Tour Guides in Sicily

9 Apr

The best private tour guide service for Sicily ! Customize your trip (from one person to a large group), visit your ancestral village, meet people by your surname (maybe even organize a private dinner event with them!). Visit your ancestral church, the cemetery,  stop at the town hall to get a vital record… and also visit any of regular tourists sites all over Sicily, with an English-speaking private escort! No need to rent a car (unless you prefer), but the tour guide will take you around on a carefree narrated private tour. CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS.

http://TourGuidesInSicily.com/tour-guides-in-sicily/

We have a winner for our personal story contest !

9 Mar
The winner of our immigrant story contest is from Australia. It involves a stone mason from northern Italy, who went to Australia in the 1880s to teach convicts to make tombstones. The actual story will be published later on, as part of a larger project.

The winner is a man who was adopted when two years old, and spent a lifetime with an overwhelming desire to know about his birth family.  The story is full of many different twists and turns and unexpected surprises. It’s a compelling story of one man’s emotional journey. Ultimately, he found himself in pursuit of his Italian immigrant’s place of origin–though he never knew he was Italian!  His lineage has now been traced back several centuries–to an ancestor who first arrived in northern Italy from Sardinia !

A man who once knew pretty much nothing at all, now knows even the exact house where his immigrant to Australia was born in 1850. He was surprised to learn the month and day of birth, because his granddaughter shares the same birthday !  The family hopes to visit their ancestral town in Italy in the near future.  It was over 130 years ago when his ancestor, Giovanni made the decision to respond to an ad by the Australian government and move to a far away land.

Villarfocchiardo 7
The contest prize is 100 euros in cash !
_____________________
Image

Italian Immigrants in Brazil

1 Jan

Brazil

Tudo Bem ! The year 2013 was an amazing year. The Pallante Center went to South America and studied internal migration routes in Southern Brazil! Quite a bit was learned in just a couple of weeks. First we arrived in the City of Sao Paulo, and had a general tour around the city by a private escort who spoke English. The native language in Brazil is Portuguese (a unique Brazilian form of Portuguese). We visited the old historic city center and a very old cathedral,
2013-07-01 11.13.01 old church SP

as well as the historic marketplace. From the plane the first views of the City of Sao Paulo reveal that this city is HUGE !

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

We toured Little Italy Sao Paulo. The main event was the historic church. They were very nice people who gave me a little book about the history of their parish.  There is not much going on otherwise in this old Italian neighborhood these days.  It has pretty much assimilated into Brazilian culture.
GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

There are several historical and cultural museums in the City of Sao Paulo that were very informative. I bought a lot of books and postcards at the museum shops.  Many of the books were specially designed for English-speaking tourists, with  multi-language translations on each page.

One day we went on a private tour of a  former coffee plantation, now functioning as a bed and breakfast with museum on site. coffee plantation

coffee plant

The archivist there showed us around the grounds, explaining in detail about the days when Italian immigrants worked as indentured servants–a very hard life. But it was only for two years. The archivist had a treasure trove of old record books that the old plantation owners had kept on each worker regarding how much they were paid. The books are a wonderful resource with the actual names of the Italian workers!

book of coffee workers

I met some of their living descendants in the area of Campinas. One man said that his grandparents had come from region Veneto and spoke a Venetian dialect. The archivist had roots in Calabria.

Another day we went to the old Port of Santos, where the immigrant ships first landed (if they didn’t enter farther north in Rio).

Santos beach

There was a wonderful coffee museum in the historic downtown area that was very well done. It was once a place where coffee owners came to sell to buyers. They held auctions and had an area for taste testing. There were exhibits showing the tools workers used on the plantations to cut gather the coffee beans from the trees (which are larger than I imagined). It requires use of a ladder to reach the top branches.

There were other tools to rake the coffee beans around as they dried in the sun on a flat surface that was a big square area about the size of a small tennis court (in the days before freeze drying). This was right next to the dormitory housing where the workers lived on sight. We saw an example of  such housing on the plantation that we visited. The museum had exhibits of old coffee burlap sacks that the dried beans were put in for shipment. They were carried on the backs of workers and loaded on a train that came to the port area, then other workers loaded the sacks on ships.

