Salvatore Besso

My dearest son Marco in Milan,

Trieste, June 19th, 1866


You gave us a true present by forwarding the letter from my dear Davide, since we were worried, not having received the note you mentioned in your earlier letters. Now we are extremely happy, and we thank the Almighty for the good He bestows upon us.

I know your brotherly love and I should not need to plead with you all to have harmony and good manners in your discourse. Be forgiving towards each other, do not get angry in your conversations, and if any of you thinks differently about Politics or religion or something else you should not argue, let everybody think how they like. I, writing to you like this, am old, and unfortunately the quarrels between my brothers Sabato and Moisè in the years 1848-1849 caused immeasurable damage to us, and we all got ruined because of those quarrels. Maybe we would not be divided and we would still be merchants, and now what are we? Nothing. If I did not have the happiness of my dear sons I would have become a hypochondriac not to be approached by anyone. [….] I hug you with all my heart and, wishing you all the best, I am, just as I have always been,

Your most loving Father.


[Archivio storico Fondazione Marco Besso, b. 5, f. 4, documento 81]


In these tombs lay Salvatore Besso and two of his grandsons, who died of scarlet fever while still in their infancy. Salvatore, a Sephardi merchant hailing from Arta (present-day Greece), moved to Trieste in the first half of the Nineteenth century. He worked first as a trader and importer, then, after the bankruptcy of his family firm, as a clerk.

Marco is among his sons, all educated and raised in Trieste. An insurance broker by trade, he was able to rise to the very top of Assicurazioni Generali, becoming their president in 1909.

If you wish to know more, click here.

Portrait of Salvatore Besso sr. Courtesy of Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome.
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