According to family members and workers interviewed for the Tirocchi project, Madame Tirocchi traveled to Europe regularly, annually most said. There is sufficient documentation in the business records to support trips to the Continent (as it was commonly called then), although the details of each trip have been lost.

Numerous receipts from 1924 indicate that Anna went on a big buying trip to Europe that year, staying in the Hotel Quirinal in Rome from February 23-29, and in the Hotel Regina in Paris from February 18-20, and again from March 2-8. A letter from Philippe & Gaston in Paris addressed to Madame Tirocchi at 45, Via Palermo in Rome began (loosely translated), "We are astonished that you left Paris without ..."

More receipts from 1927 indicate stops in Florence, Milan or Rome, and Paris. Again, she stayed in the Hotel Regina in Paris, which seems to have been her favored lodging while in the fashion capital. The hotel’s letterhead shows an illustration of a large hotel on a plaza and carries the following information in English: "Most central situation" and "Overlooking finest part of Tuileries Gardens."

While in Paris, Madame Tirocchi attended couture shows, as evidenced by the show programs in the archive from Paul Poiret, Lucien Lelong, Drecoll, Germaine Couture (Germaine Caubit), Jean Patou, and others. The program from Paul Poiret (Hiver–Winter--1926/7) is a simple, folded, three-panel card listing clothes in four categories–3-piece costumes, afternoon gowns, coats, and evening gowns. Each costume to be shown was listed, with space for notations. Madame Tirocchi had marked those that interested her with an "X."

The Lucien Lelong couture program is a booklet, with text in French and English giving information about terms and about both American and European deliveries. A chart gives dates of order and dates of delivery for unembroidered garments and for embroidered or trimmed costumes. Each costume is listed with a column for the price (which may have been announced during the show) to be noted and a blank column for other notations.

One of the more elaborate show programs is a booklet from Jean Patou that was elegantly printed and bound with a silk cord. The opening page, titled "Trés Important," gives terms in French and English and adds the following admonishment:

The sale of our Models to the Commercial Firms includes only the licence [sic] of reproduction and the sale outside Paris. Our buyers are kindly asked to inform their Customers of the limitation. All tailored suits, All coats and wraps, All the gowns, All my fur models are made in my workrooms and are copyright subject to the law of 1909. I intend by all means in my power to sue any copyists and their accomplices that I may discover. As I intend doing this as much in my customers [sic] interest as in my own, I beg to ask any persons having information with regard to this malpractice, to be good enought [sic] to inform me at once, as I will not hesitate to spare both time and money in bringing them to justice.

Anna did benefit from the practice of couture houses licensing Models to the manufacturers with whom she did business. There is no evidence that she violated any of Monsieur Patou’s sanctions, but she did undoubtedly use her own eyes in the show to evaluate the new designs for the benefit of her customers back home.

The travel folders in the Tirocchi archive brim with business and trade cards collected on these Continental trips. Among them:

  • Maison Roubaudi (rubans, soieries & velours) Représentés par Mr_____________ (with name handwritten)
  • Rodier/Tissus Rouveaux/Paris
  • Panzarasa Couture Paris with two rubber stamps "Représenté par Mr. Ferrero," one giving a Milan address and the other, a Paris address
  • Laetitia: robes, manteaux, deshabillés dresses, Paris, illustrated with an image of a chic young woman in an evening gown perched on a cushioned stool, fanning herself with a large feather
  • Fabriche Riunite/B. Finzi & Co. Milano
  • F. Lebaron, La Dentellière, English spoken; laces, blouses, lingerie, layette

There are also cards from restaurants (Robin, 10 rue de Marche Saint-Honoré in Paris, "Reasonable prices, home cooking, English spoken, Se habla Espanol); from the American Express office in Paris; and for an English chauffeur guide--private cars for hire per day, week or month, Paris. In addition, there are quite a few cards for antique dealers: Aux Gobelins "Tapisseries Anciennes; copied d’Anciens & Tapisseries aux Points preparées pour Dames, Antiquités, Ameublements; Decoration d’Interieur"; and

Chine & Japon Antiquités, Curiosités, Objects d’Art & de Fantaisie. Anna’s homes were lavishly furnished with antiques and it is conceivable that she purchased some of them on her buying trips to Europe.

Shipping documents indicate that Madame Tirocchi traveled home with some of her purchases instead of having them shipped directly. A couple of the ships she favored are referenced in these documents, including the RMS Homeric, Southampton, on which she sailed as late as 1931. A menu card from this trip also survives. Dr. Cella, Jr., Laura’s son, as he was closing the house donated much surviving material relating to ocean liners to a museum in California. The curators have not had the time or resources to review this material, but it could shed further light on the trips abroad taken by the Tirocchi sisters.

A letter of introduction from the Tirocchis’ local banker to Mr. Alfred Stern, General Manager, Mercurbank, Vienna states, "Dr. Cella is one of the best known physicians in Providence and wishes to inspect the Vienna clinic for the purpose of getting acquainted with its famous function." The same letter also introduces his sister-in-law Anna Tirocchi and refers to a line of credit already established for her, so Dr. Cella must have been accompanying his wife and her sister on one of their annual buying trips to Europe, although nothing is known of Anna’s Vienna sojourn.

The European travel records are tantalizing, but do not give the curators a complete picture of the Tirocchis’ buying trips. The trips were undoubtedly also for personal rejuvenation. Anna and Laura were known to visit family in Italy on these trips and, indeed, it was on one such trip that Laura suffered a catastrophic accident that left her impaired for the rest of her life.

Mortality, as well as sightseeing, may have been on Anna’s mind when she visited the Camposanto de Genova. A souvenir catalogue from this Italian cemetery is abundantly illustrated with photographs of the elaborately carved monuments. Descriptive text is translated into several languages. The introduction in English calls the cemetery of Staglieno "without doubt the largest and most splendid necropolis in Italy and perhaps in the world, where one can admire numerous and superb monuments, which can justly be termed works of art." The monuments would have resonated with Anna’s aesthetic sensibilities.

The influence or connection cannot be known with certainty, but Madame Tirocchi did commission well before her death a monumental funereal stone for herself with all the Stations of the Cross carved into it. Her niece told the curators it is as long as the width of a room and was completed before her death in 1947. (The monument was supposed to have cost $10,000, but Anna’s estate eventually paid $13,500 for it.) The curators have learned to examine every piece of evidence that survives in the Tirocchi archives for the light it can shed on any part of the complex story of the Tirocchis in America.

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