be married at Hove St. Following Annibale’s death, Filipo amd Lizetta continued to live at Hove Street for 5 years which was a tremendously important source of stability and support for Diletta and her young family.
Diletta was a very proud and fiercely protective mother. Upon the passing of her husband, she was intent to look for work that would allow her to raise her 3 young boys. She is an amazing housekeeper and gardener and she put these skills along with a talent and love for sewing right to work becoming a seamstress and domestic. Everything came from the land and with her incredible green thumb she created an Italian vegetable garden at Hove Street that had no equal. We all fondly remember her massive and bountiful Cherry tree that she nurtured from a mere twig.
Food was the communal focus. Making traditional Italian sausages for which she became renown, picking bushels of field tomatoes for canning and making tomato sauce, pickling pears and apricots; and of course celebrating the feast days, religious and civic holidays, and the births, marriages, communions, weddings and graduations of the ever increasing tightly knit group that originated from Castelpizzuto.
Education held a highly important place in the Romano household and Diletta and Annibale pledged each other that no matter what came about their son’s would never be denied an education because they could not afford one. All 3 sons have gone on to run their own businesses. Mario completed a Masters Degree at York University and Alfredo completed a Masters Degree at Harvard University. Tony moved to Kelowna, BC and opened his own company which he continues to run today.
All of Diletta’s siblings and most of her in-laws; Ottaviano (m. Carmella); Guerino (m. Anna); Maria (m.Annibale); Arturo (m. Scolastica) have pre-deceased her which has brought great heartache. Also Modesto (m.Filomena); Eva (m.Constantino); Fillip (m.Lizetta); Domenico (m.Rosina); Gaetano (m.Almerinda); and Amalia (m.Eugenio). Constantino, Rosina and Lizetta survive her.
At almost 95, Diletta has seen world changes that we could not have fathomed. As an immigrant she redefined her reality and any facile cultural appropriations. She not only became a fiercely independent woman, but also remained a traditional homemaker, an instinctively intelligent woman with minimal education who saw the world.
Diletta is not only Mother Earth, nurturing and caring for whomever came in her path but also fiercely protective of those she loved and the values that sustained her through almost a century on the planet. Known for her spun stories and unadorned insights into human nature, she defied her self deprecating humility.
Diletta’s stories were fed by a lifetime of obstacles overcome, world travels, her love of cooking, her interest in people and art (the Louvre was a highlight of her many excursions and from 1970 to 1990 she attended every Opera produced by the Canadian Opera Company). Her passion for experiences shared with family and friends was insatiable. It’s what defined her.
The family is particularly grateful for the care, kindness and support of Diletta’s caregivers over her last year and a half, fortunately all in her Woodbridge home where she lived for over 20 years. Special thanks to Myrna and Sonam and The Spectrum care team; especially Maria, Anita, Shereen, Khadra and Pramjit. A huge thanks also to Dr. Maida and staff for their compassionate care and to the Hospice Vaughan Care team for their assistance and support.
Of special note, Diletta’s wonderful friends and community at 141 Woodbridge Ave. provided countless days and nights of memorable companionship and support. She loved them dearly.
The enormity of Diletta’s presence leaves a big hole in many lives. But that presence, and the love that flowed from it will continue to sustain us.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to a favoured charity of your choice. Diletta Romano‘s Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Cross Cemetery Chapel on Saturday, June 19th, 2021 at 1.30pm. Interment beside her husband Annibale will follow.
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elevated 7EOtw Saturday, June 19 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.