It’s taken me a long time to post about my trip to Italy. We’ve been trying to get the more than 250 pictures organized first. And I had hoped to annotate most of them, but that’s taking forever, so … here goes!

It was an amazing trip. Not at all like a trip you would expect, touring around, etc. For the most part, we stayed in my mom’s home town, Incoronata, which is part of a larger town, Macchiagodena. Macchiagodena is located about half way between Rome and Naples, but away from the coast… in the mountains. Half way up a mountain, within the Molise Molise mountain range.

Although Macchiagodena is a good size, it doesn’t have much in the way of shops. They have a bank and bakeries, but no grocery stores (although they do have corner-store type shops), and certainly no clothes, shoe or jewelry shops. I’m quite sure they used to, but they’ve all moved to the larger cities/towns since everyone drives. They like driving… in fact, they seemed shocked when my mother and I would insist on walking more than a few blocks.

Zio Nicola and Zia Incoronata
We stayed with my mother’s cousin, Nicola and his wife. His daughter, Angela, son-in-law and grandson were there as well during the first week, as they were on vacation. They were all incredibly sweet, and Angela spent the week driving us all over, visiting people and places.

Incoronata, from my uncle Nicola’s balcony.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

The incredible beauty. Everywhere we went, the vistas were breathtaking. Villages and towns dotted the mountains. Many of them quite old and beautiful. Even the ancient, crumbling stone buildings were lovely to look at. They were my favourites, actually.

Uncle Antonio's family
Getting to know my family better. Although Reid and I met most of my parents’ cousins in the late 90s in my first trip, we spent so little time I really didn’t get to know them. This time, of course, I got to know them much better, and met many of my second cousins. Everyone seemed to speak the dialect, so I was very pleased to be able to converse well (and I got lots of compliments about it too!). I formed such a deep respect and liking for so many of them I honestly wish I could go back every year.

My mother saying: “Where did all these mountains come from???” I kept telling her they must have grown in the 50 years she’s been away. Growing up there, she didn’t really notice them. And seeing their beauty now impressed her so much. One of the larger mountain peaks,
Campitello, is a ski resort. We visited one day — up, up, up we went. And then we got to the ski hill, which was yet higher!!

Getting to know a little bit more about my mother and father from everyone. Much to my mother’s embarrassment, I got to hear how much of a little hellion she was. But best of all, was hearing folks talk about her parents, who I never met. The older folks spoke about my grandmother’s generosity with food and her open-door policy, and how she worked in the farm as hard as any man would. Everyone was very poor back then, but my grandmother had a little more than most because my grandfather was working in the US and sent money home. She died before I was born, and whenever they told my mother how much she resembled her mother, I could see a little flush of pride in her face. Everyone remembered my grandfather. He was very easy-going, and again, was very generous. My aunt would tell me how he would sidle up to her and put some money in her pocket, saying “Shhh, don’t tell anyone”. I heard others say that about him, too.

In Civita
We visited my mom’s cousin in Boiano, a much larger town. (It did have clothes, shoe and jewelry shops!). Boiano is located at the base of the mountain, where it’s typically much more humid (and the Incoronata/Macchiagodena folks lord it over them for that reason). The air is so different, they have trouble growing some things, like figs. My mother liked making fun of the Boiano accent, a little drawl when their words ended in ‘e’. Our Boiano relatives took us up to Civita, a small town half way up, the mountain behind Boiano. Many moons ago (more than 5 generations, I think), our Perrella clan came from Civita and settled in the Macchiagodena area. Civita is slowly emptying – very few families living there. More very old buildings, there, some of the houses were perched precariously on the cliffs.

In Capri
We did have one excursion: to the island of Capri through a tour organized out of Macchiagodena. We took a bus to the port in Naples, and from there, a boat to Capri. I’d never been to Naples and was extremely happy to go because it’s where my parents left Italy for Canada (separately — my dad left some years before my mother and brother). My father has NEVER been back. Capri was astoundingly beautiful. Sheer cliffs surround most of the island, with lots of grottos and interesting rock formations. The town itself is a jumble of gorgeous buildings, all seeming built on top of one another. It’s a very exclusive place: shops were incredibly expensive, and you can tell it’s a playground for the rich and famous. And … I got to see Mount Vesuvius off in the distance!!

