Northwest NEWS

July 27, 1998


A diplomat in our midst


Franco Tesorieri

   by Deborah Stone
   Features writer

   Franco Tesorieri, of Bothell, is a man who wears many hats. He owns and operates a restaurant, runs an international export management company and recently was appointed the Honorary Vice Consul for Italy for the State of Washington, an official diplomatic position.
   Originally from Bologna, Italy, Tesorieri has been in the international trade and marketing business for many years and has lived in various countries around the world. As a result of his experiences, he speaks five languages fluently.
   Tesorieri came to the U.S. in 1976 and has called Bothell his home for the past twenty-two years. He became a U.S. citizen in 1996.
   "The U.S. is home for me now, but Italy is my mother," says Tesorieri. "I will always love Italy and I still have lots of family there whom I visit often."
   His wife Leeann, whom he first met in Italy, is a Seattle area native. The couple has three daughters, two in high school and one who recently graduated from college.
   Three years ago, Franco and Leeann opened the Village Bistro, an Italian restaurant in Country Village.
   "It is a small, family-run business," explains Franco, "and the food is authentic Italian. Leeann is the chef and I am the royal taster. While living in Italy, she learned to cook all the traditional food from my mother and the old ladies in the neighborhood." According to Tesorieri, the Village Bistro is doing well, growing mostly through word of mouth.
   As an Italian businessman in the international arena, Franco has had contact with the Consul General for Italy in San Francisco.
   When he was asked about assuming the position of Honorary Vice Consul, he felt very honored, but initially hesitated in accepting because he was unsure of the extent of the workload and how much time this responsibility would require of him.
   "Between the restaurant and my export company, I keep very busy," explains Tesorieri. "I wanted to make sure that I would be able to fulfill the duties of this position because I take my responsibilities seriously."
   The decision to accept the position was made and he was officially given his title on April 1.
   "I felt that I could be of help to the Italian community here," says Tesorieri, "as well as foster good relations between Italy and Washington State."
   Franco's role is to assist Italians living in Washington with their documents.
   He notarizes signatures, provides information to tourists, students and businessmen who are traveling to Italy, helps sponsor cultural exchanges and attends various functions in his role as diplomatic representative.
   Although Tesorieri is modest about his position, it holds much esteem and he is recognized as being a part of the official Italian consular delegation.
   There are approximately 3000-4000 Italians living in Washington presently. "The Italians who have come to this state are involved in all different sectors and are working in engineering, technology, research, medicine, business, etc." says Tesorieri.
   As Vice Consul, Franco says he has been receiving ten to twelve phone calls a day at his office.
   He answers each call with the same amount of respect, even though some of the questions are frivolous.
   "One person wanted a map of Italy and another wanted to know the best way to go from one city to the next. Of course there are other calls of a more serious nature,"
   Currently, Franco is working with a non-profit group called the Northwest Italian American Foundation to create an Italian Cultural Center in Seatte. The organization has petitioned the City of Seattle to transform a building at Sand Point into such a center.
   "It would be a focus point for the Italian community," explains Tesorieri.
   It would be open to everyone with all sorts of Italian cultural activities offered, like theatre, film, language classes.
   It would also serve as a meeting place for both new and old Italians who have come here to work or visit. The group is awaiting city approval of its plans, and Franco hopes the center will become a reality in the near future.
   He adds,"With something like this, everyone stands to benefit from the exchange of culture."
   To contact Franco at the Italian Vice Consul's office, the public can call 425-485-8626.
   The office is located at 23732 Bothell-Everett Highway, Suite L, inside Country Village.