2 Requests To Photograph Gravestones Were Sent to Sindaco Coppola

Now I started thinking again, which is not a good thing for those on the receiving end.  As I mentioned before, my great-grandfather was buried in the Cimitero Comunale in 1934 but there was no listing for him in the office Registry Books.

Cimitero Comunale (Via Euclide – 91014Castellammare Del Golfo(TP))

Yes, I know, time and poor paper preservation in addition to the wars contributed to records being lost and/or destroyed. But, I wondered how many people were buried in the cemetery and are not listed in the registry books? Plus, now I have two more great uncles who died and I don’t know where they are buried. Or have they already been exhumed?
So, I wrote to my friend Enzo and my cousins Salvatore and Felice for their opinion of an idea that was stirring around in my head.

Hello Salvatore, Enzo, and Felice,

Every day I thank God for cousin Maria who showed Bernardo and I the grave of our great-grandfather, as the cemetery had NO record of him being buried there. So, I started to do some research into cemeteries in CdelG.

There are websites such as Find-A-Grave that allows one to search for death information and photos of gravestones. In fact, I belong to a genealogy society that has photographed all the gravestones in our county (https://irgs.org/cemeteryRecords.php ).

I have searched the internet and I do not find any listing for any cemetery in Castellammare del Golfo.  So, now again I am seeking advice. I am wondering if the town of CdelG would allow me to begin a project of photographing all the gravestones. In addition, I would need from the cemetery a map of the land and the plots. Do you think this is possible?? 

Enzo composed the first letter, I signed it and he hand delivered it to the Mayor’s (Sindaco) office in October. There was no reply as the Mayor was on vacation, in Brooklyn, NY of all places.

I did not receive a reply and decided that the Mayor needed to understand why I was requesting this project, so I composed another letter and included my family tree chart.

2nd Letter to Sindaco Coppola

The Mayor of Castellammare del Golfo
Corso Bernardo Mattarella, 24
91014 Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Italy

19 November 2017

 Dear Mr. Coppola,

My name is Celia Milano. I am the great-granddaughter of Lorenzo Milano and Anna Galatioto, and Giuseppe Maria Vivona and Angelina Giliberti who lived and raised their families in Castellammare del Golfo.  I am also the family genealogist. Please see the attached chart.

Recently my friend Enzo Filogamo was very kind and delivered a letter to your office from me. You must be wondering “Why is this woman requesting permission to see the land plans for the cemetery and to photograph the graves?”

It is a tribute to those people who have lived, worked, raised families and died in your town.  In addition, it will be a family history record for those, like me, seeking any information regarding their ancestors.

In May 2016, I visited with my cousin Maria Ciarvino Milano and met more new cousins.  During this time, I went to the Cimiterio Comunale to visit the grave of my great-grandfather Lorenzo Milano and other relatives. I took photos of some of the graves and they now reside on the website Find-A-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/183771434/lorenzo-milano#

In addition, to documenting cemetery stones, my hope is also to photograph the postings of notification of exhumation.

I thank you in advance for your consideration of this project.


Future Plan of Action

It is now January 2018 and hopefully, I will hear from the Mayor soon.  If not, I will still travel to Castellammare del Golfo to visit friends, family and to photograph the gravestones.  I know I will need and seek the help to gain access to the Exhumation Postings, that cousin Maria had mentioned last year.

Continuing Research……Two New Pieces of Information

Now that the gravestone of my great-grandfather Lorenzo Milano has been restored and there’s no chance of him being exhumed from his grave, I can continue my research for information regarding my other great-grandfather Giuseppe Maria Vivona.

As I mentioned before, I have written to and visited the Sicilian Comunes of Calatafimi, where he was born and Castellammare del Golfo, where he raised his family.  I scoured the Ellis Island Foundation and Family Search websites, all to no avail.  I am totally baffled. I even wrote to New York City Vital Records, identifying myself, including my credentials, but there was nothing except he was listed as “Father” on my grandmother, Rosaria Vivona’s marriage record.

