4. Ugo Fano, The Memories of an Atomic Physicist for My Children and Grandchildren

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Volume 13: Pages 176-197, 2000

The Memories of an Atomic Physicist for My Children and Grandchildren

Ugo Fano

Published online December 15, 2008

My Fano family had been settled in Mantova (Italy) for centuries. The first ancestor to emerge from the mists of time is my greatgreat grandfather Moise Abram Fano, who lived across the end of the 18th century. I do not know much about him except that he must have been quite welltodo because we still have some pieces of silverware with his initials MAF. He must have had several sons because he spawned different branches of the Fano extended family, some of which stayed in Mantova until recent times. Like all Jews, he must have lived in the ghetto; Jews at that time were not permitted to own property or to live anywhere else. He certainly had a prosperous business; family lore tells me that he was a merchant dealing mostly in wool fabrics, buying and selling all over Europe. His reputation was such that a letter of credit with his signature was honored everywhere. This was the beginning of a banking business, which lasted until my grandfather closed it a century later. I think one of MAF's relatives went to Russia with Napoleon's army because we own a miniature portrait of a medical doctor, Captain Fano, who returned after that disastrous campaign.