Swiss Cafés – other families

In this section, we give brief details from England Census records of the families for which we do not have photographs. We have no doubt that there were many others which we do not know about. This shows that from the middle of the 19th century onwards, there were many more who came from Valposchiavo, and established successful Swiss Pastry Shops and Restaurants, mainly in the South of England but in some cases, further afield.


The Compagnoni family

This family is justifiably mentioned first because they were the earliest arrivals that we have found. There were four brothers, Giovanni Compagnoni 1929-1872, Gasparo, 1831-1880, Giuseppe, 1834-1875 and Tomaso, 1842-1911, who were first cousins of Hans Semadeni, as their father Tomaso Compagnoni was the brother of Hans’ mother, Caterina. Giovanni had sold his business and went to Sydney, Australia, where he opened a restaurant. Gaspero was a confectioner and in the 1861 census, he was running his own establishment at High St, Finsbury, London, with Giuseppe and Tomaso. Tomaso joined Giovanni in Australia, leaving Gasparo and Giuseppe with the business in London. In November 1870, Tomaso married Mary Ann West, 1843-1903, who was born in England, and had emigrated with her family. They had 2 daughters and 6 sons, all born in Australia. Mary died in 1903 and Tomaso, who was suffering ill health, sadly took his own life in 1911, at the age of 68. It is quite possible that Hans Semadeni came to England in 1868, because his cousins were already here, and told him about the opportunities here.


Antonio Cortesi aged 25

Antonio was a confectioner from Canton Ticino. He ran a Swiss Restaurant at 84 Hastings Road, Tower Hamlets, Shoreditch, London. By the time of the 1871 Census, he and his wife Anglesa (sic) had moved, and their restaurant was at 29 North Parade, Bristol. He employed Francesco Beti as a pastrycook from Poschiavo, who went on to have his own restaurant in Southsea. We include Antonio as he was one of the earliest arrivals in England.


Francesco, aged 31, and Maria Beti, aged 25

Francesco and Maria ran their Swiss Restaurant at 40 King’s Road, Southsea, Hampshire. He was a pastrycook and confectioner and had worked as an apprentice for Anthony Cortesi, at his Swiss Restaurant in North Parade, Bristol.

Fortunato Ferrari ca1858-?, and Rosa Ferrari, ca1866-?

At the time of the 1881 Scottish Census, Fortunato, aged 23, from Ludiano, near Biasca in Canton Ticino, was working at the restaurant of Pietro Belloni in Glasgow.  By 1891, he and his wife Rosa had their own Swiss Restaurant in Glasgow, employing Joe Marchesi, son of Federico of Broadstairs, Kent, who was working for them as a cook. For this reason, we include details of this restaurant. Several other staff with well-known Poschiavini names were also employed in this business. Fortunato became a naturalised British subject in April 1899, and he and Rosa were running their restaurant at another address in Glasgow, at the time of the 1901 Scottish Census.

Gasparo Semadeni ca1858-?

Gasparo, who was a pastrycook and confectioner, was running the restaurant at 163 High Street, Southampton. He was aged 23 and his brother James Semadeni and Tommaso Fanconi were on the staff. By 1891, the business had been taken over by Gasparo Fanconi and his wife Maria, but we do not know if he was related to Tommaso. Our great aunt Nina Rocca, aged 18, was employed as a domestic servant at this time. There was a Caterina Fanconi, who was a confectioner, at this address in 1901, and we do not know if she was related to Gasparo. By 1911, the restaurant was owned by Pietro Rodolfo Lardi.


Adolfo aged 25, and Adelfina Fanconi-Tosio, aged 26

They were running their Swiss Restaurant at 14 Regent St., Weston super Mare, assisted by Adolfo’s brother Emilio Fanconi.

Carlo aged 29, and Emilia Crameri, aged 27

They ran a Swiss Restaurant at 72, George St, Croydon, and were assisted by his brother Pietro Crameri age 21, and 5 other staff.

Luigi, 1854-1939, and Maria Longhi-Crameri, 1867 - ?

The parents of Luigi, known as Louis, were Pietro Longhi and Maria Maranta. He was from Privilasco, San Carlo, and his Godmother was Maria Marchesi-Gaigher, 1816-1866, the wife of Giuseppe Marchesi, 1820-1889, our great-great-grandfather. We do not know if he was related to Sebastiano Longhi who married Nina Rocca, and was born in Precasaglio, near Ponte di Legno, Province of Brescia in Lombardia, Italy.

In the 1891 England Census. Louis and Maria were running their restaurant at 12 Harbour St, Folkestone. Emilio Crameri, a nephew of Louis, was there as a waiter, aged 18, and his parents were Carlo and Teresa Crameri-Rampa. Emilio and his wife Ida Marchesi, a daughter of Federico Marchesi of Broadstairs, eventually had a restaurant at Gravesend, Kent, as we describe elsewhere. Emilio inherited the Ragno vineyard, in Tirano, from his parents.