There was a little research library where I spent about an hour getting a private workshop from the librarian about genealogy research sources and offices in southern Brazil that pertain to genealogy.  We had also gone to the state archives office in the City of Sao Paulo to research naturalization records.  I was escorted by our private tour guide.  The staff spoke Portuguese only.  He helped me to fill out the forms and submit my research request. The staff explained the way things work there.  A few days later they had the results of the search.  Our immigrant did not file for citizenship in Sao Paulo.  He must have done so in Porto Alegre area later on in his journey.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I also went to other history museums in Sao Paulo, one that was all about the general history of Brazil, but included a lot about immigrants.  We saw the historic marketplace in the Centro area, which the Italian immigrants helped to develop.  It is filled with fruit vendors and little places to eat lunch–much more upscale than I expected.  Signs are all in Portuguese. There were large murals all over the walls depicting the olden days of coffee plantation workers in historic costumes.

It just happened that while we were in Brazil, it was a summer of unrest and many public protests were being held all over the country from north to south.  The locals referred to them as “manifestations”.  We witnessed several of them in various cities during our trip. Most all that we saw personally were peaceful. There was a military police presence that stood back, but ready. They did not appear unfriendly, and probably recognized us as tourists. (Maybe because everyone else was in the street chanting and holding signs, as we looked on–a bit confused—with cameras snapping away). One night we had gone into a phone store after dinner, and while we were in there it got dark, and suddenly a mob of protestors just “appeared”, seemingly out of nowhere. We were nervous at first, but quickly saw that they seemed peaceful. They came in droves from every side street (and did so each night thereafter like clockwork after the dinner hour). Each night was about a different theme.

manifestations

The first night was a bus worker’s theme and there were lots of empty buses honking horns, like a parade, with people dressed like clowns going down the street (“the government will not make clowns of us” I think they were saying). There were people beating on drums. Many brought children who were marching next to them.

The next night was a health care worker’s theme. Doctors, nurses, and other medical workers (all dressed in various medical outfits that they wear in the hospital). They too had red clown noses. A few were wearing a mask that stood for “revolution”. They would chant as a big group with a man holding a megaphone leading –in front of the news cameras (which happened to be at the corner of our hotel block). There were reports that it sometimes got a little ugly later in the night after the main crowd dispersed. Our tour guide had instructed us to go straight to the hotel and stay inside, when he dropped us off after the excursion to Santos. But we heard the chanting from our room and couldn’t resist this chance to experience Brazilian history unfolding!

Ultimately, we left the City of Sao Paulo and took a shuttle plane to Curitiba.  We were advised not to drive–that would have taken most of the day and we only had two days total for this next stop.  Also, the road is said to be a dangerous, winding mountain road, with a lot of big trucks in a hurry.

We found that Curitiba had much more of a “Little Italy” in tact than we could find in Sao Paulo.  The neighborhood is called “Santa Felicidade”.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

There was a main street lined with Italian restaurants and little stores and their Italian church. But when I saw a car going down the road slowly, shouting things into a megaphone (just exactly as I had seen done in Sicily), it really felt like a town that was truly a recreation of a Sicilian town, complete with the housing being up the side of a hill that sloped up from behind the main street with the stores. (Thankfully the streets were normal size and not the tiny paths in Sicilian villages). But I’m told that Curitiba is actually a melting pot of northern European immigrants.

We drove all around (with a new tour guide) who explained the area to us, and also took us to an old train station, which had a little museum and exhibit area. They had an old wooden passenger train of the kind that the immigrant generation used. But railroad transportation has kind of faded away in many areas, as most get around by shuttle planes these days. They built a modern shopping mall attached to the old train station, so that it is now all enclosed as one big tourist stop.

train1train2

There was one old-fashioned train still functioning, that you could ride out to the seacoast and back for an afternoon excursion. We didn’t have time as we had only a few short days in this town and wanted to see all of the main sites besides Little Italy.

The Botanical Garden is a popular tourist stop in Curitiba. It was July, but that is winter season in Brazil, so they didn’t have as many of the flowers as would sometimes exist there. It was hard for us to understand that it was winter to them because the temperature felt the same as when we left New York on July 1st. Yet there were people wearing jackets. Maybe it’s because we’ve lived in the North Country for 15 years now that “winter” to us is more like 20 below zero! It was like a spring day–maybe about 70 degrees.