Online, I belong to a few genealogy research groups, including the Sicilian and Aeolian Islands group.  Two of the members know that I have hit the proverbial “brick wall”.  They mentioned the Antenati, an Italian Records website http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it, as another resource. I figured Why not give it a try?  I logged on, typed in various combinations of dates, names and reviewed the results.  Everything jived with what I have in my records. Then came the true test, as I entered Giuseppe Vivona and Angela/Angelina Giliberti, hit the search key while crossing my fingers.  WoooHooo! I did not find any records for Giuseppe,  but found two new pieces of information.

Research results – 2 New Records

The first record was the death record for Salvatore Vivona, their first-born child.  A couple of years ago, the Comune of Castellammare del Golfo, had sent me his birth record and I always wondered why there was no additional information about him.  Salvatore was born in May 1891 and died in May 1912 at the age of twenty-one.  His death record listed his occupation as “barber” but, of course, no cause of death was listed.

Great Uncle Salvatore Vivona Death Information

I can’t imagine what my great-grandmother Angela went through coping with his death.

The second record, was for Antonino Vivona, another son, about whom I did not know. The death record states that he also was a barber and died in October 1918 at the age of 15.  Dio mio!! So young.

Great Uncle Antonino Vivona Death Information

I wrote to the Comune in Castellammare del Golfo requesting birth and death records and received a reply from Signora Rosa Giabino that included an official birth and death certificate for Antonino. Salvatore’s has not yet arrived.

Recently I referred back to the letter written by Elisabetta Vivona Olivet, my grandmother Roasario’s sister.  She stated that both Antonino and Salvatore died from the Spanish flu. But I question this, as the “Spanish flu” outbreak did not occur in Europe until 1918. According to my research, which is mindboggling, the flu outbreak occurred in the U.S. much earlier, was ignored by the government and the flu spread with our troop movements during World War I to Europe. [http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic#Hypotheses_about_source]

So I believe that Antonino, who died in October 1918, was possibly a victim of the flu.

Doing some further research, Salvatore’s death may have been caused naturally, by accident, by an outbreak of cholera [http://www.lodico.org/mike/images/Notes/Giuseppe-Angelina-Lodico.html   http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM191109281651315] or by the heat wave of 1911 in Italy and Spain that had devastating consequences by creating diseases via microorganisms in fish, plants, and man. [https://www.cairn.info/revue-annales-de-demographie-historique-2010-2-page-147.htm]                 Another mystery.

As for their father, my elusive great grandfather, on August 16, 2014, during a conversation I had with my cousin, Betty Olivet Palumbo, she stated that her mother, Elisabetta, told her that Giuseppe Maria Vivona died of double lumbar pneumonia at age 45.  So, I am assuming Giuseppe Maria Vivona died in 1910.  The death date is unknown as the Comune does not have his death record. And so the mystery continues.

My Tribute to Mama Sanfilippo

I met many wonderful people while in Sicily but one woman, Mama Sanfilippo, stands out. I would be remiss if I did not tell the story.

Cousin Bernardo tracked me down, where else? On the Corso Garibaldi! He said “Andiamo, Let’s go. You are going to meet the Sanfilippo family.” I smiled and my mind wandered.

Ahhh! Two years ago, during one of our Skype phone calls, Bernardo said one of his childhood friends lives in Florida. I chuckled as he was always telling me “I know someone in New York City and his name is….” I tried to tell Bernardo that more than likely I wouldn’t know this person. So, I asked, “What is the town?” Much to my amazement, he said “Sebastian.” Sebastian is the next town north of me. So, he gave me the contact information, I called and introduced myself. We made plans to meet for lunch – Vito, his wife Pauline, my Vito and I. We had a wonderful time at Mulligan’s, overlooking the river.

Ironically, last year, while Vito and I were having dinner at a local restaurant, Counter Culture, we were very loud and laughing with the owner Chef Anthony Damiano. I looked across the room and said “Sorry” to a young couple. After dinner, they came over to the table and wanted to speak with Anthony. After introductions, the young woman said “With a name like Vito you can’t be bad. My Dad’s name is Vito.” As we continued talking and laughing, all the towns that our families were from were mentioned. When the town of Castellammare del Golfo was mentioned, my mind was going at warp speed. I asked the young woman, “Is your Dad, Vito Sanfilippo, from Castellammare and a friend of my cousin Bernardo?” She and I were both stunned. Nina knew all about my cousin. Unreal.

