Genny on the left with her mother Vera and sister Dryas

In December 1943, Gentian (Genny) Alpina de Luise was a terrorized, starving 9-year-old girl, living the life of a young Italian refugee, trapped in a bombed out village of Castel di Sangro with her mother and sister and housekeeper. They were caught 80 miles east of Rome in the crossfire of entrenched German soldiers on the so-called Winter Line and the advancing Allied Forces. The family had been surviving in an old barn and a makeshift hut in the Abruzzi mountains above the village after it was overrun by Germans in October 1943. The family lived on pine cone seeds and dandelion soup, chilled to the bone as the late fall winds ushered in the wintery storms. Gentian’s mother Vera de Luise, a British woman married to an Italian civil engineer who was stranded in Naples, made one of many decisive, bold decisions born of life under the constant, lethal threat of the Nazis: She led her children back to Castel di Sangro even though it was all but destroyed and under constant artillery and rifle fire from the German soldiers. The family saga took a turn for the better in March of 1944 when the father, Peppino de Luise, secured them safe transport out of the village in the back of a Polish Army truck that picked its way along an exit road laced with mines. How he pulled it off is a question for the ages.
Excerpts from an article in the Olympian: 
"Olympia woman recalls terrors of war-torn Italy"
By John Dodge Staff writer December 3, 2014

Genny's home in Castel di Sangro, Italy, before it was destroyed in World War II. Their home overlooked this piazza. Their balcony was the fourth one from the right.

Personal Stories

Genny's book: War is just another Day on
(Italian version: La Mia Querra, Edizioni Del Faro)

One of the last photographs before being separated from her father - 1942

Bella Vita Mistress of Ceremonies: Genny Powell
Pictured during her 2014 interview
​for the Olympian newspaper