Itri, Italia

Itri is located almost midway between Roma and Napoli. Over the centuries from before the Roman Empire, Itri was always a well-traveled town because of their location. War after war was fought to control Itri and the surrounding area because the one who controlled Itri would control what would become the Appian Way. The Tomba di Cicero is located just at the southern edge of town on the way to Formia. The famous bandit Fra Diavolo lived in Itri. He was more of a mercenary than a true bandit, selling his services to the highest bidder. Many years later Padre Pio would also seek solace in Itri living in the mountains with the Cappucian monks.

Up on the tallest mountain is a church built to honor the Madonna. The tradition is that the famous painting of the Madonna della Civita was lost at sea when stolen by bandits. There are several versions told of the painting and its discovery by a young deaf mute shepherd searching for his lost cow up in the mountains. The most repeated version tells how he found his cow kneeling at the base of a tree. When the boy knelt and prayed, he was instantly healed. He brought villagers to claim the painting. Once again everyone began to battle over ownership. The painting was taken to a local church but it disappeared again. The villagers found the sacred painting back in the same tree. It was decided the Madonna gave them a sign telling them where She preferred to be. A sanctuary was built on the spot with a glass altar encasing the tree trunk. Adjoining the church are several large rooms where hang hundreds of written testimonies and photographs of miracles attributed to Her divine intercession on behalf of the ill and injured as well as preventing serious injuries or death in travel accidents. Campodimele and Itri still argue over ownership of the mountain, the painting, even the Sanctuario to this present day.

Cranston, Rhode Island now is home to St Mary’s Church where a replica of the Madonna della Civita is honored with a Feast commemorating Her holy days in Itri. The community piazza not too far from St. Mary’s Hall has a stone set on the street corner with all the names of the families from Itri who found their way to Cranston. It is always such a joy but also a bit sad to visit the stone and trace the names with our fingers. How hard, how frightening for those brave souls to leave all that was familiar and loved – their land, their homes, their families and friends – to make that long journey across the ocean to the unknown. Yes, they knew they were seeking other friends and family here stateside, but, oh! The unknowns that awaited them too! And so it was they made their way to Cranston, and found a way to honor all they left behind but brought along in their hearts!

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  1. I am from Rhode Island (Warwick) next town to Cranston. I was searching the web for information on Itri since that is where my grandfather was born. His name was Servino Agresti. His name is on one of the stones in Cranston that you wrote about. I was just interested in getting some information on where he was from. Thanks for the information on your website. I hope to get some more information and hope to see if there are any relatives of his still in Itri.

    • Hi Laurel! How wonderful to make your acquaintance! I used to live in Warwick about the time I met Valentino. There are still many Agresti family members in Itri — and we have an Agresti in our family, too. An Agresti is the parent of a niece in law to us. Interesting! Stop back often – I will be updating more information all the time about Itri! It is a wonderful place both to visit or live.

    • My grandmother was from Itri. Her name was Assunta Agresti and married a gentleman with the last name of Velletri. They had 1 son in 1913 named Andrew. Then my grandmother’s husband died, he was very young. His family owned a bar in Itri. I am wondering if the bar is still there. Does anyone know the history? Any relatives?

      • What’s the name of the bar I recently moved to itri

  2. Ciao there,

    We are an English couple who decided to sell up in the UK, (South Wales actually) and to completely change our lifestyle and move out to Italy.

    We came on holiday several times to this beautiful area of SOUTH LAZIO, and we liked it so much, we decided to make it our home !!! Guess where we choose to make our new start: ITRI, near Sperlonga !!!

    We have been living here for over 5 years now and absolutely love it. This where we live: http://trecancelle.shapcott-family.com

    Here is our VIDEO about ITRi and SPERLONGA:

    We also have a BLOG where you can read our news and adventures in Italy:

    http://trecancelle.wordpress.com

    We too are Family History addicts and I am tracing my family’s history in Italy. They were from Atina, Frosinone, near Montecassino.