“Andiamo, stop daydreaming.” he said again. We drove to Bernardo’s home, stopped in to say “Ciao” to his wife, Francesca, then walked over to meet the family. Bernardo introduced me to everyone and then left. He did not tell me I was invited to lunch! Had I known, I would have brought over a bottle of wine!!

Giuseppina, Vito’s sister, was the hostess and had made a feast for lunch – pasta with meat sauce, salad, scrumptious olive bread, olives, chicken cutlets, fruit, and dolce!! It was like my childhood when everyone was eating, talking, gesturing and laughing, all at the same time! Of course, my lack of language came into play but Giuseppina’s grandchildren practiced their English with me. No need for the dictionary, yet.

The one person who remained calm during the entire afternoon was Mama Nina SanFilippo. She had a quiet grace surrounding her. I can’t think of another way to say it.

While having caffe normale, I asked permission to take some photos for Pauline and Vito back home. The only person I did not photograph was Salvatore, Vito’s brother, as he left right after lunch, which upset his mother.

Soon after, I was asked if I could walk Mama home across the street so she could rest. No problem. As I took her arm, I could feel she was still steaming mad and trembling. When we arrived, she changed her shoes and gestured let’s go. Mama had other ideas and resting was not one of them. Deep in my heart, I knew where we were headed. We walked with our arms wrapped around each other, as I didn’t want her to falter.

When we arrived at Salvatore’s home, we knocked and as he opened the door, I could see that he was stunned. He looked up and down the street for a car but I said “No macchina. Abbiamo camminato, No car, we walked.” I thought he was going to faint. He quickly directed his mother to a big comfortable chair.
After I was introduced to Salvatore’s wife and children and took a tour of their home, Mama Nina insisted the photos be taken. She was a funny and stubborn lady. I had a lot of fun especially when I brought out my dictionary!

Fast forward to August 2, 2017: I was very sad to see the Facebook posts by Nina and her sister Danielle saying a sad farewell to Mama Nina. In the short time I spent with her, I found her to be a very caring, loving, funny and special woman. “A presto Mama.”

Mama Sanfilippo

OMG!! The Restoration of Our Great-grandfather Lorenzo Milanos’ Gravestone

In my last post, I had an ongoing discussion regarding our Great-Grandfathers’ gravestone with cousin Salvatore and my friend Enzo.  This post is the continuation and result of our conversation.

February 4, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore, thank you so much for doing this. It is great news!! This past November, I exchanged $’s for Euro, so I have Euros. Please let me know where you want me to send them. If you are able to speak to the head of the cemetery, please ask if he received my 2 letters. I understand that they are not responsible but if I did not have you to contact them, I would not know what the procedure was (communication with the municipality, Fontana, etc).
Ah, your Mother’s birthday.Both she & my sister Laurette were born on March 10th.
Have a wonderful Sunday!! Kisses!

February 4, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hi Celia, I’m going to go to Castellammare for my mother’s birthday. It’s incredible your sister was born the same day.
I told Fontana I will give him the money when I will be in CdG. I’m speaking with my friend on Monday. I would ask him if our great grandfather is at risk to be removed from his grave. Send me a copy of your letter. I hope to fix everything. Have a nice week end.

February 4, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore, do you want me to send the money to you at the Via F…. address or to you at your home? Here are the 2 letters to the cemetery (they are the same). Only one is specifically addressed to Maurizio Cassara.
Also, by the way, our great-grandfather is NOT listed in the cemetery records. I find this very strange. Tell your friend he will have a big battle on his hands & the mayor’s hands if they move him. I will pay the fee to keep him there. But I know you are a good negotiator & will hopefully fix this. You can claim my ignorance of Italian rules of the community. Have a good weekend.

