Sunday, November 16, 2014

This is a continuing blog about our genealogical journey through southern Italy.  It is supplementary stories from our book, "1800 Kilometers in a FIAT 500", available at Amazon.  This is the second episode covering our stay in Quadrelle, near the commune of Sperone.

Genealogy Research in Italy

There comes a time in your genealogy research when the computer cannot help you reach further back in time, or, when the records you want are simply not yet available on line.  When that happens, it is time to travel.  So it is that we found ourselves on an Alitalia jet, headed for two whirlwind weeks in southern Italy.  We're talking about places that Rick Steeves has not seen, folks.

We're on a mission to find the surnames Mascolo and Sorice in Sperone, Avellino.  Our plan is to search for Barbella in Sassano, Salerno.  We will search for Tricarico and Lattanzio in Palo del Colle, Bari.  Finally we will search for DeCristofaro in Vasto, Chieti.

We have done our homework.  
  • We will go to State Archives (Archivio di Stato) 
    • We have checked, on line, the hours of operation
  • We will go to town halls (Ufficio di Anagrafe)
    • We have scheduled our visits on days when the offices are open
  • We will visit cemeteries
  • We will try to find records in at least one church
    • We have talked to Don Otello Russo on the telephone.  He is the parish priest in Sassano. (Google phone is pretty good at 2 cents/minute for calls to Italy)
Now, we are on our way. 

We arrived at Rome's Fiumicino airport, also known as the Leonardo DaVinci Airport.  It was crowded due to the big festivities tomorrow.  Two Popes were to be canonized, and I think half the catholic world was coming to Rome today.  It took about two hours to get our rental car, but we finally got out of Rome and made our way towards Napoli.  Our first stop was at the home of Joe DeSimone, an internationally known genealogist who had graciously rented us his apartment for a few days.  On our way there we saw our first Italian Rainbow.

We had left Boston late Friday night (25 April) and arrived in Rome on Saturday at noon.  By the time we reached Joe's place, we were pretty beat.   We spent some time chatting and then retired.

15th Century Altar at Saint Elia's Church
Our first full day was a Sunday.  Joe took me on a tour of  Avella and Sperone.  These are two small adjoining towns from which my ancestors came.  We came to the main church in Sperone, and luckily, the caretaker was there.  He lets us in to see this 15th century altar.  This is the church of Saint Elia.  Little did I know that one of my relatives was baptized here.

With Pellegrino Mascolo and Diego Sorice

On Sunday evening, our Facebook friend, Pellegrino Mascolo came to visit us with his friend, Diego Sorice.   Pellegrino invited us back to his house for dinner.  There we had a four course meal and met his parents.  

With the help of a smart phone for translating a few words, we had a wonderful evening.  We got home about midnight.  "Buono Notte"

Archivio Di Stato in Avellino

On Monday we drove to the Archivio di Stato in Avellino. There was a little confusion with our Italian speaking GPS, but we arrived safely.

 There we were allowed to look at records from several different years.  We specified the years, and the librarian simply retrieved the books and let us peruse them.  The charge was three Euros for 20 digital photos, no matter how many books you requested.  We stayed there most of the morning and went back to our research after lunch.

1844 Birth Record

Here, among others, I found this record of birth showing that my great grandfather, Francesco Mascolo was baptized at the church of Saint Elia.  What a good feeling to know that I was standing in that church.

With Avellino under our belts, we are ready to continue on our journey.

Next Stop  - Sassano, in the Campania region of the Salerno province

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