Sewing 18

Adriana Pancaldi Nannini

February 22, 1930 ~ December 20, 2021 (age 91)


Adriana Pancaldi Nannini

February 22, 1930–December 20, 2021


Adriana Pancaldi Nannini died peacefully, as the sun was setting, with her children by her side, on December 20, 2021. 

Adriana lived her life defined by self-determination, fearlessness, and her unstoppable spirit of conviction. She delighted in good conversation, especially over a hearty meal with family and friends—often with her doing all the cooking. Right up until the end she continued traditions, such as home-made tortellini for the holidays that she learned to make growing up in Italy.

Adriana Nannini was born and raised in Renazzo, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The fifth of seven children, her father, Federico was the undertaker for the town, and her mother, Maria ran the homestead, which included a vegetable garden, farm animals, and fruit orchards.

She described her childhood as simple and plentiful. Each busy day was filled with the work needed to sustain their rural life as it had always been done for generations before. She, like her five sisters, all learned the handicrafts assigned to women in those days including cutting and sewing fabric into clothes which became Adriana’s expertise and profession.

When Germany invaded Italy during WW2, Adriana and her family experienced the war first-hand when five German soldiers disrupted their pastoral life and occupied their home in the fall of 1944 for 6 months until the American troops ended the war in the spring of 1945.

A few years after the war, Ariana met Orazio, who was from the next town over.  Once they married in January 1952, they started the process of emigrating to the United States. Four years later, Adriana boarded the SS Andria Doria ocean liner bound for America. Initially they lived in Plymouth, Mass., before moving to Somerville, where she and Orazio settled to raise their three children: Steve, Anthony, and Angela. Adriana’s business as a dressmaker and seamstress started with a compliment, “I like your coat,” a woman said to Adriana, regarding the one she was wearing. “She made it herself,” replied her husband Orazio, standing beside her. “Oh?” asked the women, “Will you make one for me?” From then on word spread quickly and her business grew.

In 1972 Adriana and her family moved to Needham, Mass. where she thrived and further expanded her community. By the mid 1980s, she and her husband became “snowbirds”, when they bought a second home in Port St Lucie, Florida.  Spending the winter months each year in the Sunshine State was a dream come true for Adriana and Orazio. They enjoyed their community of family, friends, and beautiful surroundings living on the “Treasure Coast.” There, she set up a second sewing room and continued to meet new people and expand her business and social community.

By the 1990s, she and Orazio became grandparents and they both lovingly doted on their granddaughters, Adriana, her namesake, and Carla. Many family vacations took place at their Florida home which always involved fresh-squeezed orange juice from oranges picked right from one of the several citrus trees growing in their backyard that they planted themselves.

Adriana continued to sew and hone her craft well into her senior years. Her attention to detail was impeccable and she took pride in her work. She also enjoyed connecting with people. “What’s new?” she would ask. She was always curious about the people in her life and loved hearing their background stories. She also loved to tell her own.

Over her lifetime, Adriana cultivated many friendships as well as interests and skills including cooking, reading, refinishing furniture, and collecting finely crafted objects often discovered at yard sales, which she could never resist. She also loved music, any kind but especially opera and country music. Most of all she loved to travel and go places to see friends and family. Often “spur of the moment!”

She took to heart that life offered joy in simple moments best savored together with loved ones. “Viva!” was one of her favorite expressions. Adriana inspired many people with her fortitude and formidable personality. Her compassion, her love and her friendship will be forever missed by many.

Adriana leaves behind her daughter Angela Nannini of Norwood, Mass., son Anthony Nannini of Needham, Mass., with daughter-in-law Gail, wife of Anthony, and their daughters, Adriana, Jr of Crozet, Virginia, and Carla of Kaui, Hawaii, as well as Jairus McQuaid Hunt, husband of Adriana Jr, her sister, Lucciana Buttieri, of Renazzo, Italy and many, nieces, nephews, relatives, and dear friends. She was predeceased by her husband, Orazio, in 2008, and her oldest son, Steve in 2011.

Adriana’s ashes will be interned at Needham Cemetery, 128 Nehoiden St., Needham Heights, MA 02494. The date and time are to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations would be graciously accepted at Three Squares New England, a nonprofit organization that supports local hunger relief efforts.


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