June 25, 2016 and September 11, 2016
Signor Maurizio Cassara
Cimitero di Castellammare del Golfo
Via Euclide
91014 Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Ciao Signor Cassara,
Ti ho incontrato lo scorso maggio, quando mio cugino Bernardo Como mi ha portato al cimitero di pagare i miei rispetti a molti membri della famiglia. (Milano, Vivona, Galatioto, Cartiera, Giliberti).
Avevo chiesto nella posizione del mio bisnonno Lorenzo Milano che è morto 8December1939. I record non hanno mostrato la sua posizione.
Per fortuna mia cugina Maria Ciaravino Milano (vedova di Lorenzo Milano morto 6 ottobre 2010) mi ha mostrato la tomba del mio bisnonno.
[Quando si lascia l’edificio per uffici, girare a destra e proseguire a piedi fino alla fine del marciapiede (al secondo cancello chiuso). È su quel muro. Sono compresi una foto.]
L’incisione sulla pietra è sbiadito in modo che sia molto difficile da leggere.
Le scrivo per informarsi sul processo e il costo per la pulizia e il ripristino lapide del mio bisnonno.
Il vostro aiuto in questa materia sarà molto apprezzato.

Molti saluti,

February 17, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hi Celia, how are you? I hope you are fine. Today I spoke with my friend in CdG and I was guaranteed about our grandfather’s place. I will speak next Monday with Fontana to proceed with the work on the tombstone. Next month, when I will go in CdG, I will choose the vase.
Sorry if I have not written to you but I’m very busy with my job. Now some moments of relaxation, as I am going to listen to some live music. Have a nice w. e.

February 17, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore! We are doing well. How are you & your sons? I am so happy to hear that our binonno will stay in his grave. I will send the Euro out this week so you will have it in time to meet with Fontana. I will send it to you in care of your Mom. Enjoy the music and have a wonderful weekend.

February 17, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
I think it’s better to send money to my office. Here is the address…

February 28, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hi Celia, I received your money a few minutes ago. I didn’t understand the reason about 20 Euros plus. I’m going in CdG next Saturday (10 March). I hope to send you photos of tombstone. Kisses

February 28, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore! I am happy you received the mail.
OK. About the 20 Euro. If I hire a company to do work, an employee will come to do the job. I pay by bank check to the company. If the employee (worker) does a good job, I will give that person a gratuity (tip) in cash in their hand (that the boss does not need to know about. HaHa, since you are a boss, you may not like to hear this!!!) The same as when you go for espresso & a cornetto. If it is considered inappropriate, then use it to buy some dolce for your Mom.
I look forward to seeing the photos. Many many thanks!

March 12, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Tomorrow I’m going to choose the flowers case.

March 12, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Dio mio!!! Fontana did a wonderful job!!!! Thank you!!! Grazie!

March 13, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Which do you prefer?

This one? or this one?     


March 13, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
The 2nd one. It will look beautiful on the cleaned tombstone. Thank you so much for doing this.

March 14, 2017, Salvatore to Celia

Great-Grandfather Lorenzo Milanos’ restored gravestone

March 14, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
OMG!! Dio mio!! Beautiful!!! I am crying, I am so happy!! Grazie Salvatore
Salvatore…when I was at the cemetery, Maurizio Cassara could not find the record for our great-grandfather. I do not know why. Possibly from the war, as records could have been destroyed. Do you know, if it is possible to obtain the location or plot # of his grave??

March 14, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
I understand. Today I was with the boss of the cemetery, a friend of mine, and Maurizio. He knows all about our great grandfather. You can take it easy our great grandfather can rest quietly.

March 14, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Ok. Wonderful!! I am happy that great-grandfather Lorenzo can rest where he is. Thank you!! If it wasn’t for you, this would not have been possible.

“Conversations” with Salvatore & my friend Enzo Regarding Cemetery Gravestones

Continuing our conversation…..I know cemetery gravestones are not a normal topic of conversation, but it is a necessary one.

As I stated before, I told Salvatore the highlights of my trip and what I learned during my visit to Castellammare del Golfo and Calatafimi of the family history. Salvatore was astonished and sad to learn that our great-grandfather was “left at the wheel”, abandoned at birth.

He also didn’t know that his mother had to show Bernardo and I the grave because we couldn’t find it, due to the deterioration of the stone. So now, the grave of our great-grandfather Lorenzo Milano was the main topic.


January 25, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
I am hoping that you can help me solve this issue.

Several times Bernardo & I went to the cemetery in May & could not find our great-grandfather’s grave. I knew it was in a mausoleum but could not remember where your Father took my sister Laurette & me many years ago.