Macchiagodena, from my uncle Antonio’s balcony

We had dinner with my dad’s cousin Antonio and his family a couple of times. Reid and I stayed overnight with them when we visited last time. They have two sons, Felice and Michele. I adore Felice, and this time I was so happy to meet Michele as well. I found myself staring at my uncle during dinner, and remembered doing it years ago as well. I couldn’t get enough of looking at him. Then I realized why… he reminded me of my grandfather who died when I was 10 (my dad’s dad). Not so much in looks as in mannerisms. I mentioned it to everyone, and they all said.. “Ya, we know… he’s just like his uncle!!” Wow.

Great-grandfather's house
We visited my great-grandfather’s house in Carapone, a few miles away from Incoronata, where my father was born. It’s one of those gorgeous, crumbling old stone buildings and I can’t quite get enough of it. It’s still in the Perrella family, relatives in Australia own it. There’s an old inscription above one of the doors we were trying to make out. It kinda looks like “1765”. Traditionally in Italy (still followed today), the sons remain in their father’s home. Their wives move in and the family grows. My great-grandfather had three sons, and with over 20 people in the house, he decided it was time to split the family. He put his son’s names in a hat and had one of the children pull a name, and that was the one who stayed in the house in Carapone. My grandfather and his brother moved to Incoronata, and shared an adjoining house.

Great-grandfather's house
We visited my Dad’s old home Other highlights were the tours we had of each of my parents’ old houses. My father’s old home, where my brother was born, is actually owned by my mother’s cousin, Petronilla, now. They kindly took us to every single room, but what was most surprising, was seeing some very old items that were my grandparents’ things. They pulled out an ancient spool for winding wool. It was very likely made by my father for his mother. The old, huge wine barrel was still there in the wine cellar, being used. And I almost cried when they showed my an old, ancient chest, saying they had no idea whose it was. It had the initials L and N on it – it was my grandmother’s.

My mother’s house is located in a “Coltillo”. That would be an arrangement of houses, clustered together around a little square. There’s a little lane way that leads down to the group of houses. Two of her cousins still live in houses there. The present owners of her old home kindly gave us a tour. We knew that this house had been changed very much, and they’re justifiably proud of the work they’ve done. My mother was ecstatic with seeing many of the old rooms. The kitchen was changed the least, it’s their next project. The old fireplace and oven are still there, and the walls have barely been touched. My mother brought some very old pictures of the house, and you can compare them if you like:

Ma's house, front
Ma’s house, front.
Ma's house, front circa 1950
Ma’s house, front circa 1950

Ma's house, back
Ma’s house, back.
Ma's house, front back 1950
Ma’s house, back circa 1950

34 thoughts on “Italy!”

  1. Almost as cool as Serenity!

    Highly cool story and pix! Especially the time comparisons!

    Can’t wait to see the whole batch, but I can and will, of course.

  2. Hi,
    Just visited your website.. just loved it. You could be related some how. My Mom and Dad are both from Incornata. Dad’s name is Barile, Moms is Vespoli. I caught the name Perella. My Aunt and Uncle and many cousins live there also. (Rocco and Domenica Perella). The pictures are just beautiful. I was there in 1981. I printed a picture of your family, I’ll bet any money my mom and dad know them. Small World.
    Thanks again,
    Mary (Barile) O’flanagan.
    Broadview Hts Ohio


  4. Wow, nice work, although I haven’t had a chance to read it all. I sure will though, while I’ll be on vacation these upcoming holidays in Incoronata. And… I definitely won’t miss the opportunity to show Zia Incoronata (Zia Bionda), Zio Nicola and Angela, Tonino, Simone and Sonia what you have done. It’s just wonderful! I live in Montreal and I am your uncle’s wife nephew. I was just browsing, wondering what the internet had to say about Incoronata, Macchiagodena these days! Sure surprised me how close to home it got… ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Wow!! These comments have been fantastic!! Pasquale: Simone just loves Montreal! I miss that family.. I just adored Angela, and wish we could live a little closer together.

