Erminia Mattichio was a school teacher in what is now Croatia, part of the old Yugoslavia. She gave birth to her daughter Lidia in 1947, and the family lived in the town of Pula until 1956 when they decided to escape communist Yugoslavia for Italy. It was then that Erminia took her children Lidia and Franco on a train to Trieste, using the excuse that they were visiting a sick relative. It took some time before Erminia would be reunited with her husband, Lidia’s father Vittorio, and after that happened, they lived with a relative before moving to a refugee camp. Erminia and Vittorio finally managed to bring their children to America with the help of Catholic Relief Services, who settled them in New York (via Entertainment Central).
Grandma remained in the public eye even during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to Lidia, who quarantined with her. In a quick interview with Time Out last year, Lidia revealed that Grandma remained “alert,” even at 99, and that she took pleasure in “a good game of cards and expects a good meal.” Some fans have admitted that they tune in to Lidia because of Grandma, too. One social media user said on Twitter, “Bless her heart! Glad Grandma has stayed safe and well during this time. I always enjoy the shows that she appears on and wish her continued good health! Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”
Erminia Bastianich will be sorely missed.