Your Mom said she would show us & she did. When I saw the stone I knew why I couldn’t find it. In addition to being vertically challenged (short), the stone was faded.

When I came home to the U.S. I wrote 2 times to Maurizio at the cemetery. He never answered me. I also asked Felice & I heard from him yesterday via facebook – “I lavori non li farà il Comune. Devi fare tu i lavori, devi pagare tu per il lavoro”. “Work will not be done by the municipality. You have to do the work, you have to pay for the job.”

How can I have the work done to restore the stone? And yes, I will pay the fees. I am attaching the 2nd letter to the cemetery which includes the photo. {Inserting English only}
September 11, 2016
Signor Maurizio Cassara
Cimitero di Castellammare del Golfo
Via Euclide
91014 Castellammare del Golfo, Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Ciao Signor Cassara,
I met you this past May when my cousin Bernardo Como brought me to the cemetery to pay my respects to many family members. (Milano, Vivona, Galatioto, Cartiera, Giliberti).

I had inquired into the location of my great grandfather Lorenzo Milano who died December 1934. The records did not show his location.

Fortunately, my cousin Maria Ciaravino Milano (widow of Lorenzo Milano who died October 2010) showed me my great grandfather’s grave.

[When you leave the office building, take a right turn and walk to the end of the sidewalk (to the second closed gate). It is on that wall. I am including a photo.]
The engraving on the stone has faded so that it is very hard to read.

I am writing to inquire about the process and cost to clean and restore my great grandfather’s grave marker.
Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated.
Molti saluti,

Great-grandfather Lorenzo Milano’s gravemarker
Gravemarker for Great-Grandfather Lorenzo Milano in Cimitero Comunale (Via Euclide – 91014Castellammare Del Golfo(TP))








January 25, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hi Celia, I wanted to tell you that the work to fix the graves is done by relatives and not the municipality. With us, it is so. If you want to do the work inform me. In recent months, my mother told me that the city needs to release the posts and that there could be a risk that he will be moved to the common ossuaries.

January 26, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore, Thank you for all the information. Yes, is it possible to have the stone cleaned? Or should I wait until I visit to arrange it??

What does your mother mean by “the city needs to release of the posts and that there could be a risk that they take him away to put him in the common ossuaries.” !@#$%^&*()

Do I need to pay a fee to keep him where he is? If so, please let me know, as I will pay it. I have heard from people in my genealogy group that if fees are not paid, then the bones are dug up and put in a mass grave. Therefore no one knows where their ancestors are buried. I will NOT have that happen.

January 28, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hi Celia, how are you? I hope you are fine. I’m going to be calling a person in Castellammare and I hope to know if is better to clean or to do a new stone. I will try my best but I don’t live in Castellammare so isn’t easy planning. I hope to give you some news soon.

I don’t know if is possible to pay a fee to keep grandfather there. I think it’s a good idea to replace the headstone. If the municipality sees that there are relatives who are interested, they will not take him away.
I hope to give you more next week. Have a nice week end.

January 29, 2017, Celia to Salvatore
Hi Salvatore, Thank you!! I would also think that the fact that your mother places flowers every week shows that the relatives care & are still living in town.

While I was in Castellammare, I met a gentleman who knew your Father & knows Bernardo. We had espresso many mornings at Cafe Garibaldi. We have been corresponding via Facebook & his name is Enzo….. Do you want me to ask him for guidance about this?? He may be able to give us more information as he lives in CdelG.

January 29, 2017, Celia to Enzo (translated from Italian)
Hi Enzo, I hope you and your family are well. While I was in Sicily I tried to inquire about the process for cleaning up and restoring my great-grandfather’s stone without success. Shortly after my return from Sicily, I had a wonderful surprise, I received an email from my cousin Salvatore, whom I did not meet. I’ve been corresponding with him. I told him about the tombstone. He said it was up to the family to do the repairs. I said good, please let me know and I will make the payment. But he recently wrote to me and said the following: In recent months, “my mother told me that the city needs to free up places and that there might be a risk that it will not put it in common ossuaries.”

Does this mean that they remove the bones to another tomb? I’m so upset! What can I do? Any guidance from you is so much appreciated.

