For Fouad-Giacomo and Antonia-Yasmina Filali, returning to the Italian city of Puglia was a return to their roots. It was a journey inspired by the fascinating history of their family, particularly their grandmother Antonia Fiermonte, a talented painter and violinist, as well as her brother Enzo, a renowned boxer and actor.
Born in Puglia, the story of these Italian migrants began in the early 1900s when they left Casamassima and moved to Rome before finally heading to Paris, where Antonia married the sculptor René Letourneur. After a few years, their relationship ended when she had an affair with his friend, the artist Jacques Zwoboda, whom she eventually married.
After travelling to New York from Italy, Enzo married the wealthy heiress Lady Astor and returned to Rome several years later after they divorced, succeeding in his ambition to become an actor during this time. Their story ends in Fes in Morocco, where Antonia met the Cadi Thami Filali in 1955. The Cadi was the father of Abdellatif who became the husband of his daughter Anne.
The artist Apulian Christian and the judge of Koranic law, who looks like something out of the Middle Ages, have shown great tolerance and built a bridge of peace and dialogue, which has influenced unknowingly the grandchildren's path.
A painter, violinist and frequenter of the historic Parisian salons, Antonia Fiermonte was the muse of René Letourneur and Jacques Zwobada, two of the 20th century’s most fascinating sculptors.
A prominent Art Déco artist, Letourneur won first prize in the Grand Prix de Rome in 1926 and spent a few years in the ‘eternal city’.
An eclectic artist with a restless spirit, Zwobada was a painter, sculptor and musician who won the gold medal at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in 1925. He was also awarded the Legion of Honour in 1963, and some of his works are on display at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
At the age of seventeen, Enzo Fiermonte became a professional boxer, acquiring a level of fame that allowed him to travel all over the world. Fighting in Milan, Paris, London and Cairo, he eventually made it to Madison Square Garden in New York, where he became the world champion.