We took a modern train across country to a seashore resort island called Florianopolis. Since we were only to be there one night, we splurged a little and got a really nice hotel right on the water. (Actually it was at very reduced price because it was winter). But we wore our bathing suits and had a great time on the beach. The water was warm, but nobody was swimming. We had the place practically to ourselves. For dinner we took a cab to a nearby little bar on the beach and saw a real pirate ship pass by! Singing “yo ho ho” or whatever pirates sing. Much of the island is for tourists with high rise fancy hotels.  At our hotel many seemed to be from Europe. It was one quick stop to break up the previous week of research and study before moving on for a new week of studying the very south of Brazil.

florianopolis

We then flew to Porto Alegre, another historic port city–way down in the most southern part of Brazil–close to the border of Argentina. There my husband was speaking at a customer seminar for two days.  His presentation was about industrial water treatment. I used the time to read some of my new books I had picked up at Sao Paulo museums, and attended a cocktail party with him in the evening, where I met many interesting people.  Quite a lot of that group spoke English.  There were a lot of young engineers who took the occasion to chat with my husband, who is an expert in his field.

The next day, we hired a private driver guide and drove up into the mountains about two hours from the city. Veranopolis is a little village settled by Italian immigrants. Almost everyone who lives in this mountaintop town is a descendant of an Italian immigrant! I had been tracking a particular Italian immigrant who came from northeast Italy in the 1880s, and first lived in Sao Paulo briefly, before migrating to the extreme south.

river

The Italian immigrant I was following had to cross this river to get to his new town of Veranopolis  (a very Italian town high on top of a mountain). So we too had to cross this river !  It was a little out of the ordinary for our private escort driver/translator. Usually he gets calls by businessmen to be taken to a meeting. But I had him looking for old house addresses and town halls and cemeteries.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

In this town I met a living descendant of the immigrant (posing next to his ancestor’s gravesite below), who  showed us the remains of the immigrant’s original stone house, on an outlying farm.  There was nothing left of it but a bit of a stone foundation.  At the  cemetery  we saw  the graves of the immigrant, his wife, and several of his children, which reveals their dates of death.  The style of the cemetery was just like those in Italy–like a little city, with all the former Italian residents of the town, many who were born in Italy.

cemetery

living manliving man 2

We stopped at the town hall to request documents (which are not kept there but another location nearby). But the people were all very friendly. They spoke only Portuguese, but wanted to make the effort to try to understand us. At no time anywhere in Brazil did I feel any kind of anti-Americanism (meaning anti “United States”, as was sometimes present in certain villages in Sicily). We took a general tour around the area. The living relative of my client (shown here) runs tours to the Amazon (called Adventure Tours).  He does not speak any English but our personal guide translated for us.  It was all a great learning experience.

So I had successfully followed the life of an Italian from his arrival to his final resting place in Brazil. Pretty cool! It’s hard to imagine what’s going on if you’ve never been to a place. Seeing it all first hand was a tremendous help in understanding Italian immigrants to Brazil.  Below is a photo of a vineyard we passed on the way up to the mountaintop village of Veranopolis.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

On our way to Veranopolis, that morning we had first stopped at Caxius-do-Sul, another town full of lots of Italians. They did not have a “Little Italy” section, but did have a very informative immigrant museum.  It started out being dedicated only to Italian immigrants,  so was heavy on informational exhibits about Italians.  Later on they expanded their focus to include all immigrants to southern Brazil. The other big group who settled the area were Germans. They tended to settle the valley areas on ranches, while the Italians liked the hilltop towns and had vinyards .

cax museum

In this museum they let me photograph every exhibit and informational sign! I told them I would need to translate the signage to English when I got back to the USA, and that would take more time than we had standing there. They were very willing to assist in my studies.

Back at our hotel that night some of the seminar people we had met were still there, so we went into town in Porto Alegre and had a nice dinner with some new friends. Some were actually born in other areas of South America.

On our first day of arrival to Porto Alegre, before the conference began, we toured the historic district and saw incredible old architecture. In Centro there was a street vendor atmosphere with all kinds of tourist items for sale.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

But we did not know where to find the actual port (where the old immigrant family had worked on the docks for a short while before moving to Veranopolis).

