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Community Forums › General › General Discussion Groups › Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes!

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Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes!
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JB5150
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Joined: Sep 13, 2007
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Location: Florida

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:24 pm    Post subject: Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes! Reply with quote

Hi Everyone,

I'm so excited because I have just booked my tickets to travel to Italy from Sept. 3-18! Although I have been to Italy before, I have never been to my family's ancestral comunes (Modica and Fossato Ionico-- part of Montebello) and am so happy to finally be going.

That said, for those of you who have gone on a similar "family history" trip, what things did you plan to do in your ancestral comune or what things do you wish you had done? Did you hire a guide or translator for your visit? How many days in each comune did you plan?

I will probably spend a little over a week in Sicily and Calabria and then head up to Naples and Rome to do some tourist things (my boyfriend has never been to Italy, so I don't think he should miss out on some of the major attractions).

Anyway, I would love to hear any and all opinions/suggestions/ideas from you all!

Best,
Jill
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nuccia
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes! Reply with quote

Hi Jill! It's great to see you again and I'm so happy to hear about your trip - you must be so excited! My son just got back from his first visit in Italy and he had a wonderful time.

He visited with family all through Calabria. He visited the cemetery's (at Mom's request) and was able to get me information on my ancestors this way. He went there not speaking a word of Italian and yet by the second week he could communicate fairly well in broken Italian. He also found a lot of people now speak English over there - especially in the larger cities so that was pretty cool for him.

Sicily - Taormina is a must of course. Take the train whenever possible. It's not only inexpensive but a great way to see the sites. As for the Comunes - make a list of what you would like to get and plan a morning trip to the Town Hall. Remember everything shuts down in the afternoon. Also make sure to do this at the beginning of your visit in case they can't give you what you want right away and you have to go back the next day or two to pick it up. Or of course they might offer to mail it to you so bring stamps and offer to pay the shipping. They probably will refuse but be prepared - just in case. Since they're not allowed to to take money for the acts I would plan a second trip there - just to maybe bring some pastries as a thank you for their time - remember, you may need something one day and have to write them - they will remember this.

Once you're in the town you'll stick out so people will be curious. If you can communicate your surnames they will show you the rest - you might even hook up with relatives you didn't know existed!

Lori just went there last year - I think she wrote about her trip on her website and would be a great person to talk to.

Very Happy

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autumndivona
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes! Reply with quote

Congratulations! My aunt just returned from northern Italy and had a wonderful time with all of our distant (3rd and 4th) cousins there. They were so welcoming! Since I am living in England for the next 3 years, I hope to visit very soon too. Have a lovely time!

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JB5150
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes! Reply with quote

Nuccia-- thanks for the tips! Regarding the cemeteries-- did you know exactly where your ancestors were buried in Italy? I had heard that it is not easy to find grave sites as the spaces were used over and over again due to lack of space. I'm not sure whether that is true or not, but I wouldn't know where to start looking as far as burial sites go. Did your ancestors have headstones in the cemetery?
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Poipu04
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:49 am    Post subject: Re: Planning my first trip to the Ancestral Comunes! Reply with quote

Here's a link to my trip report on frommers.com www.frommers.com/commu...les-beyond There are several reports linked together. This was our second trip to 2 of our ancestral towns and my first trip to Calabria.

For my grandmother's town, we found an Italian American association that set us up with some now life long friends who served as our guides. You may want to google a little and see if any of your towns has an association somewhere in the US. It is good to bring a family tree with you, some pictures and if you have a birth act or anything with an address. Then you can see the house where your ancestor was born. On my first trip, I brought those little funeral cards with me that had pictures and birth and death dates.

In my husband's ancestral town, we did not know anyone on our first trip, so we just walked into a little store and started asking questions and everyone and their brother was interested in finding our relatives. LOL. I am sure that if your towns are small, you will have the same warm reception.

When I visited my cousins in Calabria, they took me to the cemeteries and I took pictures of all the tombstones. They have pictures of the deceased on them which is neat. We also visited all the local churches and where my ggf was born and lived. The people were still buried in their tombs. There was one relative whose tomb was still there but it had been stripped of its pictures and marker. All the others were in tact. I also found that each little town had some sort of town history or book. I made sure to get one in each town even if I can't read it right now. LOL. I am sure one day I will be able to do a better job of translating or understanding. Sometimes you can get a book from the local church or the town hall. In my husband's town, people gave us their own old books about the town when we started to ask around if there were any available.

Other random thoughts: take pictures of anything with names like plaques in churches and war memorials.

If you can't get a book, try to get a little prayer card from the local church of their patron saint so you have a little momento of the town Smile

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