If your ancestors are Italian, how much do you know about your relatives and your heritage? For years the common greetings for two Italians who meet for the first time typically is, “What part of Italy do your people come from?” This is also a typical and necessary question for anyone starting Italian genealogic research. The logical place for a person to begin their research is the city or town where their ancestors lived.
Towns and Regions Important to your Roots
It is first important to learn where your relative lived in Italy. If you do not know the specific town try to start with the region and then eventually near your search as you discover more information. A good place to start if by talking to your living relatives and asking them what they know about where the relatives lived in Italy. If you are fortunate maybe you might still have distance cousins who you don’t yet know who might still live in the general area. If you do not have any living relatives who can identify the location where your relatives migrated from, your next step might be consulting the family bible. People often write birth locations along Use Facebook and Google to Search Family Name
You also might consider doing a Facebook search for the family last name with people living who are located in Italy. I had this experience myself. A distant cousin who I never met got in touch with me through Facebook. Be sure to ask a few qualifying questions if this happens. Perhaps ask if the person knows the names of your grandparents or great-grandparents. This will provide you with a little safe-guard that the person seeking you is legitimate.
Another thing that you might consider is doing a Google search for the family’s last name. A Google search of the family name and the town or region might provide you with a list of people sharing the same last name. You might also consider searching for businesses, hotels and restaurants with the family’s last name.
Once you have discovered the region and hopefully the town that your ancestors came from, you might want to check this website Italian Towns and Cities List – Database
http://www.italianside.com/italian-towns-database you might also want to search
Old Italian Villages and Towns Database
http://www.italianside.com/2013/old-italian-villages-and-towns-database this website will help you find the old names of the Italian towns that might have changed in the past decades or centuries.
Search Vital Records
When you know the names of your relatives and the region or town where their lived your next step might be to search for birth, marriage and death certificates both in America and Italy. These certificate provide vital information that will assist you in your search. These records will provide names, dates and places. Be prepared to request this information both from the government agencies and local churches in the area where you relatives lived. Many Italians who migrated to America from Italy were Roman Catholic so research church baptism, confirmation, and marriage certificates. Copies of these records may take time to obtain and will require you to pay a fee. But you will benefit by obtaining facts and information that will help you assemble your family tree and vital information about your relatives.
Once you have located some basic information about your family roots, you might want to plan a trip to Italy. This is an excellent way to trace family roots. Being there in person will help you feel connected to your heritage. It will provide you with a better understanding of where you relatives lived and worked and perhaps why they might have left Italy and migrated to America. If you are fortunate enough to have living relatives in Italy, it can be an enriching and heartwarming experience to meet and connect with distant cousins that you didn’t know existed.
Learn the Language
If you do plan to do to Italy to do more intense research on tracing your Italian roots you should consider learning a little of the language before your trip. You cannot assume that these distant relatives who you will be meeting for the first time speak English. Being able to moderately speak Italian will help you greet and get acquainted with your newly discovered relatives.
- Marriage certificate, author’s husband’s grandparents, issued in New York
- Author (Marge Bitetti’s) Grandfather, Vito Colombo and his mother (author’s Great-grandmother) on a street in Balestrate, Palermo, Sicily, Italy 1960s