So at the end of the trip (on our last day in Brazil) after taking some time to study books and maps about the city, we had one last chance before our flight home. We were on our own for the first time without a private guide to translate for us. After discussing with the front desk we took a cab to the street location on water. We found a small paper mill, which has been converted to a museum.  From the park outside  alongside a river, you could see oceangoing ships passing by. But there was nothing else there but some vendors selling food. So we asked the guard at the museum (which had no other staff–you just walked around on your own).

My husband was in his glory looking around this old paper mill.  He’s a chemical engineer for industrial water treatment, specializing in paper mills these days. His face lit up when he realized the old building we were standing in was once an old mill! Since he had gone all over Brazil with me tracking Italians, I could not deny him this moment of something fun for him, but I was in a bit of a hurry with a plane to catch and trying to find the correct location of where the immigrant once worked to finish out the story. So we had to move along !

Our Portuguese was much improved by now, so we were able to understand the guard’s instructions on our map where to go to find the original old warehouse section of Porto Alegre.  It was too far, so we had to find a taxi. As we approached, I saw the iron gates to an old historic looking complex and knew at once it was definitely the right place!  There were old wooden buildings, now abandoned, an old dock area where the ships used to unload (which is now done at a more modern industrial area). There was just a problem of the big iron gate was padlocked! We found a policeman/guard nearby and begged “oh please ! We only have one last hour before we have to get to the airport, and this is the last thing we need to see about the life of the immigrant we’ve been tracking all over Brazil ! ”  He was happy to open the gate.  I breathed a  sigh of relief and took moment to marvel about how he understood our broken Portuguese. He at least knew I needed to take pictures with some urgency.

We ran around the old waterfront area where the immigrant we were following had once worked.  The old historic buildings sat empty,  lost in another era on the water’s edge, with the modern city in the back ground. The old train tracks are no longer used–weeds growing over them. The modern industrial port is at a different location.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Our trip was over. It was a very fruitful learning experience, packed with so many things that for the first time on an international trip, I didn’t even have time to keep a journal each day. Things just moved too fast. Our private guides in each city always wanted us to be ready in front of our hotel promptly at 6:00am each day. Always, we put in a full day each day, and by the time we got back to the room dropped of exhaustion. I have the digital images taken in the chronological order that  serve as a photo journal.

This time the full story has be written after the trip. My camera was snapping pictures every minute the entire time. So there are photos galore of every minute! I can’t wait to go again sometime. I didn’t get to see the areas between Sao Paulo and Rio (except for Campinas), so I have more to learn. For now I am reading books to better understand the things we saw.  This is just meant to be a light overview of the trip. Another time I will write more in-depth  about specific subjects—such as the Italian workers and the coffee industry, the history of specific Italian villages, Little Italies, and of course more about the reason I went on the trip—internal migration patterns after immigrants first arrived from Italy.

oranges

 

Enter our Winter Contest ! Inverno Competição !

7 Dec

Send us your immigrant ancestor’s personal story.

português: Enviar nós seu imigrante ancestre pessoal conto.

See details at this link:

http://pallantecenter.wordpress.com/recipes/winter-contest/

 

Little Italy of the Bronx

24 Nov

I just finished reading “Little Italy of the BRONX: Arthur Avenue and Belmont” (New York City). Very informative! Described as “One Big Family”, the Italian immigrant culture that developed here is said to be comparable to “a new Italian village”, as Italians from all over Italy merged into one newly formed community. The authors, Stephen M. Samtur and Paula DeMarta Mastroianni, share their wonderful memories of growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, and give an overview of the history and development of this area of the Bronx. What is now generally referred to as “Belmont” was a neighborhood called “Fordham”.

1 Arthur Avenue (which I visited in person last month), was lined with shops, as it is now. Italian immigrants helped to build the Bronx Zoo, Botanical Gardens, railroads, tunnels, subways, and  other construction projects. [p.33]. In the early 1900s, there were farms in the area that needed laborers. Some immigrants started a business. Prior to 1920, it was dominated by noodle, macaroni, and baccala stores [p.5].