The Longhis then moved their business to Maidstone, where other nephews Pietro and Luigi Crameri worked as waiters for him. They were the sons of Tommaso Crameri and Maria Margherita Longhi, also from San Carlo, so we presume that Maria Margherita was the sister of Louis. By the time of the 1901 Census, Louis and his family had moved to Marine Drive, in Margate, and they were there in 1911. We do not have photographs of any of Louis’ restaurants.

Ermanno, 1867-1928, and Maria Godenzi-Tuena, 1859-1917

In the censuses for 1891, 1901, and 1911, they owned a Swiss Restaurant at 46 King's Road, Southsea, Hants. We have seen an entry in Kelly’s Directory of 1911 which suggests that they collaborated with Francesco and Maria Beti, who had a Swiss Restaurant at 40 King’s Road, Southsea, Hampshire. We think that they had also owned another restaurant at Gosport, because when the census was taken in 1911, this was owned by Aristide Luminati and his wife Teresina, even though it was still called ‘Godenzi and Son.’ We give details of this, on the page of those restaurants with photographs.

Gasparo, ca1861-? and Maria Fanconi, 1858-?

In 1881, the business at 163 High Street, Southampton, Hampshire was owned by Gasparo Semadeni as already noted. By the time of the 1891 England Census, Gaspero and Maria Fanconi were running it with 5 staff members including our great aunt Nina Longhi-Rocca, aged 18, who worked as a domestic servant.

Gasparo, 1867-1930, and Franca Semadeni-Lardelli, 1863-?

In the 1891 England Census, Gaspero and Franca Semadeni-Lardelli were managing the Swiss Restaurant at Claremont, Hastings. We cannot trace a family link with other members of the Semadeni families in England.

Giulio, confectioner aged 30, and Eugenia Lanfranchini, aged 26 In the 1891 England Census, they had a Swiss Restaurant at 1 Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol.

 Giuseppe, aged 33, and Monica Compagnoni, aged 40

In the 1891 England Census, Giuseppe, a pastrycook and confectioner, and Monica had their Swiss Restaurant at Eversfield, Hastings.

Giulio, aged 36, and Emilia Semadeni, aged 30

In the 1891 England Census, Giulio, a confectioner known as Julius, and his wife Emilia owned the Chalet Suisse at 26 High St, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. By the time of the 1901 Census, the restaurant, which we believe was still owned by Julius and Emilia, was being managed by Giulio Fanconi, a pastrycook aged 26, and his wife Anna, aged 28. We know that the Fanconi and Semadeni families were related.

Vincenzo, 1868-1906, and Caterina Platz-Marchesi, 1870-1942

In the 1891 England Census, Vincenzo was managing a Swiss Restaurant at 11 New Bond St., Bath, Somerset. He was a pastrycook and confectioner and Orsola Teresa Caterina Marchesi, known as Caterina, was a shop assistant here. They married in April 1891. Caterina was a daughter of Erminio Marchesi’s uncle Giovani Antonio Marchesi, so she was his first cousin. Leonilda Platz was probably a sister of Vincenzo and was a shop assistant in the restaurant.

Vincenzo and Caterina had two children, Vincenzo Paolo and Clara, both born in Plymouth, and we know that by then, Vincenzo was managing a restaurant there. Sadly, he died in 1906, and we next find Caterina recorded as a restaurant keeper in the 1912 Kelly´s Directory for Felixstowe, Suffolk. On 10 December 1917, she married Salvatore Philip Cizzio, 1878-1938. Caterina died in Edmonton, London, in 1942.

Maria Delfina Grassi-Tuena, 1862-1937

Delfina as she was known, was born in Poschiavo on 13 January 1862 and her parents were Giovanni Pietro Tuena and Teresa Godenzi. She left Poschiavo to find work in France in 1883, and by the time of the 1891 England Census, she was a cook and confectioner, lodging at 6 Osborne Road, in the Southsea district of Portsmouth.  At this time, Ermano Godenzi and his wife Maria who was Delfina’s sister, were running their restaurant at 46 King’s Road, Southsea, so Delfina had probably come to be near her.

Delfina met Joseph Grassi, 1867-1947, from Canton Ticino, who was a private soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps, based in a nearby Army Hospital at Portsmouth, and she married him in October 1891. In the 1901 England Census, she was a restaurant cook in Exmouth with her two younger daughters, Tranquilla and Teresina. At that time, Joseph was running a restaurant at 53 Osborne Road, Southsea, so they were living apart. He married his second wife in 1920, and the older daughters Emilia and Josephina remained with him. We next see Delfina in the 1911 England Census, working as a cook at the Swiss Restaurant of Pietro Rodolfo Lardi at 163 High Street, Southampton. Her daughter Lena aged 15, was employed as a nurse at this time. Delfina also worked at the other Lardi restaurant at 179 Above Bar, Southampton, and this was eventually transferred to her.  She returned to live in Poschiavo and died there in San Sisto Hospital on 6 January 1937.


Pietro, aged 31, and Erminia Bondolfi-Luminati, aged 23

Pietro, a confectioner, and Erminia were working on their own accounts at the Swiss Restaurant of Alessandro Amiotti at Sackville Road, Bexhill, Sussex.