    I am passionate about this area of Itri / Sperlonga and the beautiful South Lazio region, so I have been creating an English Website about it.

    You can find it here: http://southlazio.shapcott-family.com

    Here are the pages about ITRI: http://itri.shapcott-family.com

    CAMPODIMELE: http://campodimele.shapcott-family.com

    SPERLONGA: http://sperlonga.shapcott-family.com

    GAETA: http://gaeta.shapcott-family.com

    FORMIA: http://formia.shapcott-family.com

    Ciao for now !!! A presto …..

    http://trecancelle.shapcott-family.com

  3. Hello. I am cooking for a special 60th birthday for my Monsignori whose family comes from Itri, something he is VERY proud of. I would like to incorporate menu/flowers that are indigenous to Itri. I am going to prepare a puttanesca sauce with, of course, gaeta olives. Are cyclmen plants typical to your area this time of year? Is there another food item(s) which I could include? Thank you in advance and I look forward to a reply. Thank you, thank you!

  4. Hello! My family is from Gaeta and my father had his first communion in a church on a hill in Itri. Is this the Madonna della civita? I have been there once and I remember a hall where there are photos of people who have believed to have been blessed by a miracle. The chuch interior was covered in gold details and cherubs. I am looking at having my wedding ceremony here, does anyone have a contact at the church? Also, i remember a restaurant on the way down the mountain that had a small outdoor area, is anyone familiar with this restaurant? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  5. HI – I sent you an email Nicola – Madonna della CIvita is on a mountain, not hill. THere were many miracles attributed to her. The email details the other items about Itri churches and such for you! If you do a web search, the sanctuary has its own web sire.

  6. My grandfather was from Itri, Italy his name was Luigi Masella, his parents were Micheal Masella and Filomona (Azzaril) Masella. My cousins and I are researching our family any information. any information anyone may have please email me at jmasella51@gmail.com

    • I, too, am looking for some family information. My grandmother was from Itri. Her name was Assunta Agresti and married a gentleman with the last name of Velletri. They had 1 son in 1913 named Andrew. Then my grandmother’s husband died, he was very young. His family owned a bar in Itri. I am wondering if the bar is still there. Does anyone know the history? Any relatives?

  7. Please help…I, too, am looking for some family information. My grandmother was from Itri. Her name was Assunta Agresti and married a gentleman with the last name of Velletri. They had 1 son in 1913 named Andrew. Then my grandmother’s husband died, he was very young. His family owned a bar in Itri. I am wondering if the bar is still there. Does anyone know the history? Any relatives?

  8. My last name is D’Itri and my father’s side of our family is from Rhode Island. I’m curious about the origin of my name and the history of how it came to be. My father’s side of the family are tile and marble masons. Any information would be great, thanks!

  9. Ciao !!! I have been updating my English website about Itri -
    you can see it at :

    http://itri.shapcott-family.com

  10. Do take a look at my Blog about our move from the UK to live in Itri and our adventures along the way:
    AVANTI SEMPRE AVANTI !!!

    http://nonnalou.wordpress.com/

  11. I live in Cranston, RI not far from St. Mary’s Cranston. My Grandfather (Pasquale Picano) was from Itri and was one of the original founding members of St. Mary’s and our family name is on the wall you write of above. If there any relatives out there, please feel free to email me.

  12. Moro em Santos, Estado de São Paulo, Brasil, meus bisavós nasceram em Itri e conforme documentos pessoais, a comune pertencia a Caserta, e chamavam-se Giovanni Manzi e Mariantonia Agresti, sendo que meu avô Vincenzo Manzi nasceu na Av. Santa Maria aos 06 de julho de 1888, e com 6 anos de idade imigraram para a Fazenda Carioba na cidade paulista de Americana, São Paulo onde casou-se com minha avó tambem italiana chamada Mathilde Filleti Manzi que teve 8 filhos 5 mulheres e 3 homens, restanto vivas atualmente 2 mulheres, uma tia com 90 anos e minha mãe caçula com 84 anos.

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