Answering Father Giovanni's request to write THE GALBIATI FAMILY STORY on the Informer, it became too long, therefore the editor edited it. I am offering it to relatives and friends and to whom ever wants to read it. As a title I would quote "Quoelet" (3, 1-7): "...there is a time to be born and a time to die , there is a time to sow and a time to reap..." or "The story of the Galbiati family and its dealings, with some accents on the story of Omegna's people." So, having a title, let us begin.
Giuseppe and Teresa Galbiati arrived in Omegna in 1887. It was about the time a German Swiss, Max Ackerman, began the "factory".
The German had chosen this area to make use of the water of the Strona river to get energy to run the textile mill. Along with the factory were also built several homes for the managers and technicians.
Grandfather Giuseppe came from Bussero (Brianza). He was a farmer but here he worked as a gardener's helper. Our grandparents lived in a house belonging to the Santa Lucia farm (in Comoli Street where the chapel is located) that belonged to the notary Bessaro.
Villa Ackerman was built behind the rail station (Dr. Montafia lives there now), with a nice park and a beautiful gate. The gate that now forms the entrance to our cemetery.
Where the buildings of Villa Ada now stand, were built Villa Jen and the Swiss-style home that is still to the right of the residential complex. This was my grandparents' house. My grandfather was its guardian and gardener.
Other homes were built: the villa of Mr. Carlito Caldi, the "Caldi-Negri", the "Perla" and others. At Mr. Ackermans's death, the whole complex became the property of a big local company, the "De Angeli-Frua", who brought into the area other technicians from Legnano. Our grandparents got to Omegna with three boys: Luigi, who later came to America; Francesco, who became a technician at the "Riu' in Torino and was sent to Russia for 4-5 years to set up a factory; and Ersilio, called" Pin", who, while the brothers were studying in a boarding school, because he did not have good health was sent to work in the factory. Massimiliano, called Massimo, became the manager of the "Agostino Cane" (Aluminum Cane) factory and had three sons, the elder is Father Carlo. At that time, besides taking care of the farm with his wife's help, grandfather was also the gardener for the Franzosi's who had a construction company, and lived in front of the War Memorial monument now the property of the Guerra grandchildren. The garden, instead, was where the "Miralago" and "Santa Lucia" condominiums now stand. There was also the dock because the avenue along the lake was created later. Let us now talk of the third son, Ersilio, who was not happy working at the factory.
In 1910 Ersilio met mother Ernesta, of Ronco San Giulio, who was a domestic for the Franzosi family. They got married on February 4, 1911, in Isola di San Giulio, my mother's parish. Father's first training was at the employ of Agostino Cane, who had a villa and garden where Mrs. Tildin now lives, in Di Dio Street. In the garden behind the house, my father had some interesting experiences. the first year Mr. Agostini bought all the seeds for annual flowers and the second year all the seeds for the perennial variety of flowers that could be found in the "Sgaravatti Catalogue". He completed his training subscribing to an avanguard magazine (Horticultural Encyclopedia) which is still today valued for its completeness and practicality. He later worked for Countess Tarsis di Brolo who proved to be a valuable teacher for him. In the meantime, three daughters were born: Teresita (1911), Clelia (1913) and Maria (1916). But while those who worked in the factory could already see some money, Father, who had the passion for flowers and plants, had little to chew on. We lived in the upper floor of the villa Caldi-Nagri, which then belonged to grandfather Mario Negri. My mother liked to tell us that she had only one chicken , but she was prodigious ... faith can move mountains and she, with the one egg the chicken produced daily before 8:00, would make an omelet that she then divided into four parts: 3 for the lunch we brought to kindergarten, the fourth for dad's lunch when he went to work in Brolo. Consequently, my uncles and grandmother could not understand why my father was so stubborn about not wanting to work in the factory. During World War I, my father was drafted and, since he had worked for some time in the "Cobianchi-Piemontesi" factory, he was sent to Valenza Po in an iron factory. During his free time, he worked for a local florist and he soon realized to be a better florist than the florist. At the end of the war, he resumed his work as gardener for several local families (Beltrami, Morotti, Eugenio Nobili, etc.) His daughters were growing and so was his wish for independence. He needed land to work and on which he could build a small greenhouse where he could grow his own plants. My father attempted to find something outside Villa Caldi, but Mr. Mario got mad. Mr. Nobili, the lawyer, proposed that my father rent the tract of land called "Piaggio". This land had been inherited by the lawyer's brother who was in Africa. This time my father asked Mr. Mario Caldi (father of Alberto and Carlito), owner of the house, for his help. He asked him to put in a good word on his behalf to help him get started in his new venture. Mr. Caldi magnanimously agreed. It was 1924. I remember when my mother took me to see the property on Quarne Road. The entrance is the same as today, but it had a big wooden door with a big lock. The path served as ... a public latrine since it was close to the town square... The house was made of stone with a low roof that reached the small windows. My mother stopped and ... I think I cried. The necessary repairs were made to the house and we moved in. We immediately felt the relief of being free. We no longer had to walk in front of the villa, nor did we have to open and close gates.
I was in fifth grade when in the Spring (I had failed with my seamstress aunt) I had a new experience-- the seed vending stall at the market. Two florists came to Omegna from other towns (Galletti from Luino and Orelli from Pallanza) followed by Boldini who set up shop on Beltrami Square. Little by little the people of Omegna understood that even those in Omegna were florists. In the meantime, in 1935-36, the primitive path became Littorio, later Matteotti, Street. The house was also fixed in 1935. The old walls were reinforced and a new level was added making the house more liveable. IN 1951-52 the first floor was fixed and made into a store. To the left of the gate an exposition-greenhouse were built. The central heating system was installed. At the beginning of the '60, a hall was built behind the house. In 1957, with the trade-mark "Fleurop-Interflora", we began to ship flowers all over the world. Our father died in 1940 when Clelia had already four children, Maria had gotten married the previous December. Our mother Ernesta, even though she had many infirmities, beside taking care of the house, she also took care of the sell of seeds. Some of our clients wanted to be served only by Mrs. Ernesta. But above all, mother followed us all, big and small, with her marvelous wisdom that was the fruit of her enormous faith and her belief in prayers. Angela took care of deliveries from when she was small (as did in turn all of the various grandchildren). We remember some really heroic deliveries. When Angela finished eight grade, her father, Renato, found her a job as clerk in the Montegazza Pharmacy. But, just as her grandfather Pin had not been able to-stay in the factory, Angela did not last at the pharmacy. She came to work for her grandmother and aunt and, later, for Anna.
Meanwhile, Providence gave Angela a husband, Gino, who was not afraid to work the land and we were shown the necessity to give Angela and Gino a piece of land to build their house on the premisses because twice thieves had helped themselves to our plants. We were saddened by the death of Mamma Ernesta (1969) and of Renato (1972). New laws and taxes added to our troubles and got the best of me. A nervous breakdown made everything seem black, and I wanted to sell everything. In 1974, after much deliberation, the business was given to Angela and Gino who, with Claudio and Anna's help, have carried on the work. Now (1992) we ask ourselves: Why close? Because there are some reasons. In June of 1989, Angela had an accident and broke an ankle which troubles her still, then in December 1991, Gino developed an asthmatic condition. Looking back on these decades, it seems we have accompanied with our interest and our work the happy and sad times of our community and our friend and neighbors. If Providence will want to add more pages "on the book of Piaggio" (after those written in collaboration with Giovanni and Giuseppe, Carla and Giulia, Savino and Raffaele, Vincenzo, Antonio end Anna, we shall see, or , rather, those who follow us will see to it.
Omegna, October 1992