Pietro aged 31, and Clorinda Crameri, aged 32

Pietro, a pastrycook and confectioner, was assisting his brother Carlo at his Swiss Restaurant at 72 George Street, Croydon, at the time of the 1891 census. By 1901, he and Clorinda managed the Swiss Restaurant at 86, George Street, Croydon, Surrey, and they were still there in 1911.

Peter aged 28, and Edith Crameri, aged 28

Peter, a baker and confectioner, and Edith, had their Swiss Restaurant at 16-17 High St., Maidstone, and they were still there in 1911.

Palmina Cortesi, aged 30

Palmina Cortesi owned the Swiss Restaurant at 3, Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire. This was next door to a Swiss Restaurant which, at the time of the 1891 England Census, was owned by Giulio and Eugenia Lanfranchini.

Giulio, aged 26, and Anna Fanconi aged 28

Giulio, a pastrycook, and his wife Anna were managing the Swiss Restaurant at 26 High St., Tunbridge Wells. We believe that it was owned by Julius and Emilia Semadeni who were there at the time of the 1891 England Census. We have discovered an interesting fact about their son Arturo Fanconi.

Arturo, a son of Giulio and Anna Fanconi was a Sick Birth Attendant in the Royal Navy aged 38, and was on UTAH Beach on 28th June 1944, with the American Army, during the invasion of Normandy in WW2. He was summoned to help some wounded men and crawled through a minefield to reach them. He applied first aid and then helped to carry two patients to safety. This was tiring and difficult, and another mine burst, killing one helper and wounding Fanconi. Despite being in great pain, Fanconi tried to help his comrade, but further mines exploded, and he was fatally wounded. He displayed selfless courage and skill in helping others and was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal for gallantry in life saving. In 1949 the Albert Medal was replaced by the George Cross, and this shows how much some of these Swiss families had made their home in England permanently.

Tomaso, aged 38, and Angelina Fanconi aged 36

Tomaso was a pastrycook and confectioner and he and his wife Angelina ran their restaurant at Fleet St., Torquay. We have not been able to trace relationships with other Fanconi families.

Luigi Federico Marchesi 1880-1955

Luigi was the fourth son of Luigi Maria and Maria Marchesi-Dorizzi, of Cima Villa. The 1901 Scottish Census confirms that he had left Poschiavo, and was a fish shop owner living in Aberdeen. When his mother Maria died in 1916, he was noted in "Il Grigione," in the list of family mourners, as living in Aberdeen. Other documents in the period between 1915 and 1920 have been found showing that he was working in Aberdeen as a confectioner and ice cream dealer. His name was also recorded in "Il Grigione" when his uncle, Doctor Giuseppe Marchesi died on 20 March 1947, and he was still in Aberdeen at this time. Further records have been found showing that he remained in Aberdeenshire and died on 2 February 1955. He was buried in the New Deer Parish Cemetery, near Maud. On his death certificate it states that he was single and a retired restauranteur.

Peter Marchesi, aged 31, and Maria Marchesi, 1878-1959

Peter worked as a pastrycook and baker at the Swiss Restaurant of Geovichino Donnetta at 23 Harbour Street, Ramsgate. Maria Matilda Marchesi, known as Tilly, was the daughter of Federico and Elisabeth Marchesi of Broadstairs worked here as a receptionist. We do not think that Peter was related to us.

Vittore Alphonso Marchesi 1882-1947

Alphonso was the fifth son of Luigi and Maria Marchesi-Dorizzi and followed his older brothers Erminio and Luigi and came to England to find work. At the time of the 1901 England Census, he was working at the Cafe Royal in Brighton, England, which was run by Francesco and Laura Gallizia from Canton Ticino, Switzerland. It seems that in 1902, he went to America, and worked on various vessels based out of San Francisco, New York and New Orleans. He became an American citizen in 1922, and by the time of the Great Depression in 1930 he was living in Chicago.  Alphonso never married or had children and  died in Chicago in 1947. He is buried at Oak Forest, Cook County, Illinois.

Edward, aged 38, and Lina Semadeni, aged 33

Edward, a confectioner, and Lina had their Swiss Restaurant at 7 Dewsbury Road, Leeds. By 1911, they had moved their business to 37 Upper Bugle Street, Southampton, Hampshire.

Gaspard, 1867-1930, and Franca Semadini-Lardelli, ca1864

Gaspard, a baker and confectioner, and Franca, were managing this Swiss Restaurant at 5 Claremont, Hastings. In the 1901 Census, they were running this business, but by 1911, they were at the Swiss Restaurant at 136 high Street, Tonbridge, Kent, employing 8 staff members. In 1929, this restaurant was bought by Louis and Celesta Rocca, with a very good location in the main street of Tonbridge. Celesta retained their little house in the town, long after the business was sold, and we remember well the visits to our grandmother there.


Franca Margherita Semadeni, 1880-1978

Franca was managing the Swiss Restaurant at 179 Above Bar, Southampton, owned by Pietro Rodolfo and Annetta Lardi-Semadeni. At this time, Antonio Fanconi, 1879-1958, a pastrycook, was on the staff at 163 High Street, Southampton, also owned by the Lardis, and he married Franca in 1912.