On the anniversary of the terrorist attack that rocked Melbourne, the city that loved Sisto Malaspina celebrates his life. Hatch‘s Rabia Khairi and Holly Stearnes report.
A year after his death, the spirit of Sisto Malaspina lives on in the heart of Melbourne.
Sisto, 74, was stabbed to death by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali on November 9, 2018. But Nino Pangrazio, his business partner at the iconic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, said the memories of the legendary cafe owner had not faded.
“He was a remarkable man with the gift of the gab, full of life completely,” he said.
“I still think of Sisto nearly every day.
“I can not speak highly enough of the staff and the customers; all of the grief that was shown when that terrible tragedy happened, it was amazing.”
After 45 years, Mr Pangrazio is leaving the cafe, handing over ownership to Sisto’s son, David.
“My dad was a very loud and vivacious character. He wore bright shirts and was a very larger than life personality,” David recalled.
“I now get to meet a lot of new people, a lot of whom knew my father well, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I get the pleasure to meet them.”
Under Sisto’s guiding hand, Pellegrini’s became an iconic destination for locals and tourists – and many celebrities.
Kylie Minogue has made a beeline to Pellegrini’s during her trip home to Melbourne to pay tribute to Sisto Malaspina, who was killed during the Bourke St attack. Here’s how she honoured the local icon. https://t.co/jkDRwNFJcd pic.twitter.com/U9HjijxC5p
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) March 13, 2019
Sisto, il mio cuore si spezza … I’ve been going to Pellegrini’s since 1987. Never been to Melbourne without dropping in on my man Sisto . South Sydney stickers on the wall and caps on display.
My sweet loyal friend, stabbed in the street by a mad man.
Cosí triste. pic.twitter.com/kfj32smdOz
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) November 10, 2018
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has announced the installation of a memorial table and plaque outside the cafe.
“We met with Sisto’s family to discuss the best way to remember his contribution to Melbourne, and it became clear that creating a space outside Pellegrini’s where people can sit and reflect would be a fitting tribute to his famous sense of hospitality,” Ms Capp said.
The @cityofmelbourne has designed a memorial table & plaque honouring Sisto #Malaspina as a fitting tribute to one of the pioneers of Melbourne’s café culture. It’ll feature a portrait of Sisto by notable illustrator, @OsloDavis. Seen with David Malaspina. https://t.co/4sKa003apa pic.twitter.com/1gZtACZT5g
— Sally Capp (@SallyCapp_) November 7, 2019
A memorial fundraiser in Sisto’s honour was scheduled for the evening of November 9 at the Calabria Club in Bulla. All funds raised will go towards The Salvation Army and Save The Children.