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

For several decades there were street vendors with pushcarts everywhere—up and down the main street. One former cart owner remembered how he used to get up at 3:00 in the morning, take the train to a market in Manhattan, and bring back fresh lemons to sell on Arthur Avenue. [p.165] Then the mayor arranged for a new indoor market in 1940, and vendors no longer had to stand outside in the rain and the cold, huddled around open fires in garbage cans. [p.49]

2GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

If you go in a Time Machine– to a different era, shop keepers in general then were like my own grandfather, who ran an Italian-American grocery store in Jersey. Relationships with customers were more personal. And, you could send a kid down to the corner store and say “put it on our tab”, and pay for it later (not on a credit card, but “interest free” for perhaps a week or so). Shopkeepers knew  their customers. That’s because when they came in the store, there would be a conversation that resulted in the store owner knowing all the families in the neighborhood quite well. When you go into a modern supermarket, the person at the cash register most likely is not the owner, and doesn’t have time to chat, with a  line of people waiting. It was very different then, life was much slower.  Paula says it was a place where “everybody knew your name”–a neighborhood of families, [p.5] with the Catholic church at the center of life. [p.31]  On the parish website, it says, “The immigrants brought with them a strong faith and family values.” By the 1940′s and 50′s there were more than 40,000 members. [p.33]

6Our Lady of Mount Carmel
627 East 187th Street, Bronx, NY

Church history at this link: check out their Bulletin, parts of it are still written in Italian !  http://www.ourladymtcarmelbx.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=8

Valuable information is given regarding the name of another church a good distance away, the St. Phillip Neri Church, was first used by the Italian immigrants [p.33]–a big clue where to find marriage records from that earlier era of the actual immigrants themselves getting married. For the author, there are “memories of baptisms, weddings, and funeral events” at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. [p.40] But genealogists seek the documentation that resulted from these events of the past, in order to link one generation to another, and build a lineage. Only so much can be learned about these families by looking at documents though. How wonderful it is that Stephen and Paula got together to write “a collective memoir”, that records “stories” and brings this neighborhood to life, so that we can all visualize the culture Italian immigrants and their descendants had going on in the Bronx.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I grew up in a small town, but had the same situation with most of our immediate family living close by. I understand the concept of teenagers having relatives reporting back to parents when seen hanging out in wrong places ! My grandmother and her friends had a gossip phone line. In the Bronx, there was a “Clothesline culture”. Laundry hung out between buildings so close , women could chat back and forth while doing their daily chores. In suburban towns, neighbors tend to be “at a distance”. The Bronx women knew each other from many different daily activities. Because of the close proximity to one another, there was much more “socializing” amongst people in the neighborhood–who happened to be mostly other Italians.

They shared Italian traditions, such as everybody cooking meatballs on Sunday. This we did too, but probably only our family. Growing up in the Bronx, most all of their neighborhood friends were fellow Italians. Probably, they didn’t experience as much discrimination for being “strange foreigners”, as my great aunts did in our small town, where they were the lone Italians. In the Bronx there were MANY Italian immigrants (all speaking in the Italian language), so many that they could have an Italian language church.  In these city neighborhoods there’s a higher chance that marriage partners would be chosen from another Italian family. Assimilation would be slower—with children remaining “Italian” longer . The author specifically states that it was NOT a “Leave It To Beaver” culture. I suppose our family WAS that (straight off of a 50’s TV show.) Little Italy of the Bronx was something very different. There are aspects of this kind of neighborhood that people like me really did miss out on ! — the camaraderie and Italian pride.

____

In her latter days, my Italian great grandmother sat in her chair in isolation, staring at the creek behind her house from her 2nd story bedroom window. Whenever I ask what she spoke of, I’m told nobody ever knew what she was saying. She spoke in Italian. Her husband died young, and the two older children born in Italy were “Americanized”, instructed to SHED anything Italian. They were very young when they came. There were a few Italian friends she knew in the next town, but I know she would have enjoyed “the clothesline culture” of the Bronx and having other Italian women to talk to!

