The Quilietti Family

The story of a Scots Italian family


Thanking Romano for his generous offer of memories.   There is certainly nothing more precious.

Romano was born in Greenside, Edinburgh.   His family had arrived in Edinburgh some years earlier and settled, like many other Italian immigrants in the area.    They lived here a while and later ran their own chippie in the Marchmont area of the city, at  16 Roseneath Street, Marchmont, Edinburgh.

My father, born 1889, was born in the Garfagnana, North Tuscany, and came about 1905 to join his brother Bartolomeo to run his chip shop in Dalkeith.

The Garfagnana in Tuscany has outstanding scenery

Located between the Apuan Alps (famous for the production of marble) the main part of the Apennines, Garfagnana is a mountainous region of Tuscany. It considered a particularly striking and beautiful part of Tuscany owing to its mountains, the rest of Tuscany being generally more flat.

The native trees are mostly deciduous, the most common being Chestnut, which provided an important food for the region until World War II. However, after the war, disease infected most of the chestnut trees and caused widespread devastation to the chestnut population. A program of tree planting was introduced to limit erosion, using pine trees. As a result it is common to see pine in the region. Chestnut has started to recover, however.

Garfagnana has many historic attractions including the 'devil's bridge'

My mother Assunta, was born in 1903 in Atina, Frosinone, and joined her sister who was married to the owner of the Grill Rooms in Waterloo Place.


Atina, Lazio, not too far from Roma

Eventually four sisters ended up in Edinburgh with their families.


My father and uncles were all interned during the war, and the Waterloo Place uncle (Achille) was a survivor of the sinking of the Arandora Star.

I was born in 1932, my brother Italo in 1934 in Greenside Place, also my sister Maria Pia born in 1938.

We boys went to the Royal High and my sister to St. Margaret’sConvent in Bruntsfield. I studied medicine at Edinburgh and ended up in Basildon Essex in General Practice; Italo is the owner of the Honeydew Restaurant at Haymarket and has been long retired, and Maria Pia is in property with her sons.

Romano's parents shop, photographed today. It is still a chippie.

Our Greenside house was over the Direct Supply furniture store shown in your photograph probably taken in the 1950s.

Direct Supplies, Greenside, Edinburgh

We were separated from the church then the Playhouse, by a flight of steps leading to the back of the building.

My father and mother  ran a fish restaurant in Marchmont, Edinburgh.   He was the leader of the boys’ section, and my mother of the girls’ section of the Fascio across the road at no. 20 Picardy Place.

Before you recoil in horror, let me explain that the Fascio was a non-political meeting place for the Italian community in Edinburgh,  and the seat of the Italian consulate. My mother taught the children Italian and the Italian colony would meet to play cards, chat, and reminisce about the Old Country. Again, I stress it was purely for socialising, not for spreading fascist ideology.

The fascio were also responsible for the creation of the Union of Italian Traders set up in 1928, which just ten years later boasted a 1000 members in Scotland alone, the first organisation that actively brought many Scottish based Italians together on this scale. 

The Casa also acted as a beacon for all Italians living in Scotland, a focal point where many met regularly socially and for business, travelling from all corners of the country. 

eery, auld greenside


May first memory as a three-year-old was observing horse and carts coming up Leith Walk with the resulting heaps of dung which I was convinced was the source of my Uncle Frank’s pipe tobacco. He also lived in no. 16 Greenside Place, across the landing from my family, but I thought his house much grander, as he had a toilet for his family, whereas we shared one with our other neighbours, the Frasers.

My family consisted of Dad, Mum, and a younger brother and sister, both born in no.16.

We had a kitchen with cold water tap,gas lighting and a coal fire. My other Aunt slept with her husband and her three year old daughter in the bed recess- I think they called it a bed closet- in the kitchen..

We five slept in the bedroom at the back facing on to the Calton Hill. 

In 1935 it was King George V’s silver jubilee and Leith Walk was festooned with flags. We had a large Italian tricolour hanging from the kitchen window, and as I looked out I saw a group of lads kicking a meat pie on the pavement in front of the furniture shop downstairs

When Italy entered the war in 1940, I saw from the kitchen window a large crowd standing in front of the Deep Sea which was directly opposite As I watched, the crowd was getting angrier, shouting, breaking the shop windows and door. I looked and saw Carolina Crolla, the wife of Michele, the owner of the Deep Sea, appear at an upstairs window. She opened the window and poured a kettle of water on the crowd below.

