In Search Of Family
More and more people these days are yearning to get back in touch with their roots and trace their heritage – especially to Italy where hundreds of thousands of immigrants have settled all over the world. There are many ways to attack this noble and ambitious project. Villa Vita along with Fantastica Italia – Phoenix based companies comprised of American and Italian travel and language specialists can assist with making the necessary arrangements to make your quest successful. We can assist at any level, whether it is just lodging and transportation you need, or letters in Italian containing your information to present to the local city halls and churches nel communale- or all of the above.
After exhausting my genealogy research here in the United States, I knew the only way to learn more about my family tree was to travel to the small town in Italy where my grandparents were born. Fantastica Italia designed an itinerary based on my unique needs with every detail planned to perfection. They set the groundwork for my research which produced amazing results. Once in Italy I had the thrill of meeting many cousins, saw the home where my grandparents lived, and added over 100 names to my family tree. It was an amazing experience I would highly recommend to anyone searching for their family roots.
Marlena , Scottsdale AZ
Teresa in Sicily Oct 2008 with Giuseppe and Maria
October 22, 2008 …I am leaving Trapani today, sadly. Yesterday I spent three hours with my Father’s uncle, Giuseppe and his wife Maria. My friend and interpreter Donatella found them for me.
…We spent a whole day going from municipal building to other municipal buildings…Finally, we resorted to the telephone book. We went to several homes but no luck. Donatella called me yesterday morning to say “good luck, we found Giuseppe “!
She set an appointment and off we went. It was a fantastic three hours. Maria kept talking about my parents visiting in 1968 and how wonderful they were. My Mother gave her a beautiful hankie from US. She brought it out to give me and I just lost it…. Giuseppe told me he believes I am “of Sicilia”. He said “you have a Sicilian nose too”! (e’ vero). It was wonderful and I am so glad I have done this.
Teresa, Phoenix, AZ
Paula in Sicily with her new found family and in front of her father’s home
There is no greater thrill when traveling than that of connecting with relatives. Not only does one gain a better sense of one’s family, but the ties that bind become stronger. Having done extensive search on my Italian roots in Sicily, I was able to meet with relatives on my mother’s side (in Caltatfimi, Sicily near Trapani) and my father’s side (in Racalmuto, Sicily near Agrigento). I was able to locate the house where my father was born on Via Roma 36 and see the record of his birth in the big book at the City Hall (Comunale). I found my “long lost” relatives very welcoming. None of them spoke English, so it was important that I have some knowledge of the language before heading on my seventh voyage to La Bella Italia. I encourage you to search your roots and applaud Gina Ruggiero of Villa Vita for focusing on this important effort. Do allow yourself enough time to fully appreciate the homeland. I spent one month in Sicily making contacts and studying Italian. It was an awesome trip.
Paula, Phoenix, AZ
Visit to Picerno, Italy (Potenza Province, Basilicata Region)
At age 62, I finally had an opportunity to visit the birth place of my Mother’s parents. Although very little information about the village of Picerno was passed along by the family, several cousins have visited and photographed the area. The desire to visit personally has been strong for many years.
With a friend, an Italian dictionary, and a limited vocabulary in Spanish (not Italian), I set aside a few days to see what information might be available. POINTers** articles appearing in the past have been sometimes negative when researchers were armed with such limited information, and I was apprehensive. However, the first view of Picerno, perched on top of the hill with it’s commanding church on the high point and the water tower on a lesser hill, increased my desire to learn more.
Leaving the rental car in the Piazza Plebiscito, we strolled the narrow paths and stairways of the village. Finding two ladies, sitting on a stoop, separating seed from zucchini flowers, we made an attempt to communicate with lots of hand signals and laughter. Soon there were eight more townspeople attempting to assist. A volunteer took us to a minor piazza to meet an elder and several others relaxing in the late afternoon shade. I gave my Grandparents names and there are still some with those names in the village. Mr. Rocco Donato Fortunato (age 81) wandered by and with a few words of English, asked why we didn’t look at the town records. BINGO. Rocco led us, down the winding stairs and pathways, to the community center and made an appointment for us the next morning with Angelo Pace, the Istruttore.
Knowing that language would continue to be a problem, the limited information we had was put into chart form for the next morning and at the appointed time, we arrived at the center. Angelo could not have been nicer and asked Angela Lettieri and Lucia Capece (both Esecutores) to help us. After several false starts (the information I had was only partially correct), the marriage record of my Grandparents was located. A new sense of excitement began and the rest of the morning earned us success after success along the ancestral lines. The marriage records contained the approximate age of bride and groom and the parents names of both, which allowed us to pursue other birth and marriage records. Lucia even made an appointment for us to visit the “Church Man” Don Giuseppe, who is in charge of the church records as well as other church activities.
The afternoon was spent with Don Giuseppe and the baptism/marriage records dating back to 1712. We here added Latin to our list of deficiencies but some way managed to extract the needed information. A tour of the St. Nicola Church with Don Giuseppe was an added delight, and we began to feel the pride that he took in every aspect of the church and its many treasures. To see the baptismal font where my Grandparents were baptized was a thrill. We were presented with a book of the history of Picerno and given an appointment time for the next day.
While reorganizing the information found that day, questions arose. A repeat of the morning with the community people and the afternoon/evening with Don Giuseppe occurred with even more information extracted, including a double wedding performed 150 years ago and a set of twins born in 1817. A path of communication has now been established for future research. The patience, kindness, humor and common interest shown by everyone we talked (and played charades) with was truly gratifying. I left feeling very proud that I come from that type of stock.
Clifford, Phoenix, AZ
POINT = Pursuing Our Italian Names Together – search on line for a chapter near you. http://www.point-pointers.net/home.html
Come find your family – we can help.
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