Everyone knows the brand Bvlgari mostly thanks to its luxury watches and fragrances, but what little people know is that, not so long ago, its founders did something other than designing, standing behind a desk and smiling at the cameras.
Well, the founder’s son, at least. You see, Bvlgari was founded by the Greek Sotirios Boulgaris, who arrived in Rome in 1884 and established his second shop there – the first one was and still is in Paramythia.
His eldest son, Costantino, would eventually succeed him, and it was he and his wife Laura that proved their bravery during the Second World War.
In the Italian capital, there was a horrifying event known as the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome. It happened on October 16, 1943, and it saw the Nazis hunting down and capturing more than 1,200 Jews, of which more than a thousand were sent to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Only sixteen survived the war.
And it was then that the Bulgaris showed their courage. In the middle of that terrible persecution, the couple was surprised by a heavy knock on their door. When they opened it, the faces of three terrified Jewish women were staring back at them. Risking their own safety –as giving refuge to Jews in a fascist country meant immediate execution for treason-, the Bulgaris didn’t hesitate for a second and hid the women in their house, out of kindness and also out of anger at the Nazis and their actions.
These three women (a woman and her daughter, and an elderly lady) would have faced a certain death, had the Bulgaris not given them refuge that night, and they were spared the concentration camp and survived the Nazi regime.
For the courage the Bulgaris showed, the State of Israel awarded them the title of Righteous among the Nations, an honorific title given to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to help Jews.
So Bvlgari is not just a brand of luxury and elegance. It’s a brand of bravery, courage and standing up for what’s right.