____
Little Italy of the Bronx is described as a large territory that covered from Fordham Road to East 180th St., and from Southern Boulevard west to Third Ave. The book has lots of old photographs, dating back to the 1930s, so that we may see the area “as it once was”—in another time. When I walked through this neighborhood recently, I could not possibly have known all that once went on here—the friendships and unique history of this particular neighborhood that bonded these people. I saw a lot of Italian restaurants, and many wonderful Italian bakeries. But they were all strangers to me. Many are direct descendants of the original Italians who settled this place, and they have by now been through several generations together–bonded through their memories of shared experiences. And it is only through their memories written down, and what has been preserved in old photos and documents, that we who did not grow up there can catch a glimpse of an Italian neighborhood, distinct from any other, yet in many ways the same as other Little Italies. In places like the Bronx, there is still to this day a core of people there who remain full blooded Italian, still keeping the same old Italian traditions alive for the rest of us  to be able to visit.

____
If I could go in a Time Machine, back to the golden era of Little Italy of the Bronx, when people who were the grandchildren of Italian immigrants were growing up , I would especially love to have been able to experience the days when the Bronx’s own Dion DiMucci and his friends were hanging out on the street corners “just messing around”, and putting together little songs that were about real people passing by, that they made into “characters” for songs that would become famous across the nation ! That there was a real person named Jack (with a tattoo of “Rosie on his chest”) who “used to swagger down the middle of the street”, “The Wanderer”, [p.139] is so exciting to hear in Dion’s first hand contribution to one section of the book—because the whole nation actually did share in “growing up in Little Italy of the Bronx”, without realizing it ! We all know the words to those songs. I loved hearing about the early days when he and his street corner gang would bang on cardboard boxes or use whatever else was at hand to create music (which to them at the time was just about having genuine fun). He didn’t fit in so well when it came to school and doing homework. He was meant for something else. His talent developed in a time and a place forever recorded through his music.

____
As a teen, Dion liked to go to Greenwich Village “to be with other beatniks”.  [p.142]If that was a trend amongst a lot of kids from the Bronx, then this is a clue about where some marriage partners might have come from, and churches in other areas that might have documents. He knew people there who liked to discuss Plato and philosophy, and beat on bongo drums. [p.142]They took the train back and forth. These people did not live in isolation in one neighborhood. They could easily get around all over various areas of New York City on public transportation. But there were certain places where they tended to hang out.

____

There were also little internal migration patterns that developed after the initial arrival of many immigrants. Some remained always in Manhattan, while others went to Brooklyn (but that’s a different place). I studied those Italian neighborhoods on my trip also, but started and ended with Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Before the trip and the book, I was disconnected from this place. But I felt it was important to become more familiar, because many of my clients have ancestors who lived in these New York City neighborhoods. This book was like a little window that opened up and allowed me to see an overview of a whole era– in a place where I have never been before last month.

I drove up and down the streets, marveling at the old architectural styles of the houses on the residential streets

a bronx st

(actually checking out some specific addresses of a particular Italian family mentioned on old census records) to get a sense of where they lived. As it turned out, one family’s home no longer exists. An obviously rebuilt structure is where it once stood (below, the house on the left is newer).

DSC09268-yes

The homes of a certain architectural style are interrupted by the modern building and then continue on in the original style (photo below).

DSC09273-yes2

This is a clue that there might have been a fire. Perhaps there is a news article to find.  But the client’s family moved around to several different streets, and the immigrant also originally lived in Manhattan. I was just “getting a sense of”– all the different places mentioned on census records and other types of documents to better understand this family’s story.

____
On a Sunday afternoon, after a few days in Manhattan’s Little Italy (where the immigrant started out) , we stopped here in The Bronx. We had a nice dinner on Arthur Ave., the commercial center of Little Italy of the Bronx, and spent some time getting photos and “sense of place”. We noticed a girl playing dominos with her father at a little table outside, and others engaged in “a sidewalk culture”. We had driven through on Friday night initially on our way to Manhattan, but now, in the daylight, we could see their faces—lots of Italian-looking people. There was a casual police presence. The neighborhood felt safe for strolling. I noticed the Catholic church, and got pictures. I didn’t know when it was built– if it was old enough to be the one that served the early families.  I needed to do further outside research to learn more. So I bought this book.