Celia post scriptum Thanks to God for Google translate!

January 30, 2017, Enzo to Celia
Dear Celia, As regards the question about the cleaning and restoration of the tombstone, the municipal law orders all owners maintenance of the graves, that is, cleaning and restoring the tombstones.

Presently, the Mayor has decided to deprive the bones of the deceased who have not been honored by relatives for a long time. Christian bones are deposited in a common ossuary. I think and suggest that we must anticipate the Mayor’s decision and arrange the cleaning and replacement of the tombstone as soon as possible, hoping that by doing so and noting the maintenance the Mayor will not remove the bones.

I think that you will be in Castellammare again this year and I will be honored to try to solve this problem together. I want to ask you if you have a picture of the gravestone and its coordinates to find it so I can make sure it is still in place. Happy to be helpful with my suggestions, I send you a warm greeting together with your loved ones.

January 31, 2017, Celia to Enzo
Dear Enzo, I never received a reply from Maurizio from the cemetery. Is there a business in Castellammare doing this job? Hugs. Celia

January 31, 2017, Enzo to Celia
Dear Celia, today with the sun and the clear day without rain, I was at the cemetery. I had trouble finding the tomb because of my low vision.

In any case, I have been informed about the maintenance and cleaning of marble gravestones at the cemetery. The right way is to entrust it to the specialist company for these jobs. Only the specialist firm can do these jobs because it is registered with the municipality and is authorized to do all this. The path to follow is as follows: 1) fill out a printed “form” that is already in my possession; 2) Make a deposit of Euro 25; 3) Make the stamp of execution by signing the Mayor; 4) Make a cost estimate by the specialist company and then let him do the job. So only the specialized firm and not the private citizen can do these jobs.

As you need to start your work, you need your signature and identity document, I think it would be appropriate when you’re in Castellammare to complete everything. One of the companies specializing in these works is just beside the cemetery, that is, the Fontana company. He is a very good professional and I think he should be entrusted with the job. A hug, Enzo

February 3, 2017, Salvatore to Celia
Hello Celia, Today I spoke with Fontana and told me the price is 200 euro for cleaning the grave. The price also includes communication with the municipality and a new vase for the flowers. I was hoping to also talk to the director of the cemetery but these days he is not at work. I’m going to CdG on March 11. Kisses

More to follow ……


Imagine My Surprise!!

I was waiting for notification via email from Marias Fiorista that cousin Maria received my flowers.  Imagine my surprise when I saw an email from Salvatore Milano! 

Salvatore, whom I have yet to meet, is the youngest son of cousin Maria and Lorenzo who lives in Pisa, has a construction business and has 2 sons, Lorenzo and Juri.   

Salvatore Milano

He wanted to thank me for the Family History book I left for him at his Mom’s house. He read through it and had some corrections. I mentioned to him that the information was obtained from his Dad, Lorenzo, through a series of letters, which I attached to the email. He was happy that I corresponded with his Dad who contributed to my knowledge of the family.

Salvatore also told me that we missed each other at the airport!! What??? I left early in the morning and he arrived early afternoon. No one had mentioned to me that Salvatore was on his way to visit!!!!

He also wanted to inform me that his brother Renzo was having health issues and was in the hospital. I asked if Maria needed help and if so, I would travel back to Sicily.

Over a series of emails, I learned that Renzo had a successful heart surgery. He has similar heart issues as my Dad, Lorenzo (a.k.a. Larry), my older sister Laurette, my younger sister Sarah, my brother and myself. It still surprises me that unknown family members halfway across the world are still linked via DNA.  

I also mentioned the highlights of my trip and the family history that I learned during my visit to Castellammare del Golfo and Calatafimi. Our conversation is still ongoing, especially regarding our Great-Grandfather, Lorenzo Milano.

“Who is this cousin Bernardo? Why didn’t you mention him before in your blog?”

Everyone is asking me “Who is this cousin Bernardo? Why didn’t you mention him before in your blog?”  So in answer to your many questions……. 

2016-May. At the Belvedere in Castellammare del Golfo. Photo by C.M.

After my sister, Laurie and I left Italy, cousin Vera, from Rome, Time To Meet Cousins  and I continued communicating via email.