  6. Hi Luisa,
    I found your blog searching for my town’s images… I can’t explain how pleasant has been reading your description of things that was so obvious and “hidden” to me (like your mother asking about the mountains…). I actually live in Rome where I studied and now work, but I spent my first 18 years there and I still go there at least every three weeks.
    Maybe we’re relatives, my grandma is Anna Maria Perrella (daughter of Rocco) and lives in “Barile”, and her mother was Giuseppa Vespoli… I will ask her.
    Hope you’ll come back soon, so maybe we can meet!
    Kisses, Valeria

  7. Hi Luisa,
    my father and I just visited your website and we thought it was absolutely great. My father comes from Macchiagodena, Contrada Santo Ianni, and we visit Italy quite often. When we go back home we always visit the “borgate” including Incoronata. We live in Toronto and are happy to see that second and third generation italian-americans are exploring their roots.
    Keep up the great work and we looking forward to seeing the rest of the pictures.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

  8. Hello Luisa
    My name is Domenica Perrella (nee De Cesare) and I
    am the daughter of Pasquale De Cesare (dec) and Crescenza Gentile.
    I was born in Macciagodena and grew up there until I got
    married and moved to Australia. I knew your mother Nuziata,
    I wonder if she still remembers me when I used to visit my great Aunty
    Pia Barile (Zia Pia di Cich.)We had some good times together.
    I married your fathers cousin Angelo Perrella (dec)who
    was the son of Nicola Perrella and Teresa Barile.
    The other night I was with my sister Angelina and my mother and we had
    a look at your website and enjoyed it so much that
    we were still on the internet late into the night.
    It was really nice to see all the photos on your website,
    it bought back a lot of good memories for us all.
    If you come to Australia one day it would be nice to meet you.
    Ciao from Western Australia

  9. So is Domenica related to Nick of Swan Valley, or is that yet another line of the world famous (and world wide) Perrella family?

    It’s really cool that these comments are coming from all over, one at a time as people discover this blog.

    So when do the rest of the trip pictures go online, Luisa?

  10. Domenica and Nic are related, yes, (through marriage). Her husband, and Nic’s dad were brothers, and both my dad’s cousins. Her husband died a little while ago.

    The trip pictures have been online for quite a long time – in with the rest of our family pictures on tnir. I tried to annotate them, but I don’t think it worked well. I really ought to come up with some better way of annotating them. But all 250 or so are there:

  11. Luisa, I was born in Incoronata in 1958 and we moved to Montreal in 1964. I visit Italy every year to visit my Grandparents Pasquale and Petronilla Zannella. These are my Mom’s parents. My Mother, Maria passed away in 2002. My father is Giovanni Perrella son of Matteo Perrella (they used to call him ‘frattone’) and Angela Manocchio (both dec). Three of Dad’s brothers, Ferdinando, Ernesto and Biagio live in Incoronata. Uncle Ferdinando Perrella is the owner of Agriturismo Zampacorta. Uncle Ernesto owns the local watering hole, Bar Val Verde right across from the church, SS Maria Incoronata, downtown so to speak!! Although I live in Atlanta, Georgia most of my family is in Montreal where I grew up. I did so enjoy reading your story and viewing the photos. I have no doubt we are related and if Mom were here, I could ask. I will be sure to ask Uncle Mario Perrella who lives in Montreal. We are many and spread wide. 2 others of the Perrella siblings are in Western Australia: Elisabetta (wife of Sabatino Palermo) and Alessandro Perrella. I have often wanted to connect the dots even with those in South America. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Well, the first one works just fine.

    And thanks for not saying publicly,’Barker, you’ve known about this link for months, what, you can’t bookmark?”

