Researching Italian Documents

February 7, 2009 at 22:55 | Posted in genealogy | Leave a comment
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Finding original Italian documents in the original language can be a bit daunting if one does not know the language. Even those familiar with speaking Italian often cannot navigate the old handwriting and formal terms used in the documents from a century or two ago! Well there is a wonderful site where one can find the most common documents translated into “fill in the blanks” forms. She has copies of the Birth and Marriage certificates among her other wonderful information for researchers. With just a little bit of practice one becomes familiar with the flow of the documents and learns to find the correct information to fill in the blanks of their family trees. Ann Tatangelo is a professional researcher who also shares her knowledge with others looking to build their Italian family trees. I found her blog about a year ago and have enjoyed revisiting many times! Follow back to her blog and then go to her Translation category for the blank forms – it will make life easier, I promise!


Famous Quote

January 12, 2009 at 16:45 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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…”A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.” ( Quotations. “Robert Heinlein quotes”. Quotations Online 1 Dec. 2008. 11 Jan. 2009 <http://einstein/quotes/robert_heinlein/)

I have heard this quote a few times in one version or another – you know, “Those who do not learn from history, repeat their mistakes” or similar. I read so many of the genealogy magazines, even ones dealing with areas of interest other than what I am currently working on. Seems I always glean some kernel of wisdom I can use to continue my search.

One the types of columns that always fascinates me is one on photographs. I LOVE my camera –  not the camera itself – but taking the photographs. So I enjoy reading about and looking at old photographs. The obvious reason is wanting to know who a person is or what the scene is about. But then I go a step further and want to place that photo in historical context … when was it taken, what was the occasion? Unless rather well to do, a family would have to save for such a momentous occasion as a photography session.

Yet, that still is not enough for me. I find myself staring into their eyes, searching their faces, looking for some sign, some hint of what they know and are waiting to tell me. What were they thinking about? What were their hopes, their dreams, their deepest longings? Were they happy, sad, angry, or just existing? Were they truly in love with the person they stood with in that photo or was this a relationship of necessity, convenience, forced, arranged? What could they have taught me? Would I have listened then and been a better person for it? What would they think of me, us, the world now?

Those photos of places or scenery affect me in similar fashion. How I would loved to have been there at that moment, to experience that second in time. Would it have been a better place then or is it better now? Has it changed, does it still exist? Who lived there – how was their life there? Did they love that place or were they eagerly planning and saving to move elsewhere? Why?

Do the photos answer any questions for me or just leave me with more is something I am never completely sure of. Sometimes I become so nostalgic looking at places I love or people who are gone now that I loved. At those moments, photos let me remember, experience those  bitter sweet memories again however briefly. They allow me to feel connected still to ones I cannot be with at this moment.

For me, a photo is a snapshot of a split second in time, a micron of that bit of history. And I want to know it, savor it, taste, feel, smell it – and most of all, to learn from it that I carry that lesson forward with me so I can know the future.

Courageous Women of the Family

January 10, 2009 at 18:25 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, family history | Leave a comment
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Courage of Our Women

Watching news reports of the missiles and bombs in Gaza has been leading me to reflect on the women of our family and how remarkable they were. Regardless of whether one is pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, one would have to be made of stone to not have compassion for the women and children of both sides caught up in the current hostilities and wars.

My own mother faced my father going off to the South Pacific in WWII with the American Navy. She was left home to work and care for their infant daughter. Cell phones and Internet email were not options  then. Regular mail – handwritten (or the occasional typed) letters were slow to arrive and usually blacked out in many lines by the censors.

My mother-in-law saw the same war as a victim of location. She lived in Itri, Italy – a small town at that time located midway between Roma and Napoli. That meant all armed forces no matter whose marched through and bombed their way through Itri just as they had since before the Romans! The family home was in the old part of Itri up the slopes near the castle and the old church, Santa Maria. Fortunately during one of those bombing raids, Concetta heard the planes approach, and ran outside to the archway of the church when the bomb struck, destroying the house and leaving her with concussion deafness. Family along with several other families moved to the cave near her farm. It was safer for the families than the center of town but even with the farms, families were starving. Finally Francesco (my father-in-law) was  able to sneak to a German encampment after one of the bombing raids. There he found horses killed by the blasts  and butchered them, taking the hind quarters back to the caves to feed the families.

All the years growing up, Valentino rarely heard his mother speak of those times. I certainly did not hear the stories from her years later either. She never complained that life was unfair. It was  a fact of life that she had to deal with at the time and she did what was necessary for her family to survive. No televisions crew came to televise their stories, no reporters wrote glowing words to invoke reader sympathies. There was no UN food team or Red Cross clothing drive. She kept the family together and fed them and took them to church and gave them the values of God, family, and Italy to carry through their lives.

I walked the bombed out ruins that linger abandoned today in Italy. The rough edges  are softened by wild vines and grass and moss clinging to the rubble everywhere one walks. I visited old family homesteads  and an ancient concentration camp further north in Italy. I read poignant tombstones in local cemeteries. And I was dumbstruck at the sight of rows of white crosses at Avellino. So much loss  and heartache on all sides. Would I have been able to be as strong and courageous as Concetta? Could I have faced what she did and still have enough love and hope to care for, nurture, and encourage my children? I wonder? But I am so grateful she did.






Hello world!

January 5, 2009 at 23:00 | Posted in Administration Sticky Notes | 5 Comments
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Welcome to my blog for and about our Family or anyone who loves Itri and Campodimele, Italy! Entra, siedi e goditi una bella tazza di cafe metre navighi! Come in and sit for awhile! Enjoy a cup of espresso and browse! Read a little history of Itri and of our family. Mostly this blog will concern ourselves about family – and our passions, joys, tears, sadness – as we journey back in time to research our family roots and as we share the joys of our expanding family.

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