One email had a request. Vera wrote that another cousin, Bernardo, her mother Maria’s nephew, who lives in Germany, heard about our surprise visit in Rome and was asking for my contact information.  Vera wanted to ask if she could give him my telephone number, as he does not have a computer.  I said “Of course. But you know that I do not speak any Italian nor German!”  Vera told me that he spoke the Sicilian dialect, English and German, so do not worry.  Shortly after, Bernardo called me and we began our continuing conversation about the family.

Also, at this time, I was also beginning a photo scanning project. After Mom passed away, I found a box of old photos that she had stashed away at the back of her closet. I don’t believe she even knew they were there, as she had inherited them from Grandma Milano, her mother-in-law.

Sadly, I never knew about these photos and wished I had. Maybe Mom would have known who some of these folks were.

I told Bernardo about the photos and that most had no writing on the back.  Of course, Grandma Milano knew who all these folks were, so there was no need to identify everyone!  



Bernardo told me to send him copies and he will try to obtain the information. A couple of months later, I received my self-addressed envelope back with the information for the majority of the photos, mostly of the Milano’s.  I believe the other photos, were of various members of Grandma Rosaria’s family (Vivona). Thanks to Bernardo, more pieces of our family history were uncovered.



P.S. These photos have yet to be identified. 








Grandma Sarah Vivona Milano sitting on far left. Everyone else ????

Road Trip – Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily to Miami, FL

I know that I should have written this entry a while ago but…I’ve been trying to block it….you’ll understand when you read it….a bumpy road trip….

Corso Garibaldi

My last morning in Castellammare del Golfo and I was up at 3:30am, so I would be ready by 5:15am.  The first leg of my road trip. Felice, my cousin-in-law, was bringing me to the Punta Raisi aka Falcone-Borsellino airport in Palermo. He drove by Corso Garibaldi for me. By 6:00am, I said “A presto” (see you soon) to Felice and went through TSA in no time. On the quick flight to Rome, I had an espresso and cornetto.

Arrived in Rome, went through TSA and passport control then trekked to the farthest international terminal, of course!! Thankfully my checked luggage would have its’ own trek.

Once I arrived at the Alitalia gate, I checked on my seat assignment and waited to board the flight to Miami. A little while later, there was an announcement of a delay due to a strike of the French air traffic controllers. Really??

Now, those of you who have traveled know all about these strikes, especially in Europe!! They can be a P.I.T.A (rompicoglioni) and cause all kinds of travel nightmares.

As I waited, with another espresso, I thought of the time my younger sister Sarah and I went to the Seville Expo (Spain) eons ago. The day of our return to NY, via Madrid to JFK, there was a strike by Spanair in Malaga.  We had to re-book our flights and unfortunately had to stay in Torremolinos, on the beach, another two days!!!  A very big inconvenience! Vito laughed when I called him to ask him to call my boss and tell her the news. Mmmmm….maybe an extra day or two in Rome wasn’t a bad idea….

Two hours later, an announcement was made stating that the Spanish air traffic controllers will be taking over and we could board. Once everyone was settled and Alitalia turned on the in-flight entertainment, I turned my favorite news channel – BBC.

That’s when I heard that EgyptAir Flight MS804 crashed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  Holy #$!)  All  you could hear was gasping all around the plane. Except for a  young couple sitting across from me, who were still complaining about the delay. When I told them what happened, they continued complaining. I then said “Stop complaining. It could’ve been you”.  They finally shut up!!

Finally arrived in Miami!!  Then a 3 hour trek home!!

My last full day in Castellammare del Golfo

Up at 6:00am. Walked to the Corso and had cappuccino & a wonderful tort at Café Cucece this morning, as Cafe Garibaldi is closed. Plus I bought some sweets for Maria later today.  I watched the construction crew work on the building renovation and was sad to see the swallows still flying around looking for their nests.

Swallow nests under a balcony
Swallow nests were destroyed during renovation.





After breakfast I walked down the Corso, over the bridge to the castle and beyond and took more photos.