  13. Great travel diary/blog. My grandmother was born in Macchiagodena and my uncle asked me to plan a trip there for his 75th birthday so we will visit this summer…

  14. I think it’s great that you are sharing your family, pics, and trips with us…Thank you! My Mom’s father came from Macchiagodena but we have no clue if there is still family there or not. I am just beginning to do family searches and would be grateful if you can give me a name or address of the local city hall or records building. His name was George Meyo, which is the Americanized version, of course. He came to Cleveland Ohio through Canada, from Italy. Any help you can offer would be sincerely appreciated!!! I am named after him.

  15. I think it’s great that you are sharing your family, pics, and trips with us…Thank you! My Mom’s father came from Macchiagodena but we have no clue if there is still family there or not. I am just beginning to do family searches and would be grateful if you can give me a name or address of the local city hall or records building. His name was George Meyo, which is the Americanized version, of course. He came to Cleveland Ohio through Canada, from Italy. Any help you can offer would be sincerely appreciated!!! I am named after him.

  16. Hello,
    I was just browsing the web looking for information on my family and I came upon this wonderful travel log of yours. My grandmother and grandfather come from Macchiagodena. My grandfathers name is Midea and my grandmother is Buonomo. They moved to Pennsylvania when they were both young and started a family there. I don’t believe they ever went back. I’m sure that I still have some family there and I hope someday to visit. Thank you so much…

  17. Hello,
    Both my grandparents came from Macchiagodena they were Louisa Dell’Omo and Giovani Paolucci. My grandmother’s family were pharmacists there. My Aunt Rose Martella told me the Bishop would stay with them when he came to visit the church.
    I love your travel log. Going there is one of my greatest wishes.
    Thank you,

  18. hi Luisa, hope you’re doing fine and that you still read these comments. My name is Angela and I guess we are also related… my mother was born in Incoronata (1938), her name is Angela Manocchio, her father was Felice Manocchio and her mother, Antonia Perrella. They moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil on 1950, where my grandparents died years ago. My mother and her brothers and sisters (Maria, Rosa, Giuseppe, Nicola, Giovanni) are still alive, and they all live in Sao Paulo. I moved to Germany years ago, but before I came here, I spent about 6 months in Incoronata by Ferdinando and Maria (Agriturismo Zampacorta)who is my mother’s cousin. I remember there were some relatives from Canada over there by that time, maybe your parents?? Unfortunatelly, I got to meet many many people, and I can’t remember all the names. You might wonder why I’m not Perrella, or Manocchio, but in Brazil they have this stupid thing to give the father name. I’d love to have my mom’s name though…
    Anyway, just wanted to say hello to you, (my cousin??)
    Wish you all the best, and if you want to keep contact.
    Have a peaceful day

  19. My fathers family is from Macchiagodena. They immegrated in 1908. My father and brother have visited the village(1974) and it’s amazing to see images of our grand parents home village.

    I hope you are in good health and thank you for your images.

    I beleive we still have relatives in the village. They would be DiFillipo’s or Ricci’s.

  20. Looking at your pictures reminded me of my visit to Macchiagodena in August 2007 where my Mother and Uncle are from. They came to the U.S in 1938. Her name is Michelena Miranda. Her mother was from Frosolone and Cesere was her name.
    I believe my Mom has cousins still living in Compobosso.

  21. Hi my name is Domenic Dimichele both my parents are from Macchiagodena.My fathers name is Antonio son of Domenico he has two sisters Renata who still lives in Macchiagodena and Giovanini who now lives in Perth Western Australia My mother is Nicolina Palermo daughter of Pietro Palermo and Michelina Carlucci I t would be great to hear from any relatives that may be connected to my extended family keep up the good work

  22. Ciao, mi chiamo Michelino D’Itri, per puro caso andato sul tuo sito e sono rimasto affiscinato dalle vecchie foto. Io vivo a Macchiagodena e conosco il fabbricato dei tuoi parenti.Leggendo i commenti ne ho trovato uno di un amico che si chiama Pasquale Fantone, il quale รƒยจ vissuto a Macchiagodena per qualche anno, pertanto colgo l’occasione per salutarlo. Buon lavoro e saluti da Macchiagodena.

