Topic: The Greatest Generation
Lidia Bastianich: I think that my origins had a tremendous shaping of my . . . who I am, my personality, my career and so on. Pola is a city in Istria. Istria is a little Peninsula that juts into Adriatic which is part of Croatia now. But World War II kind of changed the whole demographics there, or the whole . . . Pola and Istria, being Italian, were given to Yugoslavia as the spoils of World War II. And therefore being ethnic Italian, where the government that came in was Communist, was a tremendous change. And those were my formative years really, because we ultimately . . . My parents ultimately decided to escape. Because once it was a Communist state, we literally had to escape back to Italy. So that . . . Those years really did shape me and sort of created my philosophy of life. We escaped from . . . from Yugoslavia, then back into Italy. I was around 10. For two years in the aftermath of war, Italy we . . . my parents, I guess, tried to get a decent job. And so it was kind of difficult, so we entered a political refugee camp for two years. And in three years, we . . . We stayed for two years awaiting a visa to travel on. And in 1958, the United States at that time – Dwight Eisenhower – made provisions for visas for political refugees . . . people that were escaping actually Communism, which we were. And we came into the United States in 1958.
Recorded on: 10/4/07