Water View from Piazza Vincenzo Santangelo
Piazza Vincenzo Santangelo





Harbour View from Piazza Vincenzo Santangelo
Lost at Sea Memorial in Piazza Vincenzo Santangelo









Then went to Plaza Europa to the fruit vendor for strawberries. Afterwards, I  saw the fruit vendor truck and purchased peaches for Maria.

Plaza Europa fruit vendor
Traveling Fruit Vendor






Went shopping for a few souvenirs along the way and saw a small shop that caught my eye, as it had large lighthouses out front. It is Sikelia Sicilian Souvenir Shop and the manger is a wonderful young man named Leonardo.

Leonardo and Cristina at their shop Sikelia







 His surname is the same as my cousin Maria’s maiden name and I asked, as all genealogists do, if they were related.  He said no, but aren’t we all related in some way?  A very wise young man. It was a pleasure talking to him. 

I saw Bernardo and he was on his way to go swimming. He asked if I was packed and ready for my return home. NO!

My next stop was to Maria’s for lunch with her & Renzo – macaroni with zucchini sauce and tomatoes, then grilled potatoes and lamb, fruit (those wonderful blackberries) and peaches, cookies (including arancia). TDF!! While eating the pasta (which Maria handmakes fresh everyday), I closed my eyes as I was enjoying the flavors!! Maria thought I needed to sleep (dormire is what I heard). I laughed and told Renzo to please tell Maria that lunch was wonderful and I was in heaven, savoring every bite!! We all laughed!!! I spent most of the afternoon with them. It was a joy to be there. 

Walking back to the B&B, I stopped at the Villa Margherita (Comunale) and took more photos there & along the way.  

View of the harbour from Villa Comunale
Banyan tree in Villa Comunale
Gardens inside the Villa Comunale
Monument inside the Villa Comunale













Plus, since Vernaci is right across the street from the Villa Comunale, I had to stop at Vernaci for a delicious gelato!!

When I arrived back at the B&B, I saw Felice, his parents and my cousin Maria Elena (Felice’s wife). They stopped by the wish me “Buon Giornato”.

Another wonderful day!! I’m sad to be leaving.

A Great Day – Café Garibaldi and San Vito Lo Capo

At this point in time, I did not realize that word had spread throughout the town of my family history search.  Nor that people noticed that I had my coffee at the Café Garibaldi on the Corso Garibaldi every morning but Wednesday, when it was closed.

Corso Garibaldi
Corso Garibaldi
Corso Garibaldi
Corso Garibaldi







So, I was surprised when I arrived at the Café Garibaldi, and was greeted by two older gentlemen. I was asked by one, if I spoke Italian. I said unfortunately no. He introduced himself as Leonardo Galatioto and his brother Felice. They have a sister in Floral Park NY. One gentleman is a retired police officer, who spoke some English. I told them that my “parenti” came from Castellammare del Golfo.

[Note:  My grandfather, Rosario Milano’s mother was Anna Galatioto (daughter of Rosario Galatioto and Catherine Sceusa). I wondered if they were of this lineage. Add to that, I recently received a copy of my parents’ NYC marriage record, which shows a Rosario Galatioto as Dad’s best man.]

Leonardo and Felice asked to see my family tree chart and the book. While perusing, they told me that I may want to check documents, especially the city directories, at the library. But said the archivist is on vacation until Monday.

They were amazed at the amount of information I had. Plus, when they saw the photos, they were surprised to see my cousin Lorenzo, who had recently passed away, as they were friends. They hugged and kissed me.  My friend Enzo also joined us for caffé normale.

Cousin Bernardo also joined us. He said we will take a drive to the sea town of San Vito Lo Capo. I wanted to go back to this town as my sister and I enjoyed it many years ago.  It is beautiful there and very relaxing. 

Plus, I wanted to take photos of the inside of the church, Santuario San Vito Lo Capo.

Inside the Santuario (Church) in San Vito Lo Capo
Inside the Santuario (Church) in San Vito Lo Capo
Grotto inside the Santuario (Church) in San Vito Lo Capo
Grotto inside the Santuario (Church) in San Vito Lo Capo







Back in Castellammare del Golfo that evening for a delicious pizza at Mama Cocha and gelato from Vernaci next door at Villa Comunale Regina Margherita.

Another wonderful day!!!!