“Larger than life, a beautiful man”: Family’s tribute to Bourke St terror victim Sisto Malaspina

The Melbourne cafe owner killed in the Bourke St terror attack has been described by his family as “larger than life” and a “beautiful man”.

Sisto Malaspina died after being stabbed by Hasan Khalid Shire Ali while walking along the street on Friday.

Witnesses report the 74-year-old went to his attacker’s aid after noticing his car was on fire before being set upon.


Tributes continue to flow for the popular owner of Melbourne institution Pellegrini’s while flowers, cards and candles continue to be placed outside the cafe.

Mr Malaspina’s family has today accepted an offer by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for a State funeral which is expected to be held next week.

In a statement the family has thanked everyone who has paid their respects and shown their love and support.

“We are deeply moved by all the flowers, gifts and condolences.”

“To the people of Melbourne, your heartfelt tributes have shown us why our Dad loved this great city so much.”

“To the emergency services personnel; our gratitude and appreciation for all your hard work and efforts.”

“Especially the first responders and police that put themselves in harm’s way to protect others, your bravery and heroism is a representation of the strength and solidarity of our community.”

There’s been a huge outpouring of emotion and grief in Melbourne with celebrities and politicians among those recalling their regular encounters with Mr Malaspina.

He had co-owned the cafe since 1974.

His family says he was a larger than life character and his generosity made everyone he met feel welcome and important.

“Each customer of Dad’s was given the same respect and service regardless of their standing in society.”

“To him everyone was special. His love and passion for his customers remained the same for over 40 years.”

“To him it was a joy to go to work every day.”

The cafe is expected to re-open on Tuesday after being shut since Friday’s attack.

“In honour of Dad’s memory the wonderful staff at Pellegrini’s are determined to continue his legacy with the same passion.”

“He was a distinctly recognisable figure in his colourful choice of clothing and his flamboyant personality. To us he was just a beautiful man, a loving husband and a doting father.”