  23. In November I will be attending a meeting at the University of Molise and plan to visit Macciagodena. My grandfather (on my father’s side) was born in Macciagodena on September 26, 1882 and his name was Louis Dell’Omo. His father (my great grandfather) was Dr. Michael Dell’Omo (born 1840 and died in 1896) was a physician (he graduated from the University of Naples). In addition to my grandfather, my great grandparents had three other sons–one a priest, one a singer, and one a pharmacist–and four daughters (all the daughters moved to the US). My grandfather came to the US (Red Bank, NJ) in 1905 and married my grandmother (Jennie Tempesta, daughter of Louis and Rose(Fabrizi) Tempesta) in 1909.

    My father, also Louis Dell’Omo, grew up in NJ and was a pharmacist. He had two sisters (Fulvia and Josephine) and a brother (Aubrey).

    I was wondering if anyone knows of my family in Macciagodena. I’m really looking forward to my visit and hope to connect with family members and experience the town. Thanks.

  24. Hey, My name is Antonio D’Itri. I actually just came back from Macchiagodena. I visit almost every single year. My dad was born there and we live when there at Via Camposacone. I love Macchiagodena and have spent so much of my childhood there. Thank you so much for putting together this website.

    Antonio D’Itri

  25. Hello Luisa can you post you maiden name i did not quite get that . interesting I was born in Macchiagodena immigrated at 10 years old to thunder bay ontario canada, my maiden name Palermo my mon is Maria Zannella also from Incoronata her parents were michele zannella e luisa di lollo and my dad is Felice Palermo from caporio fu Donato e Teresa Narducci (my grand parents both dec) i know most of the people that wrote to you i am so pleased to hear from everyone , i married carmine ciccone figlio di (Antonio Ciccone ) e angela palermo now dec) my father in law is from santa maria and then he married a caporio and my mother in law’s uncle and his wife had no kids and took them in to stay with them a caporio..contrata santo stefano. my husband still has brother there and his sisters are here in canada .one here, and one in niagarafalls anna maria married cosimo dilollo ,,,and one brother
    in montreal costanzo…we have been back many times in our macchiagodena it is beautiful little place and thevillages , we did restore our house in sant ianni contrata san giovanni that is where my dad moved from caporio to santo ianni after he came back from venezuela (long story)…i will show my parents the photos they will love them they have been back for 15 years now because my dad is not in good health

    thanks again appreciae your work…..
    theresa ciccone thunder bay ontario canada

    my moms cousin married a perrella in montreal i believe you heard from Angie perrella

  26. hello luisa, i came across your site it is beatiful, can you please tell me what is your mothers first name and your fathers too, and where are you residing now.
    i was born in macchiagodena immigrated to canada at the age of 10, but i think i know of your parents, my mon is from incoronata her name is maria zannella and my dad from caporio felice palermo, and my husband is from caporio too, his name is carmine ciccone . i seen the comment from angela perrella her mom and my mom are cousins if you get to see this plese e mail me at i would like to keepin touch we still have a house in macchiagodena my husband goes at least once a year.

  27. Hi,

    LOVE the pictures. My parents are both from Macchiagodena and I would love to see enlarged photos of the black and white ones you have posted. I would love to show my grandmother who is 93 and still remembers every detail of Macchiagodena and probably remembers the faces of those in the photos.

    BTW, Domenica Perrella if you read this I know you are my mothers first cousin because I recognize your parents names. My grandmother is Antonietta DeCesare your aunt. I think I saw you and your daughter once at your mom and dads house when I was visiting Macchiagodena as a teenager. How incredible the internet is to be able to connect relatives from canada to those in australia.

  28. Hope this isnt a repost since my first message didnt show up the first time.

    I love how everyone on here is connecting with each other. I also love your photos. PLEASE enlarge the black and white one- my 93 year old grandmother is from Macchiagodena and still remembers every detail of her life there- I am sure she would recognize people in the photo.

    Also, a big HI to Domenica Perrella! I cant wait to tell my mom in the morning about this site. She is your first cousin Maria Noviello. Her mother is your aunt Antonietta. I think we met at your parents house in Macchiagodena when I was a teenager. How amazing the internet is to connect relatives from canada to those in australia.

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