Early next morning there was a knocking at our door. a uniformed policeman and a man dressed in a raincoat with a trilby hat on his head arrested my father and took him away.Later that morning I walked up Leith Street to my third Uncle Achille’s shop in Waterloo Place, which had been completely wrecked. I remember being  If overjoyed at picking up sweets which lay in heaps among smashed counters, tables and chairs It was my last memory of Greenside Place


  • Hello Roman, are Simona daughter of Gilberto Borgatti your cousin. I remember our trip to Scotland when I was a child (1971): Fish & Chips, the Italian restaurant where you lost a tooth, ice cream Assunta Aunt oven, your home in Basildon where Marcus and his sisters were playing at the hospital of the dolls, Pinocchio the cinema, the Tattoo … in short, childhood memories. And then in 1985 when I came to England on vacation studio: I lost my wallet and I was hosted at home. How many memories and all pleasant. I hope you will read this letter. Greetings to Maria Pia to kids who do not know if I remember.  – This is a rough translation of the comment in Italian Below = Helen

9 Responses to “EDINBURGH Greenside and ROMANO CAVAROLI”

  1. Catherine Janet Reid (neeHutchison) says:

    My mother Cathie Cavaroli was yolur cousin. Her father was Bartolomeo and had the chip shop in Dalkeith. Unfotunately my mother died when only 26 years old but I was in contact with my Cavaroli family for many years. I believe my cousin Gavin Lockhart was a friend of Italo,

  2. David moore says:

    I remember Italo very well at the Royal High School. We were in the same class and also played rugby for the same team. We were very good friends at that time but drifted apart when we left school. I new he worked in a fish and chip shop in the Roseneath part of town but sadly we never met again. I have just found out on my iPAD of his death and was very sorry to hear of his passing. Please accept my late condolences. Kind regards to all the Cavaroli Family.!! David Moore

  3. Simona Borgatti says:

    Ciao Romano, sono Simona la figlia di Gilberto Borgatti tuo cugino. Ricordo un nostro viaggio in Scozia quando ero bambina (1971) : fish&chips, il ristorante di Italo dove persi un dentino, il gelato al forno di zia Assunta, casa vostra a Basildon dove Marcus e le sue sorelle giocavano all’ospedale delle bambole, Pinocchio al cinema, il Tatoo … Insomma, ricordi di bambina. E poi quando nel 1985 venni in Inghilterra in vacanza studio: persi il portafogli e venni ospitata a casa vostra. Quanti ricordi e tutti piacevoli. Spero che tu leggerai questa mia. Un caro saluto a Maria Pia ai ragazzi che non so se mi ricorderanno.

  4. Alan Grant says:

    Very interesting to read. I was at James Gillespie’s Primary School with Romano in the early
    1940s’ I always remebered his full name Romano Victor Joseph Guiesppe Cavaroli.

  5. Drew Liston says:

    Have just came across this very interesting site. Knew Italo Cavaroli and his family for about 20 years as neighbours. Had many, “blethers”, with Italo and found him to be a good neighbour, great friend and a gentleman

  6. Helen says:

    Lovely to hear this. Great that someone remembers him. If you have any personal stories I could add them. That would be just great.

  7. Danny says:

    I stumbled on this website. I worked in The Honeydew as a school boy and student in the early 70’s.I worked downstairs mainly dish washing and some prep. We called him Mr Cav. He was a nice man I must have worked there for 4 years.

  8. Olá, sou bisneto de Nicodemo Cavaroli, nascido em Castiglione de Garfagnana, Toscana, foi casado com Margarida Rossi e teve três filhas, minha avó Natalina Cavaroli nasceu em 1904 e morou em Garfagnana em uma casa de pedras do lado da igreja, seria parente de vocês?

  9. Justyne Hunter says:

    Hi I think we may be related .. My grandmother is Clotilde Lucchesi her mum was Maria and a dad was Luigi … my Great granny Maria Lucchesi’s mother died giving birth and her dad went on to marry again. I know that her family came from Garfagnanna. Her Grandad surname was Reale .. known as Harry Royal who had an ice cream shop in Loanhead and I know of an uncle Benito Cavarolli and links to food restaurants in Dalkeith. I’ve just had results of my ancestry DNA and would love if you could give me more info on surnames and help me fill in some gaps … looking forward to hearing from you. Justyne

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