Frank Lanteri


Frank Lanteri was a wine merchant who ran a successful business on High Street, Thornbury from around 1914 to his death in 1944. He married Marrietta Napoli in 1913 and the couple had two children Frank junior and Nita named after a relative in the Napoli family.


Marrietta was the daughter of Giovanni and Thenia Napoli (nee Orsini) who married in Victoria in 1889. They had a large family. Marietta was the first, born in Tyabb in 1890, followed by Agata in 1891 who did not survive the year. Emily Agata was next in 1892, then Francisco Sebastiano in 1897 and Giovannina in 1898. By 1900 the family had moved from the Mornington Peninsula to Melbourne where Giovanni started working as a labourer and they lived in first Gladstone and then Thistle thwaite Street, South Melbourne. More children followed with Letina who was born and died within the same year of 1902.The couple’s birth rate started to slow after that with Nita born in1906, Giovanni junior following in 1909 and then a large gap before Vencenzlo came along in 1917. The family may have suffered some ill feeling during the First World War when Italy was the opposition because by1919 they had moved to 4 Bent Street in Northcote where Giovanni could easily pick up some labouring work in the building boom. He was however in his sixth decade and died the following year in 1920 aged 62 having fathered his last child just three years earlier. Seventeen years younger than her husband Thenia was now left with 14 year-old Giovanni, an 11 year-old Nita and three year-old Vencenzlo in her care. By then however the older ones were grown and able to help support their mother and the younger children. Emily and Giovannina were still living at home but had incomes as a machinist and a furrier. Francisco was the most senior male of the house and also had a steady job as a brass finisher. Marrietta was married to Frank Lanteri a successful wine business in High Street, Thornbury. This was most likely the incentive for the Napolis to relocate to the Northcote area.

Vencenzlo died in 1939, just twenty-two. Nita became a tailoress and Giovanni junior a cabinet maker. By 1931 the Napolis had moved to 42 Pender Street in Preston where Giovanni junior was no doubt supporting the family on his wages with assistance from his sister and brother-in-law nearby. During WWII Giovanni started registering himself as John no doubt to avoid the same anti-Italian feelings that had existed during the First World War. A fellow Italian Marino Casamento who was naturalised as a British subject in 1938, was denied purchasing property in Brunswick because the Town Clerk felt that there would be public objection to “aliens acquiring land”. Casamento had been leasing a fruit shop in Northcote for many years when the war broke out and he felt that it was necessary to have a sign in his window stating his allegiance to the King. Somewhere around this time Giovanni(now John) married Olive Rosetta and his mother continued to live with the couple in Rene Street, Preston until her passing sometime in 1948aged 72.

Meanwhile the Lanteris were continuing to thrive in High Street with their grown son Frank junior following the family business as a barman just prior to the start of WWII. Their daughter Nita also became part of the family business at what was now 814High Street, Thornbury and was working in sales. Frank senior died on 16 January1944 and the family placed a loving memorial notice in The Argus the following year with the epitaph “sweet memories always remain.” The son Frank had married Gwendoline by this stage and the couple were living in Ivanhoe when his father decided to retire to Kew. Frank junior took on the High Street business and remained there till the 1960s.

Frank Lanteri was a good husband, father and provider for his family. The only time he featured in the news was briefly in 1926 when he hit a pedestrian with his motor-car as he tried to pass a cable tram on High Street. The pedestrian Olive Edwards survived with only a few scrapes and bruises. Motor-cars were still relatively new vehicles and an accident in one was cause sensation

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956)Saturday 7 August 1926, p.34. Motor-cars Collide: Young Woman Struck by Car

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956) Tuesday16 January 1945, p.14. In Memoriam

Australia Birth Index,1788-1922

Australia Marriage Index,1788-1950

Death Index Victoria, 1921-1985 : index to deaths in Victoria. Melbourne : Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. 1998.

Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954