51SR33XKK0L__AA160_

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Italy-Bronx-Book-Belmont/dp/0965722139/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385432631&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=LITTLY+ITALY+OF+THE+BRONX

It was a tremendous help in bringing this place to life for a much better understanding—of one particular Italian American neighborhood and its history. Now in the future, if I see the word “Fordham” written on an old document or mentioned in an early obit, I’ll know better what it means—that the person was a member of “that family” (the Belmont & Arthur Avenue Little Italy of the Bronx culture).  Knowing something about a community where an immigrant settled and raised his family, is as important as learning the history of the Italian village where he was born. The written history reveals little clues, such as where they went to church, what other places interacted (source of marriage partners), who else lived there (and where they came from) is important if you’re trying to discover the Italian village of origin, as people often followed friends and family to a new location).

____
Dion & The Belmonts, came to fame here in the early days of Rock-n-Roll (1958-1960). Some of the best known hit songs were: Run-Around Sue, I Wonder Why, Teenager in Love, The Wanderer, Dream Lover, Donna the Prima Donna, Where or When, Lovers Who Wander, Ruby Baby). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzdigxCIuOE
If his songs were about real characters that he was seeing walking down the street, it’s another way to visualize a time gone by –more than can be learned from just looking at old documents—something different even than looking at old photographs of street scenes.

____

It was the same environment where one client’s family resided for part of their family history story. The immigrant (a barber, from a family of Sicilian blacksmiths) was married in 1908 in Manhattan. But he had moved to the Bronx, and lived on the street with the missing house (on Crotona Ave.), by 1921, the year he became a US citizen. The immigrant’s son  (born in Manhattan in 1910) grew up mostly in this Bronx neighborhood. He walked by the same street corner where Dion and his gang hung out, and their life had adapted from Mulberry Street to Arthur Avenue culture. But many Italians of the Bronx are descendants of ancestors who entered the Port of New York and came straight to the Bronx.  They followed employment announcements.

____
I am going to return to Arthur Avenue in June, to experience their annual St. Anthony’s Feast Day celebration, and would like to see the inside of their Italian church that has served the Italian population there for over a hundred years !  Their church Bulletin is still published partially in Italian. I’m sure I also missed a couple of other things, such as exploring the collections at the local historical society and public library. If you go to check out Little Italy of the Bronx, it might also be nice to visit during Christmas season!

____

They call it “The Real Little Italy”, because it still remains a real and functioning neighborhood of Italian families (compared to some other Little Italies who have been experiencing a dwindling Italian population and now seem more for tourists). You won’t find the accordion man that strolls from one sidewalk restaurant to another, nor a string of gift shops, but there are many authentic traditional Italian food establishments–some that are still run by descendants of those who started the business many decades ago.

A wonderful treasure from Sicily has just arrived -Caccamo and the 1500s !

20 Nov

03ScelsaGiacomo year 1584 vol 72 pg195

“Rivelli”, (census records), spanning 1584 to 1755 ! Research was done on two different surnames, and all residents by those surnames were extracted. They give the head of the family (and that person’s father), his wife, and a list of all the children and their ages. They  also mention boarders or servants residing in the house.

Following the names, the body then gets into the details about property holdings. For example, “one house of seven rooms in the quarter San Michele in Caccamo ; one land (extension two tumoli) with vineyard in the feud Ginestra ; In 1681 master Carlo owned: Equipment of shoemaker; one house in the quarter San Filippo in Caccamo, assigned to his son cleric Giuseppe; one vineyard consisting of 1500 vines in the feud San Leonardo, assigned to his son cleric Giuseppe; In 1636 Antonio son of Innocenzo owned: one little house in the quarter Castle in Caccamo; one vineyard consisting of 400 vines in the district Mandra Nuova; one she-ass [and also gives the values of each item]

Some of the collection includes notarial notes in Latin. There are 134 pages to be studied and translated. When finished it will be a great treasure to have !  Former Caccamo clients are anxiously waiting to hear if any of their ancestors are mentioned as Scelsa or Giovenco family neighbors. This is an amazing project of great excitement ! For sure the family will then want to go and see these properties in person. Research can also be done to investigate the current situation with these properties.

Link

Cappucchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN !

(WARNING ! This video is pretty creepy !)

But we can arrange for you to visit the Cappucchin Catacombs, and also visit other sites around Palermo City, with a private English-speaking tour guide.  We can also arrange a visit to see your ancestral village anywhere in Sicily, including the cemetery. And with some research first, we can see if you have living relatives.

Cappucchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 375 other followers

%d bloggers like this: